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LISA BIELAWA

The Houri and the Poet for soprano, piano and cello

2011 to John Gidwitz from his family on the occasion of his 70th birthday

Š2011 by Lisa Bielawa


LISA BIELAWA

The Houri and the Poet (2011) to John Gidwitz from his family on the occasion of his 70th birthday Text from “West-Eastern Divan” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (tr. Alexander Rogers, 1890) ADMITTANCE HOURI To-day I stand upon my watch Outside the gates of Paradise: I know not what I ought to do, Thou art in such suspicious guise. To our Brothers of the Faith Art thou strict and truly kin, That thy battles and thy merits To Paradise should let thee in? Count’st thou thyself among those heroes? What thy wounds are do thou show. That proclaim to me thy honour, That I may let thee onwards go. POET Not so much of feather-picking! Only let me enter through, For a man I always have been, And that means a warrior, too. Quicken now thy sharpest glances, Look my bosom through and through: See the malice of my life-wounds, See my pleasant love-wounds, too. Like the faithful yet I’ve sung: So that, true to me, my love, That the world, too, though capricious, Full of love and thanks might prove. I have laboured with the noblest Till this longed-for lot was mine, That my name in flames of passion From the fairest hearts might shine. No! thou wouldst not choose a base one: Give here thy hand, that so I may Count upon thy tender fingers Eternities all day for day.


Program Notes The text for The Houri and the Poet is taken from Goethe’s epic poem entitled West-Eastern Divan. This section was written when the poet was 70 years old and at the height of his “Orientalist” period, which brought forth many rich poems influenced by forms and topics from the East. The divan was a traditional form used by Islamic poets that Goethe admired. Like scriptural forms, it was divided into Books, each of which might focus on particular characters and themes. The dialogue used in this song is taken from the “Book of Paradise,” which was the twelfth and last section of the Divan. A Houri (one of the pure beings in Paradise who provide celestial partnership to those who enter) is guarding the gates of Paradise. She questions the Poet when he approaches because she knows she is only supposed to let heroes enter Paradise, and he doesn’t seem to have any battle scars. He beckons her to look more closely, explaining that as a Poet he bears the wounds of Life and Love deep within him – and is therefore even more heroic than those who wage battle, because his wounds have enabled him to inspire others and ignite passion and love within them!


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The Houri and the Poet

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to John Gidwitz from his family on the occasion of his 70th birthday

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe tr. Alexander Rogers, 1890

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The Houri and the Poet  

Lisa Bielawa: The Houri and the Poet for soprano, cello and piano

The Houri and the Poet  

Lisa Bielawa: The Houri and the Poet for soprano, cello and piano

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