Monday, December 3, 2012

Take These Broken Words...

...and make them breathe. 

I fell in love with a poem. It was September, the summer fading fasttaking with it things I had thought would lastand Lord Byron`s Stanzas for Music echoed feelings in me that had yet to shape words. It spoke such truth that, reading it out loud, I started to sing instead. And it was beautiful...but I didn't understand it. The first line, "There's not a joy can give like that it takes away," perplexed me, and it wasn't until putting the words to music that I finally understood the poem's deeper meaning. 

A melody formed. It started through voice and was transported by a few plucked guitar strings. If I took anything away from my Literature and Music class this term, it's that anythingwhether it be a word, whisper, sighcomes from feeling. A work's success is generally indicative of its ability to move people, to conjure the author's origin of emotion in another. As interpreter of this poem, I could only attempt to draw from this origin of emotion ("the most melancholy I ever wrote," said Lord Byron), feel as much as I could and try to express it as Byron did, only in music.

Stanzas for Music 
Lord Byron, Interpreted by Me 

There's not a joy the world can give
like that it takes away 
When the glow of early thought 
declines in feeling's full decay; 

'Tis not on youth's smooth cheek the blush 
alone, which fades so fast, 
But the tender bloom of heart is gone, 
ere youth itself be past.

Though wit may flash from fluent lips, and
mirth distract the breast, 
Through midnight hours that yield no more 
their former hope of rest,
'Tis the ivy-leaves around the turret wreath -
All green and wildly fresh without, 
but worn and grey beneath.

Then the few whose spirits float 
above the wreck of happiness 
Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt, 
or oceans of excess.

The magnet of their course is gone, 
or only points in vain
The shore to which their shivered sail shall 
never (oh), ever, stretch again. 


Then the mortal coldness of the soul 
like death itself comes down; 
It cannot feel for others' woes,
it dare not dream its own; 
That heavy chill has frozen 
o'er the fountain of our tears,
And though the eye may sparkle still,
'tis where the ice appears. 


Oh, could I feel as I have felt, 
or be what I have been,
Or weep as I could once have wept...
...midst the withered waste of life.

So midst the withered waste of life those tears would flow to me...
so midst the withered waste of life those tears would flow to me. 


There's not a joy the world can give
like that it takes away 
When the glow of early thought 
declines in feeling's full decay. 

I sing and play music the same way I do anything elseby feel. I absolutely love this poem, and can only hope that my interpretation brought it to life in a meaningful way. This was a pass or fail project, worth only 5% of my overall class mark...yet I don't regret any time spent on it. Isn't any time spent in love time worth spending?

So I walked in to my professor's office, hair dripping wet from this year's first snowstorm, frozen fingers shaking as I opened my guitar case, and played this song for her. I was so relieved when she said, smiling, that she "loved it" that I could only laugh happily.

The next day, I walked into my last class to the announcement that I could have it professionally recorded, potentially filmed. I am so, so excited and giddy and thrilled! And though I've put up this image-less video for the time being, I'll be updating the new one as soon as it's recorded.

Funny how, sometimes, that tiny 5% isn't so small after all. ;)


  1. Truly great song are a always either an accident or come into existence surprisingly fast. Great song.

    1. Some, for sure...they're definitely the most exhilarating to write. Thank you!

  2. that's AMAZING. congratulations <3 I can't wait to see the fancy filmed version!

    and I'm not surprised she loved it, you did a lovely job interpreting it.