4. "Che Gelida Manina"

What a cold little hand

What a frozen little hand, let me warm it for you!
What's the use of looking? We won't find it in the dark.
But luckily it's a moonlit night,
and the moon is near us here.
Wait, mademoiselle,
I will tell you in two words, who I am, what I do, and how I live. May I?
Who am I? I am a poet. What do I do? I write.
And how do I live? I live in my carefree poverty.

I squander rhymes and love songs like a lord.
When it comes to dreams and visions and castles in the air,
I've the soul of a millionaire.
From time to time two thieves steal all the jewels
out of my safe, two pretty eyes.
They came in with you just now, and my customary dreams
my lovely dreams, melted at once into thin air!
But the theft doesn't anger me, for their place has been taken by hope!
Now that you know all about me, you tell me who you are.
Please do!

Puccini's La Bohème (The Bohemians) is set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s – Rodolfo is a poet, who lives with his artist friends, all striving to make ends meet, often sacrificing their artistic ideals for work that sells. Mimi, a quiet girl who works as an embroiderer and lives in the same tenement, comes to borrow a candle from Rodolfo which leads to this tender blossoming of love as they share their first 'getting to know' you moments. Rodolfo, entranced by Mimi at the first touch of her hand, trips over himself to tell her all about himself, endearingly keen to impress.

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