by Juhan Liiv
I read darn little poetry, modern or traditional, that I like a lot. I know that doesn’t make me special, it makes me ordinary.
So it’s more than a fleeting thrill for me to read a poem that deserves to be read more than once, deserves to be read aloud.
I think this is one of them:
It must be somewhere, the original harmony,
somewhere in great nature, hidden.
Is it in the furious infinite,
in distant stars' orbits,
is it in the sun's scorn,
in a tiny flower, in treegossip,
in heartmusic's mothersong
or in tears?
It must be somewhere, immortality,
somewhere the original harmony must be found:
how else could it infuse
the human soul,
Liiv is an Estonian poet who hit his mark here. His topic is intuitive, but his is a rare kind of intuition: everyone knows what music is, but thinking about the first music and who made it and how is not something you hear about at the lunch table.
His musing about the essential nature of “the original harmony” is a premier exhibition of imagination and word craft—“furious infinite,” “treegossip,” “the sun’s scorn,” “heartmusic,” I could go on, but he did it so much better.
For my taste, the word “immortality” should be “immortal.” I venture to suspect that “immortality” is a typo in the translation from Liiv’s Estonian.
Wish I could read Estonian.
“Music” was originally published in Poetry, June 2011
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.