(“Sing the song of the moment...”)
By Rabindranath Tagore 1861–1941
Sing the song of the moment in careless carols, in the transient light of the day;
Sing of the fleeting smiles that vanish and never look back;
Sing of the flowers that bloom and fade without regret.
Weave not in memory’s thread the days that would glide into nights.
To the guests that must go bid God-speed, and wipe away all traces of their steps.
Let the moments end in moments with their cargo of fugitive songs.
With both hands snap the fetters you made with your own heart chords;
Take to your breast with a smile what is easy and simple and near.
Today is the festival of phantoms that know not when they die.
Let your laughter flush in meaningless mirth like twinkles of light on the ripples;
Let your life lightly dance on the verge of Time like a dew on the tip of a leaf.
Strike in the chords of your harp the fitful murmurs of moments.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Music by Ravi Shankar
A Small Moment
By Cornelius Eady b. 1954
I walk into the bakery next door
To my apartment. They are about
To pull some sort of toast with cheese
From the oven. When I ask:
What’s that smell? I am being
A poet, I am asking
What everyone else in the shop
Wanted to ask, but somehow couldn’t;
I am speaking on behalf of two other
Customers who wanted to buy the
Name of it. I ask the woman
Behind the counter for a percentage
Of her sale. Am I flirting?
Am I happy because the days
Are longer? Here’s what
She does: She takes her time
Choosing the slices. “I am picking
Out the good ones,” she tells me. It’s
April 14th.. Spring, with five to ten
Degrees to go. Some days, I feel my duty;
Some days, I love my work.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Blues for Bird by Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie
By Robert Browning 1812–1889
Out of your whole life give but one moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it, – so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present, – condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense –
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me –
Me – sure that despite of time future, time past, –
This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet –
The moment eternal – just that and no more –
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Andante cantabile, from Piano Quartet by Robert Schumann
A Momentary Longing To Hear Sad Advice from One Long Dead
By Kenneth Koch 1925–2002
Who was my teacher at Harvard. Did not wear overcoat
Saying to me as we walked across the Yard
Cold brittle autumn is you should be wearing overcoat. I said
You are not wearing overcoat. He said,
You should do as I say not do as I do.
Just how American it was and how late Forties it was
Delmore, but not I, was probably aware. He quoted Finnegans Wake to me
In his New York apartment sitting on chair
Table directly in front of him. There did he write? I am wondering.
Look at this photograph said of his mother and father.
Coney Island. Do they look happy? He couldn't figure it out.
Believed Pogo to be at the limits of our culture.
Pogo. Walt Kelly must have read Joyce Delmore said.
Why don't you ask him?
Why don't you ask Walt Kelly if he read Finnegans Wake or not.
Your parents don't look happy but it is just a photograph.
Maybe they felt awkward posing for photographs.
Maybe it is just a bad photograph. Delmore is not listening
I want to hear him tell me something sad but however true.
Delmore in his tomb is sitting. People say yes everyone is dying
But here read this happy book on the subject. Not Delmore. Not that rueful man.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Mouvements Perpetuels by Francis Poulenc
By Alice Wagner
This moment, fragile and transparent,
blows off the table, under foot and onto the street, behind its gentleman caller
This moment, fleeting and hurried,
blurring faces, masking weakness and rushing meaning through hidden doorways
This moment intangible and foreign,
reaching through touch and feeling, past truth, forever shifting.
This moment, frightening and heartbreaking,
waking passion, as loss hides behind you and meaning evaporates while you are still naming it.
Stay in this moment,
aching and blissful, strange and powerful, beyond reason or guarantee.
Ask nothing of the future, carry nothing from the past, just this moment.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Lament (from Sonata for Viola and Piano), by Kenji Bunch