Saturday, 7 November 2009

ON MUSIC [a collection of 6 poems]


i) Le Banquet Celeste
ii) Dufay's Song to Florence
iii) Rock Star and Rock Journalist
iv) BWV 1003

v) Transfigured Night
vi) Warehouse Earth-Dance

i) Le Banquet Celeste

A Bach fugue now takes its leave of the church’s still air.
Its tangled counterpoint uncoiled.
And now for the musical mystic…

Octatonic chords give us the colour-sound of summer flower.
They are floating, adagio, into the vacated air.
The scented and sensuous tones rise into the higher air.
Our eyes are closed to this sonic oration worth a thousand words…

The flow continues.
Swelling colour-chords are coalescing into the timeless elsewhere.
The chords below are mirroring the rainbow colours above.
The melody is now far above the sound-banks.
Is anyone swimming, rich and warm, in this scented water?

Now the choral motion is keener.
It breaths spreading wider and climbing higher into the prior silence…
To this climax of bliss: his take on Christian rapture, on Christ-like love.
An expression-in-sound of the beatific state.
An artist shameless of a work expressive of once-private thoughts and feelings.
His own soul – naked before an audience of strangers.

Perhaps he fears a modernist clique is hiding amongst us.
A pack of righteous believers in the Modern,
Who’ll now erupt and take pot shots at his sins.
The prudent have sat through this work.
Some, no doubt, in suffering, self-control.
And now, at the end and finally, it is our right, if displeased,
To boo this work and its creator.

ii) Dufay's Song to Florence

Like breath, natural and free,
Plagal stops chart the ebb and flow of contrapuntal waves.
The song sends fond thoughts
Flowing through warming blood.
And stirs clear images of Dufay’s day.
The Renaissance was a time of struggle.
The deadly labour of all but the rich and powerful.
But also a world of immovable, inscrutable beauty.

Dufay lived when the Renaissance was older;
Though still the issue of its new birth.
He kept on sailing on that still-flowering world.

iii) Rock Star and Rock Journalist

Rock Star is bloated on his own ego.
He spouts spiced-up crap as if youth’s new gospel.
He sneers like a petulant child.
His insouciance is near-perfect.
He claims he is 'radical and new'. Yet another? Yes, another!
Journalist turns on his every word.
Each syllable mined for meaning.
He is the sycophant at Rock Star’s court.
He hangs on him like a piece of baby shit.
He draws out the narcissism as if wine of the best vintage.
Rock Star drools in the deep reverence and respect.
He gives back a monosyllabic end-show.
He pronounces a few rock ‘n’ roll filosofizems
Each sentence, coloured with its own obscenity
Or an intertextual bit of street-talk.
They make his banalities almost listenable.

The interview ends like a statesman’s meeting.
The journalist gets up from his knees.
He curtsies to his - and our - new rock god.
Thank you, he says, politely.
Rock Star nods, nonchalantly.

iv) BWV 1003

Abstract moments.

Strings breathed low, to ground the tune above.
The song lived in and out of time.
Yet the baroque line had direction.
It moved, purposely, between harmonic contours.
Then journeyed up to its heaven.
Where it dissolved in the high air.

Music tapped from a good god.

v) Verklärte Nacht
(After Dehmel and Schoenberg.)

The moon was alive.
As alive as its thousand stars.
Under the moon, hand in hand,
They walked into the forest’s welcoming darkness.
She with another man’s child.
He carrying only his hope.

The trees inside were stone-still.
Existing with little life.
The trunks’ lead-grey sharpened momentarily
In the light that shone down from moon and star.
Further into the forest, the trees became tighter. Far too familiar for light.
They made a table of unbroken wood;
Into which the couple could hardly penetrate.
The trees stood perplexed and crooked.
They strangled each other: familiar, but not intimate.
Each tree, alone in the crowd, held its plot tight.
At times a tree would fling out its colonising branches
In a fight to gain precious air from other trees
And the living space of a nutrient earth
Which would sustain its growth and power.

The deeper they walked into the forest the tighter their grip became.
They haunted themselves with the forest-night.
Thought something must come of their midnight-walk.

Something of magic worked its way between the trees,
Up broad trunks, and down the branches.
It was a current of earth-power that charged the trunks’ sap.
Whatever that buzzed that night ran through the couple too.
That moving, quiet, something, fused them to the trees,
And the trees to them.
Something must come of this.

The man stared into the woman’s eyes, as if to warn her.
To tell her not to flee those natural things.
She returned his penetration with a stroke of his hair
And a song of the forest’s deep comfort.

Where are you, God? Could you be in this place?
Do you know that the child in her womb

Will one day put a match to our love
And make us burn, not love, each other?

He wanted his own blood to penetrate her womb.
To enter the child inside.
His blood, its inherited tales, could transfigure its soul into his own birth-soul.
Why did it matter that its blood was of a different colour to his own?
Did it contain secrets that would only erupt in unfathomable ways?
He thought its blood was already guilty of the future crimes against them.

But then he asked himself if blood really mattered:
Its blood may not contain destructive plans.
And I know it still can’t contain my own blood.
The unborn would still be mine.
I can cherish it, as if my own.
I could teach it the things I know.

The paths I’ve travelled.
The things I believe in.
Surely anyone’s blood could receive these lessons.
What matters is that I would be with him.
And he would be with me.
His false blood and my own needn’t flow between us
Or malignantly pollute each other’s veins, as I have feared so far.
Blood doesn’t matter.

Only the machine which needs it.

So he stopped reifying its blood
And began to see through his naturalist-eye.
He lost the virus at work in the unlike blood inside –
Blood that would still run through the later man’s veins.
At the moments of these thoughts
The unborn was transfigured by the earth-current’s mineral light,
And the strength and hope of the two wills with which it fused.
The forest, in turn, transfigured itself with the chemical earth.
And the midnight forest harmonised with the man, the woman, and the unborn child.
The two became three.
A company of man, woman, and the unborn.

Together they walked again, through the opening forest.
Hand in hand, and hand on womb,
They walked with sure steps into their uncertain future.
A future that was opening wide
And burning brightly for them at the forest’s end.

vi) Warehouse Earth-Dance

The new tribe stamps the dance-floor,
To send a boom through city streets.

A Doc-footed woman is deep within the dancing tribe.
She is young.
She dances off her baggage in the midst of strobe mayhem
And the wall's fractal show.

Anchored to the bass-drum's one-beat bar,
Samples break out of sound-systems,
To travel loudly, via bleeding ears, down into her teen spirit.

Alive to these tangible sounds,
The girl's wild hands scratch the air.
Her body, loose-headed and loose limbed,
Dances the Dance of Epileptic Ecstasy.

At the decibel peak of this Techno Rite of Summer,
She dances herself to an e-death.

The others recover from easy-come, easy-go, dance-floor Nirvanas
To drag sagging bodies home.

Today there was no god to demand such a sacrifice -
Only pleasure's diety smiled.

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