Cecilia Speaks, Telephone spell to rewind love, Orsino’s dilemma – set for choir

Three poems set by composer Ian Stephens for unaccompanied choir. First performed in London, November 2015. I blogged about this here.

I   Cecilia Speaks

I am weft to darkened warp,
twined around these strings for you.
My hidden song is only hope
until I know your love is true.

But when you touch my steel and wood
I’ll show you then what can’t be taught,
and rise through air and fill your blood,
and drug your mind, and silence thought.

And while I breathe you shall be God,
and while you’re God, you will forget
the day you trembled where I hid
and lost your heart, when once we met.

II   Telephone spell to rewind love

One drop of electrical silence.
His words, carded and spun,
threaded into a dark voltage
reassembled as some familiar magic.

Space shrinks into the tremble of electromagnets.

A breath held until he speaks will pleat time,
and the wondrous, many-layered cake
cannot be traced to those few crumbs
and suspicion of sweetness on your tongue.

III Orsino’s dilemma

Betrayed as poisoned food of love when lovelorn
artists whored their muses: this could be
a synaesthete’s doomed ultimate conceit.

But maths and serotonin can’t alloy
a half-heard breath and science. Music waits,
an opaque cave beyond the waterfall.

Our journey there through sheeted water loosens
ingrained dirt of deep-learned language, calling
out the paradox of time itself

creating pulseless folds: each ends where one
began. Then it is gone, so fleet its breath
blows back a mirage through the hole it spun.

Music is a dead man’s heartbeat. It can
interleave your atoms with the stars.
A chemical. It will not be described.