Thursday, 4 October 2012

Songs for Vannuzzu

Vannuzzu, 4 days before his final transition
The death of a parent can be a turning point in any given life. For a surviving son or daughter, the nature of the experience can range from the grief of losing a beloved friend and confidant, to the ambivalence resulting from an abrupt loss of all further possibilities for resolving a conflicted and unsatisfactory relationship, to a sense of relief at being finally freed of the perceived domination and judgement of an overbearing parent. Regardless of one's position, to live through the death of one's parents represents a difficult act of emancipation, a call to ultimate maturation, a transmission of both freedom and responsibility, an entry into the domain of eldership.

These two original poetic reflections, Just Man and Luce Magra, were written during the latter weeks of my father's final sickness in 2008. They offer a personal reflection on the ineffability of fully encompassing the depth of experience carried in the life of another, the sense of helplessness often experienced in the face of progressive mental and physical dissolution, and a tentative poetic exploration of the more transcendent meanings carried in human embodiment.

This post is offered as a 4th anniversary remembrance of old Vannuzzu, a warrior in temperament and spirit who knew fully the degradations of war, and who only sought thereafter the small satisfactions of a peaceful life. He died a few days before his 91st birthday.

The music that accompanies both pieces was composed and performed by Coastal Slipstream (David Capon and Peter Popko)

Just Man can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 file is available for download here.

Luce Magra (Thin Light) can be streamed using the media player above. A CD quality mp3 file is available for download here.

William Blake. Death's Door

The Poems

Just Man

"Sugnu na bomb'atomica" (Vannuzzu ca. 2006)

My father was fearless.
When sent through strafe and whistle of bullet
Flesh-flaying crash of mortar and metal
He carried his message well.

He knew the ropes
He knew the whips
And the slash of hissing blade.

His ageing frame now buckles.
Enfrailed, it fails, near useless to this world.
Still it holds a tethered wrath that seethes at all injustice.

Hold hard my strong good man
Lest this storm of rain and ruin
That steels and lashes earth
Too deep cuts the tender lines
That hold it all together.

You may be old, but you still hold
Your wild and youthful ways.
The sharp thrust of anger
Cuts more deeply than any steel.

The grieving, the groaning,
The pointless lashings that stung your young frame
Gave to your eyes a fire that could burn cities.

No man-made fire this.
Blasts of mind can raze the future
As surely as flash of fiery metal.

Come soften now good man
While yet your warm tide turns.

Luce Magra (Thin Light)

Cos'e questa vita
Questo falimento di corpo, materia vivente?
Cos'e questa vita
Quest'ardore incarnato, aggiornament'oscurato?

Carne delitto, derelitto
Diluvio di fuoco spento
Carne delitto, derelitto
Fulmine senza potenza.

Forza sciupata, pienezza svuotata, speranza abandonata
Si spegne, s'estingue, si spegne,
Stella smarita d'una notte anuvolata.

S'appanna la memoria di giorni piu piacevole
Piu difficile riprendere,
R'incendere, rivivere, r'incendere.

Dov'e la via dolorosa
Che chiama silenziosa
A un immenso ineluttabile?

E dov'e la via numinosa
Che si apre luminosa
A un infinito inconoscibile?

Cos'e questa vita?

William Blake. The Grave