…when it sings

[To be read only at night, just kidding]

For as long as I can remember, I always had a fascination for the night. There is just something about the stillness of the night that excites me. The cool evening breeze that makes the most delightful sounds as it passes to and fro the dark leaves of sleeping trees. The sky that appears to be space itself, an enigmatic blanket of darkness, a boundary between the earth and the heavens. The stars that can make even the lost and the hopeless dream once more. Silence beyond compare, so much so that you could actually hear it. And at the heart of this mystifying phenomenon that is the night, the moon. In all her glory, she shines brighter than any other being in the sky, like a pearl crafted from the purest of light. And in the darkest of nights, where not a single soul breathes, you hear her. You hear her sing.

The paragraph above, I think, is a bit over dramatic. I kinda got bored (and didn’t have a clue) during the thinking process of writing this blog so I wrote that just for fun. But I don’t write like that, you know. I write simple things using simple words. In fact, I consider myself to be man of few words. If you know me, you ought to know that I don’t say much (most of the time). This is simply because I live by less is more. But that paragraph seems to contradict this motto of mine, doesn’t it? I just think that it’s quite nice to stray away from the conventional, sometimes. That’s just me. A few synonymous adjectives in a single paragraph is as close to being creative as I can get.

Anyway, a sad thought about what I just said is that you can only experience those things when you are out of the city. From experience, if you live along a busy street, chances of you finding tranquility is pretty close to nothing because all you’ll be hearing is traffic in the day, cars and motorcycles going 100 kph at night. It sucks. Peace and quiet beats chaos and noise, hands down. Originally coming from a land far, far away, it gets on my nerves some times. There’s no such thing as a good night’s sleep anymore. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I get back to what I should be doing and not sharing this crap with you. My apologies.

Let me just get to the poem. So, for this post, where a piece of writing is defined as poetic when it sings, I would like to share with you Clair de lune (moonlight). The poem was written in 1869 by French poet Paul Verlaine, one of the greatest leaders during the symbolism movement. It depicts the soul as a stage where the play of moonlight takes place, where there is truth, where strings of imagination are woven together to present to a spectacle that entangles our emotions, hopes, dreams and longings (that’s probably the best that I can do). I was searching the web for a translation of the poem, originally written in French, that was universally accepted but all I found are dozens of different translations by different people. So, I’m just going to stick with this one because I found this to be the most artistic:

Clair de lune

Your soul is a select landscape
Where charming masquerades and bergamaskers go
Playing the lute and dancing and almost
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

All sing in a minor key
Of victorious love and the opportune life,
They do not seem to believe in their happiness
And their song mingles with the moonlight,

With the still moonlight, sad and beautiful,
That sets the birds dreaming in the trees
And the fountains sobbing in ecstasy,
The tall slender fountains among marble statues.

Paul Verlaine, 1869

[I found this translation here, in another blog. He also gave a short background on Verlaine, gave his own insights on the poem and finished with a really nice fact about the word “Monday.”]

The reason why I chose this poem, why I think it sings is that it inspired, for me, one of the greatest, most beautifully written songs, pieces rather, that has ever been composed. The poem must have been so powerful and so moving that it “sang” to the composer that made him write it. And that song is Debussy’s Clair de lune, the third movement of his Suite bergamasque. Just in case you don’t know him, Claude Debussy was a French composer during the impressionist era (same time as the symbolism period) around late 19th century to early 20th century. It’s been said that Debussy started writing the suite at around 1890 but didn’t publish it until 1905. No one knows for sure why it took him so long to write the suite but it was quite clear that the last two movements of the suite are heavily influenced by Verlaine’s writing. Fast forward to today, Clair de lune has become Debussy’s most famous work, known for its dreamlike melody, subtlety and fluidity.

[Here is a pretty good interpretation of the piece by Thomas Labé]

One thing that you should know is that I absolutely love classical music (that’s how I found the poem, by the way). It’s simply one of the things that I need to survive. I’m not going to go over the top and profess my passion for classical music or tell you how great it is here. That would just be rude and, not to mention, boring. But I think you should like it too. Why? Because classical music is just sort of like poetry’s cousin (and chances are, you love poetry, don’t you?). Think about it. In the literary world, poetry is seen as this complex creation of words and thought that become more than what they appear to be through the hands of a great poet. Same goes for classical music where in the world of music, simple arrangements of notes can move and fill you with emotions that is beyond comprehension when written by the brilliant minds of composers. Having said that, please know that I’m not trying to persuade you to liking classical music. I’m not good at that. But I hope you see my point. Point being how literature, music, painting and all the other arts are like branches of the same tree or stars in the same galaxy. All are interconnected. If you still don’t see the point, try reading the poem, then listen to the piece, then read the poem while the piece is playing and just let go. And hopefully, you can hear the song the moon sings.

I think this post is long enough, too long if you ask me. So I’m not gonna make it any bit longer because you might have more important things to do (and I’m pretty sure you do). To say farewell, I say… Farewell.

Thank you for being here and, please, do come again.

~C

For Crepe.

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2 thoughts on “…when it sings

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