29 September 2018

Task 2.2 (Op.158)

In “building out” the ensemble version of Lutosławski’s Lullaby, and in consideration of there being a soprano in the ensemble, my initial thought was, to scare up a brief Whitman poem.   (I am pretty much always ready to try to invent a musical context for Whitman.)

Another odd strand in the formation of this piece is, I have been listening to The Penguin Café Orchestra in the car this week, and one of the tracks has been “Steady State.”  And, an early decision in this ‘expanded Lullaby’ project was, to title it Unsteady State.

Thus, before even wading into Leaves of Grass, and addressing the challenge of finding a Whitman text to suit the title...I realized that it is preferable by far to find a Schulte passage, and I began leafing (in a Kindle touchscreen way) through From the Temples of the Cloud.

On p.89 (as it reads on my Kindle), Karazama speaks:
“A bird once soared and told the wind to carry her anywhere it desired.  And so the wind blew her across the ocean to an island, where it landed on a high hill.  A fissure at the top of the hill beckoned to her with hints of food, if she hopped into its darkness.  And so the bird accepted the offer, and, in the dimness of one ray of light, fluttered down to a muddy surface full of insect and seeds and the bones of man.  Some of the bones, however, still lived, and those were in an ancient man delighted by the sudden company.  And he said: ‘Hello, dear bird, be at home and beware, for the soul of destruction resides in this lair, and I am its keeper, both now and ere.’  The bird knew nothing of this, and chirped and twirbled in the cool cave air, until an imprisoned stench, searching its cell for escape, surrounded the visiting finch.  Fluttering and flapping to escape, the bird peeped forth a prayer that said: ‘Crows never sleep when strychnine dances, so let’s drop the poison where happiness prances and crushes our woes!’ And so I bless you all in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen! That’s it!”
I think that will do perfectly.  And Mr Schulte is working on a poetical adaptation of the prose.

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