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EARLY MUSIC by Ryan Warren

pious reverence in the morning,

It is early
in the evening
and this pleasant little church,
modern, in its way, when it was built,
is without ornamentation.
Just a large, flat stage for a dais,
padded pews descending toward it
auditorium-style, wood-paneled walls,
reaching windows rising up
to the high-beamed ceiling,
structured, bright, arcing towards
their gentle and progressive god
and carrying back the sounds
delivered to the hundred of us
gathered not for an evening sermon
but to kneel in on stiff-backed pews,
lean forward and hear

the harpsichord’s crisply plucked
and effervescent twinge;
the recorder’s soft and woody whorl;
the teardropped thrum of the lute’s
lushly coupled city of strings;
the violas da gamba, long and leggy
notes feathered around the edges
of horse-drawn, caramel chords;
the silvery soprano’s lithe and aching lilt.

Sifting up from the centuries
notes carved like scrollwork,
freeing with a fine brush
the music of masters
whose very names were like music:
Marin Marais, Monteverdi
Byrd, Buxtehude, Praetorius, St. Colombe
Fantasies of the gilded chambers,
consorts to make the King’s courtiers swoon,
to set palaces and parishioners alight
with sombre and fiery passions,
to fill beating hearts with
pious reverence in the morning,
and loosen corset strings by night.
This, the soundtrack of Shakespeare,
Elizabeth, sun kings and baroque baronies,
200 years of broken consorts illuminating
the rosin-coated intrigue of castle walls.

Until … those sweet and lively courantes,
joyous gigues, sensuous sarabandes
slowly give way
to the elegant and structured classicism
of rococo concert halls.
Steadily, those loud and lusty
street instruments,
the violins, the bright brass,
ascend
and like that,
one music passes,
gives way to the tastes of a new age.
As was ever so,
as with every generation
a new modernity takes shape,
redirects the tracks of the old,
and the things you love,
the things of your youth
fade, like old tracks
into the tall grasses.

And yet, somehow tonight, here we sit
surrounded in this gentle temple
with gentle company, soft skin
thumbing the edges of programs,
all of us somehow called tonight,
not to the music of our own youth,
but drawn by some invisible thread
spun by of our softening years
to kneel in tall grasses,
press our ears to ancient tracks and hear
the lovely, late and receding vibrations.

5 comments on “EARLY MUSIC by Ryan Warren

  1. Ryan, you pairt such a lovely picture with your words.

  2. Lush, beautiful language in which the history of religion and music is wrapped up.

  3. Very inspiring!

  4. Lovely poem.

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