When a Swan is Wounded

preludes to the movements of Gliere's Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra

(for Sara)

I When a Swan is Wounded (Andante)

When a swan is wounded, she does not weep.
She glides upon her waters jade,
Her head bent low as if in sleep
To kiss the wounds her lover made.

She does not weep, at least not when
Your eyes can see. Her plaintive song
She keeps from profane ears of men
Like dreams of dying. Grey and long,

The shadow of Death falls from afar,
A haunting shade of many years hence,
And throws its shroud upon her star,
And night engulfs her elegance:

A long night, troubled with dreams of dance,
Of revelry and tenderness,
The laughter in his ardent glance,
The stings of his boyish faithlessness.

Then the lake is dark and the waters are still
Except for the ripples cast by tears
Unheard, unseen, against her will,
Yet felt long after the darkness clears.

When pallid morning then intrudes,
She moves with quiet dignity
Through sunlit waters and exudes
A pretense of serenity.

Dear swan, you do not weep but I
Can hear your sorrow all the same:
On zephyr-wings an angel flies
To speak with sadness in your name.

II True Grace (Allegro)

True Grace can never be
Destroyed. She lives in every
Sunrise, every heart
That moves in amorous spring,
And stands in calm defiance
Against all death and dying.
She rises like a Phoenix
From ashes of woe and grieving,
Her stainless wings aglow
With starlight and her hair
Pours from her loose and free.
With naked, unbound feet
She dances on air and water
And fire will not harm her.
Her rhythm is the cue
Of all the spheres of Heaven.
Her laughter peals in chimes
That silence the groans of prophets,
Mock their dire pronouncements.
Her music is the manna
That rains in healing showers
Upon the sad and wounded
And wakes the gloom-worn dreamer
With promises of dawn.

I've seen this Grace among us.
Dear lady, she abides
In you. Therefore rejoice!
You cannot die and time
Shall only make you fairer,
And love, however shy,
Will seek you as a traveler
At night seeks out the comfort
That beckons from the windows
Of houses warm in winter.

For all true lovers long
For Grace, and you shall be
A candle in the darkness,
A beacon on the sea.
Then laugh, sweet Grace! You shall
Proclaim your victory!

George Chadderdon © 2001