This morning, I heard from a friend, someone who knows my heart well, knows enough about me to send just the thing to perk me right up. Not close enough distance-wise to drop by with something more tangible, like the coffee or lemon bars or chocolate torte we love to share when we’re together, she offered instead some words she’d read; words that had given her a lift when she’d needed one. Her gift of friendship is quite enough, but the gift of a poem was the icing — a sweet treat to nudge me through my day.
I’m using this same lovely poem, a poem that, in its entirety, roused my deepest emotions today, to round out my “flowers and words” series (brought to you, again, by my friend, Karla, and my own back yard). You’ll find the other installments here, here and embedded within this “quick takes” post.
If I can offer nothing more to start out your week right, let it be this thought: hold fast to your dreams. The fireworks of this weekend have subsided now, but the bursts of light and energy are still within vision. There’s no better time to call up the subject of dreaming, and how important it is for us to not let go of all that we envision for ourselves. Who can watch a display like the sorts we witnessed this weekend and not be moved? Bring that image into your week. Though not every moment will be filled with such pizazz in the week ahead, use all of the hope that such an event conjures to propel you from point A to point B. Let each little step bring you closer to the huge and beautiful grand finale you’re heading toward. And if you still doubt, if you still are not quite sure you have it in you, if you allow the exterior world to tamper with what you know is your gift to the world, let these words hearten your spirits.
(Thanks, Mary, for bringing this poem to my grateful attention!)
by Diane Ackerman
I’m listening to Rachmaninoff’s
Piano Concerto No. 2,
which he dedicated to Dr. Dahl,
the psychiatrist who guided him
through the straights of fever,
not long after Sergei had heard
his own first symphony played.
Horrified by its many defects
which seemed a sewage of noise,
he had fled the hall, ashamed,
a quagmire of self-doubt.
We cannot know all the sounds
Dahl and he exchanged,
but rubbing one word against another,
Dahl gradually restored
Sergei’s confidence. History tells
that Dahl used affirmations
“You will compose again.”
“You will write a piano concerto.”
“You will write with great facility.”
Repeated until the words saturated
His gift from head to fingers.
In truth, nothing can kill a gift,
but it may become anemic
from great shock or stress-
a sprain of the emotions will do,
or a traffic accident of the heart,
or a failure dire as a clanging bell.
For two years, Dahl worked
on Sergei’s shattered will.
at last he collected up his senses
in a burst of blood fury
and composed his triumphant
2nd Piano Concerto,
full of tenderness and yearning,
beguiling melodies, raging passion,
and long sensuous preludes
to explosive climaxes,
frenzy followed by strains
of mysticism and trance.
Loaded with starry melodies,
it was a map of his sensibility,
and a wilderness rarely known
-the intense life of an artist
seen in miniature, with rapture expressed
as all-embracing sound.
Will you tell me if you know,
how Dahl might have received
such a gift? I cannot imagine it.
With hugs and shared enthusiasm?
With an austere thank you?
In his private moments, did he weep
at the privilege allowed him?
For a time he held the exposed heart
of a great artist, cupped his hands
around it like a flame, blew gently,
patiently, until it flared again.
For that, he earned the blessings
of history, and soothed millions
of hungry souls he would never meet.
Listening to Rachmaninoff’s
concerto today, intoxicated by its fever,
I want to kiss the hands of Dahl,
but he is beyond my touch or game.
Allow me to thank you in his name.
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