Shades of Love
Written at the end of my 10-month sabbatical in Moscow in the summer of 2003, I chose five poems that were subsequently embedded into three songs. I chose poems that stressed three voices--future, present and past, and unified them by highlighting three recurring themes: light/night, senses (vision, body, lips, etc.), and memory. The basic pitch set is derived from his last name, Kabaphes (B-flat, A, F, E-flat), and the inward motion inherent in the voice leading (perfect fifth, major third) reflects in many ways the thrust of his poetry and his life: itself inward looking, solitary, personal and still.
three songs on the poetry of Constanin Cavafy (2003)
I have reflected upon Cavafy's poetry for some 25 years--only now to find resonance with such sentiments--, having been introduced to this work by my teacher, mentor and friend, Jeremy Dale Roberts, to whom the cycle is dedicated.
I. To Call up the Shades
One candle is enough. Its gentle light
will be more suitable, will be more gracious
when the Shades come, the Shades of Love.
One candle is enough. Tonight the room
should not have too much light. In deep reverie,
all receptiveness, and with the gentle light--
in this deep reverie I'll form visions
to call up the Shades, the Shades of Love.
II. I Went
I did not tether myself. I gave in completely and went,
I went into the luminous night,
to those pleasures that were half real,
and half wheeling in my brain.
III. One Night
The room was poor and squalid
hidden above the dubious tavern.
From the window you could see the alley
filthy and narrow. From below
came the voices of some workmen
playing cards and carousing.
And there on the much-used, lowly bed
I had the body of love, I had the lips,
The voluptuous and rosy lips of ecstasy--
Rosy lips of such ecstasy,