(“There is a Tower at the Sea”) is inspired in a Sephardic Jewish song of the same name from medieval Spain, originally documented during the first half of the twentieth century by pioneer musicologists Alberto Hemsi and Isaac Levy in locales of the Sephardic Diaspora such as Rhodes, Salonika, Alexandria, and Istanbul.
When I read the lyrics, I try to imagine the context of the story. Who is this mysterious woman: friend, lover, a stranger...perhaps a siren? In some anthologies, an alternate title is La Serena, which in archaic Spanish perhaps meant “The Siren” or “The Serene One,” or perhaps both. Reconstructing the story, I think of a sailor gazing from the bridge of his ship at a castle in twilight. I picture the ship gently rocking back and forth, enveloped by the warm breeze of a Mediterranean evening; the sailor singing of loneliness accompanied by the sound of distant waves crashing against cliffs. The appearance of the woman at the window of the castle's tower turns his lament into a serenade reminiscent of the lull of the sea and the steps of a sensual dance. A declaration of love ensues and.....what happens next? Does the siren extend her hand to the sailor? Do the lovers unite (or perhaps reunite?)? Does he fall under her spell, locked in that tower for eternity or does sail past the bay toward high seas, never to return?
Yo soy una rosa
Presente y pasado del pueblo judio en Bosnia .