Monday, February 20, 2017

Arlene Corwin writes

What I’d Like?
      (my not-so-secret heart)

You know what I’d like?

To be a part of your day’s reading;
Play a role in all your thinking;
Though it sounds distinctly crazy -
All the households that abound.

How to get to hearts and minds
Like Shakespeare or da Vinci.
Inch my way
To dreams behind each word I say -
A theme, which may take decades to bear fruit,
Take more than decades to bear fruit.

I’d like to open doors, but also keep old gold.

Create a Corwin vogue perhaps
From hunches munched on,
Thoughts thought through with vigor;
Transform half a planet - be a part of it:
A part that lasts.

 Image result for Marcantonio Raimondi painting orpheus charming animals
Orpheus Charming the Animals -- Marcantonio Raimondi


  1. Horatio appears in the opening scene of William Shakeapeare's play "Hamlet," when a sentinel, recognizing him, asks, "Say—what, is Horatio there?" and Horatio responds, "A piece of him." Here he is quoting from the first-century BCE poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus' "Ode III.30": "I have finished a monument more lasting than bronze, more lofty than the regal structure of the pyramids, one which neither corroding rain nor the ungovernable North ind can ever destroy, nor the countless series of years, nor the flight of time. I shall not wholly die, and a large part of me [pars mei] will elude the Goddess of Death." The Roman poet was insinuating that his body would die but his his literary works would live on. Perhaps Shakespeare was slyly saying that Horatio, as Shakespeare's creation, would simlarly achieve literary immorality (the same sentiment that guided the opening of his "Sonnet 55," which was itself an imitation of the same passage:
    Not marble nor the gilded monuments
    Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme
    But you shall shine more bright in these contents
    Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
    -- and the same sentiment expressed in Arlene's poem, especially as capped by her last line.)

    But what about da Vinci?

  2. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He was the illigitimate son of Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, a notary from Vinci, near Firenze (Florence), and artistically trained in the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio, the city's leading painter and sculptor. According to Giorgio Vasari, Leonardo collaborated with Verrocchio on "The Baptism of Christ" in a manner that was so superior that Verrocchio never painted again. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of duke Ludovico sforza "il Moro" in Milano, until the city was conquered by François I of France, and he also worked as a military architect and engineer for Cesare Borgia. Perhaps only 15 of his paintings have survived, but they include both the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper," the two most iconic pieces of Western art; along with his notebooks (which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on painting and other subjects) they continue to inspire and amaze later generations. He made substantial discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, geology, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings (and indeed coded them by writing them backwards) so they had no direct influence on science. In 1482, when he was 30, Leonardo, created a silver lyre in the shape of a horse's head; Lorenzo de' Medici, the Florentine leader, sent Leonardo to Milano with the lyre as a gift to secure peace with Sforza. Again, according to Vasari, “Leonardo was led in great repute to the Duke of Milan, who took much delight in the sound of lira, so that he might play it: and Leonardo brought with him that instrument which he made with his own hands, in great part of silver, in order that the harmony might be of greater volume and more sonorous in tone; with which he surpassed all the musicians who had come together there to play. Besides this, he was the best improviser in verse of his day.”

  3. Later, during his return to Milano (under French occupation) he left sketches for a theatrical representation of Angelo Poliziano's lyrical drama "La favola di Orfeo," at least half of which was sung rather than spoken. Instead of being spherical, his dome-shaped theater set was painted as a mountainscape but could be made in many shapes with papier mâché; Orfeo would initially be on a small lift-like platform below the stage; operators would load a container with weights forcing it to drop while lifting the actor up to the stage and driving the entire mechanism that opened the domes; at a dramatic moment the mountains would open with a circular movement to a scene of the underworld. Leonardo may also have been one of the performers. According to Ross Duffin (Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University) the performance may have been witnessed by Marcantonio Raimondi, who depicted Leonardo playing the lira da braccio in an engraving "Orpheus Charming the Animals." Orpheus was normally depicted as young and clean-shaven, but Marantonio's looked older than 50 and had a beard and long curly hair. Duffin thought it strongly resembled the portrait of Leonardo painted by Leonardos' longtime assistant and heir, Francesco Melzi. A century later William Shakespeare collaborated with John Fletcher, his replacement as the principal playwright of the King's Men, on "Henry VIII." During its performance in 1613, a cannon shot employed for special effects ignited the theater's thatched roof, burning the original Globe building to the ground. But it contained the gollowing song:

    Orpheus with his lute made trees,
    And the mountain tops that freeze,
    Bow themselves when he did sing:
    To his music plants and flowers
    Ever sprung; as sun and showers
    There had made a lasting spring.
    Every thing that heard him play,
    Even the billows of the sea,
    Hung their heads, and then lay by.
    In sweet music is such art,
    Killing care and grief of heart
    Fall asleep, or hearing, die.

    If Duffin's surmise is correct, Shakespeare's penultimate play may have unknowingly contained his homage to his predecessor as a universal genius.


Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?