SONATA    TO    ORPHEUS
Sonatas are developments of musical themes and can be said to be teaching vehicles. This poem sonata is a combination of my words with those of master poets Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens, and Mary Oliver. It tries to develop the theme of the essence of poetry, music and painting in three movements. Orpheus is the singer poet who raises the dead and the past with his song and makes all of nature sing.
 

I: JOYFUL      INFORMATIVE TONE

 
The listeners ask Wallace Stevens’s “Man with the Blue Guitar.”
                         They say you have a blue guitar,
                         You don’t play things as they are.
                         -The man replied, things as they are
                         Are changed upon my blue guitar
Picasso, William Grant Still and Stevens all play this “blue” guitar
 

WHAT IS POETRY?  ART?  MUSIC?

 
It has something to do with Orpheus and Death and
One of the “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
 
                        I do not know which to prefer
                        The beauty of inflections,
                        Or the beauty of innuendoes,
                        The Blackbird whistling
                        Or just after. (v)
 
It’s art  when we don’t know what we want
To listen to the song    its inflections
Or think about its passing effect    its inuendoes
 
Orpheus  the monster image of musician-painter- poet
Son of Apollo    God of Music and the Sun
A native of Thrace also  therefore in the cult of Dionysus and the Moon
Apollo the contemplator, the explainer, the voice of sobriety
Dionysus  the doer,  the performer, drunkenness and energy
Nietzsche’s 2 forces of every work of art
Dance and the Dancer
Composer and Performer
Orpheus  half human half divine  in both worlds
Loses Eurydice   his wife
Charms Death  gets her back  on condition of not looking at her
Orpheus?   Not look?  No way
He loses her
Pines
Neglects the Satyrs          his drunken animal friends
They dismember him
His head continues to sing after his death
Orpheus  poet  good user of death
 
In Rilke’s “Sonnets to Orpheus” Orpheus is an angel
The spirit of poetry
Not an intermediary of heavy hermetic knowledge
But of the ordinary idea
A child looking at a mirror
Lovers bewildered by the looks that come from each other
Solitary walkers listening to the tunes of their hearts
An ordinary idea being born in a nothingness place
Orpheus is poetry that occupies an inner nothingness place
The eyes of 2 lovers
Who loved who the first ?      it doesn’t matter now
Each one’s eyes magnified by the other
The in between place the magnetic field between the eyes is the place of love,
Poetry, Orpheus, and all poet musicians
Rilke articulates this essence of absence
 
                                                   [It is like]   Like dew from the morning grass,
                 what is ours [poets] floats into the air, like steam from a dish
                 of hot food. O SMILE where are you going? O upturned glance:
                 new warm receding wave on the sea of the heart…
                 alas, but that is what we are. Does the infinite space
                we dissolve into, taste of us then?…(Duino Elegies 2nd)
 

The SMILE’s articulation    "the wave on the sea of the heart"
Is the place of poet/musicians

Their taste    their memories  like the flavor of dissolving fruit
 

II:  SLOWLY     PENSIVELY
 

Wherever our souls become strangers to the world

We get “impulses” imagining we were meant to be citizens
Of an other place
A sense of LOSS
This day to day consumer world dehumanizes us
Poetry and music and art are anti-commodity
Angels or poets come into existence
They create in this world
An atmosphere of pure loss
The only way to be in poetry’s world is to let go
 
        Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
        Behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
        For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
        That only by wintering through it will your heart survive.
 
        Be forever dead in Eurydice – more gladly arise
        Into the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
        Here, in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
        Be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.
 
        Be- and yet know the great void where all things begin,
        The infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
        So that, this one, you may give it your perfect assent.
 
        To all that is used up, and to all the muffled and dumb
        Creatures in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums,
        Joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count. (Sonnets to Orpheus II, 13)

We love someone   something

In the act of it  and in the memory of it
Our desire is really DEATH or ABSENSE
It is an end to the limit
Niezsche’s idea   the birth of tragedy from the spirit of music
Ritual to Spring celebrating Dionysus's death and nature's rebirth
Our death is what makes us eternal
We die out    the way music fades away
A music feel
The passing shows we were here
If it aint alive and moving and dying  it aint eternal
Grasping on to the beauty in passing
The Delta sunset wouldn’t be pretty if it weren’t dying

III:  GLORIOUSLY AND TRIUMPHANTLY
 

Llke’s Orpheus had to look at Eurydice

One instant of her living seeing presence
In exchange for countless days of her static non-being presence
Absence is a key in defining art over science
A state of balance that you are not sure you can duplicate
Rilke counsels us to use a flower as Orpheus's gravestone
 

            Erect no gravestone to his memory: just

            Let the rose blossom each year for his sake.
            For it is Orpheus. Wherever he has passed
            Through this or that. We do not need to look
 
            For other names. When there is poetry,
            It is Orpheus singing. He lightly comes and goes.
            Isn’t it enough if sometimes he can stay
            With us a few days longer than a rose?
 
            Though he himself is afraid to disappear,
            He has to vanish: don’t you understand?
            The moment his word steps out beyond our life here,
 
            He moves where you will never find his trace.
            The lyre’s strings do not constrict his hands.
            And it is in overstepping that he obeys.  (Sonnets to Orpheus I, 5)
 
Rilke’s Orpheus is poetry itself
It changes all of nature
Poetry, Music and Art create sacred spaces in our field of being for us to listen
Listen to Rilke's Orpheus putting a tree in our ear
 

            A tree ascended there. Oh pure transcendence!

            Oh Orpheus sings! Oh tall tree in the ear!
            And all things hushed. Yet even in that silence
            A new beginning, beckoning, change appeared.
 
            Creatures of stillness crowded from the bright
            Unbound forest, out of their lairs and nests;
            And it was not from any dullness, not
            From fear, that they were so quiet in themselves,
 
            But from simply listening. Bellow, roar, shriek
            Seemed small inside their hearts. And where there had been
            Just a makeshift hut to receive the music,
 
            A shelter nailed up out of their darkest longing,
            With an entryway that shuddered in the wind –
            You built a temple deep inside their hearing.
 
This nothingness space our temple sacred non space where we hear beauty
Allows our modern day poet Mary Oliver to make the Black Oaks come alive
Listen to this Orpheus Mary Oliver  changing the Black Oaks into lovers
Giving them singing voices  and putting them in our ear
 
                Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,
                    Or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
                    And comfort.
 
                Not one can manage a single sound, though the blue jays
                    Carp and whistle all day in the branches, without
                    The push of the wind.
 
                But to tell the truth after a while I’m pale with longing
                    For their thick bodies ruckled with lichen
 
                And you can’t keep me from the woods, from the tonnage
                    Of their shoulders, and their shining green hair.
 
                Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours a
                    Little sunshine, a little rain.
 
                Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
                    One boot to another – why don’t you get going?
 
                For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees.
 
                And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists
                    Of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money,
                    I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.
 

When you love something
You love it even in the rain
Maybe especially in the rain
When I was young it was playing baseball
Now it's playing my blue guitar