Friday, December 23, 2011

Poetry Friday: Messiah (Christmas Portions)

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went to a performance of parts of the Messiah. The music was so beautiful and reminded me of how artists can show us realities of which we aren't normally aware. I loved the way this poem expressed that idea, and also how the music can transform the performers into something more than they were. Follow the link at the end of my excerpt to see how that happens.

Messiah (Christmas Portions)
By Mark Doty

A little heat caught
in gleaming rags,
in shrouds of veil,
torn and sun-shot swaddlings:

over the Methodist roof,
two clouds propose a Zion
of their own, blazing
(colors of tarnish on copper)

against the steely close
of a coastal afternoon, December,
while under the steeple
the Choral Society

prepares to perform
Messiah, pouring, in their best
blacks and whites, onto the raked stage.
Not steep, really,

but from here,
the first pew, they’re a looming
cloudbank of familiar angels:
that neighbor who

fights operatically
with her girlfriend, for one,
and the friendly bearded clerk
from the post office

—tenor trapped
in the body of a baritone? Altos
from the A&P, soprano
from the T-shirt shop:

today they’re all poise,
costume and purpose
conveying the right note
of distance and formality.

Here's the rest of the poem. And here's today's roundup.

1 comment:

Janet said...

I love the idea that the music demonstrates what it promises -- and how it transforms the ordinary. That's how I feel about the Messiah! I have a post written about it, in fact. Maybe I'll publish it tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, Ruth!