Monday, October 27, 2008


An die Musik

Du holde Kunst, in wieviel grauen Stunden,
Wo mich des Lebens wilder Kreis umstrickt,
Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb entzunden,
Hast mich: in eine beßre Welt entrückt!

Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf entflossen,
Ein süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir
Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür!

Franz von Schober

Listen to An die Musik (613 KB)

Although the sweet Art called on by the poet is actually Music, to me, the above poem evokes quite intensely Poetry as well.
Thus I have chosen it for opening this new blog where I am going to publish, to comment and to read my most beloved poems.
Probably An die Musik cannot be ranked as a particularly outstanding poem but it gets to the core of one of the most important reward of poetry: its solacing power.
For how could one bear the whips and scorns of time etc. without - now and then - taking refuge into that "heaven of better times" (Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten) which entrance is sometimes thrown open by poetic spells.

Besides creating entirely new worlds with the mere combination of scarcely two scores of sounds, another magic trait of poetry is revitalizing words worn out by the daily small talk and mundane communication.
When you are tired of words become dull and annoying, get in a quite place and read aloud and slowly a poem by e.g. Dylan Thomas, or Montale, or Mallarmé or Hofmannsthal and suddenly most words get a new life; you perceive again the very stuff of the words and now they signify so sharply that you almost feel their meaning physically.
Perhaps this might be related to what Jakobson calls the "poetic function" of the communication where the focus is on the message itself (the text) while in everyday communication the focus is mainly on the: context (referential function), sender (emotive function) and receiver (conative).
Or, as Riffaterre specifies, the poem is "an unchangeable monument, forever independent of external conditions".

Unfortunately I shall not be able to publish any poem by Dylan Thomas - my most beloved poet in the English language - nor by Eugenio Montale - the modern Italian poet I prefer: they are not in the public domain yet. I wouldn't like to be prosecuted by copyright holders.

In the next post I would like to talk about Keat's Ode on a Grecian Urn; a poem I particularly cherish for its fine and delicate meditation on the power of art to resist the ruin of time.

Rome, October 2008

Sergio Baldelli

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