René Mense




A Creature Divided (2003)
Three poems by Elizabeth Bishop
for coloratura soprano, clarinet (soprano and alto saxophone), trombone (euphonium), guitar and accordion; 9'

The tumult in the heart
keeps asking questions.
And then it stops and undertakes to answer
in the same tone of voice.
No one could tell the difference.

Uninnocent, these conversations start,
and then engage the senses,
only half-meaning to.
And then there is no choice,
and then there is no sense;

until a name
and all its connotation are the same.

(Nr. 1 from „Four Poems“, published 1955)

Sheet Music Sample (PDF)

Caught – the bubble
in the spirit-level,
a creature divided;
and the compass needle
wobbling and wavering,
Freed – the broken
thermometer´s mercury
running away;
and the rainbow-bird
from the narrow bevel
of the empty mirror,
flying wherever
it feels like, gay!

Sheet Music Sample (PDF) as Audio Sample (MP3) 1.2 MB

Thy senses are too different to please me –
Touch I might touch; whole the split difference
On twenty finger´s tips. But hearing´s thence
Long leagues of thee, where wildernesses íncrease... See
Flesh-forests, nerve-veined, pain-star-blossom full,
Trackless to where trembles th´ears´eremite.
And where from there a stranger turns to sight?
Thine eyes nest, say, soft shining birds in the skull?

Either above thee or thy gravestone´s graven angel
Eyes I´ll stand and stare. The secret´s in the forehead
(Rather the structure´s gap) once you are dead.
They leave that way together, no more strange. I'll
Look in lost upon those neatest nests of bone
Where steel-coiled springs have lashed out, fly-wheels flown.

(Nr. 3 from „Three Sonnets for the Eyes, 1933)

from THE COMPLETE POEMS 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop
Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel.
Used by arrangement with Farrar, Straus and Giroux LLC.
All rights reserved

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