Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Le soleil brille

A special occasion. One needs to say it in French to get the full otherness of it. The sun has been out all day and I have been out in it. This is not a matter of great or grave consequence to the world, of course, but it made me feel better about catching the bus into town - had to run for it, which is good for me - to meet young brilliant KD, pianist, with an eye to a collaborative venture. We talked a good deal about tension and release in music and I was exploring how this applied to poetry. What is a poetic line and what is it measured against? How does a free improvising post-jazz pianist know when he's playing badly, or has just played a wrong phrase or chord?

After KD, my second appointment, TW, poet. A day full of youth. The nice Polish girl behind the counter smiles. She can look pretty gloomy at times, but I have been a regular there in the past, so we can share a wry smile even when her mood is low.

Too late for Dury now. Tomorrow to London to meet US poet Alfred Corn. On Saturday I read in Bury St.Edmunds. The next Wednesday in Cambridge for concert in memoriam Mátyás Seiber. I wrote four short rain songs for the Czech-born composer Karel Janovicky to be performed there. Rain seemed the most appropriate at the time. These were the songs:

Rain Dance
For Karel Janoviczky

1. Recitative
Just imagine it – a field of endless rain
In the heart, in the head.
The sky a smear, a pond, a sift, a stain,
Impossible to see through or ahead.
So it begins in fields of mud
An English winter, English flood,
A flood of fear, a tiny finickety
Spark of electricity.

Let’s move say the clouds, shift, and get on with it.
Let the rain fall, let earth be done with it.

2. Slow
In long sodden trenches in a long sodden war
The map of Europe changes.
Amid shell and gas and boom and roar
Time estranges, rearranges.
Rain, rain, nothing but wild rain.
Nothing but the solitude of knowing.
Nothing but rain, neither coming nor going.

Stand still in the moving river
Flowing on for ever and ever.

3. Fast
When the ship of fools is launched
With all its fribble,
When rain performs its dainty little dance
And drainpipes dribble,
When wind plays catch as catch can
With gust and swipe,
When mischief enters the heart of man
And trip means tripe,
Let man jig to the whimsical shower
That sweeps up minute
Dispenses with hour
And drops him in it.

So too- ra-loo and too-ra-li-a-lily
A man drenched in rain looks extremely silly.
And too-ra-loo and too-ra-loo-a-lying
A drenched figure can look quite terrifying
With all the too’s before and now and after
The rain is giggling on the edge of laughter

4. Stately
The broad rain coming down in flapping sheets,
The long battle against a drawn-out dark,
The drops glittering on naked clothes-lines,
The well-stocked ark.

The whistling of small birds among wet leaves,
A scroll of gulls, an even stream of cloud,
The mist round the towers of the cathedral,
The pale grey shroud.

The sun as prospect, rumour, hint and sight,
The blue edging the grey under the white,
The broad bright patch that puts the cloud to flight,
The light! The light!

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