Henry Purcell: King Arthur “The Cold Song”

November 28, 2007

An unforgettable performance by the late Klaus Nomi. Notes by anTONYM2M2 and thanks to Brad for bringing this to my attention.

I remember seeing Klaus Nomi for the first time on the BBC’s The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1979 and I thought how peculiarly odd he was…..with that female soprano voice, his odd appearance and a pop sensibility to-boot, he was bizarre and brilliant.

Klaus had made an impact on new-wave music in the late 70’s and was working to break into the pop mainstream just before he died. His first love however, was Opera.

In this video, Klaus sings Purcell’s strange aria The Cold Song from the English 17th century baroque opera King Arthur

The opera’s composer Purcell died in 1695 from incurable T.B. aged 36, while in 1983 Klaus sadly died succumbing to complications due to Aids, aged 39. Both men were remarkably talented but died so young.

———- Purcell’s Cold Genius ———–

What power art thou, who from below
Hast made me rise unwillingly and slow
From beds of everlasting snow
See’st thou not ( how stiff )2) and wondrous old
Far unfit to bear the bitter cold,
I ( can scarcely move or draw my breath )2)
Let me, let me freeze again to death.3)


The Lyrics to this old aria are strangely prophetic. Watching it now, knowing what a difficult time Klaus was having, just adds to its intensity and sadness

The film The Nomi Song was released a few years ago…telling the Klaus Nomi story… see trailer here

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Brad Wood November 29, 2007 at 7:32 pm

When I found this Nomi music video link in another forum, I was reminded of two poems sent me many years ago, and which I then found incredibly moving. Sometime ago but fairly recently, they flooded back into memory—or, their vibration as it were, without the specifics—and I was suddenly sobbing (behavior quite unusual for me). I went hunting for them, and miraculously, I located the original hardcopy in a storage locker (you would have to see it to realize how superficially unlikely this was) and transcribed them into something more portable.

Ostensibly, and I have essentially zero backup that would qualify as provenance, I gather the poems were “channeled” by the Milwaukee person shown below, and represent the final words of a young Nordic arctic explorer whose polar expedition ended tragically.

Whether channeled or not, I think they are lovely and should be set (although securing copyright permission could be complex 😉 ). Anyone??

(sent to me years ago by Mike Michalski, iirc):

Oh My Tears

Think of the white, grey and azure sky
Built upon the green, green velvet
And remember all the children chasing leaves.

Then stop the stars
White, silver, golden stars
Before they walk the children to the Earth
And end all the azure of life
Only to cry

O my tears
Never to see sky
As I must die before my tears are half-shed
And my life half-lived

O my tears


(second poem)

(carved in ice at the North Pole)

In this black hour of frost and ice
I wait for her in robes of sun and snow
Love her wings, and all the brilliant stars
Her lightening path to my side
Send her to me with soft bells
And gentle trumpets of gold
For now I die

Axel Nysted
trance channeled by Guy Meyer
Milwuakee, Wisconsin 1969

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