Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just a song at twilight shimmers ...

Her name is Giuditta Scorcelletti. Her singing voice, even in an alien tongue, was as serene as smooth old hands that stroked my head when I was sleepy, as sweet as memories of conch-shells and woodsmoke at twilight.

I came upon her just before twilight, walking over cobblestones into the setting sun as it mellowed in the horizon's haze. In an alleyway that led from one church to another, in a strange beautiful dreaming town atop a hill in Tuscany, I heard music. Like "cathedral bells / tripping down the alley-ways / as I walked on".

Was somebody playing a recording in the church, at evensong?

I peeped into first one doorway, then another and another.

Till there she was, sitting by the wall with her guitar and her music, "strumming my pain with her fingers", but I did not know the lives she sang with her song.
I stepped through the arched doorway, from the pouring gold of the sunset into the quiet shades of an art gallery.

I stood there, unsure of myself, embarrassed that I may be gawking, yet loth to leave that cave of music within a larger beauty. She sang on, unperturbed, until she sensed my awkwardness. And nodded gravely to set me at my ease, with a smile that lay more in her guile-less open face than any perceptible change in expression.

I leaned against the wall and looked around. In a corner lay a basket with a few CDs and some paper money. I wandered over and realised it was her recording. As I knelt down to pick up a CD, I looked back at her and caught a flicker of a smile and a little shrug, as if she spoke to me. Of our need for money to live and to sing, of a search for dignity that led to recorded CDs rather than a hatful of coins, of a love for the songs of childhood, of joy in finding a voice to sing with.

That was a year ago, when she had just recorded her first collection of Tuscan folk songs (playing here even as I type this). What prompted me to pull up her picture again today, after so many months? Strange, because apparently she will play in Vallombrosa tomorrow. I hope the learned members of the Browning Society will hearken to her music, the songs of a Tuscan girl, rather than the research material of “an anthropologist and folklorist” (which she is).

And I hope her music will bring to them the shades of twilight in San Gimignano, a town of sun-gilded stone upon a hilltop in Tuscany with van Gogh vineyards clustered in the plains below.


Don shoestring budget said...


Ph said...

So do you have the CD with you?

Kaushik said...

Ah! The joys of travel without plan and of browsing through libraries.
The link from the title to your earlier post was good.
CD kinechiley ki?

Falstaff said...

Beautiful. Especially liked the S&G reference.

Though "In THAT alleyway that led from one church to another, in A strange beautiful dreaming town". ouch!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Don, grazie.

Ph, KC - I wrote that the CD was playing as I typed the post.

Falstaff, I find nothing wrong with that construction. The consumer, however, is King; I have therefore edited the post.


Ph said...

Oops you did. My bad. I guess the real question is, how can I arm twist you to get a copy. :P

Don shoestring budget said...

Actually it was the lady I was speaking of :D!

Kahini said...


Samanth said...

"Sun-gilded stone" describes San Gimignano perfectly. That's how I imagine it to be, anyway, because we were there at night, when all those alleyways are lit up and all those little shops can never look more fascinating. My friend was actually conned into buying a crossbow there - and he was promptly divested of it at the airport when he re-entered America.

gawker said...

Ah, to be able to make music for a living.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Kahini, are you referring to the lady too?

Samanth, you should go back and spend a day there.

Gawker, I wish I could play the guitar.

I'm most disappointed that nobody appreciated my skill as a photographer.


Suchi said...

Very nice. Write more of this rather than the other stuff about unknown people (unknown to me) who comment on other unknown people


Love your blog name! J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot is one of my favorite poems.

M (tread softly upon) said...

wish you could have the music play when one opened up the links. BTW the photos were beautiful too :))

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Suchi, strive to know more.

Eating Poetry, The Love Song is my very favourite poem.

M(tsu), thankee kindly for photo appreciation. Must work on audio links, that's a good idea.


Loony Libberswick of Llapland said...

I love this. I really really do. I can't think of anything intelligent to say. This is like a recurrent dream. Ok...fantasy. Its beautiful.

Loony Libberswick of Llapland said...

I meant recurring. Not exactly malapropism. I'm just sleepy.