Apr. 8th, 2012

armistice_day: (o fortuna . velut luna)
The Carmina Burana, is a collection of medieval poetry featuring themes that range from the religious to the political, the moral to the erotic, and the Bacchic to the Satirical. Found collected in a monastery, the Songs of Beuren were the work of "goliards", defrocked monks, vagrant students, minor clerics and minstrels. Today, the most famous (read: most abused and and overworked) of these songs is the O Fortuna (Imperatrix Mundi)-- a rail against Lady Luck Herself, set to music by Carl Orff.

Reading the lyric, it's plain that there really is nothing new under the sun. After all, who is there who hasn't felt utterly forsaken from time to time?


like the moon you are changeable,
ever waxing and waning;

life first oppresses and then soothes
as fancy takes it;

Poverty and power, it melts them like ice.

monstrous and empty, you whirling wheel, you are malevolent,
well-being is in vain and always fades to nothing
shadowed and veiled, you plague me too;

Now, through the game, I bring my bare back to your villainy.

Fate is against me,
in health and virtue driven on and weighed down,
always enslaved.

So at this hour, without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate strikes down the strong man
all weep with me!


Since this poem was meant to be heard as a song, I feel it's fitting to include a performance in this post. This is a fine one, by the LSO under Richard Hickox.
As hard as it is to divorce this music from its familiar, modern context, try to put the million movie trailers, explosions, and nervous breakdowns aside and take it in. It's well worth the effort.

[It's also a hell of a lot of fun to sing.]

armistice_day: bird & wire (thaumatropy . tales for other times)
I have quite a few favorite poems by Ginsberg, but since we share a favorite poet in Walt Whitman, I chose to go with this one.

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the
streets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit
supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles
full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! --- and you,
Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the
meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price
bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and
followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting
artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does
your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to
shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in
driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you
have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and
stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

-- A Supermarket in California
, Allen Ginsberg


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