Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Music Poem

I read this poem today while catching up on a weekend's worth of emails. It arrived in a newsletter from Friday, May Day. Reading it tonight, in the quiet dark of my living room, lit only by the glow from my laptop, made me re-long for the connection that I have always had with music, for the very reasons this poet espouses. But I have lacked such connection of late. I just haven't been listening to music as much. I have no commute, so no consistent car time to soak in music. I like tunes while I work, but as background, not as distractions that may transfix me. So, here is, in print, my renewed committment to music, my goal to spend those unspent iTunes giftcards this next week, and maybe find something transcendent.


by Anne Porter

When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother's piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I've never understood
Why this is so

Bur there's an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.

"Music" by Anne Porter from Living Things: Collected Poems. © Steerforth Press, 2006.
Reprinted from "The Writer's Almanac" produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media.