I’m going to do the top 10 list a little differently for the past fall, doing it in parts, so as to not overwhelm visitors here in one post with more audio pieces than you might have time to listen to. I’m also a bit pressed for time right now, and this fits with my schedule as well.
In traditional fashion, we’ll start with the 10th most popular audio piece from the past three months, and work our way up the list in popularity judged by your streams of the audio and likes on the blog.
Number 10, we have my looser translation of Rainier Maria Rilke’s “The Dark Interval,” which is one of five pieces that are returning from our last Top 10 from September. I translated this a few years back, making choices at the time (as translators must) as to what the author was getting at in the original German, and what English could most effectively reflect that. Knowing just a little bit more about Rilke, I think I’d make some different, better informed choices now, but the choices I made then do make for a particularly apt Winter poem with it’s opening skiing metaphor that was my most audacious choice. Rilke’s lines “I can speak in many voices/but this voice shuts up quick.” remain personally meaningful.
Musically, this is one of the short and pretty ones, so go ahead and listen.
Number 9 finds the piece that remains a perennial on the Top 10 lists, a little angsty ditty written by a love-lorn teenager infatuated with a neighbor girl. Although he didn’t actually complete the piece, with it’s acrostic scheme that was to spell out the young woman’s entire name left abandoned partway through the last name, and even though he apparently didn’t get the girl, you have to admit it’s an ambitious move by a young poet or suitor.
I titled it with the love object’s first name “Frances.” The guy went on to military and political success, capping it off eventually with popular success as a wordsmith here. You may have heard of him: George Washington
“When the last rose of summer pricks my finger…” photo by Renee Robbins
Well, is it all going to be repeats from last time? No. At number 8 we have a newer piece, making it’s first appearance on a Top 10 here, William Carlos Williams’ “It Is a Small Plant.”
My late wife often found pleasure in looking at things closely. How intent and intense could her focus become, and what would that reveal? If she found out, she could never tell me exactly, only that she was drawn to do that. Many years ago, after her death, I took to digitizing the photographic slide prints that she took, some of which were as close to buds and flowers as her lens could focus, and the feeling of being behind her eyes, looking with her intent, fell over me.
Williams does something like that in his poem, which also cannot tell you straightforwardly what it apprehends, while the power of the seeing is overwhelming. I like the music I played for this one quite a bit, particularly the fretless bass part, an instrument that I took up this year, and have felt greatly rewarded by.
That’s all for today, but three more of the Top 10 will be posted here soon. And remember, we now have over 160 pieces posted, so if you’d like to see what else we’ve performed and interpreted, the Archives (to the right on the web page) will let you listen to other pieces.