The Saint and the Monk

(2010)

"The Saint and the Monk" is the first song in Steven Mark Kohn's Three Impudent Arias, which sets texts adapted from the writing of Ambrose Bierce.

The Saint and the Monk


Saint Peter stood at the gates of heaven,
displaying the tools of his awful trade;
the key to the gate, a scowl as pitiless as night
and curled at his side-interrogation points.


Now, straight up the shining cloudway a solitary soul advanced.
A fat and jolly fellow with laughter lines upon each rosy jowl.
He was a Monk, with a smile so prepossessing
that the Saint admired him instantly and without pause,
forgot his scowl and all his questions,
and even failed to ask this gentleman “who are you?”
And instead, he threw wide the gate with a friendly grin
and said “welcome friend, please come in!”


The Monk smiled pleasantly, and peering past the Saint, said
“excuse me sir, …but who’s in there?”


This impudence dispelled the Saint’s esteem
A frown began to blacken on his brow


“Oh, I meant no offense”, the Monk explained.
“It’s just that I’m a little, you know, particular. That’s all”.


“How dare you, sir!” replied the Saint, with anger swelling in his chest.
“No one questions orders issued from the throne of God!”


The Monk merely sighed, and calling up a smile,
said, “forgive me, sir. Put up your chain and bar.
I’m going, if it please you, where the pretty women are”.


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