Following on from a duet of conversations; one about music and poetry and the other about the opacity of poems I am revisiting my poem Sorrowful.
I wrote it as part of the Three Random Word project and then edited it a little. The original words that I was given to include from the project were “love, powerful, meaning” but it had another origin. Those three words reminded me of something that has stayed with me for over a decade now.
Sorrowful was inspired by one of my favourite pieces of music. The second movement of Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 which I first heard when I was about sixteen. I lived about 45 minutes away from my high school and whenever my Dad drove me (sometimes I took the train and then walked) we listened to BBC Radio 3. I had been brought up with classical music as well as both classic and modern opera so this was no surprise. Over the years a few pieces really stuck with me and this is one of them. I remember getting to school just before 8am and I had tears in my eyes.
The emotion didn’t just come from the amazing music but also from the story behind it. It’s best shown in this interview with Gorecki. The words sung are taken from a simple plea for support scratched inside the walls at a Gestapo prison near Zakopane. It’s about children and mothers, real, true grace and has an amazing quality both to the music and the lingering emotion it leaves behind.
Here’s the poem again.
Barbed wire fences that refuse
to rust no matter how much rain
is poured down on them.
Tears of acid are resisted by a need
for history to remember.
A meaning that is seen through
the cross-hatch of memory and metal,
where good lives lived and
love is scratched into cold walls.
Powerful fingernails run over words
that are still read and the music sings
through our brains as we stop to listen
to the past and see ourselves.
And a lovely version of Gorecki’s music from YouTube (click through for details on the music)