Friday, April 22, 2011

Murphy Takes Up an Instrument

Murphy Takes Up an Instrument
A Fable for Triduum

            Ach, er läßt es gehen
            Alles, wie es will;
            Dreht -- doch seine Leier
            Steht ihm immer still.

                        -- old nursery rhyme

Der Leiermann (Anton Piek)

On the corner stands an organ-grinder, grinding his organ round and round.
All day he stands there grinding:  yet the organ makes no sound.

Back and forth the people pass;  and lo, they mock him not;
nor hear him -- for the organ’s silent;  him:  by all forgot.

His shabby cap before his feet, to catch the proferred pence.
It empty lies, the folk haste by, as would they spurn him thence.

Mute he stands, and still no sounds   come forth from organ-barrel.
All still:  but for one surly cur,  that bares its fangs to snarl.


And Murphy stood intently,   listening, all day long;
Until  as dusk fell down like snow -- forthwith burst into song:

            Wunderlicher Alter --  soll ich fuer dich gehn?
            Muss ich deinetwegen   deine Leier drehn ?!  ?!

Then Murphy takes the station, and the old man goes his way.
His eyes shut tight, with heaving sighs, he then begins to play.

The silence that then issued forth,  was like a mighty wind,
sweeping away the grief  of all   that ever wept and sinned.

Great gusts of soundlessness, like thunder, rolled like clouds on high:
Like Sampson dumb and blinded,   cracked  the pillars of the sky.

The welkin fell in fragments,  and crashed into the sea.
Yet still upon his corner, Murphy  did not cease to play.

O Thou who raised the skies, and loosed the birds upon the air:
Do Thou hear the music,  of the old man’s wordless prayer.
[Update 25 Aug 2011:  The link above to Schubert's deep Lied, now seems to lead only to some Japanese sex ads.  Modern culture in a nutshell.
Here is an alternate version: ]

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