Sunday, April 26, 2009

Strongly recommended

From today's play list, there are two pieces of music I would like to tell the rest of the world about, although a good deal of the rest of the world already knows them. Anyway.

One is Keith Jarrett's Vienna Concert. The first part of it, which I know best, is a slow build-up to a rhythmically complex but strikingly compelling stretch of about 10-15 minutes, which then slows down again to a sort of meditative ending based on wide open triads in major, with Jarrett's signaturial pure, wide and deep sound.

The other one is Bach's Brandenburger Concertos, and the piece I was jumping around to today is the first movement of the 5th concerto. In the end there, at least in my Trevor Pinnock recording, the cembalist outstrips and outcools any rock music I have yet heard by far!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Modern American Poetry - a link

Very short today:

In my search for the station of the metro poem by Ezra Pound I came across this wonderful web resource, a compilation of modern American poetry. Hooray for Bartleby!

This is the poem I was looking for, by the way:


The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"A different sun" by Kolbein Falkeid - "En annen sol"

A different sun

Silent around the boat, silent
like stars when Earth is switched off and people's words,
faltering thoughts and dreams are forgotten.
I place the oars in their rowlocks,
lower and raise them. Listen.
The small splash of drops in the ocean
cement the silence. Slowly, towards a different sun
I turn my boat in the mist: The tight-knit nothing
of life. And row,

* * *
En annen sol

Stille rundt båten, stille
som stjerner når jorda er avskrudd og menneskers ord,
famlende tanker og drømmer glemt.
Jeg legger årene i hver sin tollegang,
senker og løfter dem. Lytter.
Det vesle plasket av dråper i havet
sementerer stillheten. Sakte, mot en annen sol,
dreier jeg båten i tåka: Livets
tette ingenting. Og ror,

* * *

To me this poem is likea mix of the written poem and a lyric for a song. You can hear this poem performed (in Norwegian) by Anne-Grete Preus accompanied by Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.
It was written as part of a collection of poems Falkeid wrote in the time after his daughter had committed suicide, and is a desperately beautiful part of a suite of twelve poems in this collection, named "A different sun" ("En annen sol").

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Famous blue raincoat - a metaphor that lives

The heading for this post refers of course to Leonard Cohen's song. I was prodded into writing about this strangely alive metaphor by hearing the song again.

The blue raincoat transcends the whole lyrics, the whole song, and leaves me on the other side with a new impression imprinted in my being. This image leaves blue streaks in its wake, embodying and generating a bluish world of its own. The raincoat comes alive, that's the easiest way of describing what I mean. Easier still is to call it by its rhetorical name: This piece of clothing becomes a full-blooded symbol, though a symbol which seems to live by itself, which has taken on a form and transmits the content of the song just by existing as a symbol. Perhaps this is what some writers mean when they say that their characters become alive and start talking and having opinions on how the story should develop.

I love this quote from Cohen about his own blue raincoat:

"I had a good raincoat then, a Burberry I got in London in 1959. Elizabeth thought I looked like a spider in it. That was probably why she wouldn't go to Greece with me. It hung more heroically when I took out the lining, and achieved glory when the frayed sleeves were repaired with a little leather. Things were clear. I knew how to dress in those days. It was stolen from Marianne's loft in New York sometime during the early seventies. I wasn't wearing it very much toward the end."

And so the formatting strangles me. Marianne by the way is Cohen's Norwegian girlfriend from those years - So long, Marianne is spun around her.

(Also, if you're Scandinavian or can understand a Scandinavian language, it is worth checking out the recording of this song made by Kari Bremnes on the tribute album Cohen på norsk - "Cohen in Norwegian".)