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Parlando - Where Music and Words Meet

Poetry has been defined as “words that want to break into song.” Musicians who make music seek to “say something”. Parlando will put spoken words (often, but not always, poetry) and music (different kinds, limited only by the abilities of the performing participants) together. The resulting performances will be short, 2 to 10 minutes in length. The podcast will present them un-adorned. How much variety can we find in this combination? Listen to a few episodes and see. Hear the sound and sense convey other people's stories here at Parlando - Where Music and Words Meet At least at first, the two readers will be a pair of Minnesota poets and musicians: Frank Hudson and Dave Moore who have performed as The LYL Band since the late 70s. Influences include: Patti Smith, Jack Kerouac (and many other “beat poets”), Frank Zappa, Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart), William Blake, Alan Moore, The Fugs (Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg), Leo Kottke, Ken Nordine (Word Jazz), Bob Dylan, Steve Reich, and most of the Velvet Underground (Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico).
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Parlando - Where Music and Words Meet
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Jan 26, 2018

Let’s return again to Edna St. Vincent Millay as I start a short series of pieces using words by more famous poets, each of whom considers the book of nature as played out by birds.

Millay’s “Wild Swans” may be somewhat overshadowed in the Cygnet Committee by William Butler Yeats’ “The Wild Swans at Coole,” published only a few years earlier than Millay’s poem. The birds of these poems’ central image, the largest waterfowl, is known for white and graceful beauty while at rest or swimming on the water, which contrasts with their somewhat overburdened flight and strangled hinge-in-need-of-oil song.

Other than their pure color and size, it may be the swan in flight that makes them something of the ornithological model for angels, as for such a large bird to have enough strength and wingspan to fly is practically miraculous.

In “Wild Swans” Millay presents that miracle in flight, but by misdirection or misapprehension. The swans are flying as the poem opens, but Millay is instead looking inward—and furthermore, the poet thinks this introspection is bringing no insight.

But in this short poem’s second part, the images and insights come anyway. In an apostrophe to her heart, Millay addresses it as a “house without air”—an acute metaphor there for despair—and she now asks for the swans to fly over us again, trailing their ungainly legs, crying unselfconsciously their sad and awkward calls.

Wildness, movement, flight beyond bounds, the miraculous after grace, the next day flying over the weeks, then the months and the years.

This is a surprising poem, it’s titular image, those wild swans, are missing, until they are called for in the last five words; not to be beautiful, but straining to be possible.

 

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