20 January 2017

This is Prophetic

In the bedroom communities let us be taken by surprise.
Yes! Let the band play on and on,
This is Prophetic

Smiling and waving, Mrs. Nixon and her entourage leave the commune and proceed to the next stop on her tour: the Summer Palace where she is photographed strolling through the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, the Hall of Happiness in Longevity, the Hall of Dispelling the Clouds, and the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha. She pauses in the gate of Longevity and Good Will to sing.

This is prophetic! I foresee a time will come when
luxury dissolves into the atmosphere like a perfume,
and everywhere the simple virtues root
and branch and leaf and flower.
On that bench there we'll relax
and taste the fruit of all our actions.
Why regret life which is so much like a dream?
Let the eternal plan resume.
In the bedroom communities let us be taken by surprise.
Yes! Let the band play on and on,
let the stand-up comedian finish his act,
let Gypsy Rose kick off her high-heeled party shoes;
let interested businessmen speculate further,
let routine dull the edge of mortality.
Let days grow imperceptibly longer,
let the sun set in cloud;
let lonely drivers on the road pull over for a bite to eat,
let the farmer switch on the light over the porch,
let passer by look in at the large family
around the table, let them pass.
Let the expression on the face
of the Statue of Liberty change just a little,
let her see what lies inland:
across the plain one man is marching...
the Unknown Soldier has risen from his tomb,
let him be recognized at home.
The Prodigal. Give him his share:
the eagle nailed to the barn door.
Let him be quick.
The sirens wail as bride
and groom kiss through the veil.
Bless this union with all its might,
let it remain inviolate.

John Adams (composer), Alice Goodman (librettist), "This is Prophetic," Nixon in China, 1987.

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