"A View of Heidelberg" by George Clarkson‘Bach in Heidelberg’ by Lionel Willis The Society January 27, 2022 Beauty, Culture, Music, Poetry 7 Comments . Bach in Heidelberg for Marjorie Bach’s chorus didn’t leave us much to say After the Easter Monday concert in The Holy Spirit Church. Taking our way Over the Old Bridge seemed like we’d just been Visiting Heaven. The flooded Neckar’s din Blurred the cantata fading in my head, As memories of the recent passed grow thin. Sensing my grief, at last our good friend said “In us she still lives. Other gifts have wholly fled.” “Reams of Bach’s scores are gone, yet reams remain Of what may be the richest heritage Ever bequeathed by one blessed human brain: Incomparable gems on every page, Now reverently passed from age to age, But when the ink was fresh how roughly tossed Aside as passé! And who now can gauge How huge the treasure that was blindly lost Of which our world must now forever mourn the cost! ‘What does it matter? Music comes and goes,’ Someone will shrug. Most music, it’s true. Like junk food for the brain, it fills up those Who know no better. Like a sudsy brew, Most music that the masses listen to Dulls with emotion. How Mammon rejoices To see earplugged consumers milling through His bedlam of manipulated choices! Most music’s a drug. Why lament a few lost voices? But music isn’t all the same. Bach’s kind, Where several voices join in harmony, Demands one’s close attention. All one’s mind Craves to sing too, following lovingly How the selection moves from key to key As one voice, then another, leads. A lot Of mental discipline, as you can see, Is both demanded by Bach’s art and taught By it. It celebrates the joy of taking thought. An enemy more fell than Time destroyed Them as it has so much for which we care: The randomness that hisses in the void, Devouring hopes, laughing at our despair. Wilhelm Friedemann, Bach’s principal heir, At first ably conserved his father’s papers, But his strength flagged. Depression, booze and bare Necessity dogged him. Sold to the neighbours, Fragments were torn for weigh bills and lighters for tapers. When we revisit a familiar song We find new charms. In Bach we may well hear New works, for every time we sing along With well-known themes his further themes appear, As if the very randomness we fear Had somehow been enlisted by the soul To make fresh anthems in the inner ear, And through them all one lesson seems Bach’s goal: To show how every voice contributes to the whole.” “Polyphony had ruled four hundred years, But now the Ariesque hung in the wings. Wisely, Bach chose to polish what his peers Despised as out-of-date: structure that sings To brains that strive to think why dying stings.” Following Bach you promised me you’d wait For me where good souls join the precious things We’ve lost on Earth in that eternal state. More cause to pray I too may pass through Heaven’s Gate! . . Lionel Willis was born in Toronto in 1932. He has been a mosaic designer, portrait painter, watercolorist, biological illustrator, field entomologist and professor of English Literature as well as a poet. His verse has appeared in A Miscellany of Prints and Poems, The Canadian Forum, Candelabrum Poetry Magazine, Descant, Dream International Quarterly, Harp Strings Poetry Journal, Hrafnhoh, Iambs & Trochees, Light, Romantics Quarterly, The Classical Outlook, The Society of Classical Poets, The Deronda Review, The Eclectic Muse, The Fiddlehead, The Formalist, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, Troubadour and White Wall Review, and in two books, The Dreamstone and Other Rhymes (The Plowman, 2003) and Heartscape, a Book of Bucolic Verse (EIDOLON, 2019). NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. 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CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 7 Responses Cynthia Erlandson January 27, 2022 Thank you, Lionel. This is a lovely, fitting tribute to the musician whom I have long believed will be organist/choirmaster in heaven! I can’t imagine anyone could ever surpass his profound and beautiful complexity, composed “Soli Deo Gloria”! Reply C.B. Anderson January 28, 2022 The very first line is belied by how much you actually did have left to say, and I’m glad you said it, especially those lines in which you note how much Bach’s music stimulates the cerebrum. In the seventh line of the first stanza, should “passed” be “past?” Reply Lionel Willis January 29, 2022 Thanks, C. B. The “recent passed” refers to Marjorie, to whose memory the poem is dedicated. I think you may be right to question the participle. In the poem she seems too recent to be passed. My memory links the lost to the past. In the poem, my pain at losing the cantatas is linked to a more immediate pain. Reply James A. Tweedie January 29, 2022 Lionel, Lovely sentiments beautifully expressed in a difficult and challenging rhyme-pattern that you manage to carry off without making it sound stilted and forced. Well done. And Heidelberg (“where the River Neckar flows”) is indeed a lovely place, especially when viewed from the bridge below the castle. I also liked your riff on “old fashioned”–and aren’t we all glad that J.S. did what he did! Reply Lionel Willis January 29, 2022 Thank you. Reply BDW January 29, 2022 as per Ewald E. Eisbruc: At moments, in Mr. Willis “Bach in Heidelburg”, one hears Wordsworth, and a few of the other Romantics, especially in their use of the Spenserian stanza. It is true that “reams of Bach’s scores are gone, yet reams remain”; the Bach edition of his complete works (Gesamtwerk) have left this afficionado in despair of ever encompassing his musical power with well over 150 CDs. This last week, for example, only the occasional air was dared in produced poesy; though German engineering was assented to. It is true the “Ariesque” moved into the Classical era, and much was lost; yet Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven acknowledged Bach’s influence on their work; and every era in music, literature, etc. is so transformed, some parts to the better, some to the worse. No doubt, “Mammon rejoices/ To see earplugged consumers milling through/ His bedlam of manipulated choices”. Reply Lionel Willis January 29, 2022 Thank you. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. 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