Variations based on Goldberg


Slow teasing measures
there is time
teasing measures
why despair when
there is time
teasing measures?

Then run dancing joy
come with me
formal balance
up & down
see the range
& then

And drops of
rain falling
one too many
see drops of rain
the droplets of

Now measure how
they weave down-
ward slowly
the bright drops of water:
of rain


This was written for the opening of Glenn Gould`s original 1950s recording of  `The Goldberg Variations`. A lot of classical music seems to take its cues from nature as do many people and artists. Nature often seems to have a symmetry in its unfoldings and processes; to wit, streams, waterfalls, and rainfall.

If you`re looking for examples of symmetry in process, the above offer some examples. Obviously, process in nature and music can also be wonderfully beautiful; is there anything more delightful or moving than beauty in nature and music?

The process of this poem was simple. I listened to the piece over and over on a rainy day, and wrote down the words that suggested themselves; interestingly enough, the language stayed simple and repetitive, suggesting the rhythm of the original. I wanted a visual symmetry, too, that suggested the raindrops and the fall of the music so I used a centered/balanced spacing for the poem.

The poem was beautifully read on Cabbages and Kings, a 1980s radio program by Sheila Martindale of London, Ontario in the `80s. It is definitely a poem for voice/s and I have read it two or three times in a row with different nuances, also with the multiple overlapping voices of Spiritus, my performance trio of the `80s and `90s.

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