Picking up from where we left off yesterday, here are the next three most popular audio pieces based on readers here hitting the like button along with the number of streams and downloads counted during this past fall.
Number 7 is Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “”Sonnet 43”. I seem to be coming to a greater appreciation for Millay as I do this project. Like my long time favorite Carl Sandburg, Millay “suffered” from too much popularity in her heyday, and like Sandburg I believe that her popularity in non-academic circles at the least caused critics to feel that they need not bother to examine her work more closely.
I’ll admit, I was one of those that thought she sounded like someone trying to be a 19th Century poet when the 20th Century was well and truly underway. Now in the 21st Century, I find this less of a crime, and when I let go of that, I find I like this sonnet’s complex appreciation of love’s limits.
Musically I love that I was able to play a convincing arco bass using a MIDI-controlled virtual instrument for this one. Bowed string bass is like the snoring of the bear mother in a winter den to me, immense, and yet sweet and comforting.
Speaking of Carl Sandburg, his “Autumn Movement” made it all the way to number 6, and that’s remarkable because it was only released on October 20th and thus had less than half of the Fall interval to pickup likes and listeners. I love the central autumn image in this one from Sandburg’s “Cornhuskers” collection, and it reminds us that Sandburg, known also for his acutely observed Chicago poems and journalism, was from the very start of his career interested in conveying rural life as well.
Musically, this piece demonstrates how recently I had seen Bill Frisell in concert—and seeing him, and the musicians he plays with, is something I try to keep always recent in my experience. Of course, Bill Frisell has an immense amount of musical vocabulary under his fingers, and I don’t; but I tried to make the best of mine, which is all any musician can do.
Besides his music, I admire Bill Frisell’s interior decorating sense and, alas, his sartorial style.
Our number 5 piece in popularity this fall was T. E. Hulme’s report from “Trenches St. Eloi.” Many of the Modernist soldier/poets who served in WWI grew not only to hate war, but to distrust their country’s cause and justifications for their particular war. Hulme is something of a exception. As far as I can tell, he remained supportive of the British war effort in which he eventually lost his life. That doesn’t make “Trenches St. Eloi” propaganda, for it’s far from blind to the horrors and difficulties of extended conflict. Hulme’s death shortened his career and helped mask his seminal contribution to modernizing British poetry.
Since starting this blog, I’ve been following the centenary of World War I off and on in the background, which meshes well with much of the material I can present here without running into rights issues, since modern public domain status cuts off at 1924. The material from the poets who served in the war or were otherwise touched by it, is, not unexpectedly, downbeat. Just as the Modernist revolution changed poetry, WWI changed how war was written about, breaking millenniums-long Homeric traditions of war heroes, that however flawed, were able to shape battles by their character, into stories of endurance like this one.
This is another one where the bass guitar gets to carry a lot of weight.
Thanks again for reading and listening. It’s been a huge amount of work this past year to bring you the Parlando Project pieces, hundreds of hours of reading, studying, translating, composing, playing, and recording these unique combinations of various words (mostly poetry) with various original music (as varied as Dave and I can make it). That wasn’t drudgery—far from it—it’s brought joy and amazement to me to see what’s out there that I haven’t heard or imagined before, and I hope some of that wonder and discovery comes through to the readers and listeners here, because it’s our goal to surprise and delight you, to show you new facets of poems or poets you thought you knew and to introduce you to some writers that didn’t get included in your textbooks.
Here’s what I ask you to do if we’ve succeeded in that, even if only for a piece or two out of the more than 160 pieces we’ve presented so far: let others know about it. Tap them on the shoulder, show them the URL, link us on your blog or on social media, stick an earbud in their ear. Every like, listen, link and comment helps me keep doing this. I know I should be a better promoter of this work, but frankly, I’m too engaged in the work itself to do as much as is needed.
And standby, the next three most popular pieces from the past fall will be posted soon.
5 thoughts on “The Parlando Project Winter 2017 Top 10 Part 2”
Thanks for reading and listening. That’s why we do this.
It is clear that a massive amount of thoughtful, multifaceted work goes into this project. I’ve enjoyed being introduced to some new things and also exercising my critical thinking a bit. I’m definitely going to link to you on D&W soon (really behind on my relevant Pre-Raphaelite posts)–sadly, I am also not a great promotor and have no followers! But every little bit helps and you deserve to be heard.
Well then, I look forward to more Pre-Raphaelite stuff from you! I spent the day at the the largest metro library branch while my son took in “how to research at a library” event with some of his middle-school classmates. Of course, in the 21st Century when physical libraries are no longer the near exclusive centers of information they were when I was his age, but he took it in stride.
I had to go back in the into old-system stacks on the top floors, the ones still using the Dewey Decimal System, and looked into the 800 series there for literature stuff to read while he was in his class.
I’m still trying to follow the threads of the early 20th Century English language Modernist poets, many of whom were located in London, so that’s what I looked for.
Per the Pre-Raphaelites I found a near 50 year old book on the early, pre-WWI poetry of of Ezra Pound, which reminded me that before Imagism and his translations from the Chinese he was, well, a Pre-Raphaelite of sorts. After that one I read an even older book by Herbert Read, the only one I could find that was available on the shelves in this huge library, which was a book on the techniques of English language prose. From what I know, Read went though a long evolution of his thought, but he never entirely left the influence of William Morris.
My son? He says he was able to find some stuff on Congreve rockets, the “rocket’s red glare” of the US national anthem, for his War of 1812 school project, but that he spent the second part of his research time talking with his friends.
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Haha sounds like a productive day for both! Very interesting–I know nothing about Read.
Oh how many of those library induction classes I have taken in the past… only then to still never be able to find anything I’m looking for. Was probably too busy chatting with my friends to listen about typing keywords into the black and green screened computers (do they still have those??).