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Archive for the ‘Poetry & prose’ Category

With over seven billion people in the world now and the Internet giving many of us instant access to publish whatever we create, it’s easy to completely ignore all the good work that’s come before us. That’s partly why I enjoy setting old poems to music. It’s a little like sneaking vegetables into casseroles for picky kids.

Another reason is because it helps me engage on a deeper level with a poem, because I’m reading and speaking and singing it over and over as I work out a rhythm and a melody. The words get to work on me more than when I just read them straight through.

And usually by the time I’m finished making a poem into a song, I also have it memorized – a mental exercise I don’t perform enough in my post-academic life.

Here’s Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “My Own Heart,” with more or less the chords from that old favorite “Heart and Soul.” My song for week 18 of #songaweek2018.

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.

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Well here we are at week 40 of #songaweek2016. I joined the second week, so this is my 39th weekly song. I set to music James Weldon Johnson’s poem “The Gift to Sing,” that cheered me up in yet another week of feeling homesick (and fall gathering around me, bringing darker nights and mornings and more melancholy in general).

Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day –
I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing.

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For week 28 of #songaweek2016, I called on Stephen Crane – well, his poetry – for a little help. Here’s a poem of his that I set to music.

Once, I knew a fine song,
— It is true, believe me —
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as sand
Thrown between me and the sky.

(published 1896, public domain)

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Here’s my song for Week 18 of #songaweek2016. I took a poem I had written last year about my fascination and frustration with the Internet, and set it to music, sort-of loud music:

No no disconnect me

from the bluster and brooding

from the bright and blare

This is a hole in my heart

This is a tunnel to somewhere

I can’t remember

and can’t get back

and cannot banish

it

will not vanish

Thoughts transfer

from brain to brain

meat brain

to silicon brain

I have cut out the middleman

skipped the paperwork.

All this high-tech transcendence

makes me dizzy

I am falling down a hole

falling down a tunnel to somewhere

I can’t remember

and can’t get back

cannot banish

it

will not vanish

Sleep baby sleep

your dreams have all been written

watch the screen

breathe easy

lullaby

LOL-a-bye.

 

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Grabbing some moments at the coffeeshop and combing through old computer files, felt like it was time to post a little something. So here, a poem about poems:

One Poet to Another
2/18/13 Julia Tindall Bloom

When I remark that my poems are not as good as yours
I am not denying their breathing reality.
They are real-live poems
I know, I was there at the birth of each and every one.
I am only admitting
That I love them too blindly
Keep them too close
To see them straight
And seeing the healthy bodies of yours
Functioning beautifully
Independent of your protection
I recognize my babies still have some growing to do
And so does my love.

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In the soundless depths before dawn
you are with me.
You are not only in the lightening of the sky
but also in the embracing dark of this room.
I wait for you
with you
and the morning
like the night
is faithful.

^What I wrote this morning,
and then
what I read:

“To preserve the silence within – amid all the noise. To remain open and quiet, a moist humus in the fertile darkness, where the rain falls and the grain ripens – no matter how many tramp across the parade ground in whirling dust under an arid sky.”

And also this:

“Is your disgust at your emptiness to be the only life with which you fill it?”

^Both quotations from Markings by Dag Hammarskjold

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When Abraham Lincoln was in his late thirties, he revisited his childhood home, and wrote a poem about it. Though the American Civil War and his own early death were still years into his future, the poem he wrote in 1846 feels like a fitting backdrop for many of the Civil War photos I came across while making this video.

The song is also on my Soundcloud page, where you can download it for free: https://soundcloud.com/julia-tindall-bloom/my-childhood-home-i-see-again

 

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