May You Live In Interesting Times

The irony of the contemporary anonymous bromide, May you live in interesting times, 

a curse masquerading as a blessing, has never been truer during my lifetime than now, November of 2016.

 

America’s former poet laureate Robert Haas has the eloquence and grace to offer a deeper context with Faint Music, especially this excerpt:

“…When everything broken is broken,
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days—
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one—
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic
life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears…

It’s not the story though, not the friend
leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,”
which is the part of stories one never quite believes.
I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain
it must sometimes make a kind of singing.
And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—
First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing.”

And then, as Pete Seeger shared:

“When tyrants tremble sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them go winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?”

 

Lunge da lei…De’ miei bollenti spiriti from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi,

with libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.

Ernest W Sturdevant – tenor

Dorenda Morse – pianist

Darrell Kress – videographer

special thanks to Virginia Giguère Roose for the use of her studio & piano!