Regarding Derek Walcott’s interview I mentioned yesterday, I was able to email myself quotes from it. Using them, I started a google doc of notes about him and Omeros. I do this from time to time: make a doc with my reading notes, often with books I do not own. But Omeros affected me so much. I realized that I missed some erudite allusions, not to mention, the subtleties of Walcott’s form. In the absence of a good reference book about the work I can use the interweb to nail down some of these allusions.
Yesterday morning laying in the morning dark I read the poem, Sea Grapes, by Walcott (also the name of his 1976 volume of poetry).
BY DEREK WALCOTT
That sail which leans on light,
tired of islands,
a schooner beating up the Caribbean
for home, could be Odysseus,
home-bound on the Aegean;
that father and husband’s
longing, under gnarled sour grapes, is
like the adulterer hearing Nausicaa’s name
in every gull’s outcry.
This brings nobody peace. The ancient war
between obsession and responsibility
will never finish and has been the same
for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore
now wriggling on his sandals to walk home,
since Troy sighed its last flame,
and the blind giant’s boulder heaved the trough
from whose groundswell the great hexameters come
to the conclusions of exhausted surf.
The classics can console. But not enough.
I love the ending line. But I didn’t really recognize Nausicaa. But a quick look at Wikipedia reminded me of her role in the Odyssey. This morning I ran across Walcott reading this poem. It’s short and worth a listen.
Also to continue from yesterday, I looked up Samuel Colerdige Taylor in Groves. He is in the same generation as Vaughan Williams, Holst, Ireland and others. He was one of the group and thinking about his musical language as an outgrowth of his love of Dvorak and probably the English Pastorale school makes sense although I didn’t read anything specifically alluding to the pastorale school in regards to him.
Elgar championed his compositions. As did Stanford. Since he combines the stuffy Anglican background with an interest in African American music I find him interesting to say the least. He seems to have taken to heart Dvorak’s idea of using folk resources.
Also, here is a clearer reference to where I first found Taylor’s music. “Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora” Vol 3 Early Advanced Compiled and Edited by William H. Chapman Nyaho. The link is to the Oxford University Press page for this volume. There are other volumes in this series and I will probably look in to acquiring them after I finish exploring this volume. I think I purchased Volume 3 from Craig Cramer’s list of used music for sale he emails out.
Here’s a video of the piece I have played. Or at least an interp of it. This player changes it which is fine by me. Note that in comments is one by Sir Taylor, Taylor’s great grandson: Zachius Matthew Coleridge Taylor.
For a closer reading of Taylor’s 1905 score listen to this video.
Interesting comments on this video on YouTube as well. Apparently the performer knows the editor of the series alluded to above. Cool. I do think I prefer her interp to the jazzed up version, but maybe that’s because I’m interested in learning more about Samuel Coleridge Taylor.
Eileen left this morning to drive to Whitehall to take her Mom to a doctor’s appointment. After she left, I went to the Farmers Market and then Meijer. Earlier I had lain in bed and read the poetry of Derek Walcott on my ereader. I found an interview of him and discovered that I could highlight and send sections to myself in an email. I am digging deeper into his poetry. Yesterday while Eileen and I relaxed at the beach, I read poetry by him.
I also read in Oilio by Tyehimba Jess. I am loving how he rewrites specific Dreamsongs by John Berryman. It’s very clever as well as moving to me. When we got home my copy of Olio had arrived in the mail. Woo hoo!
I was delighted when I turned to Don Saliers’s July 2017 column in the AGO mag. It’s called “Who needs poetry?” He makes a case for the need for poetry. He quotes from Jane Hirshfield’s Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. “Poetry,” she writes, “when we give ourselves to it, becomes within us a playable organ of perception, sounding out its own forms of knowledge and forms of discovery…. Seeing through poetry’s eyes, hearing through poetry’s ears, we come to know ourselves less tempered, more free than we were, and connected to … a larger world.”
Hirshfield’s book is sitting on the shelves at the local library. I will be picking it up later today no doubt.
Lest you think that I’m only dabbling in poetry these days, here’s a composer who is new to me: Samuel Coleridge Taylor (1875-1912). He is a British born composer who did many settings related to the African American experience.
Not Samuel Tayler Coleridge the poet.
I was playing through an interesting collection yesterday before going to the beach: “Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora” Volume 3 Early Advanced. I ran across a setting by Samuel Coleridge Taylor of “Deep River.” What the heck is this, I wondered? It was copyright 1905 by Oliver Ditson. It was clearly written, not exactly nostalgic but not modern that’s for sure.
I want to write more about this, but the internet is craaawwwwling and I’m losing patience. More another time.