Tuesday, April 19, 2011

jan zwicky: practising bach (loure)


Why is Bach's music more like speech than any other? Because of its wisdom, I think. Which means its tempering of lyric passion by domesticity, its grounding of the flash of lyric insight in domestic earth, the turf of dailyness.

    Let us think of music as a geometry of the emotions. Bach's practice, then, resembles that of the egyptians: Earth's measure as a way of charting the bottomlands of the Nile, the floodwaters of the heart, as a way of charting life. Opera, Greek tragedy, Romantic poetry tell us that sex and death are what we have to focus on if we want to understand any of the rest. Bach's music, by contrast, speaks directly to, and of, life itself -- the resonant ground of sex and death.

   And it does this not without ornamentation, but without fuss: the golden ratio in the whelk shell lying on the beach, the leaf whorl opening to sun, the presence of the divine in the chipped dish drying in the rack, that miracle: good days, bad days, a sick kid, a shaft of sunlight on the organ bench. Talk to me, I'm listening.

and now, click on this link to hear the loure.

Zwicky, Jan. "Practising Bach" The Best Canadian Poetry in English. Markham: Tightrope Books, 2009.