Saturday, January 21, 2006

High and medium

The other day we saw the Emerson String Quartet playing the Grieg and Sibelius quartets. I know the works well, having long owned a recording by the Guarneri String Quartet. They make a nice program - indeed, each is fortunate in the other because of that. The Emersons are of course great (though I thought the violins seemed a little less confident in a spot or two than I expected) and I especially enjoyed how clear the textures were.

I prefer the Sibelius quartet, but the Grieg is a fine piece too. At one point there's a lovely bit where the 1st violin and the viola trade phrases of a theme, then end up with a little rocking motif which builds back up to the second theme - magical. At another point the full quartet is really scraping away and I was suddenly reminded of a section in the stark video for Metallica's "One" (which I recall blew my college roommate, no fan of heavy metal, completely away) where the band is shown in a dark space intently playing in tight unison.

I listened to Paul Simon's Graceland again over the holidays. "The way we look to a distant constellation that's dying in the corner of the sky" (from "The Boy in the Bubble") is stuck in my head, esp. the double sense of "the way we look". I've been reading some of William Meredith's poems. I know zip about him, though he has the classic arc (Yale Series of Younger Poets winner, carreer retrospective wins the Pulitzer); but so far he's got a notably warm, reserved, humorous tone combined with a somewhat formal craft - sort of a less Apollonian Wilbur. In his poem "Last Things" there's a line, "In a shed by the side of the road. Cows graze". I instantly flashed on Simon's lines, "It was a slow day/And the sun was beating/On the soldiers by the side of the road" including the "day"/"graze" slant rhyme. And just recently I read a poem making a wry comment on "a dying galaxy" (or something along those lines) which echoed off Simon's phrase above. Sadly I pick up a book and read a poem and drop the book back into the sea all the time.

Update: "Winding joylessly down like burnt-out galaxies" from the same Meredith poem, "Last Things". D'oh.


Blogger Jackmormon said...

Sadly I pick up a book and read a poem and drop the book back into the sea all the time.

More and more, I'm thinking that this is the most satisfying way to read poetry. Note that the poem stayed with you enough to provide an echo in your other reading!

30/1/06 05:11  

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