Friday, April 10, 2009

My Swan Songs

(So They Say)
by Rainer Maria Rilke & Morten Lauridsen

"Abandon entoure d'abandon,
tendresse touchant aux tendresses...
C'est ton interieur qui sans cesse
secaresse, dirait-on;

se caresse en soi-meme
par son propre reflet eclaire
Ainsi tu inventes le theme
du Narcisse exauce."

(English Translation)
"Abandon surrounding abandon,
Tenderness touching tenderness
Your oneness endlessly
Caresses itself, so they say;

Through its own clear reflection.
Thus you invent the theme
of Narcissus fulfilled."

There Will Be Rest
by Sara Teasdale & Frank Ticheli

"There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness, holy and low.

I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind,
I shall find the crystal of peace; and above me
Stars I shall find."

Calme des Nuits
by Camille Saint-Saens

"Calmes des nuits, fraicheur des soirs,
Vaste scintillement des mondes,
Grand silence des antres noirs
Vous charmez les ames profondes.
L'eclat du soleil, la gaite
Le bruit plaisent aux plus futiles;
Le poete seul est hante
Par l'amour des choses tranquiles."

(English Translation)
"Stillness of the night, cool of the evening,
Vast shimmering of the spheres,
Great silence of black vaults
Deep thinkers delight in you.
The bright sun, merriment,
And noise amuse the more frivolous;
Only the poet is possessed
By the love of quiet things."

The above songs are among my favorites that I have sung in chorales. They have moved me once again even though I am no longer able to sing them with my colleagues. It is not just their melodic harmonies and rhymic nuances, but their lyrics and the meaning they convey for me at this time in my life.

I must now admit that this stint of "blog writing" has been "my process" of letting go and expressing my over-riding interests and concerns in my life and career. It has, for the most part, been narcissistic and self-aggrandizing. It has helped me remember what I've done and what I've believed in. My teaching/learning is not over by any means. I will continue to do both, but I no longer feel the urge or necessity to share about them on the internet in a blog. I wish I could share the full impact of these songs/lyrics by down-loading the actual music in this blog but that is beyond me technically. It is an experiential thing.

"There Will Be Rest" originally moved me as one of our songs for the "Eistedfod"(sp) An Olympics for Choirs in Wales. Now I'm re-examining the meaning in the original poem and what it mean to my life now. Its content is more and more what I seek daily. Rest. I enjoy observing the on-going struggles of "the world", "our nation", "our culture", "our educational institutions" and I just don't have the desire to try to influence it, change it, fight it or comment on it anymore. It is not that I don't care about what seems to be happening, but I just realize that my time(s) have come and gone and I can't do very much about it anymore. I don't even want to. "Que sera, sera." Instead, I seem to enjoy quietness and meditation more and more. I'm not saying that I don't still enjoy "bright sun and merriment with amusing frivolities from time to time. We just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary in the sun with much merriment and amusing frivolity...but it was at the Huntington Gardens, galleries and Tea Room. We are still very much in love.

So, this is my "Swan Song" for blog posting for now. I might get the urge with another post or two or even a new blog but I think I'm done with this one. This is truly a "Good Friday" for me. RRR

Friday, April 3, 2009

Red River Valley?

The Red River Valley

From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you taking the sunshine
Which has brightened our pathways awhile.

ome and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the one who has loved you so true.

Won't you think of the valley you're leaving
O how lonely, how sad it will be?
O think of the fond heart you're breaking
And the grief you are causing to me.*

As you go to your home by the ocean (Pacific)
May you never forget those sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley
And the love we exchanged 'mid the flowers.*

Now our valley has been underwater
Snow and ice make our Red River white
How I wish I could leave my dear
Fargo, (N.D.)
And Go Far your warm coast tonight.*

Two days ago I subbed in a third grade class. I asked them if they had ever heard of the Red River Valley?...the place or the folksong? Nope! Nobody had. They might get exposed to it in fourth or fifth grade when they are supposed to study California and U.S. Westward Movement. So...I gave them alittle "pre-lesson" in U.S. geography. Yes, they had a map, which is unusual. I pointed out the Red River in North Dakota and how it flows north to Canada. I should've also pointed out another Red River, flowing southeast on the border of Oklahoma and Texas going through Lousiana to the Mississippi. I then taught them the old folksong "Red River Valley" and we acted it out. They squealed with delight at the suggestive words and how we picked two popular kids, a boy and a girls to go from the east side to the west side of the room. (sitting, waving, throwing kisses) They wanted to do it again with other people. They seem starved for this kind of teaching/learning. Role playing, acting it out, kinesthetic modalities are now mostly neglected in our classrooms. Singing for fun and leaning about our folk history is superfluous. This is part of our cultural history!

We discussed, at length, the current situation in Fargo, North Dakota. How it might feel to have your home and school flooded with icy river water 43' above its normal level. We recalled the news pix of human chains filling and stacking sand/dirt bags to make a levy around the town. These California kids have no idea of what it might be like living in the midwest with the constant threat of flooding, tornados, hurricanes etc. Yes, we have earthquakes but they don't seem as devestating. (We did discuss why I must know where they are at all time in case of an earthquake ie. at the library, computer lab, restroom) We talked about the loose tiles over the recessed lights in the ceiling and how they could fall and slice one up.

The song, I always associated with a more southern/western region such as the lower map. (Tex.Ok. La) I'm sure our pioneers came west from both North Dakota and Oklahoma. They left loved ones behind. I asked how many had ancestors/relatives from the midwest. Not many, maybe two or three. I told them about mine from Nebraska, Minnesota and Kentucky and how they came west for better jobs etc. They were only one generation back. This folksong probably goes back even further. If I had been their teacher, and/or they were in the fourth or fifth grades I'd assign them a research paper/project to find out about their ancestors and where they came from and why. I'd ask if they had any songs they the blues, lost loves etc. How many would have asked about relatives from Mexico or Canada. This is a workable rubric, don't you think? RRR