Copyright © 1997 by Barry Truax

As the tape starts, the lights reveal a bare stage at the back of which is an intense field of light that create a "ganzfeld", a dimensionless image of space with no object to give it a sense of depth. A 'knife edge' barrier frames this field (the 'Beyond'), and steps lead into it. The sounds on the tape are mainly derived from breath and breathing.

The singers are heard offstage singing a Requiem, during which the dancers escort the Woman up the steps and into the Beyond space where she turns and faces the audience.

Artist & Man: Requiem in aeternam dona eis

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Sappho & Woman:

Voices, voices. Hear them, my heart, as before

only saints heard; so that the gigantic cry

lifted them from the ground; but they kept kneeling,

those impossible ones, and paid it no heed.

That's when they heard. Not that you'd endure the voice,

God's, not by far. But hear the wind's lament,

the unbroken tidings that form from the silence.

They rush towards you now from those youthful dead.

Artist: What is their desire? Quietly shall I rid myself

of evil's apparitions, which might interfere

with their spirits' pure movement.

Man: The fact is they no longer need us, these too-young-departed;

one gently slips away from the earth as one gradually outgrows

a mother's breast.

All: Yet we, who need such gigantic

secrets, for whom sorrow is so often

our source of progress in grace - can we exist without them?

R. M. Rilke: Duino Elegy I (trans. by Norbert Ruebsaat)

Woman: And the ghosts of generations past

wept to be remembered.
Erna Paris: The End of Days

Artist & Man: Requiem in aeternam dona eis

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

The Artist and Sappho enter from the left and right sides of the house, respectively, wearing the kimono and cape with which they finished the previous acts. They proceed slowly toward the knife-edge. The male and female dancers appear in the Beyond area, the male to the left and the female to the right. Optionally, the Seer and Sibyl appear wordlessly, and observe the action.

Artist & Sappho:

He[she] comes, a moon[sun] whose like the sky ne'er saw, awake or dreaming,

Crowned with eternal flame no flood can lay.

Lo, from the flagon of Thy love, O Lord, my soul is swimming,

And ruined all my body's house of clay.

As, the sun[moon] moving, clouds behind him[her] run,

All hearts attend thee, O Divine Sun!

Jalal al-Din Rumi: The Divan of Shams I Tabriz (trans. by R. A. Nicholson)

The Artist and Sappho proceed up the steps to the knife-edge where they kneel; the male dancer approaches and kisses the Artist at the same time as the female dancer does the same with Sappho. They sing of their joy at this union with the "Divine Beloved" as they enter the stage area and join their partners.

Artist: Thus our twin-souls in one shall grow,

And teach the World new love,

Redeem the age and sex, and show

A flame Fate dares not move:

And courting Death to be our friend,

Our lives together too shall end.

Katherine Philips: To Mrs. M. A. at Parting

Sappho: Happy the moment when we are seated in the Palace, thou and I,

With two forms and with two figures but with one soul, thou and I.
Jalal al-Din Rumi: The Divan of Shams I Tabriz (trans. by R. A. Nicholson)

The Man (baritone) enters from the house, dressed in a dark suit and open shirt. He tries to approach the stage opening but becomes fearful and is repulsed back.

Man: Eeeeh, eeeeh ....

I do not see, I cannot breathe.

Nothing is there for my eyes to grasp

And I no longer exist

... no eye, not I ....

It is strange to no longer live on the earth,

to abandon one's habits, so recently acquired,

to no longer give to the rose

the significance of a human future;

to no longer be that which with endlessly trembling hands

one once was, and to have even one's name

drop away like a broken toy.

It is strange to no longer wish for things,

to see all that once had substance, connection,

flutter about so freely in space. And yes, it is tiring

to be dead, filled with recollection,

until gradually one might sense

a piece of eternity.

R. M. Rilke: Duino Elegy I (trans. by Norbert Ruebsaat)

A dimly defined figure (the soprano) begins to be seen inside the light field. She rises and is seen from the back with her head lowered. She wears the fringed scarf over a neutral-coloured smock that catches the bright colours of the light field. She begins to sing in long lyrical tones.

Woman: Ooooh, ooooh ...

Orpheus, Orpheus,

Can you hear me?

Are you here at last?

Man: Miranda, is it you,

Or are you only in my dreams?

I need to see if you are real

And bring you to my arms.

Woman: (turning towards the front)

Approach but do not look at me,

My voice will guide you in, bring you here.

Find the music in your soul

And sing your innermost song.

The Man moves backwards towards the knife-edge opening, and each time he reaches it, the dancers remove an article of clothing from him, first his jacket and then his shirt, to which he responds with increasing anguish which makes him move away again. During the approach, however, they sing with great longing. The last time he backs off, he collapses on the stage, while the Woman turns away sadly.

Man: Music, which tunes the soul for love

And stirs up all our soft desires,

Does but the growing flame improve

Which pow'rful Beauty first inspires.

Woman: Although we know we love, yet while our soul

Is thus imprisoned by the flesh we wear,

There's no way left that bondage to control,

But to convey transactions through the ear.

Man:Eeeeh ... (backing away)

Thus, whilst with art she plays and sings,

I to Miranda, standing by,

Impute the music of the strings

And all the melting words apply.

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720)

Woman: Yea, though we read our passions in the eye,

It will oblige and please to tell them too:

Such joys as these by motion multiply,

Were't but to find that our souls had told us true.

Katherine Philips (1631-64):To My Lucasia, in Defence of Declared Friendship

Man: Eeeeh ... (backing away and collapsing)

The singers and dancers inside the light field now turn their attention to the Man who is the only one remaining outside. They lure him, backwards again, towards the knife-edge, but each time he is fearful.

Artist & Sappho: Listen ... Approach ...

Woman: Approach but do not look at me,

My voice will guide you here.

Man: Eeeeh, eeeeh ....

I do not see, I cannot breathe.

Each and every angel is terrible,

And I am overpowered by his embrace.

When the Man arrives at the knife-edge, the dancers use the silk scarf to blindfold him. He ceases to resist and allows himself to be guided backwards over the knife edge. Once inside, they turn him around and, with his back to the audience, they clothe him with the same kind of light-coloured smock as worn by the Woman.

Woman: Find the music in your soul

And sing your innermost song.

The blindfold is removed and the Man and Woman kiss.

Man & Woman: With two forms and with two figures but with one soul, thou and I.

Artist: (to the Man) My brother! (they embrace)

Sappho: (to the Woman) My sister! (they embrace)

Man: (to the Artist)

This sacred tye between thy self and me,

Not to be alter'd by my Destiny;

This tye, which equal to my new desires

Preserv'd it self amidst Loves softer Fires.

Artist: Let me with Sappho and Orinda be,

Oh ever sacred Muse, adorn'd by thee;

And give my Verses Immortality.

Aphra Behn: A Voyage To The Isle of Love

All: (to their respective partners) My beloved! (they embrace)

As the various tonal centres begin to glide upwards and downwards to the final tonal unison, the singers move about the stage accompanied by their respective partners. They seem to defy gravity and attain a new sense of serenity.

All: We are the stars which sing,

We sing with our light;

We are the birds of fire,

We fly over the sky.

Our light is a voice:

Our voice is a light.

We make a road for spirits,

For the spirits to pass over.

We look down on the mountains.

This is the Song of the Stars.

Passamaquoddy and Micmac song,The Algonquin Legends of New England

They exit slowly. During the final chorus the dancers dance in joy in front of the light field, ending with their scarves held in a triumphant posture, appearing to join together as they lead the cast to their final exit.