Saturday, December 10, 2016

Music & Dance



1. THE DANCE by C. K. Williams

A middle-aged woman, quite plain, to be polite about it, and
somewhat stout, to be more courteous still,
but when she and the rather good-looking, much younger man
she's with get up to dance,
her forearm descends with such delicate lightness, such restrained
but confident ardor athwart his shoulder,
drawing him to her with such a firm, compelling warmth, and
moving him with effortless grace
into the union she's instantly established with the not at all
rhythmically solid music in this second-rate cafe,


that something in the rest of us, some doubt about ourselves, some 
sad conjecture, seems to be allayed,
nothing that we'd ever thought of as a real lack, nothing not to be
admired or be repentant for,
but something to which we've never adequately given credence,
which might have consoling implications about how we 
misbelieve ourselves, and so the world,
that world beyond us which so often disappoints, but which
sometimes shows us, lovely, what we are.
 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Slow Waltz (from "Brazilian Impressions" ) by Clarice Assad.



2. SONNET 128 by William Shakespeare
How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st,

Upon that blessed 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. 



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Pavan and Galliard #1 by William Byrd






3. EVENING MUSIC by May Sarton
We enter this evening as we enter a quartet
Listening again for its particular note
The interval where all seems possible,
Order within time when action is suspended
And we are pure in heart, perfect in will.
We enter the evening whole and well-defended
But at the quick of self, intense detachment
That is a point of burning far from passion––
And this, we know, is what we always meant
And even love must learn it in some fashion,
To move like formal music through the heart,
To be achieved like some high difficult art.


We enter the evening as we enter a quartet
Listening again for its particular note
Which is your note perhaps, your special gift,
A detached joy that flowers and makes bloom
The longest silence in the silent room––
And there would be no music if you left.


REFELCTIVE MUSIC: Four Pieces for String Quartet by Felix Mendelssohn



4. PIANO LESSONS by Billy Collins
1.
My teacher lies on the floor with a bad back
off to the side of the piano.
I sit up straight on the stool.
He begins by telling me that every key
is like a different room
and I am a blind man who must learn
to walk through all twelve of them
without hitting the furniture.
I feel myself reach for the first doorknob.

2.
He tells me that every scale has a shape
and I have to learn how to hold
each one in my hands.
At home I practice with my eyes closed.
C is an open book.
D is a vase with two handles.
G flat is a black boot.
E has the legs of a bird.

3.
He says the scale is the mother of the chords.
I can see her pacing the bedroom floor
waiting for her children to come home.
They are out at nightclubs shading and lighting
all the songs while couples dance slowly
or stare at one another across tables.
This is the way it must be. After all,
just the right chord can bring you to tears
but no one listens to the scales,
no one listens to their mother.

4.
I am doing my scales,
the familiar anthems of childhood.
My fingers climb the ladder of notes
and come back down without turning around.
Anyone walking under this open window
would picture a girl of about ten
sitting at the keyboard with perfect posture,
not me slumped over in my bathrobe, disheveled,
like a white Horace Silver.

5.
I am learning to play
“It Might As Well Be Spring”
but my left hand would rather be jingling
the change in the darkness of my pocket
or taking a nap on an armrest.
I have to drag him in to the music
like a difficult and neglected child.
This is the revenge of the one who never gets
to hold the pen or wave good-bye,
and now, who never gets to play the melody.
6.
Even when I am not playing, I think about the piano.
It is the largest, heaviest,
and most beautiful object in this house.
I pause in the doorway just to take it all in.
And late at night I picture it downstairs,
this hallucination standing on three legs,
this curious beast with its enormous moonlit smile

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Prelude in C by J.S. Bach





5. A MUSIC by Wendell Berry

I employ the blind mandolin player
in the the tunnel of the M├Ętro. I pay him
a coin as hard as his notes,
and maybe he has employed me, and pays me
with his playing to hear him play.

Maybe we're necessary to each other,
and this vacant place has need of us both
––it's vacant, I mean, of dwellers,
is populated by passages and absences.

By some fate or knack he has chosen
to place his music in this cavity
where there's nothing to look at
and blindness costs him nothing.
Nothing was here before he came.

His music goes out among the sounds
of footsteps passing. The tunnel is the resonance
and meaning of what he plays.
It's his music, not the place, I go by.

In this light which is just a fact, like darkness
or the edge or end of what you may be
going toward, he turns his cap up on his knees
and leaves it there to ask and wait, and holds up
his mandolin, the lantern of his world;

his fingers make their pattern on the wires.
This is not the pursuing of rhythm
of a blind cane pecking in the sun,
but is a singing in a dark place.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Concerto for Two Mandolins by Antonio Vivaldi





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