Posts tagged with “music”

April 02


I have read many more books since my last post, but this is far more worthy I think for a long overdue post.  From my earlier blogging you may know I sing with a Choral Society.

For our next concert on July the Fourth we shall be adopting an American theme, and this has led us to the piece "Harmonium" by John Adams. The poetry he adopted to go with this "choral symphony" will mean a good deal to me, as you can read below.

Apparently he had much of the opening of the piece already in mind and then the poem slotted into place.  I do think the result is striking - these poems are powerful enough in themselves but set to music can add another dimension, perhaps? (I have mixed feelings on that score, but then again the music stands by it's own merit also).


Negative Love or The Nothing


I never stoop'd so low, as they

Which on an eye, cheek, lip, can prey.

Seldom to them, which soar no higher

Than virtue or the mind to admire.

For sense, and understanding may

Know what gives fuel to their fire:

My love, though silly, is more brave,

For may I miss, whene'er I crave,

If I know yet, what I would have.

If that be simply perfectest,

Which can by no way be express'd

But Negatives, my love is so.

To All, which all love, I say no.

If any who deciphers best,

What we know not, our selves, can know,

Let him teach me that nothing; this

As yet my ease and comfort is,

Though I speed not, I cannot miss.

- John Donne

Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For his civility.

We passed the school where children played

At wrestling in a ring;

We passed the fields of gazing grain,

We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed

A swelling of the ground:

The roof was scarcely visible,

The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries; but each

Feels shorter than the day

I first surmised the horses' heads

Were toward eternity.

- Emily Dickinson

Wild Nights--- Wild Nights!

Were I with thee

Wild nights should be

Our Luxury!

Futile---the winds---

To a Heart in port---

Done with the Compass---

Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden---

Ah, the sea!

Might I but moor--- Tonight---

In thee!

- Emily Dickinson


This concert will have tremendous personal resonance for me.  A couple of years ago when I started singing I had just been jilted by a wonderful Canadian woman, who had given me many things.  Not least among these were a renewed passion for poetry (John Donne among our favourites), a brief awakening of youthful passion before I seem to have settled into middle age proper, and in her parting the idea to sing.  So now to be singing of love and these poems almost feels a dedication to her.

The first evokes our relationship so very much for me, since my parting words to her were that she had "given me the greatest gift, myself".  The middle one has more to do with how I feel now, with the brevity of life weighing on me.  The last brings back fond memories of just how passionate our relationship was whilst it lasted.

Singing has been quite a challenge to me, but a rewarding one.  On an amusing side note it felt quite peculiar when I joined the society because one of the Alto singers was strikingly familiar to the lady who I had just been rejected by!  To this day I find myself awkward if I have to talk with her!

If you get a chance to listen to the Harmonium you'll realise it is not the easiest piece to do justice to... I hope I can.  I think you can see from this that it would mean a lot to me.  I am still feeling very much in love with this woman and if there is an opportunity for me to lay this ghost to rest then perhaps this is it... Or perhaps I have to carry my love for her to the grave.  I can think of worse crosses to bear!

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January 05

I listened to this first thing on New Years Day and thoroughly enjoyed it, the words were so positive.  This is really a bit strange and something of an aberation from my normal taste in music - I guess I'm weird and somewhat eclectic from time to time....

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