Sing, Muse, Sing!

music about writing is like architecture about dancing.

It’s essential to keep in mind that in poetry the music comes first, before everything else, everything else: until the poem has found its music, it’s merely verbal matter, information. Thought, meaning, vision, the very words, come after them music has been established, and in the most mysterious ways they’re already contained in it. Without the music, there’s nothing; thought, merely, ideation; in Coleridge’s terms, not imagination, just fancy; intention, hope, longing, but not poetry….

— C.K. Williams on Walt Whitman’s poetry

Ultimately, I believe, meaning has less to do with language than with music, a sensuous flow that becomes language only by default, so to speak, and by degrees…When at last the sound was right, I discovered—incredibly—that the meaning was right.

— Leonard Michaels, “My Yiddish”

They teach me a little about construction. I see what becomes of a phrase, how it is transformed or returned, sometimes bottom upward, and get some notion of the relation of keys.

— E.M. Forster on playing Beethoven piano sonatas

Music is a medium for desire that sees, tracks, or addresses our moods, but the notion that desire actually originates in the music mystifies me, though I experience it with certain poems, too, and images.

— W.S. Di Piero, “Round Time”

When the piano player improvises, he is both soloist and accompanist. Most players have to keep the left hand subordinate, to focus on the right. The great ones explore the keyboard with both hands and the music still makes sense horizontally and vertically, like a crossword puzzle.

— Toni Martin on the piano

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *