Stillness and Words

Holy Saturday, quiet world. Also a birthday to remember.

The Stillness of the World Before Bach

There must have been a world before
the Trio Sonata in D, a world before the A minor Partita,
but what kind of a world?
A Europe of vast empty spaces, unresounding,
everywhere unawakened instruments
where the Musical Offering, the Well-tempered Clavier
never passed across the keys.
Isolated churches
where the soprano-line of the Passion
never in helpless love twined round
the gentler movements of the flute,
broad soft landscapes
where nothing breaks the stillness
but old woodcutters’ axes,
the healthy barking of strong dogs in winter
and, like a bell, skates biting into fresh ice;
the swallows whirring through summer air,
the shell resounding at the child’s ear
and nowhere Bach nowhere Bach
the world in a skater’s silence before Bach.

-By Lars Gustafsson

Indeed. Bach rocks.

But what I cannot imagine is the stillness of the world before Shakespeare. How did we speak? How did we feel? Too windswept to imagine. Thank God for small favors: we were born P.S., post-Shakespeare.

Happy birthday, William, Bard, old friend.

One thought on “Stillness and Words

  1. Fr. Mark,

    AND, Shakespeare quotes the Bible more than any other text — with or without attribution. Nah, it’s not BS (fun intended) and PS. He, too, was a part of the giant tapestry, the fabric of which is humankind. And, both had predecessors, and competitors, and a giant bowl of music and words to draw from in their work. But what a piece of work their’s was (see “Dominion”, albeit anachronistically) — both J. S. and William (sometimes go to the Bach Festival in Bethlehem, Pa. ).



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