24 June 2009

"A song of light...to reach the shining tops of day"

"The Lark Ascending" by George Meredith (1828-1909), set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams: I know not all people are poetry-readers or classical music-listeners, so I quite understand if this poem and its musical arrangement are - *ahem* - a bit much. But, dear reader - they are both such beautiful examples of the lyricism and rhythm of emotions that can be conveyed through music and written word - I had to share them with you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
HE rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,
All intervolv’d and spreading wide,
Like water-dimples down a tide
Where ripple ripple overcurls
And eddy into eddy whirls;
A press of hurried notes that run
So fleet they scarce are more than one,
Yet changingly the trills repeat
And linger ringing while they fleet,
Sweet to the quick o’ the ear, and dear
To her beyond the handmaid ear,
Who sits beside our inner springs,
Too often dry for this he brings,
Which seems the very jet of earth
At sight of sun, her musci’s mirth,
As up he wings the spiral stair,
A song of light, and pierces air
With fountain ardor, fountain play,
To reach the shining tops of day,
And drink in everything discern’d
An ecstasy to music turn’d,
Impell’d by what his happy bill
Disperses; drinking, showering still,
Unthinking save that he may give
His voice the outlet, there to live
Renew’d in endless notes of glee,
So thirsty of his voice is he,
For all to hear and all to know
That he is joy, awake, aglow,
The tumult of the heart to hear
Through pureness filter’d crystal-clear,
And know the pleasure sprinkled bright
By simple singing of delight,
Shrill, irreflective, unrestrain’d,
Rapt, ringing, on the jet sustain’d
Without a break, without a fall,
Sweet-silvery, sheer lyrical,
Perennial, quavering up the chord
Like myriad dews of sunny sward
That trembling into fulness shine,
And sparkle dropping argentine;
Such wooing as the ear receives
From zephyr caught in choric leaves
Of aspens when their chattering net
Is flush’d to white with shivers wet;
And such the water-spirit’s chime
On mountain heights in morning’s prime,
Too freshly sweet to seem excess,
Too animate to need a stress;
But wider over many heads
The starry voice ascending spreads,
Awakening, as it waxes thin,
The best in us to him akin;
And every face to watch him rais’d,
Puts on the light of children prais’d,
So rich our human pleasure ripes
When sweetness on sincereness pipes,
Though nought be promis’d from the seas,
But only a soft-ruffling breeze
Sweep glittering on a still content,
Serenity in ravishment.
For singing till his heaven fills,
’T is love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup,
And he the wine which overflows
To lift us with him as he goes:
The woods and brooks, the sheep and kine
He is, the hills, the human line,
The meadows green, the fallows brown,
The dreams of labor in the town;
He sings the sap, the quicken’d veins;
The wedding song of sun and rains
He is, the dance of children, thanks
Of sowers, shout of primrose-banks,
And eye of violets while they breathe;
All these the circling song will wreathe,
And you shall hear the herb and tree,
The better heart of men shall see,
Shall feel celestially, as long
As you crave nothing save the song.
Was never voice of ours could say
Our inmost in the sweetest way,
Like yonder voice aloft, and link
All hearers in the song they drink:
Our wisdom speaks from failing blood,
Our passion is too full in flood,
We want the key of his wild note
Of truthful in a tuneful throat,
The song seraphically free
Of taint of personality,
So pure that it salutes the suns
The voice of one for millions,
In whom the millions rejoice
For giving their one spirit voice.
Yet men have we, whom we revere,
Now names, and men still housing here,
Whose lives, by many a battle-dint
Defaced, and grinding wheels on flint,
Yield substance, though they sing not, sweet
For song our highest heaven to greet:
Whom heavenly singing gives us new,
Enspheres them brilliant in our blue,
From firmest base to farthest leap,
Because their love of Earth is deep,
And they are warriors in accord
With life to serve and pass reward,
So touching purest and so heard
In the brain’s reflex of yon bird;
Wherefore their soul in me, or mine,
Through self-forgetfulness divine,
In them, that song aloft maintains,
To fill the sky and thrill the plains
With showerings drawn from human stores,
As he to silence nearer soars,
Extends the world at wings and dome,
More spacious making more our home,
Till lost on his aërial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.

22 June 2009

Rain & Sunrise - God's Beautiful Gifts

"Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies?"
~Erich Fromm

In open fields of wild flowers,
she breathes the air and flies away
she thanks her Jesus for the daises and the roses
in no simple language....
He's more than the laughter or the stars in the heavens
as close a heartbeat or a song on her lips
someday she'll trust Him and learn how to see Him
someday He'll call her and she will come running
and fall in His arms and the tears will fall down and she'll pray,
"I want to fall in love with You"
it seems too easy to call you "Savior",
not close enough to call you "God"
so as I sit and think of words I can mention
to show my devotion
"I want to fall in love with You"
"my heart beats for You"

~ "Love Song for a Savior" by Jars of Clay

20 June 2009

At Home

Home for just one day; less than twenty-four hours.
But it was worth every minute. Nothing like a summer evening, in front of the fire, eating ice cream and talking with my family.

Michael Card says it all for me here.

Home is a comfort
Home is a light
A place to leave the darkness outside
Home is a peaceful And ever-full feeling
A place where the soul safely hides

And being at home should remind you
That still
There’s a place that’s prepared just for you
And I think my home is just heaven’s reflection
As long as my home’s here with you

Home is where someone is waiting and loving
And happy to see you again.
That half of your heart
That somebody else treasures
The one who’s your forever friend

But it seems that he’s told me
The life that he’s showed me
Is a life mostly spent on the road
But when the world’s empty charm
Has done all of its harm
I know that his love
Waits for me
In your arms

Home is a comfort
Home is a light
A place to leave the darkness outside
Home is a peaceful
And ever-full feeling
A place where the soul safely hides

And being at home should remind you
That still
There’s a place that’s prepared just for you
And I think my home is just heaven’s reflection
As long as my home’s here with you


19 June 2009

"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik"

"Words make you think a thought, music makes you feel a feeling, and a song makes you feel a thought" - E.Y. Harburg

Thursday night is something I look forward to every week. Its become a new pattern for me: close up the lab, grab dinner, then walk downtown to Front Porch Music, where they hold their "OpenStage," a music coffeehouse. The evening opens with a feature artists, who plays for about a half an hour and then introduces the rest of the performers after that. Anyone can perform; you just come and sign up at the door. It's $3.50 to get in - $2.50 if you perform - and then coffee's only $1 a cup with free refill. There's also a bunch of snacks and yummy goodies; nothing costs more than a dollar though, or 80 cents, for that matter. A very small and reasonable price to pay for an enjoyable evening, in my opinion.

And an enjoyable evening it always is! From 7:30 until 11, I get to listen to live music from a variety of styles and techniques. This week's feature artist was Mami. She is amazing. The first time I heard her, she was the last performer for the night. I was getting a little tired of listening to music and was starting to want to go home, but oh my goodness!! The moment she opened her mouth and began to sing! I think all thoughts ceased; I was so struck by her music. Her voice - with its touch of a foreign accent - is a very rich and warm and complements her guitar so well. Her singing is - how do I describe it?!? She can convey such a range of emotions. Happy, sorrowful, longing, torn, thoughtful, joyful, plaintive....Her music draws you in and pulls at your heartstrings. Whenever she finishes a song, there is always that tantalizing moment afterwards, where everyone is still, holding their breath, utterly entranced by the music. And then the quiet rustling and the thunderous applause, after they have pulled themselves back to reality. Mami is certainly a favorite of everyone's. We always beg "just one more!" from her :-)

I always leave the evening relaxed and happy, my mind full of music and work far from my thoughts. The walk back is leisurely and the night warm, and I feel like somehow the world is so much more vivid. The lights are low in the houses I stroll past; a dog barks or a child laughs in a yard occasionally. There are low conversations from people sitting in chairs on porches. A car door slams shut, the sound standing out harshly against the quiet. But what I hear the most, is the other music, the music of the night. The crickets and cicadas in the grass, the rustling of the leaves in the light breeze and the water from the recent rain, trickling down the streets. The air is warm and humid, making the smell of the flowers so much stronger. This night, I could see flashes of lighting every once in a while. They gave the deep blue sky a strange pinkish orange streak. I could see it from the bench where I sat, on the hill outside of my dorm hall. And then the wind picked up more and a sudden downpour drenched the grass. My bench was under a tree, so I didn't get very wet. But the cool rain felt good. It hardly made a difference in the humidity but it made everything smell better and it made the night more happy to me. I could hear the birds were happy about it too, and I knew there would be plenty of robins searching for worms the next morning :-)

I love music. And nature. It makes me joyful and reminds me the Psalm I had read earlier that day....

"My heart is steadfast, O God,
My heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let your glory be over all the earth." Psalm 57:7-11

Let it be so!

18 June 2009

"This week the trend..."

"And this week the trend
Was to crash and burn and then return again
To practice the life that I pretend
Povides enough to get me through the weekend.
And this week the trend
Was to backstab every single one of my friends
And leave a voicemail message trying to make amends
All the while hoping things work out in the end...."

Hurray for Relient K! Their song "High of 75" would do a good job describing this week too. The weather has been crazy: sunny, rainy, cloudy, humid, dry, cold, warm, very warm....the whole range....a pretty good reflection of my ever-quickly changing moods this week. They say a person can't control how they feel. I would disagree, but I will say one thing - you have to want to control them. I admit, I can really enjoy "wallowing" in my frustration, or my self-pity, or my emotionally depressed state. The weather doesn't help me much either; I usually am more depressed with bad weather than sunny. So waking up this morning to rain didn't really help my mood, having gone to bed after a long day feeling tired, discontent, and frustrated with myself over the way the evening had ended. Not advisable. It just made me have a restless sleep and wake up even more tired, with my mood settled down into general mopey-ness.
Typical me: when I am happy, I get distracted easily and nothing gets done. Same when I'm tired. But most other moods lead to an extraordinary amount of productivity. So of course, drowning my thoughts in work meant I got alot done more today! lol. I finally cleaned up my room, took out the trash (my most procastinated chore), and made my bed (for the first time this week). And today in the lab - two tests that actually worked and gave good results - instead two deflatingly unsuccessful ones. Sure enough, by mid-day my mood had improved and apparently the weather had too, since it was no longer pouring buckets and thunderstorming. I'll settle for the clouds ;-) And my moods? Well, like I said, a person has to want to control their feelings. So it took alot more than just distracting myself with work to bring me back to where I am now: not absolutely big-smile happy, but well......like the clouds. Halfway in between. On the borderline to sunshine or rain again. Potential for either. So the challenge now is to let the wind blow my clouds away, metaphorically speaking....which recalls to mind these lyrics, which I shall close with:

"You give me hope,
And hope it gives me life
You touch my heavy heart,
And when You do
You make it light"


17 June 2009

"To my surprise and my delight/ I saw sunrise, I saw sunlight/ Ooh and the sun will shine/ Yeah on this heart of mine" ~ Coldplay

For sure. I love rain, but after so much of it, the sunshine comes as a relief. How lovely it is to wake up in the morning and see the sun's rays cast through my window! It banishes all the gloom that was from the night.

The trouble with working in the summer, is you tend to miss the most beautiful of days, only to end up with the horrid weather on the weekend. What luck! So I try to enjoy my time as much as possible, when I am outside. The walks across campus from my room to the lab in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening are my little peeks at nature throughout the day. I never get tired of looking at flowers newly-budded and the trees, as they change from the light green peridot of early summer to deep dark emerald.