Orchestra (after Nina Cassian)

(1993)

"Orchestra (after Nina Cassian)" is the second song of Paul Salerni's Speaking of Love, which sets three poems of Dana Gioia. The original work is for soprano, viola, piano, and mallet percussion (vibraphone/marimba). There is also an arrangement for soprano, flute and guitar, composed in 2009.

Orchestra (after Nina Cassian)
by Dana Gioia


Climbing the scales three octaves at a time,
I search for you among the high notes where
the tender flute resides. But where are your
sweet eyelashes? Not there.


Then I descend among the sunlit brasses—
their funnels glistening like fountain tips.
I let them splash me with their streaming gold,
but I can't find your lips.


Then daring ever deeper I explore
the depths the elemental strings command.
Their bows will not create a miracle
without your stroking hand.


The orchestra is still. The score is blank.
Cold as a slide rule the brasses, strings, and flute.
Sonorous lover, when will you return?
The orchestra is mute.


Translated from the Romanian of Nina Cassian


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