November 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

I met so many wonderful people at the London TDOR memorial on Saturday. One of them was Roz Kaveney, a phenomenal poet, activist, writer of many kinds and all round brilliant lady. She’s generously given me permission to use one of her poems here, on that topic so dear to my heart – the castrati singers. Enjoy!




Little hot knives, salt baths, and many died.

And some had voices that were nasal, flat

or squeaky. Some grew spindly thin, some fat

and some were glorious. Their special pride


was in the notes that poured out and sustained

trilled ever higher yet had strength as well

the voice of Orpheus overwhelming Hell

breaking its gates. And if the hot knives pained


cutting the boy, the man surely forgot

what he was sold to. Was the shower of coin

and praise well worth the aching in the groin,

Long cramping legs? We can’t imagine what


it cost in pain, frustration, anger, tears

to bring those crystal high notes to our ears.



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