To Music

Its been a long day  and I don’t have the energy to create something fresh, but  wanted to be faithful to poetry month.   I thought,  “Hmm    what are some of the things my friends have written about music?” Of course for every good piece, there are a zillion that I should not have unearthed. But let me share a couple that touched me:

Walter de la Mare was an English poet. 1873 – 1956.

When music sounds, gone is the earth I know, 
And all her lovely things even lovelier grow; 
Her flowers in vision flame, her forest trees 
Lift burdened branches, stilled with ecstasies. 
When music sounds, out of the water rise 
Naiads whose beauty dims my waking eyes, 
Rapt in strange dreams burns each enchanted face, 
With solemn echoing stirs their dwelling-place. 
When music sounds, all that I was I am 
Ere to this haunt of brooding dust I came; 
And from Time’s woods break into distant song 
The swift-winged hours, as I hasten along.
I love the line  “When music sounds, all that I was I am.”  It reminds me of Exodus, 3: 14 where Moses first meets God, who says  “I am who I am.”   Music has that sacred, transcendent quality about it.  I am ever grateful she is my muse.

Another favorite comes from the Bard himself:

Sonnet 128: How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st by William Shakespeare
How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st,
Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway’st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand!
To be so tickled, they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips
O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blest than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.
It starts right away with the very beginning of the poem: “How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st, Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway’st”       Did you know that the Spanish word for playing guitar is   tocare la guitarra “to touch” the guitar.  It is such an intimate gesture, in contrast to just playing the the guitar.   And if you look at the guitar, or almost any instrument,  one does that. You
embrace it, and it embraces you and makes sweet music in return.
Ironically  Shakespeare always seems to lead me to Schubert’s “Die Musik”  that is  “To Music.”   which is such a beautiful piece, whether it is an instrumental or vocal performance. The texts seem to steal from each other quite readily .

German.png German text

Du holde Kunst, in wieviel grauen Stunden,
Wo mich des Lebens wilder Kreis umstrickt,
Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb entzunden,
Hast mich in eine beßre Welt entrückt!
Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf’ entflossen,
Ein süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir
Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür!

English.png English translation
by Gerard Mackworth-Young

O gracious Art, in how many grey hours
When life’s fierce orbit encompassed me,
Hast thou kindled my heart to warm love,
Hast charmed me into a better world!
Oft has a sigh, issuing from thy harp,
A sweet, blest chord of thine,
Thrown open the heaven of better times;
O gracious Art, for that I thank thee!
With that dear friends, I bid you a blessed night.   Be thankful for the music, the poetry and those who hear it and make it.