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Release Date: June 26, 2020
Catalog #: NV6293
Format: Digital & Physical


Works For Soprano, Harp, and Cello

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra Trio
Gillian Zammit soprano
Frank Camilleri cello
Britt Arend harp

Since the late 18th century, art songs have combined poetic vocals and equally intricate instrumental accompaniments to delight listeners with intimate compositions across the globe. The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra Trio’s CANTILENA spans the centuries and continents to highlight the form’s enduring appeal.

CANTILENA transports listeners through time and cultures as soprano Gillian Zammit, harpist Britt Arend, and cellist Frank Camilleri explore the national traditions and stylistic traits of individual composers who embraced the emotional impact and stripped-down arrangement of the art song.

The album opens with works by Debussy, Duparc, Fauré, and Massenet, who exemplify the French penchant for precision and expression in elegant mélodies with accompaniments that shine a light on the emotions expressed in their texts. The lyrical traditions of Italy then come into focus, with folksong-inspired pieces by Tosti featuring beautiful Italianate melodic phrases and a haunting instrumental by Tedeschi. The European tour is concluded with Strauss, with a series of lieder that range from joyous and playful to dark and brooding.

The program takes a contemporary turn with Alexander Vella Gregory’s Tluq, based on poetry by John Aquilina. The short song cycle spans the gamut of human emotion in relationships, beginning with the loss of love and regret to the eventual relief of reconciliation. To close things out, Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras pays homage to Bach’s Baroque idioms with a heady fusion of Brazilian folk and popular music.


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An Inside Look

Malta Philharmonic Trio - CANTILENA

"It’s an interesting twist on music that one is likely to be fairly (sometimes very) familiar with in the usual voice and piano format"


Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Beau soir, L. 6 (Arr. for Soprano & Harp) Claude Debussy Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 2:31
02 Chanson triste, Op. 2 No. 4 (Arr. for Soprano & Harp) Henri Duparc Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 3:19
03 3 Songs, Op. 23 (Arr. for Soprano & Harp): No. 2, Notre amour Gabriel Fauré Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 2:01
04 Élégie (After Op. 10 No. 5) [Arr. for Soprano, Harp & Cello] Jules Massenet Gillian Zammit, soprano; Frank Camilleri, cello; Britt Arend, harp 3:14
05 Pour un baiser! (Arr. for Soprano & Harp) Francesco Tosti Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 1:48
06 La serenata (Arr. for Soprano & Harp) Francesco Tosti Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 2:55
07 Sogno (Arr. for Soprano & Harp) Francesco Tosti Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 3:33
08 Tristezza (Arr. for Soprano & Harp) Francesco Tosti Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 3:42
09 Elegia, Op. 22 (Arr. for Harp & Cello) Luigi Maurizio Tedeschi Frank Camilleri, cello; Britt Arend, harp 5:56
10 5 Lieder, Op. 48, TrV 202 (Arr. for Soprano & Harp): No. 3, Kling! Richard Strauss Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 1:47
11 6 Lieder, Op. 17, TrV 149 (Arr. for Soprano & Harp): No. 3, Das Geheimnis Richard Strauss Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 2:24
12 Schlichte Weisen, Op. 21, TrV 160 (Arr. for Soprano & Harp): No. 1, All mein Gedanken Richard Strauss Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 1:16
13 8 Gedichte aus "Letzte Blätter", Op. 10, TrV 141 (Excerpts Arr. for Soprano & Harp): No. 3, Die Nacht Richard Strauss Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 3:18
14 8 Gedichte aus "Letzte Blätter", Op. 10, TrV 141 (Excerpts Arr. for Soprano & Harp): No. 8, Allerseelen Richard Strauss Gillian Zammit, soprano; Britt Arend, harp 3:14
15 4 Lieder, Op. 27, TrV 170 (Arr. for Soprano, Harp & Cello): No. 4, Morgen! Richard Strauss Gillian Zammit, soprano; Frank Camilleri, cello; Britt Arend, harp 4:13
16 Tluq (Version for Soprano, Harp & Cello): I. Vistu Alex Vella Gregory Gillian Zammit, soprano; Frank Camilleri, cello; Britt Arend, harp 2:54
17 Tluq (Version for Soprano, Harp & Cello): II. Ma Ħallejt Xejn Warajk Alex Vella Gregory Gillian Zammit, soprano; Frank Camilleri, cello; Britt Arend, harp 3:01
18 Tluq (Version for Soprano, Harp & Cello): III. Meta Titgħallem Titlaq Alex Vella Gregory Gillian Zammit, soprano; Frank Camilleri, cello; Britt Arend, harp 3:29
19 Bachianas brasileiras No. 5, W389 (Arr. for Soprano, Harp & Cello): I. Ária. Cantilena Heitor Villa-lobos Gillian Zammit, soprano; Frank Camilleri, cello; Britt Arend, harp 5:09

Recorded October 26 - 28, 2019 at Blagoje Bersa Concert Hall, Zagreb, Croatia

Recording Session Producer Krešimir Seletković
Recording Session Engineer Jan Košulič
Cover photo Brian Grech

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown

International Recording Sessions Manager, Editing, Mixing & Mastering Jan Košulič

Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra Trio


Gillian Zammit is a versatile soprano with a varied repertoire, who trained with Carlo Bergonzi and Victoria de los Angeles. Opera productions include The Turn of The Screw, Rigoletto, Die Zauberflote, and Orphée et Eurydice. She has performed with Joseph Calleja, Andrea Bocelli, Eugene Kohn, and Emma Kirkby among others.


Art songs” — musical settings of poetry for solo voice and instrumental accompaniment – are a musical form which blossomed from the late 18th Century onwards. German lieder are widely considered to be the quintessential expression of this genre, so much so that the term lieder is sometimes used, misleadingly, to refer to similar works in other languages. In reality, the art song is a variegated form encompassing various national traditions and stylistic traits of individual composers. The choice of pieces in this program is a testament to the genre’s diversity.

The early songs of CLAUDE DEBUSSY (Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 1862 – Paris, 1918) are written in the mould of French mélodies – elegant pieces in which texts, generally love poems, were set to attractive tunes with relatively simple piano accompaniment. Beau Soir [1], one of his teenage compositions, is an evocation of the day’s end. Paul Bourget’s poem compares the coming night to the approach of death and the music suitably rises to a climax before subsiding to a hushed close.

Debussy held that “clarity of expression, precision and concentration of form are qualities peculiar to the French genius.” These traits can be discerned in the mélodies which follow. Chanson Triste [2], a setting of a poem by Jean Lahor, is one of 17 songs by HENRI DUPARC (Paris, 1848 – Mont-de-Marsan, 1933). An early work (subsequently heavily revised), it shows the influence of another French master – Charles Gounod. Gabriel Fauré (Pamiers, 1845 – Paris, 1894) set Armand Silvestre’s Notre Amour [3] in 1879. In around two minutes, the composer condenses five verses of playful text, subtly underlining the progressive deepening of the poet’s love from légère in the first verse to éternelle in the last. Élégie [4] by JULES MASSENET (Montaud, 1842 – Paris, 1912) is an arrangement of the “Invocation” from the composer’s incidental music for the play Les Érinnyes.

A native of Abruzzo, FRANCESCO TOSTI (Ortona, 1846 - Rome, 1916) soaked up the rich lyrical traditions of his country. Musical studies in Naples gave Tosti a good technical preparation, but he also drew inspiration from the vernacular styles he encountered while collecting, editing, and arranging Italian folksongs. Tosti remains best known for his “salon pieces”: melodious ballads which became all the rage in Europe and were subsequently recorded by operatic stars such as Jüssi Bjorling and Nellie Melba and, intriguingly, by the world’s last “castrato” Alessandro Moreschi.

Tosti is represented here by four songs which span his career. Pour un Baiser! [5] is a 1904 setting of a poem by George Doncieux. An expression of the poet’s yearning for his lover, it is typical of the texts set by Tosti, with their fin-de-siècle mix of passion, melancholy, and, occasionally, sentimental religiosity. La Serenata [6], composed in 1888 to words by Giovanni Alfredo Cesareo, is a moonlit vignette portraying the narrator’s sleeping lover caressed by song. Sogno [7] sets a poem by Lorenzo Stecchetti describing a passionate dream in which the narrator fervently prays to overcome the pangs of desire. Tristezza [8], dating from 1908, is a relatively late work. The valedictory text by Riccardo Mazzoli expresses a lover’s distress at the thought of losing the idyll he is living. Cello and harp provide a haunting instrumental coda to this Tosti selection – the Elegia [9] by LUIGI MAURIZIO TEDESCHI (Turin, 1867 – Cairate, 1944), one of the leading concert harpists of his time.

It is tempting to consider RICHARD STRAUSS (Munich, Germany 1864 – Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany 1949) as primarily a composer of opera and large-scale orchestral works. However, he also wrote more intimate works. In particular, Strauss was a prolific lieder composer. He wrote his first songs at just 6 years of age and his last completed composition was a lied for voice and piano, Malven.

Kling! [10] represents the joyful outpouring of a heart full of hope. It is the third of the 5 Lieder Op. 58, which Strauss published in 1900, setting poems by Karl Henckell. Das Geheimnis [11] is taken from a set of six lieder to texts by Adolf von Schack. The pastoral imagery of the poem is gently conveyed in playful music. All Mein Gedanken [12] is a love song which opens Schlichte Weisen Op. 21, a set of five songs dating from 1890. The song’s light-hearted tone contrasts with the darker atmosphere of Die Nacht [13] and Allerseelen [14]. Both songs are taken from Strauss’s Opus 10, the first collection of songs which the composer ever published, based on poems by Hermann von Gilm. Strauss met John Henry McKay in Berlin and subsequently used his poems for some of his songs, including Morgen! [15]. It closes the composer’s four Lieder Opus 27 and was conceived as a wedding present to his wife, the soprano Pauline de Ahna.

Like the Romantics, contemporary composers continue to be inspired by the literature of their time. Tluq by ALEX VELLA GREGORY (b. 1984) is a short song cycle based on recent poetry by John Aquilina who, like the composer, hails from Malta. It speaks of loss of love, regret, loneliness, and eventual reconciliation. The anguished music of Vistu (“Mourning”) [16] is dramatic, almost half-way between aria and recitative, reflecting the protagonist’s physical and emotional loss. The same atmosphere permeates Ma Ħallejt Xejn Warajk (“You Left Nothing Behind”) [17]. This song is a passacaglia built on a mournful ground bass whose repetitions convey a sense of hopelessness. The cycle ends with Meta Titgħallem Titlaq (When You Learn to Depart) [18], a poem which expresses themes of hope and reconciliation. The music mirrors the words through gently oscillating chords and a more lyrical melodic line, ending the cycle on a more positive note.

The nine suites of Bachianas Brasileiras by HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS  (Rio de Janeiro, 1887 – Rio de Janeiro, 1959) present a heady fusion of styles, combining Brazilian folk and popular music and Baroque idioms, hence the tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach in their title. Cantilena [19] is the first movement of the fifth suite, here performed in an arrangement for soprano, harp, and cello.


Lorsque au soleil couchant les rivières sont roses,
Et qu’un tiède frisson court sur les champs de blé,
Un conseil d’être heureux semble sortir des choses
Et monter vers le cœur troublé;
Un conseil de goûter le charme d’être au monde
Cependant qu’on est jeune et que le soir est beau,
Car nous nous en allons, comme s’en va cette onde:
Elle à la mer—nous au tombeau!

When at sunset the rivers are pink
And a warm breeze ripples the fields of wheat,
All things seem to advise contentment -
And rise toward the troubled heart;
It advises us to savour the gift of life,
While we are young and the evening fair,
For our life slips by, as that river does:
It to the sea - we to the tomb

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Dans ton cœur dort un clair de lune,
Un doux clair de lune d’été,
Et pour fuir la vie importune,
Je me noierai dans ta clarté.
J’oublierai les douleurs passées,
Mon amour, quand tu berceras
Mon triste cœur et mes pensées
Dans le calme aimant de tes bras.
Tu prendras ma tête malade,
Oh! quelquefois sur tes genoux,
Et lui diras une ballade
Qui semblera parler de nous;
Et dans tes yeux pleins de tristesses,
Dans tes yeux alors je boirai
Tant de baisers et de tendresses
Que peut-être je guérirai.

Moonlight slumbers in your heart,
A gentle summer moonlight,
And to escape the cares of life
I shall drown myself in your light
I shall forget past sorrows,
My sweet, when you cradle
My sad heart and my thoughts
In the loving calm of your arms.
You will rest my poor head,
Ah! sometimes on your lap,
And recite to it a ballad
That will seem to speak of us;
And from your eyes full of sorrow,
From your eyes I shall then drink
So many kisses and so much love
That perhaps I shall be healed.

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Notre amour est chose légère
Comme les parfums que le vent
Prend aux cimes de la fougère
Pour qu'on les respire en rêvant.
Notre amour est chose légère.

Notre amour est chose charmante,
Comme les chansons du matin
Où nul regret ne se lamante,
Où vibre un espoire incertain.
Notre amour est chose charmante.

Notre amour est chose sacrée
Comme le mystère des bois
Où tressaille un âme ignorée,
Où les silences ont des voix.
Notre amour est chose sacrée.

Notre amour est chose infinie,
Comme les chemins des couchants
Où la mer, aux cieux réunie,
S'endort sous les soleils penchants.
Notre amour est chose infinie.

Notre amour est chose éternelle
Comme tout ce qu'un Dieu vainqueur
A touché du feu de son aile.
Comme tout ce qui vient du cœur.
Notre amour est chose éternelle

Our love is a light thing
Like the scents which the breeze
Gathers from the tips of the ferns
That we might breathe them when dreaming.
Our love is a light thing.

Our love is an enchanting thing,
Like the songs of the morning
In which no regret is lamented,
In which an uncertain hope vibrates.
Our love is an enchanting thing.

Our love is a sacred thing
Like the mystery of the woods
In which an unknown soul trembles,
In which silences have voices.
Our love is a sacred thing.

Our love is an infinite thing,
Like the paths of the sunsets
Where the sea, reunited with the heavens,
Falls asleep beneath the sinking suns.
Our love is an infinite thing.

Our love is an eternal thing
Like all that a victorious God
AHas touched with the flame of his wing.
Like all that comes from the heart.
Our love is an eternal thing.

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

Ô doux printemps d'autrefois, vertes saisons,
Vous avez fui pour toujours!
Je ne vois plus le ciel bleu;
Je n'entends plus les chants joyeux des oiseaux!
Enemportant mon bonheur,
Ô bien-amé, tu t'en es allé!
Et c'est en vain que revient le printemps!
Oui! Sans retour, avec toi, le gai soleil,
les jours riants sont partis!
Comme en mon coeur tout est sombre et glacé,
tout est flétri pour toujours!

O sweet Spring of yesteryear, green seasons,
You have fled forever!
I no longer see the blue sky,
I no longer hear the joyous songs of the birds!
You have fled, my love,
And with you has fled my happiness!
And it is in vain that the spring returns!
For along with you, the cheerful sun,
The laughing days have gone!
As my heart is dark and frozen,
So all is withered for evermore!

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Pour un baiser sur ta peau parfumée,
Pour un baiser dans l'or de tes cheveux
Reçois mon âme toute, ô bien-aimée !
Tu comblerais l'infini de mes vœux...
Par un baiser !

Pour un baiser distillé dans tes lèvres,
Profond, tenace et lent comme un adieu,
Souffrir le mal d'amour, et de ses fièvres brûler,
Languir et mourir peu à peu...
Dans un baiser !

For a kiss on your perfumed skin,
For a kiss in your golden hair,
Receive all my soul, my beloved!
You will fulfill my infinite wishes
For a kiss!
For a kiss hidden in your lips,
Deep, stubborn and as slow as a farewell,
Suffering the pangs of love, and burning fevers
Languising and dying little by little….
In a kiss!

Vola, o serenata: La mia diletta è sola,
e, con la bella testa abbandonata,
posa tra le lenzuola:
O serenata, vola. O serenata, vola.
Splende pura la luna,
l'ale il silenzio stende,
e dietro I veni dell'alcova bruna
la lampada s’accende.
Pure la luna splende.
Vola, o serenata,
Ah! . Ah!

Vola, o serenata: La mia diletta è sola,
ma sorridendo ancor mezzo assonnata,
torna fra le lenzuola:
O serenata, vola. O serenata, vola.
L'onda sogna su 'l lido,
e 'l vento su la fronda;
e a' baci miei ricusa ancore un nido
la mia signora bionda.
Sogna su 'l lido l'onda.
Vola, o serenata,
Ah! Ah!

Fly, o serenade: My beloved is alone,
Her beautiful carefree head
Lies between the sheets:
O serenade, fly. O serenade, fly.
The moon shines brightly,
Silence extends its wings,
And behind the shadows of the dark alcove
The lamp burns.
The moon shines brightly.
Fly, o serenade
Ah! Ah!

Fly, o serenade: My beloved is alone,
But, still smiling half asleep,
Returns between her sheets:
O serenade, fly. O serenade, fly.
The wave dreams on the shore,
And the wind on the branch;
And my blonde lady still denies
A place for my kisses
The wave dreams on the shore.
Fly, o serenade,
Ah! Ah!

Guarda; lontan lontano muore ne l'onde il sol;
stormi d'uccelli a vol tornano al piano.
Una malinconia io sento in cuore e pur non so perchè;
guardandoti negli occhi, o bella mia,
muto mi stringo a te.

Copre l'ombrìa d'un manto le cose, il cielo, il mar;
io sento tremolar ne gli occhi il pianto.
Suona l'avemaria ed é sí triste e pur non so perchè:
devotamente preghi, o bella mia,
io prego insieme con te.

Tenera ne la sera che s'empie di fulgor,
dai nostri amanti cuor va la preghiera.
E la malinconia mi fa pensare e pur non so perchè,
che un giorno, ahimè, dovrà la vita mia
perdere il sogno e te!

Look, far, far away the sun dies
flocks of birds in flight return to the plain
I feel a sadness in my heart and yet I don't know why
Looking into your eyes my beauty,
Silently I cling to you

The shadow of a cloak covers Nature, the sky, the sea,
I feel tears brimming in my eyes.
The Angelus bell rings it’s sad and yet I don't know why.
You pray devoutly, my beauty
I pray with you.

Tender in the evening Filled with a radiance
From our loving hearts goes the prayer.
And the sadness makes me think, yet I don't know why,
That one day, alas, my life
Will lose the dream and you!


Meine Seele gibt reinen Ton.
Und ich wähnte die Arme
Won dem wütenden Harme
Wilder Zeiten zerrissen schon


Meine Seele,den Beichtgesang
Wiedergewonnener Fülle!
Hebe vom Herzen die Hülle!
Heil dir, geläuterter Innenklang!


Meine Seele, dein Leben,
Quellendes, frisches Gebild!
Bülhendes hat sich begeben
Auf dem verdorrten Gefild


My soul gives forth a pure sound
And I imagined the poor thing
Already torn apart
By the furious outrages of frantic times

My soul the confessional song
Of exuberance reclaimed
Lift the pall from your heart!
Hail to thee, chiming note within!

Ring out your life
Fresh, upwelling image!
Blossoming has taken place
Upon the withered field

translation © Shawn Thuris

All’ mein Gedanken, mein Herz und mein Sinn,
Da wo die Liebste ist, wandern sie hin.
Geh’n ihres Weges trotz Mauer und Tor,
Da hält kein Riegel, kein Graben nicht vor,
Gehn wie die Vögelein hoch durch die Luft,
Brauchen kein’Brücken über Wasser und Kluft,
Finden das Städtlein und finden das Haus,
Finden ihr Fenster aus allen heraus,
Und klopfen und rufen: „mach’ auf, laß uns ein,
Wir kommen vom Liebsten und grüßen Dich fein.“

All my thoughts, my heart and my mind,
Wander to where my beloved is.
They go on their way despite wall and gate,
No bolt, no ditch can stop them,
Go high in the air like little birds,
Needing no bridge over water or chasm
They find the town and they find the house,
Find her window among all the others,
And knock and call: ‘Open up, let us in,
We come from your sweetheart who sends his love.’

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Aus dem Walde tritt die Nacht,
Aus den Bäumen schleicht sie leise,
Schaut sich um in weitem Kreise,

Nun gib Acht!

Alle Lichter dieser Welt,
Alle Blumen, alle Farben
Löscht sie aus und stiehlt die Garben
Weg vom Feld.
Alles nimmt sie, was nur hold,
Nimmt das Silber weg des Stroms
Nimmt vom Kupferdach des Doms
Weg das Gold.
Ausgeplündert steht der Strauch:
Rücke näher, Seel’ an Seele,
O die Nacht, mir bangt, sie stehle
Dich mir auch.

Night steps from the woods,
Slips softly from the trees,
Gazes about her in a wide arc,
Now beware!

All the lights of this world,
All the flowers, all the colours
She extinguishes and steals the sheaves
From the field.

She takes all that is fair,
Takes the silver from the stream,
Takes from the cathedral’s copper roof
The gold.

The bush stands plundered
Draw closer, soul to soul,
Ah the night, I fear, will steal
You too from me.

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Stell auf den Tisch die duftenden Reseden,
Die letzten roten Astern trag herbei,
Und laß uns wieder von der Liebe reden,
Wie einst im Mai.

Gib mir die Hand, daß ich sie heimlich drücke,
Und wenn man’s sieht, mir ist es einerlei,
Gib mir nur einen deiner süßen Blicke,
Wie einst im Mai.

Es blüht und duftet heut auf jedem Grabe,
Ein Tag im Jahr ist ja den Toten frei,
Komm am mein Herz, daß ich dich wieder habe,
Wie einst im Mai.

Set on the table the fragrant mignonettes,
Bring in the last red asters,
And let us talk of love again
As once in May.

Give me your hand to press in secret,
And if people see, I do not care,
Give me but one of your sweet glances
As once in May.

Each grave today has flowers and is fragrant,
One day each year is devoted to the dead;
Come to my heart and so be mine again,
As once in May.

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Und morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen
Und auf dem Wege, den ich gehen werde,
Wird uns, die Glücklichen, sie wieder einen
Inmitten dieser sonnenatmenden Erde ...
Und zu dem Strand, dem weiten, wogenblauen,
Werden wir still und langsam niedersteigen,
Stumm werden wir uns in die Augen schauen,
Und auf uns sinkt des Glückes stummes Schweigen ...

And tomorrow the sun will shine again
And on the path that I shall take,
It will unite us, happy ones, again,
Amid this same sun-breathing earth …

And to the shore, broad, blue-waved,
We shall quietly and slowly descend,
Speechless we shall gaze into each other’s eyes,
And the speechless silence of bliss shall fall on us .

English Translation © Richard Stokes

Il-vistu ma jibdiex quddiem katavru;
bħad-dell tas-sħab li jiġma’ sa ma joħnoq
sirġet ix-xemx, jibda jurik minn kmieni.
Il-vistu dgħajjes mgħaġġla li jgħaddulek
minn taħt il-gallarija bla qatt jieqfu.
Telefonata ddoqq il-Ħadd flgħaxija,
għax dawru numru b’ieħor u ġiet għandek.
Il-vistu siġġu vojt mal-mejda, ikla
għal tnejn imsajra għalxejn, u l-inbid qares
li jimla r-ras minflok ma jnessi l-weġgħa.

It’s not beside the corpse that mourning breaks.
Like cloud shadows that gather till they smother
the sunlight, you know with time to spare.
Mourning is a hasty parade of boats
that does not halt under your balcony.
A phone that rings on Sunday evening –
wrong number, but only just.
Mourning is an empty chair at the table, a meal
for two prepared in vain, sour wine
that fills the head and feeds the hurt.

Ma ħallejt xejn warajk

Ma ħallejt xejn warajk, biex mank niftakrek —

ħlief xagħrek skur li minnu, xħin għannaqtek,
slitt żewg linjiet li magħhom irbatt qalbi;

ħlief fwejħet ħwejġek, sħaba maġenb soddti,
u l-marki ta’ subgħajk fuq wiċċ l-għamara;

ħlief l-orkidea fuq is-soll tat-tieqa
tistenniek tħares lejha biex tinfetaħ;

ħlief xaqq ta’ dawl li ttawwal għal ftit ġewwa
sa ma għalaqtli l-bieb, u reġa’ dalam.

You left nothing behind

You left nothing behind to remind me of you —

but your dark tresses from which, while hugging,
I reaped two long hairs to tie my heart with;

but the scent of your clothes, a cloud by my bed,
and the trace of your fingers on the furniture;

but the orchid on the windowsill
awaiting your gaze so it can unfurl;

but a crack of light that peeked through the door
till you closed it behind you, and all went dark again.

Meta titgħallem titlaq

Meta titgħallem titlaq tkun wasalt.

Fil-gaġġa ta’ sidrek ma taqfilx iktar
il-gawwi li int u tipprova torqod
jibqa’ jokroblok taħt l-irdum ta’ soddtok.

F’moħħok ma tfaqqasx il-flieles imġewħa
jew tinseġ l-ideat li l-għajnejn ċassi
jitbeżżgħu minnhom f’nofs ta’ lejl dlam ċappa.

B’idejk ma tibnix dinjiet solitarji
u tordom f’qalbhom sigrieti ħa ssibhom
bħal ġawhar għal m’għonqok int u ġej lura.

Meta titgħallem titlaq tkun wasalt.

Once you learn to leave

Once you learn to leave, you’ll have arrived.

You’ll no longer shut the seagull
in the cage of your chest, wailing under
the cliff of your bed as you try to sleep.

You’ll no longer hatch famished chicks
in your mind, nor spin ideas for your eyes
to dodge in the midnight darkness.

Your hands will no longer build worlds
of loneliness, nor dig up secrets within them
to wear like pearls as you return.

Once you learn to leave, you’ll have arrived.

English Translation – Antoine Cassar

Tarde uma nuvem rósea lenta e transparente.
Sobre o espaço, sonhadora e bela!
Surge no infinito a lua docemente,
Enfeitando a tarde, qual meiga donzela
Que se apresta e a linda sonhadoramente,
Em anseios d'alma para ficar bela
Grita ao céu e a terra toda a Natureza!

Cala a passarada aos seus tristes queixumes
E reflete o mar toda a Sua riqueza
Suave a luz da lua desperta agora
A cruel saudade que ri e chora!
Tarde uma nuvem rósea lenta e transparente
Sobre o espaço, sonhadora e bela!

ARIA (CANTILENA) from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
Evening, a rosy cloud, slow and transparent
Over the spot, dreamlike and beautiful!
The moon gently appearing beyond the horizon,
Embellishing the eventide, like a sweet maid
Preparing herself till she's dreamily gorgeous,
With her soul avid to become beautiful
Yelling to heaven and earth, to all of Nature!

Silent are the birds to her sad laments
And reflected on the sea all of Her richness...
Soft the light of the moon awakes already
A fierce desire that laughs and cries.
Evening, a rosy cloud, slow and transparent
Over the spot, dreamlike and beautiful!