Sunday, January 13, 2008

Greatest Hits Gallery--Jason A.

Jason A. has a huge range of material in his portfolio, much of it attending to classical music. His poem on Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings takes the form of a questioning the composer. This popular piece, one of my favorites, is often taken as a piece of "accesssible" 20th century music. But Jason weighs it heavily with theological concern, concerns that he explicates in a midrashic way.

(on Adagio for Strings, written to the Crucifixion of Christ, by Samuel Barber)

did you see the weight of despair beyond word set in full
upon sorrowful shoulders, when the sun was hid on a windless day—
or was it Toscanini who seemed hid when without a word
this breath from your mind was returned in full?

when he exhaled his broken words that fell short of heaven,
angels from afar looked down on this son of man
but offered not a sword, not a hand, not a tear.
yet when word returned that your beloved breath, Adagio,
had been committed to such a mind from afar,

did you see the twisted, beaten head that thought on you
while to him not a word descended from above,
though he to his Father is forever close as Sun and Light?
only from beside his bloody, detestable shell
fell the scourge, the hammer, the weight of Adam,

as eminence did upon you, held you immemorial.
when arrives diminuendo and fades from the air,
can you recall this forgotten man of sorrows?

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