Monday, February 24, 2014

The Dvořák Method

1841 - 1904

Czech composer Antonin Dvořák wrote music that can, I think, tell us something worthwhile about poetry.

Where is it written that poems must be depressing? Do poets think the word “serious” is automatically synonymous with the word “miserable” or the word “ugly” or the phrase “Life sucks”?  

Listen to Dvořák's Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104. The attitude of that glorious thing is noble and stoic. Listen to Dvořák's Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, especially No. 1 in C major. The attitude of that wonderful thing is sublimation of the tragic into gypsy whirl of “Life is better than not.”

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This topic (this sermon directed at myself) makes me get all aphoristic:

Melancholy is the bronze tone of being, therefore a worthier pitch than the dissonant clang of despair.

Poetry is about aesthetics and deep symbolism, not mental and emotional disorders.

Poetry should be keyed to spectral octaves of the unconscious, not to barking noises of the ego. 

A poem not haunted with at least 100 years of world history is likely to be banal, is unlikely to be noble, stoic, and strange.

Music is the purest fantasy, and a poem should try to be its cousin – to write one's soul into the vast worlding dance of the unusual.


  1. Wonder-tastic. And when is your book of poetry and poetic criticism coming out, again. ;-) Seriously.