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20 August 2007

The Persistence of Song (Howard Moss)

The Persistence of Song

Although it is not yet evening
The secretaries have changed their frocks
As if it were time for dancing,
And locked up in the scholars' books
There is a kind of rejoicing,
There is a kind of singing
That even the dark stone canyon makes
As though all fountains were going
At once, and the color flowed from bricks
In one wild, lit upsurging.

What is the weather doing?
And who arrived on a scallop shell
With the smell of the sea this morning?
-Creating a small upheaval
High above the scaffolding
By saying, "All will be well.
There is a kind of rejoicing."

Is there a kind of rejoicing
In saying, "All will be well?"
High above the scaffolding,
Creating a small upheaval,
The smell of the sea this morning
Arrived on a scallop shell.
What was the weather doing
In one wild, lit upsurging?
At once, the color flowed from bricks
As though all fountains were going,
And even the dark stone canyon makes
Here a kind of singing,
And there a kind of rejoicing,
And locked up in the scholars' books
There is a time for dancing
When the secretaries have changed their frocks,
And though it is not yet evening,

There is the persistence of song.

- Howard Moss

A friend sent me this earlier today. I am pretty fussy about poetry (as with everything else) but somehow the combination of the simple, elegant structure, the mirroring (almost to the degree of being palindromic) and title (which, nine times out of 10 accurately predicts whether I will like the poem) really work for me.

Today, the song that has persisted is Morning Theft by Jeff Buckley from the album "Sketches (For My Sweetheart the Drunk)" (which I bought before I'd heard of JB, simply because I loved the title so much). Sometimes, one or two lines just catch and I will listen to the persistent song over and over just to hear those lines. I do get a bit obsessive when I first really like a song and tend to play it so many times that it amazes me I like anything for more than a few weeks. Maybe, as with a relationship, although it's never as exciting as in that first flush, you can still really enjoy listening for a long time to come, so long as you take due cares.

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