My Toy Theatre

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When I was born and placed upon my parent’s bridal bed
Made from the timber of a nobleman’s unwanted coffin
They say I screamed an endless song
Beyond that snuffed out spark
Frightened of the dark
That covers land like blight
Now all the verses that I sing
Are pulled out of the superstitious night

My poor mad grandfather would take his knife and carved strange beasts
Sometimes he’d wander from the forest with garlands in his hair
He sat shaping creatures that resembled dogs with wings
As harmless lunatics weave cradles out of twine
But deep within the spinning room
I feared one day this madhouse might be mine

All of them had recognised their worth
Accept for the changeling that lives beneath the stairs
I knew I was a foundling of some noble birth

My father dreamed some rare dreams for a shoemaker
He made for me this very fine toy theatre
He taught me how I might first cut and then dress the paper dolls
Showed me strings I should attach to every puppet and fool
And in time it came to me to give to them their stories and their souls

So do you think that my pale eye
Would fail to spy the street below?
Where gutters run with butcher’s blood
They say untold wealth lies
Beneath all unholy cries
While the poor pour fiery furnaces that spout
The brass that’s battered out into cornets that will trump
Notes from the wan fanfare of every loveless chump
Slumped in doorways, dimmed like lamps

Airs are strained with brazen verses
Harlot’s curses, dipping into beggar’s purses
Gambler’s hunches
Songs of finches
Forfeit these and sweeter stenches
Old men die by shrunken inches
Infants chained to factory benches

And yet I wait for him or is it her?
Hoping that they may appear
In My Toy Theatre
The words I really long to reach
Hide behind each halting speech
Just as some familiar hand lies just beyond my grasp
From that first fine entrance and through each mistake until our life’s last gasp

My Toy Theatre (unreleased song)
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello

 Written for Elvis' unfinished chamber opera The Secret Songs.
Known performances:
October 8, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark
October 9, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark
October 10, 2005, Aarhus, Denmark
     (3 known performances)

Category:Unreleased songs1999-00-00 live.jpg

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