I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious -
So kiss me—HAFIZ
And so our Sufi 14th century poet frames our impassioned show today, how nature is interpreted as solace and song cheering human nature, whether John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, the Bible, Shakespeare, or lyrics in songs by R Kelly, Pink, Mariah Carey, songs from “Pete’s Dragon” and “Fame,” Paul Simon, Sylvia of Ian and Sylvia . . . Working with middle school and senior high school students on a concert tribute to the “tree-mendous” role of song and poetry on trees for comfort and joy, the connections between John Muir’s interpretation of the music of the wind in trees and the songs we are singing expressing earth’s energy and powers of redemption and hope, are the Muse singing to us. We hear ancient lyrics about the nightingale, who sings and cheers us in darkest times, from Homer through Shelley and Keats and Milton and Marvell and Shakespeare, and then we review references in W.S. Merwin’s poem, An American Addresses Philomena, from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Keats, T.S. Eliot, and John Crowe Ransom, as Merwin reflects on how he hears music and resolves to listen to the life force poets have always ascribed as the poetry of nature, who can sing day and night, whose news gives resilience and hope to our days . . . . And speaking of songs bringing hope, to ease John Muir’s aching breaking heart over the news of the drowning of the comparable Hetch Hetchy Valley (to Yosemite, its twin), you can hear my own effort to contribute song-rousing resolution to a national affliction of our souls, If A Song Could Right A Wrong, sung by music educator and performer in service of preservation of earth, Shannon Sullivan (thank you Producer Sara Hughes). Everywhere we turn in poetry and lyrics, we find encouragement, “the will to carry on” (trees believe Christine Aguilera “I Turn To You” is us speaking to them), and maybe it is the universe itself making itself heard by us; maybe Earth, as John Muir believed, is writing its music, and hearing it is poetry, and always has been.
© Barbara Mossberg 2011