Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A favorite poem

I regret to admit that I am terribly behind in my readings of classic, romantic, and contemporary poetry--an activity that I could probably spend entire days doing, if only I had the time.

Thanks to my background in music, my studies in song have been directly linked with poetry for years. I have walked parallel to beautiful poems and become entwined with their meaning for years. It is not always the music in a song that tugs at my heart, but the words. Not always just the words, though, but the way the words are linked with the notes and the harmony. This symbiotic phenomenon is what gives song, and poetry, meaning to me.

One of my favorite choral pieces is Randall Thompson's "Choose Something Like a Star," titled after Robert Frost's poem of the same name. I think this poem is actually one of my favorite ever. In fact, when prompted to create a screen name for anything web-based, I frequently go with "talkfahrenheit." This song was one of the first things I ever sang that moved me so deeply I got chills and felt my eyes filling up with tears. I think the words are profound, and they inspire me to think about life beyond the routinized daily bubble.

"Choose Something Like a Star" - 1916
Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)
O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud –
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn."
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.