The Hazardous Hunt for Madam Butterfly

Butterfly escaped his attention

that foggy night, whilst his ears

were ringing from the singing of “The Mikado“,

so his splendid new automobile skidded

over the edge on the road near Lucca.

So in February of 1903 Puccini plunged

off the embankment and

fell down fifteen feet.

 

Having had that five metre fall

he found his right shin bone fractured.

In May he was disconsolate and complaining-no surprise

as it was badly set

had to be broken again

and reset.

 

In deep depression he wrote again

to Illica, his versifying lyricist;

Addio tutto, addio Butterfly, addio vita mea

Not easy to catch this fleeting insect-girl,

but in June, he slowly began once again

and by December,

the orchestration was finally complete.

Image result for puccini

Source

The Complete Operas of Puccini

by Charles Osborne

 

 

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The Two Red Towers-Translated by Arthur Waley

THE TWO RED TOWERS
(A Satire against Clericalism)

Po Chu-I(A.D.772-846)

The Two Red Towers
North and south rise facing each other.
I beg to ask, to whom do they belong?
To the two Princes of the period Chēng Yüan.
The two Princes blew on their flutes and drew down fairies
from the sky,
Who carried them off through the Five Clouds, soaring away
to Heaven.
Their halls and houses, that they could not take with them,
Were turned into Temples planted in the Dust of the World.
In the tiring-rooms and dancers’ towers all is silent and still;
Only the willows like dancers’ arms, and the pond like a mirror.
When the flowers are falling at yellow twilight, when things are sad and hushed,
One does not hear songs and flutes, but only chimes and bells.
The Imperial Patent on the Temple doors is written in letters of gold;
For nuns’ quarters and monks’ cells ample space is allowed.
For green moss and bright moonlight—plenty of room provided;
In a hovel opposite is a sick man who has hardly room to lie down.
I remember once when at P’ing-yang they were building a great man’s house
How it swallowed up the housing space of thousands of ordinary men.
The Immortals are leaving us, two by two, and their houses are turned into Temples;
I begin to fear that the whole world will become a vast
convent.

Four Old Photographs from St Ives

Here is my Mother’s Aunt Vera

as though for a test on the screen

like a Hollywood Star, pure smile;

happy, serene, genteel like a heroine-

war survivor, positively engaged

with the future a dream.

 

Turning the page where a collection

of ladies, mostly hatted with one man

wait on the wharf for Crimson Tours to bring the charabanc.

One lady, in control, in the centre

banters with the photographer, another

has her back turned as the shutter clicks.

 

The next, a street party, circa 1960

or before, all festive with my mother

looking happy serving a group of pensioners

who look like they are reliving a Sunday School band-tea.

Everyone wears hats and there is a lovely bunch of flowers,

one lady glowers, a man has his customary

goofy smile and there are delivered milk in bottles

unlikely to be stolen on the step behind.

 

By 1970 the future seems to be arriving more suddenly,

when standing with camera on the end of the quay,

and almost unbelievably four or five

ducks carry a squadron of marines

into the harbour. What have we done

to be thus invaded? History approaches

us on a stormy day and I bury my chin

into my duffel coat.

 

Losing and Leaving -two poems by a friend

Loss

Loss is waiting everywhere,
Because I’ve felt the shape it makes
I try to lose it in the crowd,
Taking shortcuts down alleyways,
Wearing black and changing my hair.
I relish the rain because it covers everything,
Only stopping to linger in a stranger’s stare,
I try to keep all my pages blank, then perhaps
Loss will not know that I’m still there.

Image result for alleyways

Leave –a sonnet

Another coast, some late hour, my feet bare.
Someone loved this place,
there are colours everywhere.
I am drifting in a shipwrecked bed,
an exposed room, a worn wooden floor.
The light fell in, still and unbroken, a silent day,
except for the footsteps, that stopped at the door,
now turning, now walking quietly away.
Once my body knew a rough song,
the sound of our staggered breaths.
Since I sighed a hundred little deaths,
rootless, I went the way of the birds.
Empty places I have known, what could’ve been,
once wound tight, an unravelling dream.

Image result for worn wooden floor

Vor dem Sommerregen-Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke

Image result for regenpfeifer in dem Wald vogel

Vor dem Sommerregen

Auf einmal ist aus allem Grün im Park
man weiß nicht was, ein Etwas fortgenommen;
man fühlt ihn näher an die Fenster kommen
und schweigsam sein. Inständig nur und stark

ertönt aus dem Gehölz der Regenpfeifer,
man denkt an einen Hieronymus:
so sehr steigt irgend Einsamkeit und Eifer
aus dieser einen Stimme, die der Guß

erhören wird. Des Saales Wände sind
mit ihren Bildern von uns fortgetreten,
als dürften sie nicht hören was wir sagen.

Es spiegeln die verblichenen Tapeten
das ungewisse Licht von Nachmittagen,
in denen man sich fürchtete als Kind.

Before the Summer Rain

Suddenly, from all the green around you,

something-you don’t know what-has disappeared;

you feel it creeping closer to the window,

in total silence. From the nearby wood

you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,
reminding you of someone’s Saint Jerome:
so much solitude and passion come
from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour

will grant. The walls, with their ancient portraits, glide
away from us, cautiously, as though
they weren’t supposed to hear what we are saying.

And reflected on the faded tapestries now;
the chill, uncertain sunlight of those long
childhood hours when you were so afraid.

More analysis of this poem in German may be found at http://www.rilke.de/forum/viewtopic.php?t=137

“Si Tu Me Olvidas” -by Pablo Neruda

If You Forget Me – Poem by Pablo Neruda

Image result for la rama roja

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Poem 8 from Veinte Poemas de Amore (1924) Pablo Neruda

Image result for Parral

Bee white buzzes – drunk with honey – in my soul
and you twist in slow spirals of smoke.

I am the desperate, the word without echoes,
the one who lost everything, and the one who had everything.

Last bind, cries in you my last anxiety.
In my desert land you are the last rose.

Oh silent!

Close your deep eyes. There the night flies.
Ah, undress your body of a fearful statue.

You have deep eyes where night alloy.
Fresh flower arms and pink lap.

Your breasts look like white snails.
A butterfly of shadow has come to sleep in your belly.

Oh silent!

Here the solitude of where you are absent.
Rains. The sea wind hunts wandering gulls.

The water goes barefoot through the wet streets.
From that tree the leaves complain as sick.

White bee, absent, you still buzz in my soul.
You live in time, thin and silent.

Oh silent!

More Neruda poems and a timeline may be found at https://www.poemas-del-alma.com/