Sunday, November 9, 2014

even sad music requires an absolute happiness

Autumn time, red leaves fall
While the weeping sky
looks over all

Demeter sadly walks the land,
The dying grasses in her hand.

This is my new favorite autumn song, which we learned last night as a warm-up for choir. You can listen to its beautiful melody here, sung in a round. The girls and I sang it together on our walk down the bike path today, enjoying the sun and the warm before the cold hits.

I don't think I have a lot to say today.  I got to spend a lot of the day in my head, and I had a couple thinks to share, but then I got on the computer and discovered that I had missed the news of the passing of Galway Kinnell.  He is one of my poets. Do you have that short list of beloveds who have marked time with you? I can trace him back to someone who I loved a whole lot, who influenced and befriended me when I was a teenager and who kept a close connection to me until she died when I was in college.  The stars aligned that summer, and my mom was visiting me in Boston when I got the news that this former teacher had passed, and we drove down to Connecticut for her memorial. I'd never been to one before, and this one was unusual in many respects.  Several of her former students were there, and this is where I should mention that she was my teacher when we were living in Belgium, so for there to be a showing of faculty and students from our school was impressive.  Two things would have been clear for anyone happening by this memorial: that she was well-loved and that she left way too soon.

She had known she was dying, and had a hand in selecting the readings, and that is where I heard my first Galway Kinnell poem, The Choir.  I loved knowing she had chosen it; it was a parting gift.

Little beings with their hair blooming
so differently on skulls of odd sizes
and their eyes serious and their jaws
very firm from singing in Gilead, and with
their mouths gaping, saying
"Ah!" for God, 
"O!" for an alphabet of O's,
they stand in rows, each suspended
from a fishing line
hooked at the breastbone, being hauled up
toward the heavenly gases.

Everyone who truly sings is beautiful.
Even sad music
requires an absolute happiness:
eyes, nostrils, mouth strain together in quintal harmony
to sing Joy and Death well.

I'm still at it, writing a post a day for November...

1 comment:

merry said...

What a beautiful tribute to Holly. She's smiling down on you, my precious. And thank you for the lovely song.