Many Are Cold, but Few Are Frozen

David Lawrence's personal blog

Let Me Freeze Again to Death

The Cold Song rings in my head a lot these days, especially when it's -20º or below outside.  It was written by Henry Purcell in his 1691 opera, King Arthur. I don't know the storyline of the opera or how the song fits in. But I do know that the most moving, dramatic rendition of the Cold Song was sung by Klaus Nomi in 1982, shortly before he died of AIDS.

 Photo: Curtis Knapp

Photo: Curtis Knapp

What Power art thou, who from below,

Hast made me rise, unwillingly and slow,

From beds of everlasting snow?

I was introduced to Klaus Nomi in by Kim, a beautiful chambermaid in London, shortly after his death.  Nomi sang everything from pop to opera to songs from the Wizard of Oz.  Madeline Bocaro's blog (which is where the picture below comes from) is an interesting read for anyone curious about his life. I love how she describes him as "an elfin creature in exquisite makeup." I don't know if he ever came to Mongolia, but in my mind, he must have experienced it at some level.

See'st thou not how stiff, and wondrous old,

Far unfit to bear the bitter cold,

Both Henry Purcell and Klaus Nomi died in their thirties from wasting diseases, tuberculosis in Purcell's case. It is easy to imagine how the last two lines from the Cold Song might relate to their final, hopeless, moments of life. But to me, they also relate to breathing the frozen, toxic air that blankets Ulaanbaatar in winter.

I can scarcely move or draw my breath,

Let me, let me, freeze again to death.