The Road: a novel for solo piano

by Frederic Rzewski (b. 1938)

Word count: 646

34. Una tragedia doméstica [sung text checked 1 time]

Subtitle: (A Soap Opera)

I can’t take it anymore
How can I keep my
marriage together if
I’m in love with Jan
at the same time?

It was so loathsome...
It’s impossible to describe.

I can’t tell you
how long that day
seemed to me

Aaaaahhh...
Yes, yes...this
was...yes...

It was good while it lasted—
but there comes a time when you
have to realize that it’s over.

That’s good! I could
hardly believe it. Was
Stella really betrayed by
her best friend?

Oh, no, you don’t!
I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you!

Too bad...too god-dammed bad!
I can’t believe she could just dump me like this—
after all I’ve done for her and the children!

It’s over.
It’s over.
It’s over.

Authorship

Note: this text has a copyleft indication in the Rzewski score.

Note: Vocalizations and interjections are omitted.


Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

40. Working It Out [sung text checked 1 time]

i-nu-ma i-lu a-wi-lum
ub-lu du-ul-la iz-bi-lu šu-up-ši-ik-ka
šu-up-ši-ik i-li [ra-bi-i]1
du-ul-lu-um ka-bi-it ma-a-a’d ša-ap-ša-qum
[ ... ]

Authorship

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Confirmed with Alan Ralph Millard, “The Atrahasis Epic and Its Place in Babylonian Literature,” University of London, May 1966, p.21, excerpts from Tablet I.

1 F. Rzewski: "ra-bi-ma"

Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

42. The Prodigal Parents [sung text checked 1 time]

I hope to be forgiven by my grandchildren for all the useless garbage
that the people of my generation will have dumped upon them.

Plop!

Instead of taking care of the planet we inherited,
and leaving it as we found it to those who will follow,
we blew it in an orgy of greed.

Whshhh!

We burned the oil, we poisoned the air, we polluted the water,
we tore up the earth, and killed what lived on it.

KSHH!

So here's to the children, and the grandchildren—here they come!—
the ones who will clean up the mess left by their parents,
who squandered their inheritance, and stank up the planet!

PFFT!

But I hope the children will be generous!
I hope they will forgive their parents!

WHHH!

And when the party is over, and the last ashtray has been emptied,
and the garbage has been recycled, I hope they will say:
"Thank you, [Granddad]1, thank you, for giving us a reason to live!"

Authorship

View original text (without footnotes)
Appears in Frederic Rzewski's The Road, pages 170-177, under a Performance Restricted Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 1.0 license. Note: line breaks added arbitrarily. 1 ossia: "Grandma"

Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

46. Night Thought [sung text checked 1 time]

All night long and every night,
When my mama puts out the light,
I see the people marching by,
As plain as day, before my eye.

Armies and [emperors]1 and kings,
All carrying different kinds of things,
And marching in so grand a way,
You never saw the like by day.

So fine a show was never seen
At the great circus on the green;
[For]2 every kind of beast and man
Is marching in that caravan.

At first they move a little slow,
But still the faster on they go,
And still beside [them]4 close I keep
Until we reach the town of Sleep.

Authorship

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View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods, New York, Current Literature, 1913.

1 Hadley: "emperor"
2 omitted by F. Rzewski
4 Hadley: "me"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

56a. Epilogue: Death [sung text checked 1 time]

1
Death is here and death is there,
Death is busy everywhere,
All around, within, beneath,
Above is death—and we are death.

2
Death has set his mark and seal
On all we are and all we feel,
On all we know and all we fear,

3
First our pleasures die—and then
Our hopes, and then our fears—and when
These are dead, the debt is due,
Dust claims dust—and we die too.

4
All things that we love and cherish,
Like ourselves must fade and perish;
Such is our rude mortal lot—
Love itself would, did they not.

Authorship

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Vrchlický) , "Smrt", Prague, J. Otto, first published 1901

Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

60. Uphill [sung text checked 1 time]

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
  Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
  From [morn]1 to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting place?
  A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
  You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
  Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
  They will not keep you [standing]2 at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
  Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
  [Yes]3, beds for all who come.

Authorship

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View original text (without footnotes)

First published in Macmillan's Magazine, February 1861

1 F. Rzewski: "noon"
2 F. Rzewski: "waiting"
3 F. Rzewski: "Yea"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

61. Stop the War! [sung text checked 1 time]

Stop the war.
Or it will stop us.

Authorship

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit) , "Arrêtez la guerre !", copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Appears in Frederic Rzewski's The Road, pages 415-428, under a Performance Restricted Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 1.0 license.
Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

62. The Babble [sung text checked 1 time]

Wait!
What?

Where am I what am I doing here what is this anyhow wow how

Why

Authorship

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit) , "El barboteo", copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

As appears in Frederic Rzewski's The Road, pages 476-478, under a Performance Restricted Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 1.0 license.

Note: Vocalizations and interjections omitted.


Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.