Friday, July 17, 2009

Something by Vivaldi

Brian's love of Dublin reminded me of my favorite poem. When I heard Garrison Keillor read it on Writer's Almanac it became the first poem to make me cry.
Something By Vivaldi
by Richard Tillinghast

There's a word—there has to be, there always is,
But today I can't locate it—for how the quotidian
Errand-running self gives legs to the leafy
Glistening part of us that now and again surfaces,
Transporting that breezelike something with a pen
And notebook from a snug seat at the Norseman
One street back from the rain-bothered Liffey,
To a caneback rocker on the porch at Sewanee

Where oakleaf and birdsong stipple down breeze-blown
Onto the page you fill—to a sunwarmed rock beside
The Big Lost River where you set your fly rod down
And write. Or your improvised niche is this brick arcade
In Seattle, discovered not by design
And not exactly by chance, where a classical busker
Rosins up and tunes up and delights the air
With a dazzle of sixteenth notes under arches of rain.

The music scaffolds its ascent up an invisible
Peak, bouncing on swells like a yacht, cloud-bound—
Elaborating story-lines around an allegorical
Citadel, sky-blue roads cutting up a spiral
Up the angle of Paradise, like an apple
Being peeled by an exacting and pleasure-loving hand,
By a hand that is itself no more than smoke.
Then it swings and plunges, and barrels along like a truck.

And all of us gasp and hum and sway
To this lightness that builds a room beyond
The bricks of the arcade, the fire in the pub grate,
The masonry, timber and commerce that build a street,
The force that cut the Big Lost River into granite
Or that puts a chair out on the porch in Tennessee.
All of us: lunching merchants, students, a blonde
Hippie in a Disneyland T-shirt, two out-of-whiskey
Greybeards on a bench; and your reporter,
Brought here for no other purpose than to get it on paper
And get it right—Tennessee sunlight,
Something by Vivaldi, rain on a Dublin street.
All these, and the self that carries the other around
And situates him for the work of his transported hand.
Let us sing, let us sing in Latin, let us stand
Up on elated feet and sing "Magnificat!"
The more I thought about the poem, the more appropriate it seemed for this blog. After all, what's more representative of the "quotidian, errand-running self" than driving thirteen hours to Michigan to attend the wedding of my fiancée's friend and classmate? And, as I mentioned on Tuesday, it certainly did seem like circumstances situated me for the work of my transported hand. And this does feel like the leafy Glistening part of me.

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