30 December 2012

On Augie, on Edgar, on Donner & Blitzen

Dear L—,
I have resumed regular reading of ACotU, a little bit each day. I meant to write yesterday (or possibly the day before) to tell you afresh (for I am sure I had commented on this chapter earlier) how poignant and rich the whole A— D— episode is, and seeing it in part through T—’s experience of the wayward marble and the shattered glass of the door. Guilt, Death, Art — it’s all in there. 
I’m already at the point where Uncle P— aborted his road trip on reflecting that he’d never had anyone tell him he’s the best before. That rings even truer, for its not sinking in until he’d already initiated his ritual migration. 
I’m on the Orange Line now. While on the 134 bus just now, I very nearly resisted the impulse to compose. That is, I’ve got my folder with me, had in fact brought it specifically so that I might fulfill my “elective obligation” … still there was something of a special mental effort needed. Perhaps it is only a matter of being a little tired. The important thing is that I conquered the inertia. 
Yesterday I had composed perhaps four measures of melody only, to begin setting Poe’s “Annabel Lee.” At the time, I don’t know that I felt I’d gotten anything done, particularly. Yet (and again, in spite of even the act of composing having hung in Fate’s balance) more work flowed to-day, almost without effort. It’s all just tune so far, and I’ve yet to concentrate on the vocal quartet arrangement, but I’ve finished the first two stanzas. 
Partly this is a mystery alien to my planning, springing from ancient familiarity with the poem. With “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee” is about the first poem I ever read (with the awareness that I was reading poetry — ties in curiously with concurrent reading in ACotU about the telephone pole poet). 
With all my composition experience since, one might think that I might be in danger of “over-thinking” the piece. But with this tune I’ve been smithying I’ve tapped into a kind of ballad lilt which is the way I’ve always felt the poem, from those earliest days. I probably shouldn’t go so far as to call it a therapeutic process … but there’s certainly a corner of my mind that feels as if a window has been thrown open. A sense of sunshine and a fresh breeze. A kind of sacred renewal … and to think I almost missed experiencing that, this morning, if I hadn’t drawn my folder from the sack.

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