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
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
Orpheus the monster image of musician-painter-
Son of Apollo God of Music and
A native of Thrace also therefore in the cult
of Dionysus and the Moon
Apollo the contemplator, the explainer, the voice
Dionysus the doer, the performer, drunkenness
Nietzsche’s 2 forces of every work of art
Dance and the Dancer
Composer and Performer
Orpheus half human half divine in both
Loses Eurydice his wife
Charms Death gets her back on condition
of not looking at her
Orpheus? Not look? No way
He loses her
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
Solitary walkers listening to the tunes of their
An ordinary idea being born in a nothingness place
Orpheus is poetry that occupies an inner nothingness
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
Is the place of poet/musicians
Their taste their memories like the flavor of dissolving
II: SLOWLY PENSIVELY
Wherever our souls become strangers to the world
We get “impulses” imagining we were meant to be
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
of all parting, as though it already were
you, like the winter that has just gone by.
these winters there is one so endlessly winter
only by wintering through it will your heart survive.
dead in Eurydice – more gladly arise
the seamless life proclaimed in your song.
in the realm of decline, among momentary days,
crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.
yet know the great void where all things begin,
source of your own most intense vibration,
this one, you may give it your perfect assent.
that is used up, and to all the muffled and dumb
in the world’s full reserve, the unsayable sums,
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
Grasping on to the beauty in passing
The Delta sunset wouldn’t be pretty if it weren’t
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
Absence is a key in defining art over science
A state of balance that you are not sure you can
Rilke counsels us to use a flower as Orpheus's gravestone
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
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
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