Friday, August 22, 2014

Debussy Plays; Trucks Flounder Past Like Gods Who've Lost Control of Their Machines, or: Born One Hundred Fifty-Two Years Ago Today

Forgive me, I love Claude Debussy's music, especially, as always, the solo piano pieces.


Mark Tredinnick

Every year the moon inches away from us. In time she’ll swim too far out
to anchor us at our habitual angle to the sun, and that will be the end
of the well-tempered and recursive wildness
                                                             that conceived and suffered us,
and that will be the end of us. We have just two
billion years to thank her for our time here. Eternity has a use-by date
But it’ll be up long before that, and in the meantime,
I sit on the cold step of the cowshed and watch the world throw its shadow
on the moon like a horseblanket;
                                                             in the meantime the moon reddens
in the refraction of all our dawns and sunsets, in a kind of transfigured cosmic
smog. An apocalypse that lasts three hours until it’s time to go to bed.
And in the meantime on the floor of my shed, blue planets sing in the hands
of children as they once sang in war. Two small worlds forged to cry terribly down
like creation unravelling upon one’s foes now
                                                               make a peaceful clangour on my secular desk.
One spins from its orbit and quakes and chips its cerulean shell on the floor
of heaven. The tectonics of play. We are loved like this, and this is how it ends.
I’m arguing a lot with death these days. And last night I found myself
in court poised to clinch the case against the absurdity of life.
Certainly, this was sleeping and certainly
                                                            I was dreaming and I’d been losing the thread,
but all at once I saw where my argument must run, and I was running it there
when my small boy cried and woke me and I went to him and now I’ll never know.
Spring now, and the river has drawn back her bow. The lark ascends
from the cd-player, and black ducks sip brown ditchwater in the yard.
Everything’s in bud or leaf, last of all
                                                              the silver poplars and the Osage Orange,
trees flaring even now in the backyard of the childhood of my friend, the poet,
the poet’s son. The world happens twice. Draw the linen string taut and shoot.
One lives in paradox. Debussy plays; trucks flounder past like gods
who’ve lost control of their machines. In between one makes one’s life up.
The sound is the price you pay for the sight
                                                             that meets you every morning and half
of what you paid for the house. The shed puts the perfect sky in her pocket,
and possums rut in the roof. Eternity is in rehearsal, and this is its soundtrack.
Brad mows an acre an hour. A general at ease on his machine, a banker
in overalls, he’s rationalised our small republic on one tank of gas. And this now—
cutgrass at four o’clock—is how
                                                              hope smells. Some days I can see no way out:
the body of the world in entropy. But today I sit among the ruins
of the afternoon, and I cannot see how it can’t all go on forever.
Meantime the moon has made herself new again, and there has been rain.
The Marulan hills, which had almost forgotten the taste of the word,
are spelling green again this afternoon,
                                                             and there’s water in a lake that’s been a paddock
for a decade. Three black cockatoos, and then three more, fly over as I take
the southwest road. And into all this panoply of hope, the new moon falls.

1 comment:

  1. with regard to the first of these eclogues, wikipedia has an article on the orbit of the moon

    The Moon is gradually receding from the Earth into a higher orbit, and calculations suggest that this would continue for about fifty billion years. By that time, the Earth and Moon would become caught up in what is called a "spin–orbit resonance" or "tidal locking" in which the Moon will circle the Earth in about 47 days (currently 27 days), and both Moon and Earth would rotate around their axes in the same time, always facing each other with the same side. (This has already happened to the Moon—the same side always faces Earth. This is slowly happening to the Earth as well.) However, the slowdown of the Earth's rotation is not occurring fast enough for the rotation to lengthen to a month before other effects change the situation: about 2.3 billion years from now, the increase of the Sun's radiation will have caused the Earth's oceans to vaporize, removing the bulk of the tidal friction and acceleration.

    i'm particularly struck with the fourth of these eclogues, the evident absurdity of effort in the face of the confrontation with death and the eventual destruction of all we know - and yet "love lures life on"

    Lines to a Movement in Mozart's E-flat Symphony

    Show me again the time
    When in the Junetide's prime
    We flew by meads and mountains northerly! -
    Yea, to such freshness, fairness, fulness, fineness, freeness,
    Love lures life on.

    Show me again the day
    When from the sandy bay
    We looked together upon the pestered sea! -
    Yea, to such surging, swaying, sighing, swelling, shrinking,
    Love lures life on.

    Show me again the hour
    When by the pinnacled tower
    We eyed each other and feared futurity! -
    Yea, to such bodings, broodings, beatings, blanchings, blessings,
    Love lures life on.

    Show me again just this:
    The moment of that kiss
    Away from the prancing folk, by the strawberry-tree! -
    Yea, to such rashness, ratheness, rareness, ripeness, richness,
    Love lures life on.

    Thomas Hardy
    Begun November 1898.