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II - Bords De L'Ilissus - text

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Composer: Erik Satie Piano: Deborah Richards Alto: Hilke Helling From 1991 recording: Erik Satie / John Cage - Socrate / Cheap Imitation The libretto for this part is derived from a French translation of Plato's Phaedrus (4-5).

English translation:
[From Phaedrus, 4–5]

Socrates
Let us turn aside and go by the Ilissus; we will sit down at some quiet spot.

Phaedrus
I am fortunate in not having my sandals, and as you never have any, I think that we may go along the brook and cool our feet in the water; this will be the easiest way, and at midday and in the summer is far from being unpleasant.

Socrates
Lead on, and look out for a place in which we can sit down.

Phaedrus
Do you see the tallest plane-tree in the distance?

Socrates
Yes.

Phaedrus
There are shade and gentle breezes, and grass on which we may either sit or lie down.

Socrates
Move forward.

Phaedrus
I should like to know, Socrates, whether the place is not somewhere here at which Boreas is said to have carried off Orithyia from the banks of the Ilissus?

Socrates
Such is the tradition.

Phaedrus
And is this the exact spot? The little stream is delightfully clear and bright; I can fancy that there might be maidens playing near.

Socrates
I believe that the spot is not exactly here, but about a quarter of a mile lower down, where you cross to the temple of Artemis, and there is, I think, some sort of an altar of Boreas at the place.

Phaedrus
I have never noticed it; but I beseech you to tell me, Socrates, do you believe this tale?

Socrates
The wise are doubtful, and I should not be singular if, like them, I too doubted. I might have a rational explanation that Orithyia was playing with Pharmacia, when a northern gust carried her over the neighbouring rocks; and this being the manner of her death, she was said to have been carried away by Boreas. [...] according to another version of the story she was taken from Areopagus, and not from this place. [...] But let me ask you, friend: have we not reached the plane-tree to which you were conducting us?

Phaedrus
Yes, this is the tree.

Socrates
By Here, a fair resting-place, full of summer sounds and scents. Here is this lofty and spreading plane-tree, and the agnus castus high and clustering, in the fullest blossom and the greatest fragrance; and the stream which flows beneath the plane-tree is deliciously cold to the feet. Judging from the ornaments and images, this must be a spot sacred to Achelous and the Nymphs. How delightful is the breeze:--so very sweet; and there is a sound in the air shrill and summerlike which makes answer to the chorus of the cicadae. But the greatest charm of all is the grass, like a pillow gently sloping to the head. My dear Phaedrus, you have been an admirable guide.

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