The painting [Narrator] 1816

by Cheryl Frances-Hoad From Six Songs of Melmoth (2020)

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The painting [Narrator] 1816
English source: Sophie Rashbrook

The student enters the candlelit chamber
Whispering servants depart
He is alone with his dying uncle

The old man hands him a key:
“Don’t drink any of the wine:
Bring the bottle straight back!”

The student unlocks the door
and finds the wine
but he is drawn to a portrait

A painting of a man
Silk sleeves, a ruff around his neck
But the eyes – how they blaze

The student returns, shaking
“What is it, boy?”
“Who is the man in the painting?”

“That is Melmoth.
A relation, centuries old,
damned for denying the resurrection.
Look - he just left...”

Then the old man points to the floor
And there the student sees
The vanishing tread of damp footprints.


Cheryl Frances-Hoad

Cheryl's music has been described as “like a declaration of faith in the eternal verities of composition” (The Times), with “a voice overflowing not only with ideas, but also with the discipline and artistry necessary to harness them” (The…


Sophie Rashbrook

Sophie Rashbrook is a writer, librettist and opera dramaturg. 

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