Saturday, March 16, 2013

Where Is The Beautiful Kingdom Where You Were

[to Van Cliburn at the piano playing “intuitively”  (July 12, 1934-February 27, 2013)]

where is the beautiful kingdom where you were
whenever you played music; its Niagras, at first. misted, far away?
the secret listener knew, surprised by an inner chromatic marveling
intensified from unseen castle to castle as you
sorted out the battlements
or were welling up from so many underground streams all at once-
iridescent in the night’s own studio with the windows flung wide open…
scattering the sweet pea blossoming sounds ..
until we were as you, yourself, unwaveringly,
solely comprised of music as the Heavens are of stars
from then on…

this is the mystic’s parade and vanishing
the soul said softly to the Trinity, no longer mystified:
is this how we’ve been breathing underwater all this time
imagining we heard music asked the child
and lapsed into a fairytale silence,
the rest is happiness.

these were the heart’s requirements always when
wishing through the lens of another world
the one we’d missed, somehow, like a cherry bright bus
at the corner of the everyday
that just comes once going somewhere special
in the childhood of a Spring

that can’t be cherished twice  yet now we hear again

the hue of something glimpsed, glittering that flits away
at the corner of the eye or through the eye of sound
Rildia would say the clarity
that can’t stop pouring out with a
drifting loveliness that must not die
oh searing everyone.or  only you, who are always listening – listening…
for the taproot of music startled into daylight’s continents.

And glistening…
now you are going away
all this light, grieving. piano, pianissimo, sown while
dreaming concert halls keep the glow of something

we have lost again like children in the long-ago
thinking it’s still in our pockets with the last lemon drop, small
petal of the honeysuckle;
too young to know that the ripples rippling out from the
genial smile, the cadenced voice the sunlit heights
will not return just because you asked them to.
or how much it can cost to unlock a world.
but where are the snipers at Beauty now?
what have they dreamed into leaves and flowers recently
who named your career short-lived, too little gleaned

too much too soon, too
unassuming in intellect as if it weren’t enough to
be glad for the music in you and to give it all away.
every time you played for anyone:
these  lustres of the
piano moon dropping no grace notes over Texas, filling the room
as if it were the universe.
and it was.

dumbfounded, they would have been then and crystal faceted, themselves
before they found the crooked mirror things to say out of envy
when you called the beautiful

kingdoms down delineated and delineated
and all around us, green or snowy fragrances
alive as L’Isle Joyeuse floated out to us on a breeze
in the lone colours of your piano only
or the rose of Rosina painting your music red
crisp garnet hummingbird rubied and rubied...

as you distilled the deepening shadows of your blue gold fissions
charming the ineffable
wreathing, joyously near at hand
beyond all vividness, kindness we knew to be possible in this world
until we understood, weeping violet,-
it was there within our own hearing
the tomb of buried Music emptied
into the singing Empyrean.

mary angela douglas 13, 14, 15, 16 march 2013

Note on poem:  I loved listening to Van Cliburn very much as a child in the first and second grades and from then on when I first heard his recordings in my grandmother's piano studio.

Rildia in the poem as you may know was his mother (Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn) who taught him marvelously well from age 3 to 17 when he was under the guidance of Madame Rosina Levine who, according to the author, Howard Reich who wrote a beautiful biography of Van Cliburn,  (titled only Van Cliburn, Thomas Nelson Publishers. copyright 1993) saw in his music the color red.  (which I have slightly elaborated on to indicate the richness of her teaching him in the Russian style, the grand manner enhancing what he learned from Rildia Bee.

I recognize Van Cliburn meant and means much to people all over the world including his fellow Texans and the Russian people he always held in his heart by his own admission.

To me, he was the first great music I ever remember hearing (although I head Chopin and Debussy first rather than the Tchaikovsky and Rachmoninoff), therefore, the reference to the beautiful Debussy piece he played so well and which I listened to after he died with tears:
L'Isle Joyeuse.