The Bookshop

for baritone, clarinet, & piano

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score sample

The Bookshop

Pierrot had grown old.
He wore spectacles
And kept a shop.
Opium and hellebore
He sold
Between the covers of books,
And perfumes distilled from the veins of old ivory,
And poisons drawn from lotus seeds one hundred years withered
And thinned to the translucence of alabaster.
He sang a pale song of repeated cadenzas
In a voice cold as flutes
And shrill as desiccated violins.

I stood before the shop,
Fingering the comfortable vellum of an ancient volume,
Turning over its leaves,
And the dead moon looked over my shoulder
And fell with a green smoothness upon the page.
I read:
“I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other goods but me.”
Through the door came a chuckle of laughter
Like the tapping of unstrung kettledrums,
For Pierrot had ceased singing for a moment
To watch me reading.

-Amy Lowell