The Wight of the World (2018)

For string quartet and narrator

Based on text by Hafiz and Allen Ginsberg

Commissioned by Circadian Quartet

The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
constructs
a miracle,
in imagination
anguishes
till born
in human–
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
wearily,
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.

No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love–
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love
–cannot be bitter,
cannot deny,
cannot withhold
if denied:

the weight is too heavy

–must give
for no return
as thought
is given
in solitude
in all the excellence
of its excess.

The warm bodies
shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
in happiness
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye–

yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to return
to the body
where I was born.

 “Song,” Allen Ginsberg (1954)

Come, boy, and pass the wine around 

love seemed a simple game When I encountered it…but then 

The difficulties came! In longing for the musky scent 

The breeze brings from her hair, 

Such blood wells up in lovers’ hearts, 

Such suffering, and despair… 

What can ensure my happiness, 

At love’s stage, in my heart? 

When every instant now the bell 

Cries, “Load up, to depart!” 

And if the wine-seller says wine 

Should dye your prayer-mat…dye it! 

Pilgrims should know each stage’s rule 

And seek to satisfy it. 

On this dark night, amidst these waves, 

The whirlpool’s fearsome roar, 

What can they know of our distress 

Who watch us from the shore? 

In all I’ve done, I’ve pleased myself, 

It’s ruined my good name – 

The secret’s out, and everywhere

Men talk about my shame. 

Don’t hide from Him you seek, Hafez; 

You cannot hope to find 

The One you’re longing for until 

You leave the world behind.

 

Hafez. Faces of Love (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (pp. 10-11). Penguin Publishing Group.