Spring Sonnet – Vivaldi (The Four Seasons)

Below are the words behind ‘Spring’ the first of Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ where each ‘Season’ consists of a three-movement concerto. The words form a sonnet and Vivaldi created a sonnet for each season prior to musical composition.

La Primavera (Spring)
Opus 8, No. 1, in E Major

I. Allegro

Festive Spring has arrived,
The birds salute it with their happy song.
And the brooks, caressed by little Zephyrs,
Flow with a sweet murmur.
The sky is covered with a black mantle,
And thunder, and lightning, announce a storm.
When they are silent, the birds
Return to sing their lovely song.

II. Largo e pianissimo sempre

And in the meadow, rich with flowers,
To the sweet murmur of leaves and plants,
The goatherd sleeps, with his faithful dog at his side.

III. Danza pastorale. Allegro
To the festive sound of pastoral bagpipes,
Dance nymphs and shepherds,
At Spring’s brilliant appearance.

The words are a prose translation from the Italian and were obtained from this Website

I. Allegro— to play fast, quickly and bright … Zephyr = a soft gentle breeze … the underlying theme is ‘bird song’ before and after a spring storm

II. Largo e pianissimo sempre— slow, to be played softly and sustained throughout … the sleeping goatherd and the murmur of nature marry nicely

III. Danza pastorale. Allegro—ending in fast, bright dance of nature … with visions of nymphs( = the spirit of nature as a young maiden) and shepherds in festive mood

We rarely read the words before listening to the music. I think they are well reflected in the musical composition. Below are Youtube links to each of the above components for comparison.

I. Allegro
II. Largo e pianissimo sempre
III. Danza pastorale

Humour and Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash and Humour

Humour is an important ingredient in any text. In the main it offers lightness and the ability to create a smile in the reader. This is not always the case of course – ‘black humour’ can invoke negative emotions as well as humour – especially if humour is at the expense of something or somebody. In such cases it can be quite damaging and if acceptable perhaps only acceptable at a cost and always at the discernment of the reader. Ogden Nash is always of an acceptable nature.

From Wikipedia … Nash’s poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. For one example, he expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme, a twist on Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” (1913).

Song of the Open Road

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I’ll never see a tree at all.

Selecting more of his work …

The Turtle lives’ twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.

There was an old man of Calcutta,
Who coated his tonsils with butta,
Thus converting his snore
From a thunderous roar
To a soft, oleaginous mutta.

The Middle

When I remember bygone days
I think how evening follows morn;
So many I loved were not yet dead,
So many I love were not yet born
.
Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971)

from Wikipedia …

Frederic Ogden Nash … was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”.

On Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash is a humour-US poet I admire
His rhymes are often quite exemplar
For, if a word he cannot take
A new one he soon doth make
Yes, Ogden Nash is a poet quite unique-lar!

Richard Scutter

Responding to Shakespeare – Emotional Extremes

Words often give extremes in emotional feeling … poetry and the arts are reknown for such expression … here is a well-known example from Shakespeare and Macbeth

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing

Macbeth (5.iv.18-27)

Responding to these words at the other end of the spectrum ….

Today, and today, and today
in marvellous paradise
absorbing second by second
the full cup of divine love
where all our tomorrows have a new sun
aglow in glorious light, forever shining.
It is the tale of a wise-man,
alive in the knowledge of the forever now
full of beauty and joy,
signifying everything.

The release of such words is often thought of as an aid in dealing with emotional disturbance.

And words can become close friends in dealing with difficult situations. The outstanding example of this is ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’.

Have a great day whatever great – great being defined as appropriate to your situation!

The Meaning of Existence – Les Murray

Several years ago I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Les Murray in Canberra. The following poem was read from a wide selection …

The Meaning of Existence

Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, planets, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.
Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.

Les Murray (1939 – 2019) from Poems the Size of Photographs, 2002

In the light of the above poem … the ignorant freedom of my talking mind … I asked him whether he had made the right choice in life … an emphatic yes …words are what he had do … if ignored they would have digested him … he was doing what he had to do.

In Europe he was once asked what a poem was … a poem is a song without music … searching for the words behind the music.

He died at the age of 80 on 29 April. He will be remembered for his clever manipulation of words, great repartee, quick witted and a prodigious producer of poetry. A great example is his fast flowing verse novel character Fredy Neptune, 1998 where LM comes to terms with life and his own spiritual understanding of existence. And, of course, he will be remembered for his vernacular love of the Australian rural country. Today there is a memorial service for him at the NSW State Library in Sydney.

From the Memorial Service … https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/the-poems-are-the-thing-tribute-to-the-great-les-murray-20190612-p51wvh.html

Les Murray on Wikipedia

 

Nurse no longer grief – Mary Gilmore

Nurse no long grief

Oh, could we weep,
And weeping bring relief!
But life asks more than tears
And falling leaf.

Though year by year
Tears fall and leaves are shed,
Spring bids new sap arise,
And blood run red.

Nurse no long grief
Lest the heart flower no more;
Grief builds no barns; its plough
Rusts at the door.

Dame Mary Gilmore (1865 – 1962)

This is a simple poem with a strong message. Grief is necessary but long grief not. The life events that cause grief can never be removed and how we internalise and deal with them is an individual matter. In the last two lines Mary Gilmore alludes to action as a way of escape – go build your barn and use your plough.

Mary Gilmore is the great-great aunt of the current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. On the 50th anniversary of her death in 2012 he delivered a tribute to her in federal parliament.

Scott Morrison was elected as Prime Minister of Australia for a further 3 years on 18 May 2019 to the great surprise of the Labour Party who had been strongly favoured to win. How that Party deals with such grief is being worked out.

Mary Gilmore had to survive life when nursing many radical political views.

Mary Gilmore on Wikipedia … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Gilmore

Les Murray: A Tribute

Two days ago Les Murray died at the age of 80. He was a poet of immense stature and regarded as Australia’s Poet Laureate.

I was actually planting broad bean seeds and when I came in and heard the news my mind immediately went to his ‘Broad Bean Sermon’ poem.

He did experience Canberra at certain stages in his life and had that wry sense of humour … roundabouts being in proliferation at the time …

The interstate driver soon discerns
That twelve identical statues of Burns
Are unlikely even in this braw town
And that there are Circles, interwound
To test, by his cunning and his mettle,
Whether he shall go home, or settle

And the following are details from Peter Alexander’s book – ‘Les Murray – A Life in Progress’ …

In July 1996 an ambulance drove Les Murray into John Hunter hospital Newcastle (NSW) with a very serious liver complaint. He was wheeled into casualty and prepared for immediate surgery. Convinced he was dying he felt neither fear not regret at the prospect. Wheeled rapidly down wide corridors, he stared unblinking at lights passing rhythmically above him:

Ribbed glass glare-panels flow
over you down urgent corridors,
dismissing midday outside. Slow,

they’d resemble wet spade-widths in a pit;
you’ve left grief behind you, for others;
your funeral: who’ll know you’d re-planned it?

God, at the end of prose,
somehow be our poem-
where forebrainy consciousness goes

I can not help thinking of the these thought provoking words too –

Just two hours after
Eternal Life pills came out
Someone took thirty.

(ref: page 146, of the same book)

A tribute from poet John Kinsella.

And Les Murray on Wikipedia.

His words will live on especially his vernacular representation of the Australian bush landscape he loved.

May he be at peace; perhaps with a new poem to play and ponder.

 The Company of Lovers – Judith Wright – ANZAC Day

 The Company of Lovers

We meet and part now over all the world;
we, the lost company,
take hands together in the night, forget
the night in our brief happiness, silently.
We, who sought many things, throw all away
for this one thing, one only,
remembering that in the narrow grave
we shall be lonely.

Death marshals up his armies round us now.
Their footsteps crowd too near.
Lock your warm hand above the chilling heart
and for a time I live without my fear.
Grope in the night to find me and embrace,
for the dark preludes of the drums begin,
and round us round the company of lovers,
death draws his cordons in.

Judith Wright (1915 -2000)

This poem was written during World War II which brought much separation especially for those travelling from Australia to the various battlefields.

A precious pre-leaving meet between lovers … with no thought of tomorrow … forget the night … for some the long unending night … and those that never returned leave the grave narrow and lonely for any surviving lovers. Today we remember.

There is that foreboding and anticipation of the worst … death draws his cordons in

Another of my favourite Judith Wright poems, again with a cerrtain sense of foreboding, is … ‘Trains’  – Judith Wright

 

Being Optimistic – Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

From Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage: IV, cxxix

Hues which have words, and speak to ye of heaven,
Floats o’er this vast and wondrous monument,
And shadows forth its glory. There is given
Unto the things of earth, which Time hath bent,
A spirit’s feeling, and where he hath leant
His hand, but broke his scythe, there is a power
And magic in the ruin’d battlement,
For which the palace of the present hour
Must yield its pomp, and wait till ages are its dower.

A broken scythe – an implement with a long handle and a long curved single-edged blade, used to cut grass – well time has bent – due to the work at hand broken, with broken tools (broken by humanity)

But, but, but – there is power and magic in the ruin’d battlement … well thank goodness for that – we must have faith

The palace of the present hour … the present hour is a palace despite being a ruin’d battlement

Ages as a dower – a gift that will be given by time – perhaps an evolving gift, from one who is an optimist … perhaps inherent in the creation of time is an inevitability of positive evolution

So have faith and time will be the saviour … and enjoy the palace of the present hour!

From Wikipedia

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage is a lengthy narrative poem in four parts written by Lord Byron. It was published between 1812 and 1818 and is dedicated to “Ianthe”. The poem describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks for distraction in foreign lands. In a wider sense, it is an expression of the melancholyand disillusionment felt by a generation weary of the wars of the post-Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. The title comes from the term childe, a medieval title for a young man who was a candidate for knighthood.