Posts Tagged ‘French horn’

enlightenment

it happens daily —
the world turns, the sun rises
— my own blindness kills

This poem was born out of a feeling of regret. I dreamed I turned up to play French horn in an orchestra, but then realised I had no French horn. Awake, I fell to thinking of my teenage years and how lazy I was in regard to French horn practice. I now practice yoga on a daily basis, and because my body is old, I notice the stiffness immediately if I miss a day’s practice. I fell this morning into wishing I had realised the importance of practice. Who knows I might now be a professional musician. And this feeling of regret forced me to consider the totality of what we owe to this life or to ourselves by being alive. I suppose you could say I fell to regretting not having achieved enlightenment in this life. The subject of enlightenment was already fairly close the surface of my preoccupations since Friday night when a Buddhist friend used the term in a Buddhist sense and I found myself rebelling inwardly — I doubt whether it’s either helpful or meaningful, to accept enlightenment as something the Buddha achieved and the rest of us can only strive after in a futile sort of way. My poem wanted to bring back ‘enlightenment’ to the literal meaning of the literal light which fills our physical world. But of course I end up, in the poem, with a metaphorical blindness nevertheless.

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yang

an erect penis —
so much more than an item
of biology

Against the odds, I’ve managed a half-decent attempt to capture in words the flavour of last night’s dream. I found contemplation of the dream quite disturbing and depressing, and I began to despair of finding any kind of acceptable representation for the issues it raises. As a teenager, I had French horn lessons, because my father had been a French horn player. The French horn I learned on was his, the French horn teacher was someone he knew professionally. Then when I was 16 I moved to London and had a new teacher — a younger man with much more awareness of the latest ideas on horn technique. I had severe emotional problems and although obviously he could see that was the case, he rarely displayed anything other than suppressed impatience with the pathetic mass of insecurities which was me. But he was a good teacher who improved my playing, and we somehow found a way of working together. In my dream last night he seemed to be concentrating deliberately on sustaining an erection while he was teaching me. The penis was hanging visible. I thought I had to imitate him. At the literal level, I should make it clear this dream refers to nothing that ever took place in real life. At the symbolic level, I guess manhood (or assertiveness) was somehow the issue between us. I was a closet gay at that time. In the dream I was fascinated in a horrified way by the penis. In reality he was quite an assertive character. I used to hate his assertiveness, because he seemed so deliberately unsympathetic. But I had nothing better to offer.

home

the world was never
going to be a place where
I felt I belonged

This self-pitying item is also possibly, I’m afraid, rather trite. I have a bit of a problem in my life, with trying to understand in retrospect how and why I made the choices in my teens which then shaped my life as a whole. Perhaps one reason this is so difficult is because I have simply lost all contact with, and empathy for, the person I was then. Broadly, last night’s dream highlighted the issue of livelihood. I felt convinced briefly, in the dream, that I could make it as a professional musician if only I dedicated enough hours to daily French horn practice. Then suddenly my true age in waking life dawned on me (59), and I realised it was quite hopeless. So I guess the element of self-pity was there in the dream.

trick of ignorance

sometimes, survival
depends upon unlearning
your knowledge and skill

I dreamed of playing the French horn. Back in the eighties and nineties, this was a dream I had again and again. Learning an orchestral instrument takes a lot of hard work and discipline, which is bound to leave its mark on the psyche. Since I haven’t played a French horn since 1979, it’s also bound to make me wonder what possible use or relevance those skills are now. I wanted to use this poem to challenge the way we take the usefulness of our own skills for granted. Poetry is a skill of course.