The martyred Saint Cecilia (2nd Century) is the patron saint of music, musicians, and poetry.
I’m so grateful for all the arts, including music and poetry, and for those who participate in them in whatever way they are inspired to.
So, every year I like to repost my prose-poem below in honor of Saint Cecilia’s Feast Day, which is November 22nd.
As she was dying she sang to God. It is also written that as the musicians played at her wedding she “sang in her heart to the Lord” … and that she listened to the voices of angels.
If music was a light, it would sound brighter in the dark. Like the glow around the moon, it would fade to illuminate the stars.
If music was composed of rays, it would lift the mist from the world, until its brilliance played across the skies not silenced by the clouds.
If music was a mirror, it would reflect each soul that listened.
If music was eternity, it would be heard beyond all breathing, accompanied by the heartstrings of the angels, never to be broken.
If music was silence, it would be for our ears to hear nothing but its calling us to paradise.
“Oohs” and “aahs” made Master Purcell’s cheeks pinker as he took the hand of Leonora and brought her forward. Unfortunately, cheers and even whistles greeted the prospect of her singing ‘She Loves and She Confesses Too’ accompanied by a self-directed Charles Coleman on the theorbo. Her bright eyes and voice, swelling chest and gestures were unashamed and confident that honor was no match for love—a meaning Donatella’s mother helped her understand. No translation was necessary when a long-faced Henrietta stepped up to insist on concealment of the heart’s desire, a nobler course than pleading for or forcing love, so it was lost to silence in the grave. Despondency sighed out with her breath, Leonora only agreeing as her echoing part required. The divergence and blend of their crying vocals was joined in a dramatic and richly harmonic final section by Master Purcell singing bass, all three voices slowing and softening until they culminated in a single sound of grief.
Stillness inescapably filled the room like smoke overcoming its occupants, only broken by fits of throats clearing and coughing. Donatella squeezed her mother’s hand or her mother squeezed hers, as aware as everyone else there was more despair to come. Draghi, who had claimed the harpsichord again, followed William Turner’s sudden falsetto into ‘A Dark and Melancholy Grove’. The countertenor’s head and chest voice mixed on waves of low and high emotions, his consonants clear and vowels open, nothing about his singing pushed and yet such force in its exhibition; creating a pain in Donatella so deep and beautiful, pleasure could never again be preferable.
A swelling grief siezes on ev’ry string,
And I weep when I should sing.
~ Excerpt from To A Strange Somewhere Fled (sequel to A House Near Luccoli) VERY SOON to be published by All Things That Matter Press.
©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.