Halleria lucida L. [Tree Fuchsia]
Words (of W. H. Auden) You like Ben. But does Ben like you?
Music (of Benjamin Britten) Like us? No! He loves us!
Words It's never, "Do I mean that still?"
Words Never, "Was I being sincere?"
Music The idea.
Words Look. I have to come clean. We, the poems, the stuff he's written... we are sometimes hated.
Music Hated? But he wrote you.
Words We embarrass him. We embarrass him so much several of my collegues never even made it into the Collected Poems.
Words Excluded. Purged.
Words Never spoken of again. There was Spain, a perfectly good poem cut out completely. Another one, September 1, 1939, he had 'second thoughts' about. And you can't do that, you see. It makes the rest of the oeuvre very nervous... I mean, who's going to be next?
Music Dear me. I don't like the sound of this. Still let's look on the bright side: people only listen to the music; nobody listen to the words.
Words That's what Wystan says. (...) In the opera house words themselves go for nothing. An operatic audience doesn't listen to the words and only hears maybe one in five. But that's not the point. The librettist's function comes earlier because what the librettist, the writer of words, has paradoxically to do is deliver the music. The librettist is a midwife.
Alan Bennett, The Habit of Art (Faber and Faber, 2009)