Alike a trusted hand that comes to rest
On harried shoulders to relieve the stress,
This allemande fulfills its basic quest:
Bestowing thorough genial redress.

When just too much encumbrance blocks our way
Or global evil comes to spoil our life,
It’s time to change our course: to kneel and pray
For quick deliverance from sin and strife.

Be still, the allemande is always there,
To soothe and heal our restless inner state—
That wonderful and fascinating air
That makes us think and whisper, “oh, how great!”

We listen to God’s grace in wondrous tones
As we, with Bach, ascend toward heaven’s thrones.

 

Leo Zoutewelle was born in 1935 in The Netherlands and was raised there until at age twenty he emigrated to the United States.  After retiring in 2012  he has written an autobiography and two novels (unpublished).


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19 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    A lovely tribute to Bach’s suites (and partitas), Mr. Zoutewelle. Thank you. Could there, however, have been a mistake? The accompanying video involves not one of the French Suites (per your title), but a very fine performance of the allemande from Partita no. 2 for unaccompanied violin. Not to say that that selection does not reflect the remarks of your poem!

    Reply
  2. Leo Zoutewelle

    Almost too much to say in reply, Mr. Woodruff, but the poem pertains to Bach’s French Suites (No. 1, the Allemande), and was written for harpsichord or piano, while the picture refers to a partita for solo violin – as it turned out, played by Daniel Lozakovich, a recent wunderkind. The picture is chosen by our president, Mr. Mantyk, whom I thank for a wonderful choice of accompanying pictures. Thank you much for your remark!
    Leo

    Reply
  3. Yolanda Elder

    Wonderful, moving, amazing tribute. It finished too soon like a great song wanting to be sung over and over again.

    Reply
    • Leo Zoutewelle

      Thank you Joe, I am quite sure that I know what you mean. I appreciate that!

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      And the performance by the pianist sent chills up and down my spine. I don’t believe I’ve heard this piece before.

      Reply
      • Leo Zoutewelle

        C.B., That was awesome. I had not expected that, but I was very happy with your comments. May I say, a new Bach lover or have you been one all along? In any case, thanks very much! Wow.
        Leo

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Simply lovely, Leo – a beautiful poetical and musical antidote to the madness and mayhem of the day. I especially like the closing couplet – it hits just the right note.

    Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        I’ve always loved Bach, Leo. Who hasn’t? My particular favorites are “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” & the Brandenburg Concertos.

  5. Jeff Eardley

    Leo, thank you so much for the poem and the wonderful music of Bach. The perfect antidote to a cold, wet, and bad news day here in England.

    Reply
    • Leo Zoutewelle

      Jeff, your comment has more than rewarded me and my poem as I vividly sensed the comfort Bach has given all those who care to listen to his music.
      Thanks so much!
      Leo

      Reply
  6. Leo Zoutewelle

    C.B., I share your choice of favorites and the sonatas and partitas for solo violin and the French Suites and the Matthew Passion and…, on and on.
    Thanks again for all your comments!
    Leo

    Reply
  7. Julian D. Woodruff

    I’d like to make a case (another case)
    For Bach’s sonatas for the violin
    Along with obbligato harpsichord.

    Don’t think I’m arguing they should replace
    The other favorites pointed out here in
    This queue. But listen—you will not be bored!

    Reply
    • Leo Zoutewelle

      Thank you, Julian, I will check them out. I am happy to be talking to another Bach lover, but the queue of Bach favorites is extremely long! Wonderfully long!

      Reply
  8. Cindy Erlandson

    This is so lovely, both words and music; and you are so right that Bach’s music lets us escape earthly turmoil and take us, for a sacramental moment, to heaven. I have a painting of Bach over my writing desk for inspiration to make my writing as musical as possible. Have you read “Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven” by John Eliot Gardner? I’ve just finished it, and highly recommend it.

    Reply
    • Leo Zoutewelle

      Thank you very much, Cindy for your nice comment! Also thank you for the Gardner reference; I am certainly going to check that out. Thanks again.

      Reply

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