Saturday, August 20, 2011

tiny opera (in Sprechstimme)

Maria Fatima! Maria Fatima!
I have come on freeing winds
and through the seams of words.
You hold thousands of pieces
of phenomena in thralldom.

It is August but I wander
a Winterreise of cold fogs,
like Schubert's lad singing
his Lindenbaum to vision
for ears that see soundings.

So let us make new songs with intuitive lips,
here where we sit on this tree-shaded bench.
We'll frighten passersby with bending pitches
and strange sayings -- a folk tune staggering
in drunken beats and cross-rhythm carrying
a melody of metaphysics, minor-keening
to suggest odd beauty on atonal richness.

Oh, Maria Fatima!...I sing of great sadness,
just to hear you laugh, unveiling your counsel.
It makes me so happy to fall into darkness.
It makes me so sad to smile at dark flowers.

Silence! Maria Fatima is speaking with her eyes!
She is sighing a golden-throated, implicit language:

"Yes, loved ones die and friends disappear.
And Weltschmerz is made for one pure tear.
But the cuckoo coos with his linden tones,
and texture of wood is much like our bones.
We pause for wonder and that is worth space.
Questions are born to breathe in rain's grace.
Songs of speaking are dreams of curved light
falling through octaves of limbs' painful height.
I see you have brought your old stringless guitar.
So strum me to Portugal on one half-tuned bar."

Oh, Fatima, Maria Fatima...such ease you have given me.
The weight of my years melts in fire between shadows.

"Yes, go to the corner and fetch me pomegranates."

[Sprechstimme -- speech-voice, a cross between speaking and singing. Arnold Schoenberg made use of it, as did Leoš Janáček.]

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