Thanksgiving Miscellany, with Larcher, Pärt, and Britten

The photos are from walks taken over Thanksgiving on the North Fork of Long Island, some along the shore line from Potato Dock, the remainder at Arshamomaque Preserve.

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Here, also, are two poems I happened on today:

From Slant, by Suji Kwock Kim:

If the angle of an eye is all,
the slant of hope, the slant of dreaming, according to each life,
what is the light of this city,
light of Lady Liberty, possessor of the most famous armpit in the world,

From Starfish, by Eleanor Lerman:

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who say, Last night,
the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Listening List

Thomas Larcher, Ouroboros for cello and orchestra

This work was named after the ancient Greek symbol, the Ouroboros, which Larcher came across while reading about Brahms’ symphonies. A series of repeated motifs give the music a sense of circularity as the ideas progress and then return to the original motif. [citation]

Bonus Track: At about 6 minutes and 17 minutes into Larcher’s work, I hear echoes of works by Arvo Pärt, so it seemed only fitting to post one. As one thing so often leads to another, I found the one I chose, Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, in the company of Britten’s Four Sea Preludes from Peter Grimes.


Credits: The source for the quotations may be found at the links given in the text; the photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.

9 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Miscellany, with Larcher, Pärt, and Britten

  1. shoreacres

    “The most famous armpit in the world” is a phrase that, once read, lingers. I’m sure I’ve recently seen this poem, but I can’t say where. Perhaps it was part of the Writer’s Almanac series, which I always loved, until… well.

    Ouroboros is a word that feels circular even to speak. Somehow I missed learning about the symbol, so it’s new to me now, and quite interesting. Isn’t there an echo of it in the poem “Slant,” as well? I noticed this line: “all of us making and unmaking ourselves…”

    It also occurs to me that a phrase I’ve known in several variations since childhood — for example, “I’ve been chasing my own tail all day” — may have some connections. The Larcher piece is great morning music, especially on a day that may not be quite as straightforward as I’d like.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      shoreacres: your attentiveness to language, including the very sound of language, is marvelous. (I am going to confess to you that I have to try very hard, including in the first sentence here, to avoid the dreaded exclamation point.) Your play on Ouroboros could easily become (in appropriate hands, such as yours) a poem or essay, it seems to me. The phrase you quote from Slant is beautifully chosen, and in turn reminds me of a poem by Peter Cole, “Song of the Shattering Vessels,” here:

  2. David N

    Beautiful autumn light. What took you there – friends, or just a break?

    Larcher’s one of the best around. Must take the time to watch/listen.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: We were lucky enough to be invited out to the North Fork of Long Island for Thanksgiving by good friends, who put us up in lovely quarters, squired us around, and fed us extremely well. I’m not sure what we’d done to deserve this royal treatment, but we had a great time. Have you heard any of Larcher’s work live? It’s frustrating to me to have been completely unaware of his very existence until shortly before I put up this post.

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          David: Well, I would love to hear that Violin Concerto. Doesn’t seem to be available for listening as yet, too bad! Your comment in the TAD article about Arvo Pärt-ish passages is akin to my response on listening to Ouroboros–Larcher may “start” there, but what he does with such passages is all his own.

  3. Steve Schwartzman

    Ah, Susan, your mention of Long Island’s North Fork brought back a memory from when I was probably no more than 6 years old and my family spent a few days in Southold. On the shore of Long Island Sound near there I first saw a blowfish.

    You sent me scurrying to the American Heritage Dictionary, according to which ouroboros was originally part of a Greek phrase, drakōn ouroboros. That understood first word you’ll recognize in dragon, though in this case it was a serpent. The second word is a compound of ourā ‘tail’ and -boros ‘eating’. So many names in mythology are just descriptions.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Steve: Your scurry (could that be a noun?) to the dictionary netted gold. I, in turn, scurried to look at blowfish images. I feel certain I have seen one at some point, but I can’t be sure.

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