~*~ Rose-Colored Glosses ~*~

hovering between the quest for absolute truth and the pursuit of utter nonsense
gloss, n.
  1. A brief explanatory note usually inserted in the margin or between lines of a text.
  2. An extensive commentary, often accompanying a text or publication.
  3. A purposefully misleading interpretation or explanation.
~ welcome to Rose-Colored Glosses ~ bloghome | contact ~
* Archives *
March 2003
April 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
November 2005
December 2005
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
August 2006
September 2006
December 2006
January 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
April 2008
May 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
November 2008
February 2009
March 2009
February 2012
* Stuff I Read *
Bioethics Blog
Poor Mojo's Newswire
Language Hat
Overheard In New York
Areas of His Expertise
* Quotes *
"The limits of my language means the limits of my world."
-Ludwig Wittgenstein
"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it."
-Mahatma Gandhi
Segal's Law:
A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
"Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And East is East and West is West and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste more like prunes than a rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know."
-Groucho Marx

~ Tuesday, September 23, 2003 ~

I miss my piano.
This evening, while I was taking the subway to Drisha to attend a class on Chasidut, taught by the fantastically wonderful Rabbi Stavisky, I chanced to be in a car displaying one of the Poetry In Motion offerings. That's one of the things I find so lovely about the subways here, and why I like them so much better than BART. With BART, it's either a stale advertisement, a mindless safety advisory notice, or a map. Here, the ads are better, the safety advisories are clever, the maps are intricate and necessary, and there is the occasional piece of art for its own sake.

I was only riding 17 blocks south, which translates to about three minutes, but when I'd read the poem and decided I wanted to remember it, I had just enough time to whip out a pen and a scrap of paper and scribble it down. The poet was describing a magnificent coat he'd made for his Song, à la Ya'akov's gift to Yossef (which was especially interesting for me because I'd just spend the entire afternoon studying commentaries on exactly that story, and particularly the two words "k'tonet passim", which sort of translates to "multicolored coat", except that it doesn't at all--by the way, I think "k'tonet" and "tunic" might be etymologically related), and how certain misguided people who read his work had claimed it for their own and perverted it, which the poet compared to corrupting the coat. The poem ended with the poet instructing his Song to let go of the ruined garment without complaint, and instead (I think) to exist unclothed and with integrity rather than clothed in a sullied garment. I felt terribly lucky that I'd managed to finish copying it down in time, brief as the poem was, because the poems I've seen displayed in the subways are all postmodern works I've never encountered before (which is to say, they're all postmodern works), and I might never have been able to find the poem again after leaving the subway car. As I walked out, I glanced over my shoulder to see if the poet was credited, and then felt a little foolish when I read, "W.B. Yeats".

I don't want you to think that I don't like my Chasidut class. I love it. It's completely fantastic. If I ever learn to hold an unshakable belief in God, it'll be because of my exposure to Chasidut. I have nothing but the deepest respect for Rabbi Stavisky--he's not only one of the wisest and most thoughtful teachers I've ever had the privilege to know, but also one of the most kind and caring. The energy he expends and the concern he shows in treating other people--students and family and coworkers and strangers--lovingly is quite beautiful. So after all that, I confess that tonight I spent part of the class with less than my full attention on the topic we were studying and more than half my attention on this poem. I realized that I had music for it in my head, and I wanted to write it down before I lost it. I don't have Finale or Opus or whatever the other application is called, so I'm not sure how to reproduce the music, but here is the poem:

I made my song a coat
covered with embroideries
out of old mythologies
from heel to throat

But the fools caught it
wore it in the world's eyes
as though they'd wrought it.

Song, let them take it
for there's more enterprise
in walking naked.

The melody was sort of a no-brainer. The phrases and the rhyme scheme were easy to find (I liked the use of "take it" to rhyme with "naked", by the way), so it lent itself to an 8-bar phrase and two 6-bar phrases, and the inflection seemed written into the words--an explosion of indignation on "the fools " and the quiet resolve in the words "walking naked". However, I couldn't just write a melody and not write the chords, so I jotted down a skeletal draft of those, too. It turned out to be in e minor, which didn't surprise me, and in 4/4, which did. I thought about stretching it into 6/8, but somehow the starkness of 4/4 seemed to go well with the mood of the poem, especially the imagery of the last line. The chords might make it a little too French Impressionistic Art Song-ish (the second phrase runs: e min/C Aug/c#dim/D Maj/A-flat Maj/E-flat Maj/B7) for a piece with such well-defined rhythm and form...although on the other hand, setting a poem with such a clear-cut form to overly colorful music might be interesting. I say "might" because while I have sort-of-heard it in my head, and have a tentative bassline written out, I have no way of actually playing it for myself so I can hear it outside my head, and this is driving me batty. I want my piano.

Current Music: Oh, shut up.

~ prattled by Miriam at 12:38 a.m. [+]

* * *
Comments: Post a Comment

This page is 

powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?