A Tale of Two Cities: Revisited

The house is full of composing right now. That sparked my jealous thing, so I started looking at the ragged lyrics I wrote for my Tale of Two Cities musical.

I’d given it up when I learned there already was a musical. And then didn’t start again because I thought, why adapt Dickens? I’ve got my own stuff to do.

But. There are some lyrics I still really like.

“Let Me Be Steel” from Act II

LUCIE

Lucie, you mustn’t be weak
Yes, you must stop your shaking
Lucie, you must keep your calm
While the whole world is breaking

Lucie the gentle, they say
How her tenderness fills her
Lucie compassionate, mild
Though her mildness kills her

If this is what tenderness brings
Cut it now from my bone
From anguish and impotence
Let me be turned to stone

Let me be steel
Let me be ice and murder
Vengeance, wrath and storm
Let me be steel
A rusted jaw to trap the foes
Who mean us harm

Make me like her–
Madame Defarge, or better–
Madame Guillotine!
An iron blade
A cold machine

Who can obliterate this fear?
Are there no Furies left to hear me?
No bright sword that I might wield
No shield at hand now he’s not near me?
I call down the frost and fire
Come and smother my compassion
For this woman whose desire
Contrives my husband’s execution
Why grieve for her bereavement
When I cannot change the past?
It’s tomorrow I’m afraid of
And the dawn will come too fast!

Lucie, you witnessed her woe
It was seething and wild
Lucie, you looked in her eyes
Saw the eyes of a child

Lucie, you sampled her rage
It’s the poison that eats her
She’ll feed it the requisite flesh
Till at last it defeats her

If this is what bitterness brings
Do I want it for mine?
Delight in the agony
Drink it like dark red wine?

Charles, I blame you
Can one man’s life be worth
A wife and child and home?
I wouldn’t change you
But can his value really be
More precious than your own?

Charles, I understand
It’s not the same, you know,
As saying I don’t mind
Oh, Charles, I think you’ll die of being kind

Charles, forgive me
Your sacrifice is small
Against this vicious flood
How could you live with
Knowing all our years of grace
Were bought with human blood?

Charles, I understand
I will show gentleness
And never let you see
The steel inside that almost vanquished me

And if my life must be a war
Why, then–
There have been wars before!

I’m just one woman
I have one duty
Come here, my Lucie
Mama’s done shaking
She will be strong for you
And she won’t cry anymore

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