Sunday, November 17, 2013

Musicale; a memory thread

This is a memory thread with another of my mother's slides which I had scanned this year. I am the Big Sister. My brother Richard is at the piano. Little sister Marjory has been cut off at the right side. David (brown suit) and Robert (blue suit) are between us. Since I am wearing my wedding ring, and I made that skirt after I married (with fabric Mom gave me) it is most probably 1957. I do not recognize the hall, but this is perhaps a practice or performance of a song, probably for Church. I am quite fond of the Mature Big-Sisterly Look I am casting on my brothers. Such a long time ago. . .

I have spent the day with Coleridge, and will soon finish Volume I of the Richard Holmes biography. It never fails to be extremely interesting and well-written. The research and citations of other people's researches over the past 200 years is quite awe-inspiring. And I am quite sure by now that Coleridge is worth the effort. The overblown language of many of these poems can properly be called "Romantic" and can be slightly too rich and off-putting to contemporary ears, but when carefully read, it shows the amazing versatility of the English language in all its splendor and power. In the part I have just finished, Coleridge has written "Dejection: An Ode." There are eight stanzas and a short introduction. Here is the first part:

Late, late yestreen I saw the new moon,
With the old moon in her arms;
And I fear, I fear, my master dear!
We shall have a deadly storm.

                                  --Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence

Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes
Upon the strings of this Aeolian lute,
Which better far were mute.
For lo! the New-moon winter-bright!
And overspread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o'erspread
But rimmed and circled by a silver thread)
I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling
The coming-on of rain and squally blast.
And oh! that even now the gust were swelling,
And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast!
Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awed,
And sent my soul abroad,
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give,
Might startle this dull pain, and make it move and live!

----Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1802

You can read the whole poem at this link.

There is a good treatment at another link of the famous Coleridge poem: Dejection: An Ode. It also discusses Odes in general. When I think of how easy it is to find this sort of information on the WWW, it makes me grateful. There are many accounts in the Coleridge biography of borrowed books, the necessity of learning other languages to read European literatures, the travel to libraries and great houses where books were stored. Then one had to copy the parts one wanted to keep and refer to by hand with a pen and ink.
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