Advent Reflection – Day 21

Part of one of my favorite poems, period. Now with connections to yesterday’s words from Barth. Read along to the music….

from “Messiah (Christmas Portions)”  by Mark Doty

Who’d have thought

they’d be so good? Every valley,

proclaims the solo tenor,

   (a sleek blonde


   I’ve seen somewhere before

—the liquor store?) shall be exalted,

and in his handsome mouth the word

   is lifted and opened


   into more syllables

than we could count, central ah

dilated in a baroque melisma,

   liquefied; the pour


   of voice seems

to make the unplaned landscape

the text predicts the Lord

   will heighten and tame.


   This music

demonstrates what it claims:

glory shall be revealed. If art’s

   acceptable evidence,


   mustn’t what lies

behind the world be at least

as beautiful as the human voice?

   The tenors lack confidence,


   and the soloists,

half of them anyway, don’t

have the strength to found

   the mighty kingdoms


   these passages propose

—but the chorus, all together,

equals my burning clouds,

   and seems itself to burn,


   commingled powers

deeded to a larger, centering claim.

These aren’t anyone we know;

   choiring dissolves


   familiarity in an up-

pouring rush which will not

rest, will not, for a moment,

   be still.


   Aren’t we enlarged

by the scale of what we’re able

to desire? Everything,

   the choir insists,


   might flame;

inside these wrappings

burns another, brighter life,

   quickened, now,


   by song: hear how

it cascades, in overlapping,

lapidary waves of praise? Still time.

   Still time to change.

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