I was there at the beginning, before you; I saw that there was nothing, and I wish that it had stayed so. With all my being, I must erase your existence away.
This work was originally written for Beverly Mendez's Spring 2013 Intermediate Dance class at UMW, and was first performed at their end-of-semester dance concert, In the Mix, and was performed by Paige Naylor, soprano; Lavar Edmonds and Sarah Taubner, violin; Claire Growney, viola; and Chelsea Dicus, cello.
I loosely collaborated with the class in making this song; the students were looking for something that conveyed a clash between society and nature, or something Heart of Darkness-inspired, and definitely something with words. I chose to write from the perspective of some imaginary creature that existed before the start of the universe, whose happiest moments were the infinite moments spent in pre-Bang darkness. Post-universe-creation, it spends its time attempting to revert all of existence back to black by whatever means necessary. While this does involve a lot of destruction, and definitely makes the creature villainous, I wouldn't say it fits the "devil" archetype, either. In my head, it's a very mindful, meditative evil; in the strangest way, it's looking for peace, but in the most unpeaceful way possible.
As for the title, there isn't anything specific happening on that date that inspired the piece. The date itself just sounds good spoken aloud. While attempting to retcon a meaning out of it, a couple things popped up - a total solar eclipse occurred in the southern hemisphere, the USS Cyclops launched (and later vanished), and most importantly, King Edward the VII of England died. King George V was crowned days later, and was eventually one of the powers involved in World War I, on which African colonialism (a la Heart of Darkness) definitely plays a part.
when I was born, the world was black
a thoughtful dreaming sleeping beast
but angry light did cancel sleep
to ash I vow, to ash I vow, to burn it back
one thousand years, on earth and sea
did soothe my burning heart, and comfort me
I trust the night, where all roads are mine
age eats the cities, and my hands are time
May the 7th, 1910
day I learned to smile again