You Have to Cry

vwilliams.jpg My choir’s next concert is all Ralph Vaughan Williams (Ralph is pronounced Raiphe, our director reminds us). I go hot and cold with Vaughan Williams. Sometimes the music is so beautiful it’s hard to get through it without crying. Sometimes, I don’t get it. When one piece we’re doing didn’t immediately grab me, I got a little worried. Then at rehearsal last week I started warming up to it. Even better, the alto next me to me said one of the pieces we’re doing she can’t sing without crying. YAY. I don’t remember which one she said, but yesterday I started working on “Toward the Unknown Region,” and it made me cry!!!

I was so happy. I have to find the alto and ask her if that was the one she was talking about. I’m begging you, find this song and download it. The lyrics are from a poem by Walt Whitman titled Darest Thou Now O Soul.

I’m one of those people who almost never reads poetry unless I’m depressed, and I know the whole world already knows this and I am the last to find out, but Walt Whitman was one fucking great poet.

The words will destroy you. (A good destroy.) I wish I could look at death like this. (I was just thinking, would I have rather written these words or composed the music, and I think I wish I had the talent to have composed the music.)

Darest Thou Now O Soul

Darest thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow,

No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream’d of, in that region – that inaccessible land.

Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.

Then we burst forth we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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