Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Well that was interesting

This morning I woke up with this in my head:

Hearken now, o weary pilgrim
with the tired and weary brow -
Heaven's vault's alive with praises!
Will you sing them, even now?


Nothing I've ever heard, to my knowledge, and Google didn't find it either.  I think all the hymn fragments in my head decided to line themselves up into some semblance of structure.  And then I found myself humming "some poor fainting, struggling seaman/you may rescue, you may save."

And then, because this is the way my brain works, I started counting syllables.  Oh look, you could sing my faux-hymn to that tune.

And then I remembered the many bazillion times I have told poetry students of mine that you have to "write to the music that you hear", that you can try to appropriate someone else's voice but it's not going to be your voice, and then the work is not going to be authentic.  And this is the rhythm I most naturally write to.

And then I remembered the one of the poems my grandfather used to recite, the longest one, the one I loved so much I memorized it myself and recorded myself reciting it (my dad and I made a four generation recording) and then recited it for my grandpa at his 90th birthday party, while he whispered every word along with me. (I love that memory.  I never took my eyes off his face, and he didn't take his eyes off mine, and it's like there was no-one else there.  I loved that man.) It starts out something like this:

In the Dashty 2nd Crashers
was a Major Corker who
was renowned for telling stories
that were very seldom true ...

(it goes on in that vein for several pages.  I'll recite it for you someday.  If you ask me nicely.  Actually you don't even have to be nice.)

Go ahead.  Count the syllables.  Grandpa - your voice, with its' gentle Yorkshire lilt, is the music that I write to.  That's part of it.  The other part - all those childhood hymns that I still love to sing.

It occurs to me that this is the music that underpins my writing, and my life - God, and my grandfather, my earliest, most trustworthy sources of unconditional love.

I cannot tell you how much I love that.