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Dr. Kris Rizzotto

Official website of the Latvian Brazilian organist Dr. Kris Rizzotto

A Uma Taça Feita de Crânio Humano

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Voice or Instrument & Piano
Lyrics: Castro Alves (tr. from Lord Byron)
Language: Portuguese
Duration: 5:30 min
Format: PDF

Brazilian poet Castro Alves’ Portuguese translation of Lord Byron’s poem Lines inscribed upon a cup formed from a skull. The instrumental version of this piece is titled Lamento.

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Description

Voice or Instrument & Piano

Brazilian poet Castro Alves’ (1847-1871) Portuguese translation of Lord Byron’s (1788-1824) 1808 poem Lines inscribed upon a cup formed from a skull was so powerful to me that a haunting melody formed in my mind. For a whole week writing this piece was all I did from dawn until late night. This impression has remained with me to this day. The instrumental version of this piece is titled Lamento.

Byron gave Medwin the following account of this cup: “The gardener in digging [discovered] a skull that had probably belonged to some jolly friar or monk of the abbey, about the time it was dis-monasteried. Observing it to be of giant size, and in a perfect state of preservation, a strange fancy seized me of having it set and mounted as a drinking cup. I accordingly sent it to town, and it returned with a very high polish, and of a mottled colour like tortoiseshell.” – Medwin’s Conversations, 1824, p. 87.

Lines inscribed upon a cup formed from a skull

Start not—nor deem my spirit fled:
⁠In me behold the only skull,
From which, unlike a living head,
⁠Whatever flows is never dull.

I lived, I loved, I quaff’d, like thee:
⁠I died: let earth my bones resign;
Fill up—thou canst not injure me;
⁠The worm hath fouler lips than thine.

Better to hold the sparkling grape,
⁠Than nurse the earth-worm’s slimy brood;
And circle in the goblet’s shape
⁠The drink of Gods, than reptile’s food.

Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
⁠In aid of others’ let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
⁠What nobler substitute than wine?

Quaif while thou canst: another race,
⁠When thou and thine, like me, are sped,
May rescue thee from earth’s embrace,
⁠And rhyme and revel with the dead.

Why not? since through life’s little day
⁠Our heads such sad effects produce;
Redeem’d from worms and wasting clay,
⁠This chance is theirs, to be of use.

A Uma Taça Feita de Crânio Humano

Não recues! De mim não foi-se o espírito…
Em mim verás — pobre caveira fria —
Único crânio que, ao invés dos vivos,
Só derrama alegria.

Vivi! amei! bebi qual tu: Na morte
Arrancaram da terra os ossos meus.
Não me insultes! empina-me!… que a larva
Tem beijos mais sombrios do que os teus.

Mais val guardar o sumo da parreira
Do que ao verme do chão ser pasto vil;
— Taça — levar dos Deuses a bebida,
Que o pasto do reptil.

Que este vaso, onde o espírito brilhava,
Vá nos outros o espírito acender.
Ai! Quando um crânio já não tem mais cérebro …
Podeis de vinho o encher!

Bebe, enquanto inda é tempo! Uma outra raça,
Quando tu e os teus fordes nos fossos,
Pode do abraço te livrar da terra,
E ébria folgando profanar teus ossos.

E por que não? Se no correr da vida
Tanto mal, tanta dor ai repousa?
É bom fugindo à podridão do lodo
Servir na morte enfim p’ra alguma coisa!…