Svengali

“I’ll make you!”, he promised the lovely young singer;
“the city will fall at your feet!”

As one who’d just moved from a provincial village,
and, having scant portions to eat
the girl was seduced by the vision he offered
of glamor and money and fame;
she’d striven and practiced and mastered her voice,
and felt she deserved such acclaim

She could sense he had power, an animal kind,
and would battle for her like a bull;
success in the Arts, after all, comes from smarts
of a kind not acquired at school

The lust in his eyes? Well, it was no surprise
every buck in her village had shown it;
a girl who has charms that few men can resist,
if she wishes to prosper, must own it

She had no intention of being his lover;
she’d engaged in such games long before;
a girl could, she knew, to a line make men hew
that would make her more master than whore

With clinking champagne flutes, the pair launched their mission
to make her the toast of the town;
between them was more than enough raw ambition
to knock every obstacle down

In scarcely a year since the day of their meeting
her fame, like a rocket, did soar;
she played Carmen, Aida, Tosca, Olympia
Lucia di Lammermoor

To her all the doors of the city flew open
with he as her mentor and guide;
he’d offered to Paris its newest sensation,
and his heart swiftly grew flush with pride

He began to imagine that through such success
not a debt, but her heart he had earned;
One night, in her dressing room, after a show
he attempted a kiss, but was spurned

“Heartless ingrate!” he sputtered out in mounting rage,
“I’m taking back all that I gave you!
From your perch you shall topple, my haughty young fool,
and nothing on this earth will save you!”

And soon, as if some magic spell had been broken,
his cruel prophecy was fulfilled;
her skin lost its luster, her beauty diminished
her once dulcet voice became shrill

New divas emerged to attract the town’s interest
while she became yesterday’s story;
she’d have gladly become his slave, body and soul,
in exchange for her lost former glory

But, where was the man who had given, then taken,
and in whom all hope for her lay?
Their last exchange closed with a kiss and a curse,
and she’d heard not a word since that day

And no word would she hear, for the man disappeared
why, all traces of him had been scattered;
had it all been a dream? So, to her, did it seem
as her world fell around her and shattered

No aria rises to offer redemption,
there’s naught but these words on a page;
Two phantoms, laid low by Desire, in silence,
now tragically drift off the stage