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STRAND, Part I: Fiber Of My Being.
electronic composition, 10 min 26 sec, 2001.

composition: Arlene Ducao
vocals: Natalia Ballestero
text: based on "A Former Life" from The Flowers of Evil


This piece was performed with live performers on 9 May 2001
see related site

three poems from The Flowers of Evil
by Charles Baudelaire, translation by James McGowan
note: I mark in bold the text I used for STRAND.


O fleece billowing even down the neck!
O locks! O perfume charged with nonchalance!
What ecstasy! To people our dark room
With memories that sleep within this mane,
I'll shake it like a kerchief in the air!

Langorous Asia, scorching Africa,
A whole world distant, vacant, nearly dead,
While other spirits sail on symphonies
Mine, my beloved, swims along your scent.

I will go down there, where the trees and men,
Both full of sap, swoon in the ardent heat;
Strong swelling tresses, carry me away!
Yours, sea of ebony, a dazzling dream
Of sails, of oarsmen, waving pennants, masts:

A sounding harbour where my soul can drink
Where vessels gliding in the moire and gold
Open their wide arms to the glorious sky
Where purely trembles the eternal warmth.

I'll plunge my drunken head, dizzy with love
In this black sea where that one is confined;
My subtle soul that rolls in its caress
Will bring you back, o fertile indolence!
Infinite lulling, leisure steeped in balm!

Blue head of hair, tent of spred shadows, you
Give me the azure of the open sky;
In downy wisps along your twisted locks
I'll gladly drug myself on mingle scents,
Essence of cocoa oil, pitch and musk.

For ages! always! in your heavy mane
My hand will scatter ruby, sapphire, pearl
So you will never chill to my desire!
Are you not the oasis where I dream
My drinking-gourd for memory's fine wine?


I once lived under vast and columned vaults
Tinged with a thousand fires by ocean suns,
So that their grand, straight pillars would become,
In evening light, like grottoes of basalt.

In surges rolled the images of skies;
With solemn, mystic force the sea combined
Its harmonies, all-powerful, sublime,
With sunset colours, glowing in my eyes.

So there I lived, in a voluptuous calm
Surrounded by the sea, by splendid blue
And by my slaves, sweet-scented, handsome, nude,

Who cooled my brow with waving of the palms,
And had one care-- to probe and make more deep
What made me languish so, my secret grief.


Mother of Roman games and Greek delights,
Lesbos, where kisses languorous or glad,
Make festivals of days and glorious nights
As hot as suns, or watermelon-fresh,
Mother of Roman games and Greek delights,

Lesbos, where love is like the wild cascades
That throw themselves into the deepest gulfs,
And twist and run with gurglings and with sobs,
Stormy and secret, swarming underground;
Lesbos, where love is like the wild cascades!

Lesbos, where Phrynes seek each other out,
Where no sigh ever went without response,
Lovely as Paphos in the sight of stars,
Where Venus envies Sappho, with good cause!
Lesbos, where Phrynes see each other out.

Lesbos, land of the warm and languid nights,
That draw in mirrors sterile fantasies,
So girls with hollow eyes make love alone,
Fondling their bodies mellow fruit;
Lesbos, land of the warm and languid nights.

Let some dry Plato frown with narrowed eye;
Queen of sweet empire-- pleasant, noble land--
You're pardoned by the excess of your kisses,
And by your endless subtleties in love.
Let some dry Plato frown with narrowed eye.

You're pardoned by eternal martyrdom
Lived constantly in those with hungering hearts
Who glimpse that radiant smile beyond our grasp
That beckons from the brink of other skies!
You're pardoned by eternal martyrdom!

What God would dare to act as Lesbos' judge
And to condemn your pale and wasted brow
Without the weighing in those golden scales
Of floods of tears your brooks have swept to sea?
What God would dare to act as Lesbos' judge?

What do we care for the laws of right and wrong?
Maidens of highest heart, pride of the land,
As worthy as another's is your creed,
And love will laugh at Heaven and at Hell!
What do we care for the laws of right and wrong?

Since I am Lesbos' choice from all on earth