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Text by Panni Palásti for Ross Harris's Symphony No. 5


Lyrics libretti


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1. The line-up

when the men come to search us to herd us who’ll hide me

when they make us go to the wall who will stand before me?

when they shout raise your hands who will be next to me

when they aim guns at us will Father cover me

when they pull the trigger will he shield me

will he hide me under his body

and whisper play dead child play dead to stay alive

2. Candlelight

we sit in the dark only the centre of the shelter is lit by a single candle
flickering flame our only source of light night after night after night

contorted candle made of wax melt drips of old candles scraped up re-melted moulded used shoelaces pressed in as wicks

I roll them around on my knees into cylinder shaped old-new candles I fabricate to light up the dark in the unending night

I gather and mould and roll and roll not a drop wasted while the bombs
make the flame gutter when big blasts whip up the air of the cellar

I keep on melting and molding rolling and rolling to gain a flame something to stare at when outside the world is dark

my sooty wax candle my soiled offering to the God of Air Raids stands tall when the earth moves when detonations make us lurch in unison

rapidly melting collapsing candle flickering dancer I’ll keep you alive

3. Lessons learned from my father

I have to run on the double to warn him to hide climb out the window before the soldiers arrive

he’d shown mother the hole in his hip said it was made with the butt of a gun

I heard him talk about ditches dug about sliding over bodies in squelching mud of clay and blood while up-up above a lethal line of smoking guns was loaded again and again by cursing men

he talked about tangles of trampled grass and how his breath melted the ice on frozen windows in abandoned rooms

he taught me how to stay alive how to lie to hide to smile and above all to wait until the devil’s fall

he will fall, can’t blow out all candles. can’t block out all the suns

yes, father we still stand look at our sooty hands. my candle, look, it stands. look how it flares and shines, how it blends with the light of the sun! how it blends with the light of the sun!