Waiting engagement in contemplation, poem by Peter Menkin
by Peter Menkin 4/14/2009 / Poetry
Musical sound reminding the listener of contemplation, an experience...
This is a more unusual poem, hopefully worthwhile. I wrote it more than five years ago, in 2000. It speaks of the melding of music in the cathedral and the experience of contemplative prayer. There is an opening up, an ascending in hearing the music, just as there is in contemplative prayer.
My way into contemplative prayer is by centering prayer. I do so in quiet, no music. So why this poem about music and prayer? As I say, the experience is similar in regards to a feeling of God's presence.
I bought the CD of the music played by the group. It is "Officium" with Jan Garbarek, The Hilliard Ensemble. Check out Amazon.com to buy or look at the album. Amazon says of the CD:
"What is this music?" Fundamentally, it's an exploration of what happens when an improvisatory instrumental voice (saxophone) is placed into the world of early vocal music, which has elements of both improvisation and formal structure. In reality, it's an adventure in which the four male voices of the Hilliard Ensemble travel the 14th- and 15th-century territory of Morales and Dufay, visit the 12th century of Perotin, and roam even earlier ages of plainchant, accompanied by the always sensitive and tasteful, often astonishing, saxophone improvisations of jazz master Jan Garbarek. Sometimes, these new melodies simply accompany; sometimes they transform the common--a routine minor chord, for instance--into a sublime, indescribable moment. The answer to the above question is easy, but it's different for each listener. --David Vernier
Waiting engagement in contemplation: to Be/Ascend...(2000)
by Peter Menkin
The existential aloneness, yearning
enters as a musical cry, like a procession
the music flows through the building.
I join this human allowance in the finitude.
In retrospect, memory brings days enjoyed,
like the heart seeking. Beautiful sound.
The hearing of the listening ear
enjoins the great spirits [heavenly praise] who gather
in bringing more clearly a presence:
everlasting peace in a depth of I am, stays.
What elicited this to mind was sound.
This more than exercise as a movement
in music is recollected from the Cathedral,
where the players invoked a sense of Christ,
done by the Hilliard Ensemble--
music that speaks spare words:
A saxaphonist met a vocal quartet.
Listen to this unusual sound.
What they play brings consideration... in the morning,
in the loneliness, at night.
How the music waits upon us for engagement
self emptying love given to respond. Allow
your love to come enjoining us to know:
"A blown husk that is finished
but the light sings eternal
a pale flare over marshes
where the salt hay whispers to tide's change."
Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.