Listen to the flute a-speaking,
Tell the tale of wretched exile,
Weeping for this world of sorrow
Using words of truth to spin it.
Since the day they seized and took me
From my friends and my companions,
Men and women have been weeping
At the echo of my sobbing.
I have rent my breast from beating,
Gaping holes have made within it,
How I've wept and have lamented,
Thousand sighs my heart has rendered.
I'm a friend and blithe companion
Both of this world's happy people
And of all folk sad, embittered,
With them do I make alliance.
Whate'er be the situation,
I can weep and mourn in longing,
At any time and any place will
My heart sigh and be a-moaning.
All the world does listen to me,
Sees though only my appearance,
Of my wishes they know nothing,
Nor the fire that burns within me.
People come and gather 'round me
When I weep and tell of longing,
Yet they do not know my secret,
Thus I find no consolation.
Those abandoned, hearts forsaken,
Of the flute become companions,
Some, its mellow scales a-hearing,
Lose their minds, their wits completely.
Human falsehood and illusion!
The flute's voice is not mere wind, it
Has the fire of love within it
When that lowly reed is fingered.
When it plays, the heavens brighten,
When it plays, do hearts take courage,
When it plays, the summer blossoms,
When it plays, the soul's ecstatic.
To the rose it lends its fragrance,
And to beauty adds an aura,
Gives the nightingale its music,
Charm bestows upon the cosmos.
Of that fire to the heavens
Rising, flickering and flaming,
Does it make the sun and stars which
God within his hands is holding.
From that fire, true God Almighty
All the firmament he fashioned,
Sent the spark of life, creating
Humankind after his likeness.
Fire, oh blessed fire a-blazing,
I with you have been united,
Thus am purified and blended.
Never leave me, my beloved!
Katherine Fowler was born on New Year's day, 1631 in London, England. Her father, John Fowler, was a Presbyterian merchant. Katherine was educated at one of the Hackney boarding-schools, where she became fluent in several languages. After the death of John Fowler, Katherine's mother married a Welshman, Hector Philips, and,...