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  #91  
Unread 05-11-2022, 06:22 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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A very mysterious poem! I think you've captured the Breton coast nicely. Is that a Debussy piece I don't know? And I wonder if you have spires in two syllables.
I've not dug out my old Debussy poem - the last one was what I wrote yesterday thinking about it. Also, Gilbert and Sullivan are great.
Here meanwhile is a somewhat jagged piece that opens my Concerto for the Left Hand MS., with accompanying plainchant:


Plainchant


Tonight, the Moon is full, and Easter now
is a bare month away. The land is hard
as yet beneath the foot, and winter’s hold
on Indiana has not loosened up.

The day has yet to redden in the East.
Above these voices stand the watching skies
in their array, the planets on the move.
The words wash through my soul as if it were

some yet untraveled country, where the mode
does not conform to holiness. My heart
and mind dance in this Latin – my eyes close.
The round of year and hour resolves itself

into a scheme of measure, key, and octave.
And dawn is coming now. The monks have sung
their offices. Another day is come.
Have I been changed in hearing, much the way

a foot can change a threshold in the slow
drift of the centuries? And will the heart
in its career find access for this art
designed for Heaven on the Earth below?


And the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi5CZ3lTXP8
  #92  
Unread 05-11-2022, 08:14 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Coming back to Bessie Smith, here she is singing "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer," that classic number: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbQEapPrjGM

I prefer her voice to Ma Rainey's but both are great, and the recent film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, starring the magnificent Viola Davis, is well worth the watching.

Cheers,
John
  #93  
Unread 05-12-2022, 06:39 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Getting back to poems, here's one on a song I've loved for some time, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash's "Jackson," written by Jerry Lieber and Billy Ed Wheeler. I've finally written a poem for it. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3NJC18Oi04

And here's the poem:


Jackson


We got married in a fever
June Carter Cash and Johnny step on up
to a hot mic, with his guitar in tow,
to sing of Jackson. Johnny’s got a thing
or two he plans to do there. And then, June
lays into him like pork and beans. He says
look out, and steps off camera to let
June call him a big-talkin’ man, her voice
like a train whistle as she flicks her skirt.

Johnny’s in black. And when he says the town
is gonna stoop and bow, June laughs and says
they’ll lead him round town like a scalded hound
she flounces, does a little step. And Johnny
moves up behind her to the mic, to hit
close harmony with her about the fever
they married in, and how the fire’s gone out.
They’re trading blows, you think – and then you catch
how gentle Johnny is – you see the smile

they share at every look they trade, the tight
harmony vocals, and you call to mind
how much he loved her, how she handled him.
We know the story. How the Man in Black
got into trouble. Jackson, Mississippi
may not be the big city, but there are
folks who have had this argument, and June
and Johnny sing for them: the man and wife
who married in a fever that’s gone out.

Last edited by John Isbell; 05-12-2022 at 06:42 AM.
  #94  
Unread 05-12-2022, 06:23 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi John,

Thanks for enjoying that poem. I'm a bit tired tonight and I think I have a temperature, but I'll pop back as soon as I can to take a look at your latest postings

Best wishes,
Fliss
  #95  
Unread 05-12-2022, 10:08 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I hope you feel better soon, Fliss. Here's hoping you get a good night's rest.

Here now are the Reverend Julius Cheeks and The Sensational Nightingales singing "Burying Ground." The reverend was a big influence on the young Wilson Pickett: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkxO9gBsp1E

And here's a little poem about it:


Burying Ground


I wonder can you hear – the Reverend
cries out – the church bells tolling? At his lead,
the Nightingales call. What has caught this man
like some bird in its toils? The song unspools
its slow freight of mortality, as up
above the grave – above the gospel chorus –
he soars in hope and grief. We listeners,
what do we hear? Can this man’s beating heart
beat in our breast? Can truth descend in fire
to wake our soul from slumber in the end?

A wet day. And they’re putting out the lawn
across the way, in green squares. They have turf
they’re laying down like carpet. From above,
no drop of rain is falling, but all night
it must have rained, since every leaf is wet
among our zinnias. And still the turf
drops onto the bare soil. On my drive home,
I listened to the Reverend Julius Cheeks
take the lead vocal as his gospel chorus
exploded into harmony. They filled
my ear with pattern and intent; there was
such meaning, meaning almost vanished, as
they told their tale of the new burying ground.



Last edited by John Isbell; 05-12-2022 at 10:09 PM. Reason: rest
  #96  
Unread 05-13-2022, 10:01 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Here is a contender for the saddest music ever recorded: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3J2e-L62bY

Friedrich Rueckert wrote the Kindertotenlieder in the 1820s, after losing I think two children to yellow fever. A couple of generations later, around 1904, Mahler decided to set them to music. His wife said, "What are you doing? I'm pregnant." Mahler continued, and they had a daughter. Who died aged four, of yellow fever.

This is Kathleen Ferrier singing, in perfect German, 1947, in a London still flattened by the Blitz.

And here's a poem about it:


Passage through to Daylight


The Kindertotenlieder have begun –
and my heart breaks, to hear the news they tell.
The days we have to live, when once our child
is taken from us. Kathleen Ferrier –

who died young – sings contralto as the wind
and strings speak out. There is no passage through
to daylight but the one she takes; it all
is full of grief. The sun goes up so bright,
she sings, as if no sorrow had occurred.

Now this is where the tears well up. They are
the oboes playing. Can we bear it? Mahler
set words to music and his pregnant wife
was troubled at his subject. And their child
lived to the age of four and then she died.

When your mommy, Rückert wrote, comes in,
and I look up, she looks for you, my little
daughter. This is perfect German, crisp
and consonantal. Stopped-out light of joy,
sings Ferrier: erloschner Freudenschein.

There is a sort of ending, one where hope
is heard again. And it is very fine –
but this child won’t be coming back, to greet
the mother’s eye, the father’s heart. As Lear
says: Never never never never.

  #97  
Unread 05-14-2022, 12:32 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi John,

Thanks for your latest contributions. I'm sort of drifting in and out of consciousness at the moment, but Allen's piece on Met put me in mind of my one poem in dactylic hexameter, so I'll just copy-and-paste that from the Word doc. It's part of the Scilly series, so it's silly. There's a little preamble, which I'll email


Troytown

'St Agnes Isle has a southern position as shown on the modern maps;
to her west side flows a channel, 'tis one of the narrowest smallest gaps
carved between island and rocks, here the Western Rocks, site of a thousand-wreck –
not least the SS Thames, as we heard tell while we sat on Old Chuck Steel's deck.

'Come 1680, the General Lighthouse Authority surveyed coasts
all around England to re-draw the sea charts and recommend lighting posts;
they gained permission to build and maintain on St Agnes one shipping aid –
later that year saw the plans approved, labourers hired, and foundations laid.

'St Agnes Lighthouse stood one-hundred-thirty-eight footfalls above the sea,
flashing her twenty-one eyes for ships' captains and crews most reliably,
fired by fierce coals burning brightly beneath her stout head with its wind vane hat –
boats, steamships, frigates steered far from the rocks to the relative sailing flat.

'Pleased with her triumphs, a young lad of Agnes decided to build a maze
made of grey pebbles and lain on the grass where the island sheep liked to graze;
maybe this lad had read Homer at school so he knew of the ancient Troy,
far north-west city whose walls have inspired many builders and brought them joy.

'Troy's walls were famous for guarding the city from raiders and foreign rule,
labyrinthine were they, placed to defend hilltop citadel, finest jewel;
one day, 1180 BCE, a big horse found a trick-way in,
birthed forty enemy soldiers at night, all the while wearing ghastly grin.

'Nevertheless the walls' great reputation stands tall through the land of time,
raising the maze of St Agnes and elsewhere, where crops seed and church bells chime;
this muse suggests, they are homage to forms of protection on Planet Earth,
conjuring safety for everyone through their stout stones and their goodly girth.'

��

Last edited by F.F. Teague; 05-14-2022 at 06:50 PM. Reason: Preamble :-]
  #98  
Unread 05-14-2022, 08:53 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Adventures in scansion! Your narrative proceeds, I think, Fliss, with your usual brio, and your poem is full of information. I do think it's very tough to make hexameter work in English, so you are a braver soul than I am! Well done for kicking the tires a bit and taking it out for a spin!
Also, I've always liked the word preamble.

Here's a poem inspired by an old Scottish folk song, written I'm sorry to say in my usual IP. Mondegreen, for those who've not heard it and according to my sister Maggie, is a folk term meaning basically something heard in error: for "laid him on the green," people heard "Lady Mondegreen." Here's the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoFT3L4KdAM

And here's the poem:


Mondegreen


Some things are gone and won’t be coming back.
Behind us, you can see a golden glow –
as if that world of options we once knew
were lit by dawn or sunset. This is how
the Earl of Moray looks. The tune plays out;
the heart constricts. And who can say how much
our might-have-beens could shunt this train of being,
in its dull round, into the sort of place
where Moray micht hae been the king? What dream

will cloud our waking eyes? What deed undone?
What dawn consigned to memory? The days
slip through our hands like water. Could the earl
come sounding in to where his lady sits
at her high seat? Could yesterday be calling
at our front door, as auld acquaintance might?
This waiting will not make it so. And when
dawn breaks, the round begins again. The light
of yesterday blinks out. The earl is dead.


  #99  
Unread 05-14-2022, 10:10 PM
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To Fliss,
It’s enormously late in N.Y.C., to my bed now I must flee.
I’m sorry I can’t scan everything here, apologies due from me.
But this I know, I know and I haven’t forgot:
The ends of the lines are where the bells ring, or don’t.

A very very very quick read of the hexameter gives me satisfaction with these line ends:

Steel’s deck
vane hat
them joy
bells chime

Best,
  #100  
Unread 05-15-2022, 10:33 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Lou Reed and John Cale put out a fine tribute album to Andy Warhol at his death, Songs for Drella. Here's the album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKwo3QFWp4c


And here's a poem on it:


The Style It Takes

At the end of a long day
I find myself

immersed in Songs for Drella,
where Lou Reed and John Cale

tell Andy Warhol’s story. He has got
the style it takes
, sings John Cale

in his flat voice, and every muscle
in my back, neck and shoulders

begins to ease. This is
an elegy, where grief

and anger meet, though art burns through
those passions like a flame.

I fired him on the spot, Lou sings, and Andy Warhol
calls him a rat. It’s just

work
, this song says, and the guitar
does that. Each note abrades the soul, the way

an emery board
abrades the foot. It wasn’t me,

Lou sings; life in its vivid
red and orange fills my listening mind.

The simplest
words eat my heart, the way a bird

tore at Prometheus, while the music –
ah, the music! –

says life is beautiful,
and worth the living.
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