Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vivaldi's Autumn

[This is the "Autumn" sonnet that Antonio Vivaldi wrote to accompany the "Autumn" Concerto of his "Four Seasons" Cycle. The other three seasons are in earlier posts.]

The countryman celebrates with dance and song
The sweet pleasure of a good harvest,
[The "drunkard"; LENTO]
And many, fired by the liquor of Bacchus,
[Allegro assai; adagio molto]
End their enjoyment by falling asleep.

Everyone is made to abandon singing and dancing
By the temperate air, which gives pleasure,
And by the season, which invites so many
To enjoy the sweetness of sleep.

The huntsmen come out at the crack of dawn
[The fleeing prey; LEGATO]
With their horns, guns and hounds;
The quarry flees and they track it:

Already terrified and tired out by the great noise
Of the guns and hounds, the wounded beast
Makes a feeble effort to flee but dies in agony.
----Antonio Vivaldi

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Call of the Desert

Ah. . .
I can laugh,
And my echo laughs back with me.
I can run,
And only the wind runs with me.
I can leap,
And I can land gracefully.
I see beauty:
A beauty I always see.
I am alone,
For I came to be free.
The earth speaks,
And I hear, for it's a part of me.
Who am I
That God should open my eyes to see
The deep beauty
Of what imperfect earth can be?
The thorns poke,
But even they cannot stop me;
For I laugh,
And You, O, LORD, laugh back with me.
---C. Marie Byars, 1985; New Mexico

Friday, August 8, 2008

Praise to God, Immortal Praise

Praise to God, immortal praise,
For the love that crowns our days;
Bounteous Source of every joy,
Let Thy praise our tongues employ.

Flocks that whiten all the plain;

Yellow sheaves of ripened grain;
Clouds that drop their fattening dews,
Sun that temperate warmth diffuses.
All that Spring with bounteous hand
Scatters o’er the smiling land;
All that liberal Autumn pours
From her rich o’erflowing stores.
These to Thee, my God, we owe,
Source whence all our blessings flow;
And for these my soul shall raise
Grateful vows and solemn praise.

Yet, should rising whirlwinds tear
From its stem the ripening ear;
Should the fig tree’s blasted shoot*
Drop her green untimely fruit,
Should the vine put forth no more,
Nor the olive yield her store;
Though the sickening flocks should fall,
And the herds desert the stall,
Yet to Thee my soul shall raise

Grateful vows and solemn praise;
And, when every blessing’s flown
Love Thee for Thyself alone.**
---An­na L. Bar­bauld, 1772 (adapted c.m.b. 2008)

*Habakkuk 3:17-19 (a near paraphrase). After chapters of asking "How, God?" and "Why, God?"---and getting answers from God!!---Habakkuk makes this statement of faith. [Habakkuk ties another as my favorite book of the Bible]
**Christian thinkers, C.S. Lewis included, have said that as we mature in our faith, we love God for who He is and not just for the great benefits of heaven which we get from Him

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Moon

The Moon was but a chin of gold*
A night or two ago,
And now she turns her perfect face
Upon the world below.

Her forehead is of amplest blond*;
Her cheek like beryl* stone;
Her eye unto the summer dew
The likest I have known.

Her lips of amber* never part;
But what must be the smile
Upon her friend she could bestow
Were such her silver will.

And what a privilege to be
But the remotest star!
For certainly her way might pass
Beside your twinkling door.

Her bonnet is the firmament,
The universe her shoe,
The stars the trinkets at her belt,

Her dimities** of blue.
---Emily Dickinson

*Imagery for the moon is usually "silvery." This uses more of the "yellow", and sometimes the Moon (esp. when full) does have a yellowish cast
**Dimity: A sheer, crisp (double-threaded; "di") cotton fabric. It is woven with raised stripes or checks and was used mostly for dresses or curtains.