Daily Archives: May 10, 2023

RHAPSODY IN BLUE (A Musical Translation into Words)

In the heart of the city, where steel and glass arise,
A melody awakens, a sapphire in disguise,
It’s a symphony, a rhapsody, in shades of purest blue,
A tale of New York dreaming, vivid and true.

A clarinet’s wail, like a siren in the dawn,
A plaintive, soaring echo that gently lures you on.
It dances through the concrete, down avenues and lanes,
A lament of longing, tethered by invisible chains.

A rhythm then emerges, a pulse within the stone,
The city’s heart is beating, alive, yet all alone.
Piano keys, like raindrops, begin to gently fall,
Painting blue-tinted stories on the city’s endless wall.

Bassoons echo softly, the heartbeat of the day,
As the city awakens, chasing night away.
The strings join in harmoniously, a river flowing free,
In this urban symphony, this rhapsody in key.

Through the din and clamor, the rhythm never dies,
A testament to resilience beneath the endless skies.
In every brick and rafter, in every shining pane,
Lives the soulful echo of Gershwin’s sweet refrain.

Sometimes fast, then slow again, the music ebbs and flows,
Through joy and sorrow, love and loss, the city’s story grows.
A dynamic dance of shadow and light, of new and old,
In the heart of the city, where countless tales are told.

As the final notes fade, under moonlight’s gentle hue,
The city sleeps, and dreams once more, in tones of deepest blue.
Yet in every rustling leaf, in every whispering breeze,
Lives on the timeless melody, the city’s memories.

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, a symphony so grand,
A poetic ode to the city, where dreams and reality stand hand in hand.
And so, in every sunrise, in every setting sun,
The city’s song continues, the rhapsody plays on.

:: 01.01.2000 ::

This Tired Poet’s Notes:

The poem “Rhapsody in Blue (A Musical Translation into Words)” is a brilliant fusion of musical interpretation and poetic expression. It uses the language of poetry to articulate the emotional and narrative resonance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Here’s a breakdown of its various elements:

The poem begins by setting the scene within the city, likening the urban landscape to the orchestra that performs this piece. This imagery is a metaphor for the city as a living, breathing entity with its own rhythm and melody. The “sapphire in disguise” references the title of the piece itself, inferring the rich, deep emotions that make up the ‘blue’ in “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The use of different instruments throughout the poem reflects the various sections of the composition. The clarinet’s wail is a direct reference to the piece’s iconic opening, which is famously played by a solo clarinet. This serves to draw the reader into the cityscape, much like the clarinet’s glissando introduces the audience to the piece.

The rhythm and pulse that emerge symbolize the energy and heartbeat of the city, brought to life by the piano keys that are depicted as falling like raindrops. Each instrument – the bassoons, the strings – is used to represent different parts of the day and different aspects of city life, mirroring the versatile and multi-layered texture of Gershwin’s composition.

The poem also explores the dichotomy of city life – its dynamism and its solitude, its resilience and its yearning, its joy and sorrow. This reflects the diverse emotional range of “Rhapsody in Blue,” which alternates between lively, vibrant sections and slower, more introspective parts.

The final stanza pays a direct tribute to Gershwin and his grand symphony, affirming the enduring impact of his music on the city and its inhabitants. The repeated imagery of sunrise and setting sun symbolizes the timeless, cyclical nature of the city’s existence, just as “Rhapsody in Blue” continues to be played and appreciated decades after its creation.

Overall, the poem is a beautiful homage to “Rhapsody in Blue,” effectively translating its musical narrative into evocative, poetic language. It captures not just the sounds of the composition, but also the feeling and imagery it evokes – the essence of the city that it musically depicts.

Eclipse of Existence

I dreamed a dream, but was it such a dream?

The sun’s bright flame was quenched, and every star
drifted in endless darkness without aim,
rayless, pathless, and the cold earth afar
swung blindly in the moonless void of space.
morning came and went, but brought no day,

And all men, awed by the dread despair,
Forgot their passions in this desolate fray.
All hearts grew cold, and turned to selfish prayer
For light to break this endless night of doom.

By watchfires they lived, while thrones and kings
Burnt as beacons, while huts and homes consumed.
Cities fell, and people gathered in rings
Around their blazing hearths to meet their fate,
Happy those who lived in the volcano’s light,

For all the world held naught but fear and hate.
Forests burned, and hour by hour, the night
Fell, fading all in its ebon embrace.
Men’s faces, lit by flickering firelight,

Wore an eerie, otherworldly face.

Some wept, others laughed in desperate grace.
And all around, the world descended to the dust.
Birds fluttered, beasts trembled in mortal fear,
And serpents hissed, but to no avail, for they must

Perish by the hand of those they once held dear.
War, which for a moment seemed to be no more,
Returned to glut itself upon the land,
Feasting upon blood and sullenly keeping score,

As all love fled from the earth’s barren strand.
Famine reigned, and every living thing
Fed upon the flesh of the dying and the dead,
Until bones and flesh alike were but a thing

Forgotten by time and all that lay ahead.
Even dogs attacked their masters in their need,
And yet one remained faithful to the last,
Guarding his master’s body, and with no heed

For his own hunger, he held off the ghastly cast
Of beasts and men, until at last he died,
Uttering a pitiful and desolate cry,
Licking the hand of the one who never replied.

The crowd grew famished, and yet only two survived,
Two enemies, who met beside an altar-place,
Gathering holy things for an unholy rite,
Scraping feeble ashes with skeleton hands and face,

And breathing their last breath to create a light
That mocked them both, until they saw each other’s plight,
And in their horror, they died, unknowing of the other’s name,
For famine had left them with only their mutual hideousness and shame.

The world was void, lifeless, and stark,
A chaos of hard clay, without tree or herb,
River, lake, or ocean, all motionless and dark,
And ships lay rotting on a stagnant sea, without a word.

Masts fell down piecemeal, without a sound,
And waves lay still, and tides were in their graves.
The moon had died, and the winds lay unbound,
As clouds perished, leaving nothing to save

The world from darkness, for she was the universe,
And in her shroud of night, nothing was left to curse.

:: 05.10.1992 ::

A Chance of Nature and Amusement

THE procession slowly moved in just-
ly attire; A COPHINUS occasioned
by wooden wheels
& solid beasts with a faire
amoretic group of ladies
joking about sprouting third
legs; but beast or not it left some
mouths agape ~
as others watering
& finally to his resting place
the elderly one was put to peace!

Poet’s Notes:

I would begin by noting the powerful use of imagery in this poem. The opening lines immediately draw the reader into a scene of solemnity and dignity, as a procession moves slowly by in appropriate attire. The use of the word “COPHINUS” adds a sense of antiquity and tradition to the scene, while the reference to wooden wheels and solid beasts suggests a sense of weight and gravitas.

The juxtaposition of this dignified scene with the humorous image of the ladies joking about sprouting third legs creates a sense of playfulness and irreverence, adding depth and complexity to the poem. The image of mouths agape and watering creates a sense of contrast between the solemnity of the occasion and the natural human response to beauty and desire.

The final lines of the poem bring a sense of closure and resolution, as the elderly one is laid to rest. There is a sense of finality and acceptance, as well as a recognition of the cycle of life and death. The use of the phrase “put to peace” suggests a sense of release and a return to a state of calm.

Overall, this poem demonstrates a keen awareness of the power of language to create vivid images and evoke complex emotions. The use of imagery and wordplay adds depth and nuance to the poem, while the underlying themes of tradition and mortality lend a sense of universality to the work. As a poet laureate, I would recognize this poem as a masterful example of the art of poetry.