Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hopelessly Romantic Summer Music

Myrtle Reed wrote her first book in 1899 called "Love Letters of a Musician." In it a musician writes letters to a woman he loves. Because he is too shy to mail the letters to her he drops them into a trunk at the foot of his bed that he imagines to be a mailbox. She finds them but I won't tell you how. Be careful of excessive romance.

Each letter is prefaced with a musical quotation that sets the mood of the narrative. The way one reads them is influenced by the mood and tempo of the music. Reed was seeking an experience that wasn't readily possible in 1899. She was seeking embedded videos and a blog.

This Letter was called "The River of Rest," and it was prefaced by the Grieg Berceuse Op. 38 No. 1 which she called "Slumber Song:"

"Summer has stolen upon us with her soft, dreamy wings, and the world is singing her praises. With a ripple of leaves and a tinkle of streams, the full earth rolls in a stately march, from sun to shadow and back to sun again.

There is a drowsy murmur of bells to-night, and looking across the fields, I can see the sheep going home. I have lulled myself to sleep many a time, fancying I saw them going one by one over the hill, and to-night, in the violet shadow, I see a picture so like that of my dreams that my eyelids droop even at the memory of it.

He was a brave man who first closed his eyes in sleep, but what a reward was his!

Within the borders of Slumberland lies the Country of Dreams, beyond the night and far, far past the day. The breath of a thousand springs is in the air and shadowy wings sweep over the fields, aflame with blossoms that only dreamers know.

There is a river winding through that country—-they call it the River of Rest. The still, wide waters are cool and clear, and there is no room for disappointment on that lily-lined shore.

The sky is always blue there, and there is no heartache in my dream. You put your hand in mine and we go on together, through meadows brave with bloom.

The dead, lost violets of my happy days with you blossom afresh in those fair plains, and I watch the light in your eyes, forgetting he cruel gulf of years that must ever lie between your heart and mine.

Dear Lady, those fields are sweet with summer now, and you go on, without knowing how I love you. But it is only a step to the land where my hungry lips can speak to you and my empty hands grasp yours, and when I wake, I can only pray that I may dream again.

 The hill over which the sheep have passed is lost in the shadow now, but I can hear the far-off tinkle which means “follow.” Some mystic bell is calling me to that dear land where I always find you, and I shall obey, though I must pass through dark to reach it.

On the stately, majestic river there is a shallop moored among the lilies for me, and I shall find you there, with love on your face and the gold of sunset lying on your hair. We shall sail down the river together, dear Heart, and you will be a willing guest.

In fancy I can see you now, as you reach over the side of the boat and trail your fingers in the water, half expecting to find them stained crimson with the reflected clouds. Then you will look up at me, smiling, and point toward the west, where, upraised on a slender pillar of purple cloud, is the faint, exquisite lamp of a star."

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