Clair de Lune, by Paul Verlaine, 1869
Your soul is as a moonlit landscape fair,
Peopled with maskers delicate and dim,
That play on lutes and dance and have an air
Of being sad in their fantastic trim.
The while they celebrate in minor strain
Triumphant love, effective enterprise,
They have an air of knowing all is vain,—
And through the quiet moonlight their songs rise,
The melancholy moonlight, sweet and lone,
That makes to dream the birds upon the tree,
And in their polished basins of white stone
The fountains tall to sob with ecstasy
When artist Mauro Ffortissimo originally came up his plan to play an aging baby grand piano on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Half Moon Bay, the idea was to play it for the entire month of February and let the instrument succumb to the elements.
But when Half Moon Bay City officials told Ffortissimo last week to remove the piano because he lacks a permit to keep it on the grassy patch where the piano has sat since Feb. 1, the fate of Half Moon Bay’s beloved baby grand suddenly changed.
Now, Valentine’s Day will be the last day that Ffortissimo will play the piano on the bluffs at the end of Kelly Avenue. He’s planning to play something romantic, like “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy, he said.
“Clair de Lune,” meaning "moonlight" in French, is the third and most famous movement of Suite bergamasque. Its name comes from Paul Verlaine's poem of the same name.
On Friday when the romance is over and the code enforcers come, Ffortissimo said he and his friends will cart away the piano, moving it to the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club, which graciously volunteered to take it off his hands for the evening where members and their accompanied guests can attend. Then it will move onto a boat on Saturday for its last brush with the ocean air.
Ffortissimo will then play it one last time on Sunday at Enso art gallery and studio, eventually burning it in a field on his property.
And then after that? “I will take a much needed nap,” said Ffortissimo, who says he is “fried” and surprised by how much attention he's gotten for playing a warped, out of tune piano.
Over the past two weeks, hundreds of people have come out to see him play at sunset. Some nights he was even accompanied by other musicians. Many will be sad to see it go so soon, but then again, "part of the piece's charm," said Ffortissimo, "is that it's temporary."
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