Posts Tagged ‘music’


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.


infinite vista

within me — there’s more
wealth, more courage, more beauty
— more exquisitely
cruel ignorance — than my
soul will ever comprehend

I did try hard with this poem. Last night I dreamed of a girl and a guy on a blind date. The guy was clearly me — he had written some lovely music — and I exclaimed that this music was just like the music I used to try and write — only better! At one time in my life, in reality, I did entertain ambitions of becoming a composer. The girl was a girl to whom, in reality, I am attracted quite a lot. She is thirty years younger than me, so I tend to deal with my attraction in real life by denying it. It is painful to have to realise, thinking about this dream, that there is a much more pronouncedly romantic flavour to my feelings for her, than I am capable of holding properly in consciousness. The poem is about that contradiction — that discrepancy — between what the dream shows me, and what I am able to accept.


to say the human
race hates itself makes no sense
— even if it’s true —
we turn away from the thought
as if avoiding the plague

I dreamed of Newton Faulkner. About five or ten years ago, I heard him perform at a low-profile, live gig in Trafalgar Square, and thought him extremely talented. He subsequently made it quite big. The dream probably suggested by my partner yesterday making me aware of a new artist, Lukas Graham  — who seems already to have made it quite big — but there is a resonance, with both men coming as though from nowhere and in both cases, their talent and originality stands out a mile. My poem began when I started thinking of the recording industry, and from there, I thought just simply of the word industry and all it implies. Go back to before the Industrial Revolution, and human beings would have possessed nil conception of any of the things we understand now by the word industry. Industry as we know it, is such an utterly hateful phenomenon, at so many different levels. And of course, turns out — because of climate change —no-one knows whether industry will be the instrument of our own self-inflicted death as a species. If this is what we’re doing to ourselves, how can it be otherwise than that we hate ourselves? And yet the thought is somehow inadmissible.


human memory
— infinitely creative
resource — treasure trove
of scarce possibilities —
each one capable of truth

This was a based on a dream the morning of Boxing Day, which had something to do with a classic pop song from 1970. I would guess probably a reference to The Beatles All You Need Is Love which famously was written to usher in the new decade of the seventies. Casting my mind back to 1970, I began thinking about the process of memory. It really isn’t as simple as recalling facts. If I try and remember the person I used to be, it’s like retelling a story and realising it only ever existed as a story in the first place. Subjectivity can’t be recaptured because it can’t even be fixed and pinned down and captured in the present moment, let alone in retrospect.


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.


my Goddess exists
somewhere between the Virgin
Mary and The Rite
of Spring — why not simply let’s
call her Schizophrenia?

This is hardly influenced at all by my dreams last night, which were to do with John F. Kennedy and a public library. I wept as I approached the boxed sets of vinyl and thought strongly of Brahms as my intended loan. All that has survived into the poem is the general theme of classical music. The poem actually has to do with pornography — having lapsed in that respect a couple of hours before writing it. Consistently, the only thing able to help with the guilt afterwards is praying the Rosary. But clearly the images of women on the site in question have more of a resonance with pagan fertility (hence The Rite of Spring) than with any traditional Christian approach to womanhood. My sensibilities are split therefore — as is my idea of the ‘goddess’. There nevertheless continues to be, for me, a lot of mileage in that idea, of there being a goddess. It’s so powerful, I do kind of ‘believe’ in it, like a faith. I have a funny relationship with the word faith. For some reason I hate just about everything connoted in the term ‘Faith community’; it always seems to suggest ‘diluted spirituality’. I have nil Christian faith in the sense of believing I am saved by Jesus. Yet I find it a uniquely wonderful word in so many other ways. Faith in the human condition itself, as being meaningful.


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