Je suis l’Empire à la fin de la décadence,
Qui regarde passer les grands Barbares blanc
En composant des acrostiches indolents
D’un style d’or où la langueur du soleil danse.

L’âme seulette a mal au coeur d’un ennui dense.
Là-bas on dit qu’il est de longs combats sanglants.
O n’y pouvoir, étant si faible aux voeux si lents,
O n’y vouloir fleurir un peu de cette existence!

O n’y vouloir, ô n’y pouvoir mourir un peu!
Ah! tout est bu! Bathylle, as-tu fini de rire?
Ah! tout est bu, tout est mangé! Plus rien à dire!

Seul, un poème un peu niais qu’on jette au feu,
Seul, un esclave un peu coureur qui vous néglige,
Seul, un ennui d’on ne sait quoi qui vous afflige!

  • Global Warning8:09

I am the Empire in the last of its decline,
That sees the tall, fair-haired Barbarians pass,—the while
Composing indolent acrostics, in a style
Of gold, with languid sunshine dancing in each line.

The solitary soul is heart-sick with a vile
Ennui. Down yon, they say, War’s torches bloody shine.
Alas, to be so faint of will, one must resign
The chance of brave adventure in the splendid file,—

Of death, perchance! Alas, so lagging in desire!
Ah, all is drunk! Bathyllus, hast done laughing, pray?
Ah, all is drunk,—all eaten! Nothing more to say!

Alone, a vapid verse one tosses in the fire;
Alone, a somewhat thievish slave neglecting one;
Alone, a vague disgust of all beneath the sun!

frank stemper

Global Warning  (2006)

for solo piano  8 mins.


There is very little a composer, or any artist, can do about the tangible realities of the world.  Writing music does little to feed the poor, influence the abhorrence of racism, or stop international conflicts that lead to war.  Our species’ selfishness and greed is a reality, which is fueled by its leaders, who have the talent to positively influence the concrete world, but rarely use it for that purpose.  I guess humanity’s self-destructive pattern and course is set and will eventually play itself out.

Although this seems hopeless, there is at least one ideology that might lead to a better conclusion for us: Art.

GLOBAL WARNING was written for pianist Junghwa Lee, and she premiered it in Orleons, France - outside of Paris, where my wife and I lived with our first two children in the early 1980's.  It was inspired by the first stanza of Paul Verlaine’s LANGUEUR:


by Paul Verlaine