Saturday, September 15, 2007

Song as more and/or less than what you hear?

from Whitman's Song for Occupations

All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the 
It is not the violins and the cornets, it is not the oboe nor the
beating drums, nor the score of the baritone singer singing
his sweet romanza, nor that of the men's chorus, nor that
of the women's chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.

Seems that only a non-musician can write this one. How is the song NOT the instruments and the hearing of them? Yet, it's Whitman, right?



Joe said...

I think whitman tells us in the opening line when he says that the song and it's instruments are only the means by which we are awakened, and thus leads us to the realiztion that music is in fact a destination outside the notes, a place of contemplation and epiphany perhaps...

dw said...

True, but while he seems to locate it farther away, perhaps in some formal or platonic realm, he ends the poem with "It is nearer and farther than they."

This seems to indicate some bodily or intimate connection to a song (and the rest of the poem is about work, hard, physical work). I guess I just distrust a gnostic version of music and am looking for Whitman (the singer of the body electric) to know better.


P. S. Joe who?

Joe said...