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First look at poem by the late Peter Porter, inspired by Die Frau ohne Schatten

Picador will publish this poem in a collection to be released in 2015.

By Ellen West (Head of Online Content)

20 March 2014 at 3.18pm | 1 Comment

We are delighted to publish a poem by the late Peter Porter, which was sent to us by his widow Christine.

Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, who was a personal friend of Porter says of the poem, ‘It is elegant testimony both to his deep passion for and understanding of Strauss and Hofmannsthal. I just wish he could still be here to hear Bychkov and see Guth's take on this most extraordinary and extravagant piece.’

A Chorale at the Crossing
By Peter Porter

Ihr Gatten, die ihr liebend euch in Armen liegt,
Ihr sind die Brucke, uberm Abgrund ausgespannt,
Auf der die Toten wiederum ins Leben gehn!
Geheiligt sei eurer Liebe Werk

Hugo von Hofmannsthal

But that one who is the every always one
May still be a surprise – if she’s whom
That time betrayed and this time rebuked,
Who, while you were thinking of another
Startled you by not wanting to be with you
Though you’d excused all othernesses
By resolving to make her the true centre
Of existence; accepting that this was
Accounting, a way of excusing betrayal
By ordering responsibility –
Then, and no surprise after all
It should be so, the uncontrollable dream
Showed not her but you; not life but death.

This might be the message of the bridge the dead
Walk over: they are sparkling in their chances
However undeserving; they have been dressed
In time’s immeasurability;
One life could never be enough; their tunes
Are faces, their words perfectly understandable
Yet have no meaning. This side of the bridge
There is a toll – it’s like the seventy stairs
You have been up and down a million times;
It is paid in lifetime familiarity.
Now they are seen to be carrying, everyone
The same burden, the command to love,
Where some object might exist as proof
Or all the stars collate the obligation.

Die Frau ohne Schatten is at the Royal Opera House until 2 April.
Peter Porter’s poem ‘The Chorale at the Crossing’ will appear in a volume to be published by Picador next year.

By Ellen West (Head of Online Content)

20 March 2014 at 3.18pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged Alex Beard, by Claus Guth, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Peter Porter, poem, poetry, Production

This article has 1 comment

  1. Philip Dunn responded on 2 April 2014 at 2:23pm Reply

    What a delight to see Peter Porter's words on your website. I do not know the Opera in question but I know how passionate Porter was about the form. It is indeed a huge sadness that he is no longer with us to enjoy your production.

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