Recalling a Blithe Spirit

So that’s what destiny is: simply the fulfilment of the potentialities of the energies in your own system.”–Joseph Campbell

Reading Shelley’s poem “To a Skylark” in grade 12 opened up innumerable young, new possibilities for me at a critical juncture in my Romantic life. That is when I first became aware of the possibilities of “unbodied joy”–an ideal which has guided my soul ever since.

That same bird-spirit has kept me close to a musical path ever since, whether listening to or playing–a veritable “rain of melody”. Too, Shelley made me aware that poetry and music are closely aligned and his “poet hidden” was an elusive ideal which did not materialize until I hit my 30s and, even better, 40s and 50s–when there was more reason to sing “profuse strains of unpremeditated art”.

For the best writing–“hymns unbidden”–arises naturally from “A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want”, and its unexpected realization–whether that occur in the heart, soul, spirit, or all three.

Moreover, ironically, some of the best music and writing arises from “sweetest songs…that tell of saddest thought”–such is the mature knowledge of personal experience and change in life and love.

Looking back, I was incredibly lucky, then, to have learned and experienced “half the gladness/That thy brain must know”, and to have been fortunate many years later to have “Such harmonious madness/From my lips…flow”.

And so today in minus 30 windchill, a writer pays homage to Shelley’s bird whose “music sweet as love” has blessed my life intermittently and deeply warmed me in cold winters past.


“Can spring be far behind?”–Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind”

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