Enriching Life

I want to challenge readers to step outside the box a bit – outside your comfort zone. You’ll never know what lies beyond your safe little bubble, until you do. Whatever that may mean for you, as it is likely different for everyone. I say this for my benefit too.

I’m not suggesting engaging in really risky things, necessarily. It could be something as simple as stepping outside your musical box, trying out some different music. Music is the universal language! It can build bridges.

I have a lot of music that I’ve acquired over the years. A LOT. Since my childhood, I’d try out different types of music – some I’d like right away, others would grow on me fairly quickly, and yet others would take years to appreciate, if at all. Yesterday evening, as it was cold here – too cold for me to want to venture out anywhere – I pulled out a cd I’d not listened to in a while. I knew I liked it, but, as I recalled, it wasn’t on my top tier. Well, I had a very delightful listening session! My opinion – or my recollection of my opinion – changed.

It was a disc by Brazilian Egberto Gismonti, titled Infância, which, in Portuguese means “childhood”. As I heard it afresh, and as I perceive the artist’s conception for the album, the music was intended to evoke the emotions of childhood and adolescence.

In any case, I was struck by a poem in the accompanying notes. I bought this particular album before my journey as a Christian began, so the poem would have meant little to me at that time; the message would have gone over my head. Not this time. It’s quite powerful poetry.

Appropriately, the poem was originally written in Portuguese, as that’s the primary language of Brazil. There’s an accompanying English translation; however, with my theological background and my rudimentary (very rudimentary) knowledge of Spanish, I had a feeling the translation didn’t quite capture the author’s intent. So, along with the aforementioned, as well as the limited help of Google Translate and other online sources, I translated the poem to English. If there are any readers who are well-versed in Portuguese, or who knows someone who is, I’d appreciate any correction or improvement (OK, I know of at least one reader who belongs in one or both these categories).

Without further ado, here is the poem in Portuguese and English:

Mensagem The Message
(by Fernando Pessoa)
O mytho é o nada que é tudo The myth is the nothing that is everything.
O mesmo sol que abre os céus The very Sun that opens the heavens
É um mytho brilhante e mudo – Is a myth brilliant yet muted –
O corpo morto de Deus, The dead body of God,
Vivo e desnudo. Alive and yet bare.
Este, que aqui aportou, He, who transmigrated here,
Foi por na͂o ser existindo, For He was – having not existed.
Sem existir nos bastou. His not existing was sufficient for us,
Por na͂o ter vindo foi vindo For having not yet come, He had come
E nos creou. And created us.
Assim a lenda se escorre Thus the legend descends,
A entrar na realidade, To enter into reality
E a fecundal-a decorre. And to duly enrich it.
Em baixo, a vida, metade The life below – half
De nada, morre. Is nothing, is dead.
Todo começo é  involuntario, Every beginning is involuntary,
Deus é o agente. God is the cause.
O heroe a si assiste, vario The Hero Himself witnesses, various types
E inconsciente Unaware
A espada em tuas ma͂os achada To the sword in your hands –
Teu olhar desce. Your gaze falls to it.
˵Que farei eu com esta espada?˶ What shall I do with this sword?
Ergueste-a, e fez-se You raised it, and it was done.
As naço͂es todas sa͂o mysterios. The nations are all mysteries.
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One Response to Enriching Life

  1. Craig says:

    Partly in solidarity with Poland and other Eastern bloc countries (Visegrad 4) opposed to Islamization, and partly because I like this music, recently I listened to music from that geographic area. This included music exclusively on ECM Records (I’d once attempted to collect the entire label’s output):

    Tomasz Stanko, Polish trumpet player, bandleader, most especially his Litania, a tribute work featuring adaptations of Krzysztof Komeda’s cinematic music (Komeda did the soundtrack to Rosemary’s Baby, e.g.) and other jazz-related works. Komeda was a fellow Pole, and Stanko was featured prominently in his ‘60s band. (I was surprised and delighted to find some of this music on YouTube; here’s the title track from Litania, which features images of Poland throughout.)

    Giya Kancheli, a Georgian neo-classical composer: In l’istesso tempo.

    Arvo Part, Estonian composer: Alina

    Francois Couturier’s Nostalghia – Song for Tarkovsky. OK, this one falls outside this area, as it’s a tribute to Soviet film maker Andrei Tarkovsky, but it stays within the same mood.

    A disc by the Rosamunde Quartet (string quartet) (ECM Records 1629) featuring works of Anton Webern (Austrian composer), Shostakovich (Soviet composer who chafed against the oppressive regime), specifically his String Quartet no. 8 (dedicated to “the victims of fascism and war”), and Emil Frantisek Burian (a Czech poet, journalist, singer, actor, musician, composer, dramatic adviser, playwright and director, though he was active in Communist Party politics). Regarding the latter composer, according to the notes accompanying the cd: In March 1941 the Gestapo arrested him and destroyed all of his scores that could be found. An odyssey through German concentration camps ended in Neuengamme, outside of Hamburg. In April 1945, Burian barely survived a bombardment of unseaworthy ships in the bay of Lubeck, into which the SS had cynically sent thousands of prisoners.

    The following video from October, 2016 shows the Poles in opposition to Muslim invasion, with the female spokesperson declaring “Here Jesus Christ is our King”:

    Polish girl speaks out against Muslim migrants – Poles support Mr. Trump’s Immigration Policy

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