Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dieci Giorni

Jim Cave has talked me into contributing to a project on the Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio along with some of the other SFCCO composers. Looks like it will take place in September 2010 at Thick House just down the hill here in the southeasternmost of the seven hills of the Eternal City of San Francisco. More information about it will be showing up on the Dieci Giorni web site. Even though some of the stories are quite enticing to me, mixing the anti-clerical with the sexually promiscuous with the bisexual, all near to my general locus of literary interest, I've decided to take on the frame, and have been penning some lyrics of mine own to mix in with Giovanni's:

In our lives, we fear for death and disease to take us and to take those we love but, during our lives, we wall those fears away, we entertain ourselves with distractions and projects, and the accumulation of pleasures and recognitions and technologies that do not keep us safe from death, a rude and uninvited guest to our reality, that which we have ourselves constructed, a seeming solid, yet fragile to its core.

From time to time, even here in the countryside on a beautifully crisp and sunny day, we hear quiet sobbing of those left behind, embarrassed by what they have done, a husband who has stepped out, promising a doctor for his sickened wife, but in truth fleeing the city, condemning her and her children to a lonely and frightful death. Even here in the countryside, something hides among the flowers. A sweet smell that slowly grows more disagreeable as the days pass. Where is the doctor? He needs his beak, filled with aromatic herbs, to keep out the miasma, the poisonous breath of the creatures of the marshes wafting into the bodies of the inhabitants of the city, the stench of their rotting bodies. Where is the priest and his bishop? They need to pray, to ask God to mitigate his anger, to tell us what is the cause. Should we practice to mortify our flesh? Should we burn the Jews, our neighbors? But soon the physicians and the priests and the flagellants are also dead and there is no one else to ask.

We, here, who attend this diverse entertainment are ourselves diverting ourselves from the pestilence that rages outside, that we shut away in hospice and hospital room, here in this theater, keeping the contagion of death at bay, just outside these walls, that it may not infect us. We will laugh and sing and tell each other stories. And how does this entertainment end? With death, which soon visits us all.

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