Richibi’s Weblog

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“Reciprocity” – Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel prize
in Literature in 1996, here is one of her
poems, translated from the Polish by
Clare Cavanagh



from the New Yorker, February 3, 2014


There are catalogues of catalogues.
There are poems about poems.
There are plays about actors played by actors.
Letters due to letters.
Words used to clarify words.
Brains occupied with studying brains.
There are griefs as infectious as laughter.
Papers emerging from waste papers.
Seen glances.
Conditions conditioned by the conditional.
Large rivers with major contributions from small ones.
Forests grown over and above by forests.
Machines designed to make machines.
Dreams that wake us suddenly from dreams.
Health needed for regaining health.
Stairs leading as much up as down.
Glasses for finding glasses.
Inspiration born of expiration.
And even if only from time to time
hatred of hatred.
All in all,
ignorance of ignorance
and hands employed to wash hands.

Wislawa Szymborska

a message, and an angel, of hope

there is so much more about music
than just music

thought I’d share

just click


psst: here’s some, equally inspirational,
background, just click

Beethoven, piano sonata no 15, opus 28‏

Beethoven’s piano sonata no 15, opus 28,
the Pastorale, is all about nature,
efflervescence and spring, one of my very
favourites, I call it his Johnny Appleseed

in this instance, something I’ve never
experienced before, Tomoki Sakata made
me feel as though I were his instrument,
responding to his fingers, something
entirely transcendental, but with
rushes running up my spine

Classical music indeed


if you dare


the question of genitalia in art‏

"Nudes"- Walter Battiss


Walter Battiss


genitalia, of course, had become overt,
even flagrant, by the start of the 20th
Century, the many reclining Venuses,
the Olympias, had led to Courbet‘s still
notorious The Origin of the World -
open, I warn you, at your own risk -
and by 1911 Egon Schiele in Vienna
had exhibited his self-portrait
, entitled, appropriately,
Masturbation – open again at your
own risk, though once again the work
is brilliant

I have ceded to courtesy and proprieties
in not reproducing here these potentially
offensive renderings, though modesty at
this point doesn’t stand a chance, the
world is determinedly uninhibited, fig
leaves are a thing of the very remote
indeed past

but I’ll tell of my mom and I, partners
in unflappable artistic appreciation,
visiting the Leopold Museum in Vienna
and having never even heard of Schiele,
whose work is supremely represented

moments after our arrival and turning
innocently a corner, we came upon one
of his overt pudenda
brazenly exposed,
I hadn’t ever experienced such stuff,
and there was nowhere in the stark
white hall to hide

my mom stood beside me not saying
a word, nor expecting me to comment
this time, what do you say about an
unadorned vagina anyway, I ask, even
one admirably exposed, to anyone,
never mind to your mom

we cleared our throats, probably
harrumphed, and discreetly moved

later we saw some of his more
conservative piece
s, idiosyncratic
and marvellous, and had to revise
our impressions, declare Schiele
categorically glowing, a master
at his art, and eventually a very
favourite, right up there with the
equally sublime Courbet, man,
can these guys colour

though I still prefer to view their
pubic stuff, however publicly,
on my own


“Adam and Eve” – Lucas Cranach the Elder

Cranach Adam Eve

Adam and Eve (1596)

Lucas Cranach the Elder


from The New Yorker, January 27, 2014

Adam and Eve” by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526

She seems a mere girl really,
small-breasted and slim,
her body luminescent
next to Adam, who scratches
his head in mild perplexity,
So many baubles hang
from the tree
it didn’t hurt to pick one.
The snake is a quicksilver curve
on a branch she is almost
young enough to swing from.

The garden bores her anyway:
no weedy chaos among
the flowers and vegetables;
the animals so tame
you can hardly tell the lamb
from the lion, the doe from the stag
whose antlers outline Adam’s modesty.
She is like that teen-age girl
who wandered from the mall last week
not to be seen again, the world before her
glittering and perilous.

Linda Pastan


yesterday on a mission to buy socks,
finally – I had only a pair left and one
of those with a hole in it – I wondered
about clothes, why hadn’t we evolved
fur or feathers or, heaven forbid,
scales, like all other creatures,
without exception

cherry trees were in blossom, birds
sang along my path, despite an
inoffensive drizzle as I went along

perhaps, I thought, by standing erect
our private parts were too much in
evidence for even indiscriminate
Nature to bear, though apes in all
their varieties walk on two legs and
seem to cavort happily, indeed
lasciviously, though ever
unsheathed, I objected, everywhere

the only difference I could muster
between us and them was that we’d
eaten from the Tree of Knowledge,
the fruit, apparently, of our
apocalyptic decadence, while they’d
never had ever an Eve, nor, for that
matter, an, equally complicit, note,
Adam, no matter what the, mostly
male, elders might say

therefore apes gambol in their
Garden of Eden still, as you can
see in the Cranach above, serenely
uncontrite, while we buy socks in
the jungle next door, and berate,
burdened, our bedevilled lubricities,
what’s under those strategically
positioned, and obliterating, leaves

Tree of Knowledge indeed


psst: from the Courtauld Gallery in
London, more on Cranach’s
, just click

on rhyme‏

commenting on his choice of idiom
in Paradise Lost, John Milton writes
the following

“The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as that of Homer in
Greek, and of Virgil in Latin—rime being no necessary adjunct or true
ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the
invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre;
graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away
by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to
express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they
would have expressed them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian
and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and
shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing
of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which
consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously
drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like
endings—a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good
oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though
it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an
example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem
from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.”

“Paradise Lost”: The Verse

John Milton


that’s of course his opinion, what do
you think

and what, thus, do you think poetry is,
not an especially easy question


“Lohengrin”, Act 1‏

"Lohengrin" - Ernst Fuchs

Lohengrin (1977)

Ernst Fuchs


this morning, requiring especially strong
medicine to get me through my day, I put
on Lohengrin, Wagner’s masterpiece,
directed by the thorny and unpredictable
Werner Herzog, from Bayreuth, the high
temple of that music, its very Acropolis,
1990, to lighten my load, to give me
mythic, maybe even Sisyphean,
perseverance, it didn’t disappoint

Elsa of Brabant is accused by Friedrich
of Telramund of having killed her brother,
who stood before both of them in line to
the throne, Ortrud, Friedrich’s wife, stands
silent throughout the first act looking
positively Machiavellian, Lady,
incontrovertibly, Macbeth

Elsa, summoned to plead her corner, tells
of a shining knight who appears to her in
her dreams, calls upon him to defend her
honour, he shows up at the very last
moment, on no less than a swan

he’ll only fight for her, he says, after she’s
offered him her anticipated kingdom, her
throne, her very honour and chastity, to
do with what he will, should he win for
her her cause, if she’ll pledge to never
ever ask about his origins, despite his
extraordinary entrance

she accedes, of course, though no other
knight, critically, has shown up to redeem

the shining knight conquers, of course,
but Ortrud, during the celebrations,
lurking ominously nearby, doesn’t give
the impression that anyone’s going to
live happily ever after, so long as
she can help it

it was the end of Act 1, I got up, made
a sandwich, I’d watch the following act
tomorrow, and so on, until the distant
end of that four-hour saga, to which
the epithet “Wagnerian”, for “epic”,
also, manifestly, belongs

wistfully I wondered about my own
knights in shining armour, who might
be my own guardian angels, entering
on fabled, maybe, even, swans,
concluded one of them had just been
Wagner, who’d turned, from heavy to
at the very least wistful, my day

wishing you Wagners


Beethoven – piano sonata no 7, in D major, opus 10, no 3‏

Euterpe - Apollo and the Muses - Helene Knoop 1979 - Norwegian Figurative painter - Tutt'Art@

EuterpeApollo and the Muses (2008 – 9)

Helene Knoop


if the piano sonata no 4 of Beethoven,
in E flat, opus 7, was academic, an
exercise, a display of technical
dexterity and some, admittedly,
even mighty, compositional verve,
it lacked, in my estimation, a centre,
a convincing motivating factor, a muse,
though ever ardent, ever entertaining,
it is ultimately arid, I think, trite, I’m
not, one is not, keen on returning to it

but in the piano sonata no 7, in D major,
opus 10, no 3
, Beethoven hits, I submit,
his stride, this sonata is enchanting

note the similarities of structure
between the two, the order of the
movements with identical, essentially,
tempo patterns, notably the middle
slow movement, in the first a largo,
con gran expressione,
slow with
great expression, in the latter, a
largo e mesta, slow with sadness,
where Beethoven plumbs, evidently,
the limits of pacing, the time lapse
between two notes, the capacity for
silence of this new instrument, the
pianoforte, of which he’ll look into
also, and even vigorously, its
capacity for volume, the crashing
introduction to his celebrated 8th,
for instance, to establish the
instrument’s new perimeters

you’ll note you can listen to the later
largo, the opus 10, no 3, forever, you
can get lost in its aural world, I can’t
think of anywhere else right now a
more profound largo

the other movements are dazzling
in their thrilling prestidigitation, all
organically sound, and, crucially,
motivationally centred, I think, this
is indeed music, magisterial music,
Beethoven’s not just kidding
anymore, he’s hitched onto his
proper inspirational deity, his own
private Euterpe, music’s muse, and
we’re in for something, from here
on, of a ride

note the cool riff closing off the last
movement, Beethoven in the guise
of Gene Kelly stepping in for a
breezy good-bye, prefiguring, of
course, XXth-Century music, and
the serendipitous extrapolations
of jazz


psst: incidentally, the headings, largo,
con gran expressione, largo e
are entirely Romantic
musical notions, notations,
Classical composers would’ve
been too sedate, formal, courtly,
for such flagrant sentiment

Apollo Appleseed

a friend of mine, Apollo, having
appropriated that name already
to launch a, not unpromising,
career as an artist, had never
to date considered a surname
for what I called his nom de
, his brush name

but in a farfelu moment, French
for having lost one’s head – my
head, not his, having surrendered
immediately to his fantasy – he’d
happened upon “Appleseed” as
maybe a fitting, and to be
considered, apposition, addition,
to his presently truncated name,
I jumped on it

he later called the phenomenon,
at a loss for provenance, an
inspiration, to which I forthwith
concurred, Apollo Appleseed,
can you dig it, I told him he now
had to live up to it

inspiration is always the source
of poetry, I said, poetry is what
we all live for, to make our lives

it involves following our inspirations,
however fanciful, however out there,
people have built lives around art,
literature, dreams, madeleines, for
goodness’ sake, fording oceans,
climbing mountains, and have
become not to be forgotten, it’s the
magic that counts, ever the aim of

when inspiration strikes it is ever
charged with possibility, perspicacity,
delight, it is not a negative function

when inspiration strikes it is time
to stand and deliver, it knows the
ineluctable way, the one that’s in
your heart

you too can plant apple trees across
the land, of your own potentialities, if
only you dare follow even one of your


psst: you’ll have to forgive my ardour,
it’s been my Johnny Appleseed

and don’t forget to click

Beethoven – piano sonata no 4, in E flat major, opus 7

though Beethoven’s piano sonata no 4,
in E flat major
, opus 7 has never been
one of my favourites, I’m finding this
particular renderin
g completely

the opus 7 is, of course, early, when
you consider Beethoven reached into
the late 130s for his opuses, his opera,
not counting his, as bountiful, WoOs,
works without opus numbers

the sonata is steeped in Classical
conditions that are becoming ossified
at this point, about a decade after the
French Revolution, 1796 – 7, and that
have yet to be culturally overturned,
put to rest, you can hear it, you hear
the Classical form – formality, repetition,
congenial tonalities still – in the sonata,
brilliantly displayed by a composer
of ripe and rich imagination, but at
the service of structure rather than
the music itself, style over substance,
a student’s musical submission for a
composition exam

you’ll hear the repeat of the opening air
in the first movement more times than
you think is necessary, though the tune
be ever jaunty, never unpleasant, just
essentially trite, the second movement,
is a largo, a largo indeed, you’ll think,
about to fall asleep, even, at the wheel,
the later movements keep you
entertained in most interpretations,
not much, however, inspired, music to
pass the time, to check your watch by,
it needs what Beethoven will later
deliver in spades, miracles and
majesty, conviction

the opus 7 is long as well, nearly
interminable, I think, second only in
length to the sublime however
“Hammerklavier, the 106, impudent
therefore, to my mind, if not outright
arrogant, in the mode of lesser artists,
Salieri, Clementi, for instance, who
never manage to transcend their,
however impressive, technical

but in this commanding account -
maybe I’ve grown into the piece, or
maybe the performance itself is more
inspired – Joel Schoenhals finds
something that’s had me listen for
hours and hours, rapt, mesmerized



psst: I needed this sonata for a course
I’m taking at Coursera, an Internet
learning site, on the Beethoven
piano sonatas
, the opus 7 is the
first one we’re looking at, this
was the best one I
could find

join me


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