Posts Tagged ‘Rita Dove gedig’

Leon Retief. Claudio Abbado

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Claudio Abbado (1933-2014)

Abbado was sonder twyfel een van die grootste dirigente van die laaste ongeveer veertig jaar. Hy was tuis in sowel die simfoniese repertorium as in opera, wat hierdie kunsvorm betref is hy vir my op dieselfde stratosferiese vlak as Tullio Serafin.

Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn,

or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me….

            The Heiligenstadt Testament


Three miles from my adopted city

lies a village where I came to peace.

The world there was a calm place,

even the great Danube no more

than a pale ribbon tossed onto the landscape

by a girl’s careless hand.  Into this stillness


I had been ordered to recover. 

The hills were gold with late summer;

my rooms were two, plus a small kitchen,

situated upstairs in the back of a cottage

at the end of the Herrengasse

From my window I could see onto the courtyard

where a linden tree twined skyward —

leafy umbilicus canted toward light,

warped in the very act of yearning —

and I would feed on the sun as if that alone

would dismantle the silence around me.


At first I raged.  Then music raged in me,               

rising so swiftly I could not write quickly enough

to ease the roiling.  I would stop

to light a lamp, and whatever I’d missed —

larks flying to nest, church bells, the shepherd’s

home-toward-evening song — rushed in, and I

would rage again. 


I am by nature a conflagration;

I would rather leap

than sit and be looked at.

So when my proud city spread 

her gypsy skirts, I reentered, 

burning towards her greater, constant light.


Call me rough, ill-tempered, slovenly— I tell you,

every tenderness I have ever known

has been nothing

but thwarted violence, an ache

so permanent and deep, the lightest touch

awakens it. . . . It is impossible


to care enough.  I have returned

with a second Symphony

and 15 Piano Variations

which I’ve named Prometheus,

after the rogue Titan, the half-a-god

who knew the worst sin is to take

what cannot be given back.


I smile and bow, and the world is loud. 

And though I dare not lean in to shout

Can’t you see that I’m deaf?

I also cannot stop listening.


Rita Dove


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