Unwritten (2010)

20 minutes
Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano
Commissioned by the Lunatics at Large as part of The Sanctuary Project


I. Condemnation
II. Scherzo
III. Elegy
IV. Coda



I. Condemnation

On the border of the illusion
Phaedo condemned the death of Socrates
But in so doing he missed a single day
And rendered his own judgement like and entertained breeze
It was a jailer who introduced us
He was a jailer with no appetite
And you know how fire is delivered
By children frittering it away in frozen speech
Men call this pleasure like a place of rapport
But it-is it bliss to juggle the body
Like a house with great pain persuaded to stand
The swans change a lot before they discover gods they serve
He sat on his bed and had time to say a big thing
The wind ascending at the corners of the cardboard world

II. Scherzo

On the Border of the illusion
Socrates and Phaedrus made a shimmering detour
They pleased themselves in their descent
On the border of the illusion where they reassembled the cut sentences
Phedrus applauded the truth of leaving
But today my shoes are all worn out
Socrates said I want you very much
But try to find another time to sit together
Phaedrus was the pleased student shadow and fresh air
Socrates was going to the young rhythm
I want to repay this very good but tell me
Do you beleive in this fabulous affair
It is he, it is me, it is charm in lieu of sleep
I am surrounded by the summer you sent me, your throat on this stained floor

III. Elegy

On the Border of the illusion (at the very edge)
Socrates said Let’s go Crito obsess yourselves
You were a slave with tender hands and dwindled too
Sometimes we’ll come back to give out poison
Now it’s all boiled up and just as ready
One likes to drink and having drunk
You feel those heavy weights like a dog
The lips of Socrates were very peaceful then
You had your lips next to me drinking and having drunk
You covered up your closest friends with a mind
It was cut like sails with the same razor
It was ice and radiant touching to be him
Now we owe a rooster to foget it would be impossible
In a convulsive movement time says time and closes your eyes

IV. Coda

And that was the end of our friend
The wisest and best on this earth lightly inclined
Be mute for me,
contemplative violin.

— David Shapiro (1983)


“The impressive New York ensemble Lunatics at Large gave a revelatory concert at Tufts, curated by visiting Tufts composer Kareem Roustom, of chamber music by young Arabic composers with scores ranging from the perfumed nostalgia of Karim Al-Zand’s Quelques fleurs, to Zaid Jabri’s heartbreaking elegy for the late Iraqi/Syrian composer Solhi Al-Wadi, to 26-year-old Mohammed Fairouz’s startlingly fresh Unwritten, a setting of three David Shapiro sonnets about Socrates.”

— Boston Phoenix

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