Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Greetings From the Depths of a Sugar Coma.

So, yesterday was, of course, the big Feb-1-4, &, as I've already spewed some vitriol on the subject hereabouts, I won't give my cynicism too much play—suffice it to say that my Valentines Day consisted mostly of a Sunday-through-Monday all-nighter in the library with Immanuel Kant, furiously expounding on the Categorical Imperative, killing the occasional cockroach. & no, that's not a euphemism—though it is, I think, an apt metaphor for a lot of things.

Still, it would be unfair to disregard my evening: after a brief & pseudo-delirious disco nap, I hopped up to celebrate a friend's birthday—which involved pink pancakes & Salt-n-Pepa & all kinds of loveliness—so it wasn't all bad. It's never really all bad, I think.

Anyhow, when I got back to my bed, the sugar buzz hadn't quite worn off, so I spent a little while awake reading poems (because, yes, I'm that kid) & I stumbled on one of my favorites by one of my favorites: a tribute to a saint's day—perhaps not the right one in name, but jiving quite ideal with its (or, at least, my) spirit. (Especially parts II & III. Especially the final stanza.)

Song for St. Cecilia's Day.
W.H. Auden, July 1940.


In a garden shady this holy lady
With reverent cadence and subtle psalm,
Like a black swan as death came on
Poured forth her song in perfect calm:
And by ocean's margin this innocent virgin
Constructed an organ to enlarge her prayer,
And notes tremendous from her great engine
Thundered out on the Roman air.

Blonde Aphrodite rose up excited,
Moved to delight by the melody,
White as an orchid she rode quite naked
In an oyster shell on top of the sea;
At sounds so entrancing the angels dancing
Came out of their trance into time again,
And around the wicked in Hell's abysses
The huge flame flickered and eased their pain.

Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.


I cannot grow;
I have no shadow
To run away from,
I only play

I cannot err;
There is no creature
Whom I belong to,
Whom I could wrong.

I am defeat
When it knows it
Can now do nothing
By suffering.

All you lived through,
Dancing because you
No longer need it
For any deed.

I shall never be
Different. Love me.


O ear whose creatures cannot wish to fall,
O calm of spaces unafraid of weight,
Where Sorrow is herself, forgetting all
The gaucheness of her adolescent state,
Where Hope within the altogether strange
From every outworn image is released,
And Dread born whole and normal like a beast
Into a world of truths that never change:
Restore our fallen day; O re-arrange.

O dear white children casual as birds,
Playing among the ruined languages,
So small beside their large confusing words,
So gay against the greater silences
Of dreadful things you did: O hang the head,
Impetuous child with the tremendous brain,
O weep, child, weep, O weep away the stain,
Lost innocence who wished your lover dead,
Weep for the lives your wishes never led.

O cry created as the bow of sin
Is drawn across our trembling violin.
O weep, child, weep, O weep away the stain
O law drummed out by hearts against the still

Long winter of our intellectual will.
That what has been may never be again
O flute that throbs with the thanksgiving breath

Of convalescents on the shores of death.
O bless the freedom that you never chose
O trumpets that unguarded children blow

About the fortress of their inner foe.
O wear your tribulation like a rose

From Selected Poems, Ed. Edward Mendelson, © 2007, Vintage Books.

Today's Headphone Fodder:

It is hopelessly tempting to truck out an entry's worth of really beautiful love songs—Leonard Cohen, the Beatles, the Magnetic Fields, covers of Massive Attack songs that make you weepy—but it's one thing to talk about love, & another to sound like it. This track is one of my favorites from Nomi's unfinished opera, Za Bakdaz—fading & receding, intertwining, invaded by stilted politesse—light without ever fully floating away.

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