Levi frame

to scratch an angel

selected Original texts, quotes, descriptions


ABER NICHT (German: but not)
BROKEN
HOME
SOME NEVER DO
THE TURTLE
THE FLOWER
THE TOUCH
THE SHAVE
THE REST
SAND
ARM PATROL
ORTS-UND ZEITGEBUNDEN (German: tied to the place and time)
THE DAY
BURNING COAL
THE JEW,ETC.
SE QUESTO Ž UN UOMO (Italian: If This Be A Man)


ABER NICHT (German: but not)

For orchestra


This man... this man is mad. There has been for a long time
no doubt of it, and it is most regrettable that in our circle
the profession of alienist is not represented.
- Thomas Mann, Dr. Faustus
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BROKEN

Orchestra leads to MUSIC; Choir joins for last two lines


Man
is a bird full of mud,
I say aloud.
- Anne Sexton, After Auschwitz

THERE IS A SQUARE IN BLACK AND WHITE
WHERE SHOTS RING OUT THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT
PLEASE HELP ME
PLEASE COME
TO STOP THE VIOLENCE OF OUR TONGUE

IN A BURNING FOREST HIDES A PINE
SO NO-ONE WILL FORGET YOUR CRIME
PLEASE HELP ME
PLEASE COME
TO JOIN IN WRITING OF THAT TIME

A TRAIN IS FLYING OFF THE TRACK
ALL NUMBERS CARVED INTO MY BACK
PLEASE COME
AND MOVE MY KNIGHT FROM WHERE IT LIES

IN A LAND WHERE RULES ARE BROKEN
WEARING ROBES ALL TORN

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HOME

MESSENGER


HOME IS WHERE WINGS ARE HUNG TO DRY
HOME IS WHERE LOVED ONES NEVER CRY
HOME IS LIVING, HOME IS LIGHT
FINGERS GLOWING ALONE AT NIGHT

HOME IS NEVER A PLACE YOU CHOOSE
HOME IS OFTEN A THING WE LOOSE
HOME IS MAYBE, HOME IS WET
ALL OUR TROUBLES BEGIN IN BED

HOME IS THROATS THAT ARE NEVER SORE.
HOME IS FREEDOM DESIRING MORE
HOME, IT HIDES ME, ALL IN VAIN.
WHY DO HUMANS INSIST ON PAIN?

HOME IS MIRRORS THAT NEVER CRACK
HOME, WE'VE LEFT YOU AND NOW WE'RE BACK
HOME, I GOT'CHA, HOME, YOU'RE IT!
PLEASE COME CLOSER; NOW RETREAT.

HOME IS COMFORT, OR WAS IT LICE?
HOME IS TRUTH OVER MANY LIES
HOME IS BEAUTY, HOME IS HELL.
I MOVE LIGHTLY WITHIN MY SHELL

FLY, FLY HOME.
FLY, FLY SOUL.

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SOME NEVER DO

MELENCOLIA, CHORUS.

The instrumental sections are inspired by "Ha'Tikva" (The Hope), Israel's national anthem which in itself quotes liberally from Frederick Smetana's "The Moldava"

A SIGN RED, A SEAL SAID
BANG THE DEAD SLOWLY

DEFEND ME, MY MEMORY
IT ALL IS TRUE

A THIN SAND, A HAND WRONG
BANG THE DEAD SLOWLY

I CAME FIRST, I GO LAST
SOME NEVER DO

OR MIPINOT CHEDER, TEVA SHAKUF
MAVET YASIG OTTI, MAVET KATUV
Hebrew: Light from room corners, transparent nature.
Death will take over me, written death

A SIGN IS, A SEAL IS
BANG THE DEAD SLOWLY

TO OCCUPY, TO NOT RELEASE
DON'T LOOSE CONTROL

BUT ONLY, BUT EVERY
BANG THE DEAD SLOWLY

I CAME FIRST, I GO LAST
SOME NEVER DO

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THE TURTLE

CHORUS


ONCE I SAW A TURTLE WALKING IN THE SUN.
IT WAS WALKING SLOWLY; IT WAS HAVING FUN.
TURTLE NEVER HURRY.
TURTLE ALWAYS SMILE.
HOW I LIKE A TURTLE: TIME IS ON ITS SIDE.

TURTLE, WITH YOUR HOUSE JUST SITTING ON YOUR BACK,
YOU ARE NEVER HOMELESS; YOU ARE NEVER SAD.
TURTLE NEVER WORRY.
TURTLE ALWAYS SMILE.
HOW I LOVE A TURTLE: TIME IS ON ITS SIDE.

EATING GRASS. SO QUIET, NEVER HURTS A SOUL.
ALL IT WANTS TO DO IS BE LEFT ALONE.
TURTLE NEVER HURRY.
TURTLE ALWAYS SMILE.
HOW I LOVE A TURTLE: TIME IS ON ITS SIDE.

ONCE I SAW A TURTLE WALKING IN THE SUN.
IT WAS WALKING SLOWLY; IT WAS HAVING FUN.

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THE FLOWER

ME


FLOWER RED, ON MY HEAD.
IT'S HARD TO HIT IT; NOT AN APPLE, NOT A PEAR.

FLOWER SMALL, FLOWER PALE;
YOU TRY TO PLUCK IT BUT IT CRUMBLES IN YOUR HAIR.

GUARD IT, HIDE IT THERE.
HOLD BACK MY DESPAIR.

SUN OF STEEL, MOON OF FRIGHT
AND NO-ONE SEES THE FLOWER TREMBLING IN THE DARK

LEAVES OF WIND, AIR OF GAS;
THE STEAM GROWS THICKER AS MY TRAIN ROLLS ON ITS TRACKS.

GUARD IT, HIDE IT THERE.
HOLD BACK ALL DESPAIR.

FLOWER RED, ON MY HEAD...

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THE TOUCH

ME, MESSENGER


TOUCH MY WALL
TOUCH MY SCARS
NOBODY CARES
NOBODY DARES

LIE WITH ME
OPEN SEA
NOBODY PLANS
NOBODY'S LAND

SOFT IS MY FRUIT
RIPE IS MY LIFE
NOBODY CARES
NOBODY DARES.

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THE SHAVE

ME


I COME WITH WHISKERS RATHER SHORT
I HATE TO SHAVE, OH, HELP ME GROW
I KNOW YOUR TIME IS IN MUCH DEMAND
I ONLY ASK YOU TO BE MY FRIEND, WITH
WORLDS COLLIDING, CULTURES LOST
HAVE NO CONTROL, FIND NO GOD
BE MY SAVIOUR, TRY IT ON
OH, BE MY SAVIOUR.
I COME WITH QUESTIONS, ANSWER NOT
I COME TO HOLD YOU IN MY DARK
THE SHEETS ARE DIRTY, I CARE NOT
MY LAUNDRY'S RICH AND FULL OF STUFF, SO
BE MY SAVIOUR, TRY IT ON
WEAR THE CROWN, WEAR THE CROWN
BE MY HERO, ONE AND ALL
BE MY SAVIOUR, SHAVE ME CLOSE.
THE CREAM IS BURNING FROM OUTSIDE
THE BLADE IS BRIGHT AND SMOOTH AND NICE
WITH DRUGS AVAILABLE FOR FREE
I'M SOMEWHAT WORRIED, WOULDN'T YOU
BE MY SAVIOUR, TRY IT ON
BE MY SAVIOUR, WEAR THE CROWN
BE MY HERO, ONE AND ALL
OH, BE MY SAVIOUR
I KNOCK AND WAIT AND WATCH TV
PLAY WITH YOUR CHILD IN SEARCH OF ME
LIFE IS FLEEING, SLEEP NO MORE
I'M ALWAYS TIRED, SO ALONE WITH
WORLDS COLLIDING, CULTURES LOST
HAVE NO CONTROL, FIND NO GOD
BE MY SAVIOUR
OH, BE MY SAVIOUR

BE MY SAVIOUR, WEAR THE CROWN
BE MY SAVIOUR, TRY IT ON
BE MY HERO, ONE AND ALL
BE MY SAVIOUR

I COME WITH WHISKERS RATHER SHORT
I HATE TO SHAVE, OH, HELP ME GROW
I KNOW YOUR TIME IS IN MUCH DEMAND
I ONLY ASK YOU TO
SHAVE ME
SHAVE ME
SHAVE ME
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THE REST

MESSENGER


WHEELS TURN
CLATTER, NOISE
STEEL TRACKS
GETTING WARM

TURN AND RUN TO THE EAST
HIDE, BUT PRAY TO THE BEAST

ALL MY HEARTS
ARE ALIVE
ALL MY HOPE
DEEP INSIDE

HATS IN FRONT,
KNIVES BEHIND
WEST IS LOST

WHITE AND BLACK TURNS THE EARTH
I HOPE TO KNOW AND
FEEL SAFE
ONE DAY

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SAND

ME


BLOOD
PLAYS A GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK
WITH YOUR VEINS AND WITH YOUR NEEDS
IF IT GOES - YOU LOOSE, STAY - YOU WIN
GOES - YOU DIE, STAYS - YOU LIVE

BLOOD PLAYS A GAME

SAND
SIFTING THROUGH MY HANDS LIKE RICE
FOLLOW MY COMMANDS AND SEE
IF YOU DO - YOU WIN, DON'T - YOU LOOSE
GO - YOU DIE, STAY - YOU LIVE

SAND PLAYS A GAME

MUD
MIXES UP THE SAND AND BLOOD
DRIPPING ON THE WALL ABOVE
IF IT FLOWS - YOU LOOSE, STAYS - YOU WIN
GOES - YOU DIE, STAYS - YOU LIVE

MUD PLAYS A GAME

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ARM PATROL

MESSENGER, CHORUS


AS I LAND ON YOUR BED NOW
HOLD YOUR HEAD IN MY HAND
THERE'S A BREATH IN YOUR LUNGS STILL
THERE IS TIME FOR REGRET

I DON'T WANT YOU TO DIE NOW
BUT THAT'S WHY I'VE BEEN SENT
FROM THE PLACE SOME CALL HEAVEN
THE DOMAIN OF THE REST

YOU ARE VERY AFRAID NOW
YOU ARE WEEPING ALONE
AS I FLY OUT THE BACK WAY
AS I GO ON PATROL

RAIN IS FALLING OUTSIDE NOW
RAIN IS LEAKING INSIDE
THROUGH THE WALLS OF THIS CABIN
THROUGH THE EVILS-IN-KIND

THERE'S A NUMBER BEHIND YOU
THERE'S A NUMBER IN FRONT
LET'S EXAMINE YOUR ARMS, NOW
CONNECT ALL YOUR MARKS

PAIN IS FALLING OUTSIDE NOW
PAIN IS LEAKING INSIDE
THROUGH THE WALLS OF THIS COFFIN
THROUGH THE BRIDGES OF SIGHS

AS I LAND ON YOUR BED NOW
HOLD YOUR HEAD IN MY HAND
THERE'S STILL BREAD IN YOUR POCKET
THERE'S NO TIME FOR REGRET

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ORTS-UND ZEITGEBUNDEN (German: tied to the place and time)

For orchestra


I did not realize - I realized this only much later - that the Lager's German was a language apart: to say it precisely in German, it was Orts- und zeitgebunden, "tied to the place and time." It was a variant, particularly barbarized, of what a German Jewish philologist, Klemperer, had called Lingua Tertii Imperii, the language of the Third Reich, actually proposing for it the acronym LTI with an ironic analogy to the hundred other acronyms (NSDAP, SS, SA, SD, KZ, RKPA, WVHA, RSHA, BDM, etc.) dear to the Germany of that time.
- Primo Levi, The Drowned And The Saved
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THE DAY

MESSENGER


IF YOU RUN INSIDE A WHITE CHURCH
IF YOU HIDE OUTSIDE
GOD IS NEVER LISTENING,
GOD IS NEITHER GOOD NOR BAD.

IF YOU PRAY OUT SCREAMING
IF YOU WHISPER IN MY EAR
I COULD ONLY TELL YOU
WE WILL BOTH DISAPPEAR ONE DAY

EVERY SUNDAY,
EVERY SUNDAY ALL I WANT TO DO
IS RING THOSE WHITE BELLS,
RING THOSE BELLS THAT BRING ME CLOSE TO YOU
IF YOUR LOVE IS MOMENT
IF YOUR LOVE IS MANY YEARS
GOD IS ONLY INTERESTED
IN BEAUTY TURNED TO TEARS

IF YOU PRAY OUT SCREAMING
IF YOU WHISPER IN AN EAR
ALL YOU'LL GET ARE PROMISES
OF DYING WITHOUT FEAR ONE DAY

EVERY SUNDAY,
EVERY SUNDAY ALL I WANT TO DO
IS RING THOSE WHITE BELLS,
RING THOSE BELLS THAT BRING ME CLOSE TO YOU
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BURNING COAL

MUSIC, MELENCOLIA, CHORUS


I sang to the moon the toad's liquid song,
my constant hunger riddled wood.

- Primo Levi, Autobiography, Collected Poems
I WILL NOT ADAPT TO ANYTHING
THE ONES WHO ADAPT TO EVERYTHING
ARE THOSE WHO SURVIVE

MOST DO NOT ADAPT TO EVERYTHING
UNABLE TO ADJUST TO TRIVIAL THINGS
AND DIE LIKE
A PAIR OF SHOES

A CHEMIST IS TRAINED TO INTERPRET THINGS
A SUBSTANCE CAN SAY THE TIME IS HERE
I LEAVE YOU
NO HOPE

A COUNTRY CAN BE MARKED BY CERTAIN SMELLS
A LAND CAN OFTEN TELL OF SECRET THINGS
TOASTED BARLEY
BURNING COAL

WE WILL NOT ADAPT TO ANYTHING
THE ONES WHO ADAPT TO EVERY THING
ARE THOSE WHO SURVIVE

MOST DO NOT ADAPT TO EVERYTHING

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THE JEW, ETC.

ME


I
AM
WHO
YOU
THINK
I
AM

TIME DOESN'T BRING
ANY BELIEF
ANY RELIEF

REPEAT, REPEAT

WORDS
DUST
WINDOW
FROST
AGAIN,
AGAIN, AGAIN

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SE QUESTO Ž UN UOMO (Italian: If This Be A Man)

CHORUS; These are the only non-original texts; The title I chose here was the original of Primo Levi's first book, later translated as "Survival In Auschwitz"; It reminds me, and perhaps reminded Levi, of Nietzsche's "Ecce Homo"; Nietzsche visited Levi's hometown of Turin often and that city is where he collapsed into total madness.

[CREASE, CEASE,] DOUBT THOU THE STARS ARE FIRE;
[CREASE, CEASE,] DOUBT THAT THE SUN DOTH MOVE
[CREASE, CEASE,] DOUBT TRUTH TO BE A LIAR;
[CREASE, CEASE,] BUT NEVER DOUBT I LOVE. 1

NEL MEZZO DEL CAMMIN DI NOSTRA VITA
MI RITROVAI PER UNA SELVA OSCURA
CHE LA DIRITTA VIA ERA SMARRITA. 2

GRAU, TEURER FREUND, IST ALLE THEORIE
UND GRºN DES LEBENS GOLDNER BAUM. 3

VERDE QUE TE QUIERO VERDE,
VERDE VIENTO. VERDE RAMAS. 4

TACITAE PER AMICA SILENTIA LUNAE 5
VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST. 6

ON L'ENTERRA... AUX VITRINES °CLAIR°ES,
SES LIVRES DISPOS°S TROIS PAR TROIS VEILLAIENT
COMMES DES ANGES AUX AILES °PLOY°ES...
LES VRAI PARADIS
SONT LES PARADIS QU'ON A PERDUS. 7

KI A-FAR A-TA
V°-EL AFAR TA-SHUV 8
E QUINDI USCIMMO A RIVEDER LE STELLE. 9

1 | William Shakespeare, Hamlet II.ii.115 | back
2 | In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.- Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno I. 1-3 | back
3 | All theory, dear friend, is gray but the golden tree of actual life springs ever green - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Studierzimmer | back
4 | Green I love you green... Green wind. Green branches - Federico Garcia Lorca, Romance Son½mbulo | back
5 | Through the amicable silence of the soundless moonlight - Virgil, Aeneid ii. 255 | back
6 | the word was made flesh - The Mass in Latin, See 71:27 | back
7 | They buried him... in the lighted windows, his books arranged three by three kept watch like angels with outspread wings... The true paradises are paradises we have lost - Marcel Proust, La PrisonniÚre I, 1 | back
8 | For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return - The Old Testament, Genesis 3:19 | back
9 | and thence we came forth to see again the stars - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno XXXIV. 139
| back

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