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Godiva (Monodrama for Mezzo Soprano and Piano on a Libretto by Caitlin Vincent) (2019)

Godiva (Monodrama for Mezzo Soprano and Piano on a Libretto by Caitlin Vincent)

Men have a talent for invention.
With a simple stroke of a quill,
they redact, revise, mischaracterize.
I have lived a thousand years
in the written thoughts of men.
A thousand years.
Not as flesh but as myth.
No one remembers the ‘why.’
The ‘how.’
Even the ‘who.’
All they recall:
Lady Godiva naked on a horse.
Lady Godiva naked. . . and chocolate.
[with frustration]
Is it worse to be forgotten than to be misremembered?
I am tired of the stories.
How they linger on my hair, my sex, my skin.
I am Godiva.
Not a victim or a fool.
Or a vessel for men’s desire.
Just a woman who made a choice.
My husband was greedy.
Always demanding more tax.
Even when the people would starve.
I pleaded.
Until he finally broke.
“I will lower the tax,
when you ride naked through the town.”
He thought to weaken my resolve.
As if he didn’t know me at all.
But I stripped off my robe.
Unbound my hair.
Veiled my body in sunlight.
And rode my horse through the square.
I reveled in my gown of sun.
Then turned for home.
Forget the stories you’ve read.
The legend you’ve heard.
Remember this Godiva.
Not the myth... but me.
The text GODIVA is used by permission of the author, Caitlin Vincent, copyright © 2019

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Juliana Hall is an American composer of art songs and vocal chamber music.

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