Tag Archives: music

The rest is not silence

The greatest jolt that one can bear is the sound of dirt
hitting the casket lid. It lingers long on the air,
echoing the heart’s crescendo and tripping the breath’s staccato.

Listen:
the melody of a life is never sung complete or only in one key,
the end beats are seldom, if ever, in rhythm
and the harmony can be discordant to a degree.
That is why it is left to the rest stops—those blessed little spaces,
those tiny, magical pauses between the major and minor shifts—
where a life beat is best measured and heard aright.
Music is about silence, as death is about life,
or at least, that is what I heard sung that day.

This poem was written for the daughter of very dear friends, who, after a long battle with addiction, lost that fight. She was a dear soul, a generous, kindhearted person and a loving mother, who, like many people caught in her situation, seemed unable to stop or dull an ache that just wouldn’t quit or be denied.

I remember her funeral well. Her mother had written a eulogy that she asked my wife to read on her behalf. It started off, “I remember the first time I looked into your eyes,” and a few minutes later, after recalling many happy and warm times, there was not a dry eye in the room. But when it got to the end and she recalled looking into her daughter’s eyes that very last time as she prepared the body for burial, everyone was bawling. When my wife got back to our seat I asked her how she got through it without breaking down, because I know I couldn’t have done it. “I have no idea,” she said, “Some power came over me to help me.” It was later when she cried.

Reading this you’d think that the entire day was pure tragedy, and I don’t deny that it was sad.  But after reflection it is a sense of redemption that I carry with me now, because that day was also heartwarming. A beloved child, a dear sister, a loving mother was dead; but she was also honored and loved, and that honor and love was poured out in such abundance that day that there was also—or at least there was for me—a sense of understanding, of closure and of letting go with dignity.

Thank you for reading The rest is not silence. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

– 2012.12.01

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The moonlight sonata

The simplest of the weightiest of things,
the stuff of all that is true:
the special first time and the later each time,
together alone
woven into the light of the moon.

Music, like life, plays on
to a slow heartbeat with a gentle shy ache,
the melody building to a longing so intense
that it harmonizes with every action we make
to bind us.
Just listen.

Beethoven’s music is incredible: dynamic, courageous, beautiful, strong, delicate, heartfelt. But of all of the things that best characterize his music it is the essential organic flow that grabs you and holds you from start to finish. When listening to Beethoven’s music it seems as if every note is the natural consequence of the previous one, that his music is a fountain of sound which is bubbling forth like a spring, the most naturally flowing thing in the world.

Amazingly, the truth of his music is that it was not that way in development. Many of Beethoven’s sketchbooks still exist and that natural flow is actually the work of hundreds of tiny and slight revisions which slowly take an original idea and mold it to the perfect form of symmetry and flow that characterizes his genius.

While no one can equal the art of Beethoven—only Wagner had the hubris to think that, and as good as he was, he was wrong—I do hold Beethoven’s music to be the standard of what poetry should be: a naturally occurring organic flow, the rhythm of which never intrudes into the meaning of the poem or the experience of the reader, but which sits in the background, quietly facilitating the reading and the reflection of that meaning; helping, but never distracting.

Thank you for reading The moonlight sonata. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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Filed under Poetry