Tuesday, February 03, 2009
the broken Hallelujah
This morning Peceli and I were reading from Lamentations and trying to understand the pessimism of the writer and then we associate the feelings with some things in our life and in the world today. It’s real of course, this feeling of being abandoned, outside, without hope and justice. In Fiji a lament is called lele –a sorrowful song. Such a one is the song about the death of Thomas Baker in Navosa.
English Poems with this mood are common. Here is part of one by Yeats.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And sometimes a song, such as Leonard Cohen’ song Hallelujah, has the same mood, perhaps of regret.
Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah
Lamentation or Lament is a term that is used for a poem or a song that expresses a lot of pain, regret, grief, angst, misery, sorrow or mourning. It is said that many of the oldest poems in that have been written in human history were pure laments. Laments have been present in the Greek plays – and stories - both the Odyssey and the Iliad. It is also present in various manuscripts like the Hindu Vedas. Laments have been one of the oldest arts in writing music. And in painting, what comes up in Google is mainly a painting of the Pieta – the mourning of the mother of Jesus. But there also paintings with this mood in protesting against war such as Picasso's Guernica.
In our times there are pieces of music that are about laments, such as Gorecki’s Symphony No 3 sometimes called Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. It is minimalist music and almost drives you mad with its slowness and repetition, but that’s what lamenting can be, just repeitition, going over and over the same thing A solo soprano sings a different Polish text in each of the three movements. The first is a 15th-century Polish lament of Mary, mother of Jesus, the second a message written on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II, and the third a Silesian folk song of mother searching for son killed in the Silesian uprisings. The first and third movements are written from the perspective of a parent who has lost a child, and the second movement from that of a child separated from a parent. The dominant themes of the symphony are motherhood and separation through war.
Irish music at times reminds me of laments, even wailing, passionate, and in minor keys and about separation from a loved one.
Peceli and I were talking about the word lament and how it impinged upon our family life at times and how we managed with the help of friends.
So here I am,today, just mourning the dying of leaves because of the unforgiving sunshine we have had recently. And then I watch the TV and the obsessive chaos of the Middle East is nearly always there with stories of hatred and death. So I sip my Nescafe Gold and murmur, 'we indeed are very lucky here in our distance from that desperate place!' Perhaps an indecent lament might be timely to make us shudder and wake up to the rest of the world. Solving things with billions and trillions of dollars won't fix everything that is wrong.