Filmic songs that praise the invisible invisibilities, and silent symphonies which make it worth living.
“Now I will do nothing but listen,” the young Walt Whitman resolved as he pressed his ear against the eternal song of being a century before Aldous Huxley found in the transcendent power of music a portal into the “blessedness lying at the heart of things.”
“Blessedness is within us all,” Patti Smith wrote in yet another century as she contemplated life, death, and love. (Which may, at the end, turn out to be one.
Blessedness is a wonderful concept that can transcend religion even for those who are not religious. I consider blessedness a sense-tone of gratitude wonder. This feeling-tone may be as loud as a complete solar eclipse, or quieter than the rising tide. It can bless with the surprising cymbal of a robin’s egg out of time and out of place or with the murmuration of a moonlit tree. It may bless you with Bach.
That feeling-tone of grateful wonder is what poet and philosopher David Whyte celebrates the “Blessings & Prayers” suite of poems found in his altogether vivifying collection The Bell and the Blackbird (public library).
Two of these poems — “Blessing for Sound” and “Blessing for the Light” — come alive as a ravishment of Irish landscape and music in Whyte’s collaboration with filmmaker Andrew Hinton and composer Owen Ó Súilleabháin for Emergence Magazine.
David Whyte, The Bell and the Blackbird
For the most subtle sound
For the ease with which my ears are open
even before my eyes,
Remember to do this!
The way it all began
With a unique, lively note
And I want to thank you again for your kind words.
Everyday original music
always being rehearsed,
always being played,
always being remembered
It’s something fresh
A tramline is available for both departure and arrival
Below, on a city street
gull cries, or a ship’s horn
The distant harbor
So that I can hear voices in my waking hours
Even when there isn’t a voice
Invitations and other invitations
There is no invitation
So that you can get up with me
By the ocean in summer
In the depthst possible
Be there for you
So that you can hear me
Even when my eyes are closed
Even when my heart is closed
Even before I wake up fully.
Blessed for the light
David Whyte, The Bell and the Blackbird
Again, I am grateful to you light
Thank you for your assistance in finding me
the outline of my daughter’s face,
You are my light.
For the more subtle approach
The smallest touches can transform your life
To such things could I
Only love can be learned
Your gentle instruction will help.
And I’m grateful to you this morning
Recovering from your sleep.
The most secretive and intimately held secrets
Your visible invisibility
The way that you make me feel
At the very face of the earth
Everything becomes possible.
A keen eye on everything
So, it’s not surprising that this happens.
Also I can see myself being seen.
to be able to be born over again
In that view, it is so
You can get this in another manner
Along with all other ways,
You will be able to trust me.
Complement with Whyte on courage, anger and forgiveness, and his soul-slaking poem about the pathway to true love, then revisit Ronald Johnson’s transcendent prose poem about sound, science, and the soul and filmmaker Andrew Dawson’s tree-inspired visual poem based on Whyte’s lyric reflection on the meaning of closeness.
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