Never Again the Same

(2007)

"Never Again the Same" is the second song of David Leisner's song cycle Three James Tate Songs, which sets the poetry of James Tate.

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The audio selection in the player to the right features Patrick Mason, baritone, and David Starobin, guitar. The recording is from 2011 (released by Bridge Records). Used with the permission of the composer. To listen, please click on the track name itself.

Never Again the Same
by James Tate


Speaking of sunsets,
last night's was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren't supposed to frighten you, are they?
Well, this one was terrifying.
People were screaming in the streets.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn't natural.
One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn't breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirling and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another's eyes --
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.


[from Shroud of the Gnome (1997)]


Audio PLaylist