Posts Tagged ‘Mahler’


who and what am I?
— we each have a thousand ways
of not knowing this

And that in itself, of course, is a kind of answer. I thought of calling the poem ‘sideways knowledge’. There seems to be nil link between the poem and my last night’s dreams. I woke at 3am and decided to get up, pleased that I had a few dream images still in my brain, and plenty of time to spend before work this morning, trying to shape a poem. I’ve been busy lately with the business of moving house, with a date set for the end of this month, and that is partly why I’ve not kept up with this blog. Also, I’m going to be moving in with my partner Liz, and it isn’t clear at all whether our life together (or whether she) will allow me the luxury of an hour or more at the beginning of the day, spent thinking about my dreams and trying to blog poetry. In view of that uncertainty, it’s natural to ease off the rigid habit, and see if I can do without it — before circumstances force me to do without it. I dreamed last night I was playing through Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in my head, wondering at the marvel of it. Actually I woke with the music of the 3rd going round and round, but in the dream I thought it was the 2nd. I guess there is — very broadly — some connection between ‘who and what am I?’ and Mahler. His music does ask this.



ask Mother Nature:
What is justice? — she replies
simply a story,
one of the most beautiful
— it has no ending at all

This poem is based on a dream last night in which I was feeling very amorous towards the pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja (mentioned in a previous post here). She is ten years older than me and I was more or less aware, in the dream, of her true age of 70. There was music in the dream as well, which she had composed. The age gap set me thinking, awake, about the phrase intergenerational justice. I’m not really sure what it means, and I guess it depends on the context. I’m thinking much more broadly than legal justice. Maybe I could have called my poem karma. But the consequences of our actions do go on forever, justice is never finished. And ewig…. is meant to evoke the final bars of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Writing this poem feels as though it has brought me a step closer to understand what Mahler was driving at. I was thinking recently about the curious reluctance of my 88-year-old mother to plan her own funeral service. It occurred to me if she doesn’t choose any music I might choose something from Das Lied von der Erde, knowing how much she loved it.