for violin, cello, and piano
for solo cello
I. A king and a queen have three daughters, the youngest of whom is the most beautiful.
II. Psyche, as the youngest is called, is so beautiful that every day throngs of her father’s subjects come to gaze at her and pay her homage – homage that has before been paid to the Goddess Venus along. There is, however, no satisfaction for Psyche in these honors; for though she is adored by so many, she remains always alone: an object of beauty to which no one dare aspire. Her sisters quickly marry, each to the son of a king. They mock Psyche, soon causing her to hate the beauty which sets her apart.
III. Not content with Psyche’s loneliness, the gods decree more punishment upon her. For daring to possess beauty which rivals the divine, Psyche is condemned by the oracle of Apollo to be dressed as a bride and left by her family on a hilltop, there to be taken in wedlock by a monster. A second decree is then pronounced upon Psyche by Venus. To punish her for daring to receive honors which are due only to the goddess of beauty, Venus calls upon her son, Eros, to cast a spell upon Psyche: to fall desperately in love with the vilest of earthy creatures.
IV. In accordance with these commandments Psyche is left on the hilltop but is saved from her fate by Eros, who upon sending her great beauty cannot bring himself to carry out the sentence. Instead he secretly carries her off to a magnificent palace and makes her his wife. Each night he visits her but leave always just before daybreak with the warning that she must never look upon his face.
V. Still Psyche’s doubts grow. She is pregnant now and she begins to fear that the father of her child is really the monster she was doomed to marry. Finally she gives in to her suspicions and, following her sisters’ advice, takes a lamp and knife into the bedchamber to find the monster and kill him; but as she takes the forbidden look she is amazed to find instead of a monster, the god of love peacefully sleeping. For a moment she watches him; then she bends to kiss him, but as she does a drop of hot oil from her lamp falls on her shoulder and awakes him. Saddened by her doubt, he reproaches her and takes his leave.