Tag Archives: ModPo

Colors of the Day & Music of the Night

1 IMG_5780_edited-1

1 IMG_5775_edited-1I’ve been down in New York City the past few days. As marathoners on Fifth Avenue faced frigid winds, the maidens in the Central Park Conservatory Garden danced blithely amid chrysanthemums in bloom. Continue reading

Living the Non-Narrative Life with Nielsen, Ashbery, and Ives

Housatonic River at Bull's Bridge, Kent, Connecticut

Housatonic River at Bull’s Bridge, Kent, Connecticut

Where was I?
—John Ashbery (from The Skaters)

If you didn’t know what was going to happen next would you live your life any differently?
—Charles Bernstein (from The Meandering Yangtze)

At the New York Philharmonic concert of Carl Nielsen’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, conductor Alan Gilbert said, with palpable glee, that the symphonies were “like life.” Composer Daniel Felsenfeld, in his pre-concert talk, said something similar: that the symphonies convey what it means to be human. He went on to say, of the Sixth Symphony’s final movement, that the only composer it reminded him of was Charles Ives: “things come in and out and they don’t really jibe.” Continue reading

Fall and All

Late September, Buttercup Farm

Late September, Buttercup Farm

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

—Wallace Stevens (from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird)

Stevens was a master of autumn. (Spring, he didn’t like so much, it seems.) Last year, in my Autumn Thoughts post, I quoted from Stevens’s An Ordinary Evening in New Haven. This year, ModPo is again in session, and the “leaves in whirlings” passage from An Ordinary Evening came to mind as I thought about Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, the Stevens poem discussed in the course. Continue reading

Turbans in Connecticut (and New York)

Sikh Parade P4273472_edited-1The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.

—Wallace Stevens (The Plain Sense of Things)

Turbans, along with sombreros, appear early on in the poems of Wallace Stevens. At least three poems in Harmonium sport turbans. Here’s The Load of Sugar-Cane:

The going of the glade-boat
Is like water flowing;

Like water flowing
Through the green saw-grass
Under the rainbows;

Under the rainbows
That are like birds,
Turning, bedizened,

While the wind still whistles
As kildeer do,

When they rise
At the red turban
Of the boatman. Continue reading

The Power of Language and the Language of Power

If we must die, O let us nobly die,/So that our precious blood may not be shed/In vain

—Claude McKay

In a burst of cultural ambition while in high school, I bought three boxed set classical recordings. Two were operas: Puccini’s La Bohème and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande. The other was a symphony. I’d never seen a symphony that needed more than one LP, so I had to have that. I didn’t know the composer, but he was Russian, and “modern,” and the cover of the box had a photograph of Leningrad under siege in World War II. Continue reading