Gallows Song

I will go to the gallows singing
a glorious aria because
I am a singer, and have been blessed
by my life. It will not be a dirge –
not “Dido” or even Turandot.
“Hark, the Echoing Air,” “If Music
Be the Food of Love” – ah, Purcell, bright
and shining — with every note I soar!

I will go to the gallows singing
for my great and glorious life.
My shackles are made of air and tune;
they do not hold me or define me.
My life is a feather catching wind –
My coloratura, a high draft
carrying me above the eagles.
A sparrow, I burst forth from the branch.

And let every note praise the sunlight
on the water, the velvet of night,
the wood of the tree, the hemp that twines
rope – and the glory, the glory of birds!
I have known their names, and that of trees.
I have loved everything the world gave
and cared nothing if it loved me back,
for what greater glory is there but love?

Each footfall drums the beat of the song,
that final note ringing in the air –
until it escapes your grasping hands,
an arrow-winged bird off to the sky.
What falls through the hatch is not this song.
What strains the rope is not my spirit.
I will go to the gallows singing
for my great and glorious life.

retrieveasset

The execution of prisoners in the forest near Buchenwald concentration camp. Image from the U.S. Holocaust Museum

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About whitecatgrove

The musings of a Druid priestess, singer, poet and musician in Upstate New York.
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