By William Meredith
It’s not the tunes, although as I get older
Arias are what I hum and whistle.
It’s not the plots––they continue to bewilder
In the tongue I speak and in several that I wrestle.
An image of articulateness is what it is:
Isn’t this how we’ve always longed to talk?
Words as they fall are monotone and bloodless
But they yearn to take the risk these noises take.
What dancing is to the slightly spastic way
Most of us teeter through our bodily life
Are these measured cries to the clumsy things we say,
In the heart’s duress, on the heart’s behalf.
Poet William Meredith was, among other things, an opera critic and librettist, and I quite like his idea of ordinary speech yearning to become opera. (This is perhaps even more resonant as Meredith’s speech was impaired following a stroke, although he continued to produce fine poetry, garnering the National Book Award for Effort at Speech.)
Mozart on the heart’s behalf, the trio “Soave sia il vento” from Così fan Tutte