CYRANO (opening his eyes, recognizing her, and smiling as he speaks: the actor must try to convey the multiple meanings of the word panache, a feather, the plume in his hat, display, swagger, attack, or just spirit.):
“I sing, not to hear the echo repeat, a shade fainter, my song! I think of light and not of glory! Singing is my fashion of waging war and bearing witness. And if my song is the proudest of songs, it is that I sing clearly to make the day rise clear!”
― Edmond Rostand, Chantecler
SING IN ME MUSE—LET’S HEAR IT FOR PANACHE: COURAGE ON THE JOURNEY TO PARADISE AND ALL YOU WISH FOR—AN EPIC SHOW FOR SURE! The Odyssey, Divine Comedy, Cyrano de Bergerac, Pinocchio, Wizard of Oz, with notes of “Footloose” and Norman Gimbel’s song about Don McLean made famous by Roberta Flack. Poetry on bravery with style, from Homer, Dante, Edmund Rostand, Cavafy, Robert Hass, Jack Gilbert, Emily Dickinson (of course), and more . . .To joke in the face of danger is the supreme politeness, a delicate refusal to cast oneself as a tragic hero; panache is therefore a timid heroism, like the smile with which one excuses one’s superiority.”
― Edmond Rostand
This is Professor Barbara Mossberg, Welcoming you to our Poetry Slow Down, KRXA 540AM, Produced by Sara Hughes, who produces our podcast where you can listen to all our shows at BarbaraMossberg.com, and today, we’re slowing down, way down, for the days and ways we used to listen to poetry as a community—but that’s us, Dr. B!—that’s our Poetry Slow Down community now—just so, you’re right, of course, evolved listeners—we are a kind of post-Homeric campfire of the airwaves as the poets sing us stories about human plights and struggles and dreams—yes, sing! Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of The Odyssey, collected in about 1000 BC, begins Sing in me muse . . . so Poetry Slow Down, as we huddle close around the fire, I want to ask you to close your eyes and imagine something you wish with all your heart could happen in your life, to you or by you, or in you, that just cannot happen not through any fault of your own, anything of your own doing, but just is a reality that keeps you from your dream. . . Some of you know what this is right away; for others of us, it’s such a Not Going to Happen Ever that we have to muck around, to even recognize it as ours—who are we to have such dream? So this is what Edmund Rostand takes up in the 1890s in the true story of Cyrano de Bergerac in the 1640s. The original Cyrano was a fantastic swordsman AND poet who loved a woman passionately but was convinced he could never be loved by her because of his big nose. In Rostand’s play, Cyrano swaggers among men, he’s brash and bold, he’ll take up 100 adversaries at the literal drop of a hat, and survive to tell it, or rather, to shrug it off . . . but he despairs of the hopelessness of winning Roxanne’s love. His nose is just too big—but listen to how he describes his predicament: someone has just made fun of him, saying he has a big nose . . .
Poetry of singing on the way to Paradise (or Ithaca), keeping it always “in mind” and us ever yearning “in happiness” for all that. Thank you for joining as we slow down, listen in, hold up this magic mirror to ourselves, and all that is truly possible, the Muse singing in us.
© Barbara Mossberg 2013