to autumn

 

 

 

 

Madison Square Park 12-20-p.m. 11-16-2016.jpg

Madison Square Park, New York City; November 2016 (photograph by Roger W. Smith)

 

 

 

Vassar College 12-05 p.m. 10-11-2018.JPG

Poughkeepsie, NY; October 2018 (photograph by Roger W. Smith

 

 

 

Pushkin’s favorite month was October.

Spring starts out wet and raw and often wintry at the outset. Fall starts out just plain nice and within a couple of weeks or so has become just plain gorgeous.

By the end of the season, fall has become indistinguishable from winter. But, in the first month or so, fall features clear, sunny days without oppressive heat, which in summer can be unbearable.

By the end of spring, summer is already here and one experiences days that suffuse the senses of old and young with sheer delight. Ask Shakespeare, who wrote of “springtime, the only pretty ring time, / Sweet lovers love the spring.” (As You Like It).

Ask Edvard Grieg or Carl Nielsen.

Autumn has its proponents too.

 

 

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Let Autumn spread his treasures to the sun.
Luxuriant and unbounded …

From heaven’s high cope the fierce effulgence shook
Of parting Summer, a serener blue,
With golden light enliven’d, wide invests
The happy world. Attemper’d suns arise,
Sweet-beam’d, and shedding oft thro’ lucid clouds
A pleasing calm; while broad, and brown, below
Extensive harvests hang the heavy head. …

The sultry south collects a potent blast.
At first the groves are scarcely seen to stir
Their trembling tops; and a still murmur runs
Along the soft-inclining fields of corn.
But as the aerial tempest fuller swells,
And in one mighty stream, invisible.
Immense! the whole excited atmosphere
Impetuous rushes o’er the sounding world;
Strain’d to the root, the stopping forest pours
A rustling shower of yet untimely leaves. …

 

– James Thomson, The Seasons (1726-1730)

 

 

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue.

 

John Keats, ‘To Autumn” (1820)

 

 

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Октябрь уж наступил — уж роща отряхает

Последние листы с нагих своих ветвей;

Дохнул осенний хлад — дорога промерзает.

Журча еще бежит за мельницу ручей,

Но пруд уже застыл; сосед мой поспешает

В отъезжие поля с охотою своей,

И страждут озими от бешеной забавы,

И будит лай собак уснувшие дубравы.

 

 

Теперь моя пора: я не люблю весны;

Скучна мне оттепель; вонь, грязь — весной я болен;

Кровь бродит; чувства, ум тоскою стеснены.

Суровою зимой я более доволен,

Люблю ее снега; в присутствии луны

Как легкий бег саней с подругой быстр и волен,

Когда под соболем, согрета и свежа,

Она вам руку жмет, пылая и дрожа!

 

 

Ох, лето красное! любил бы я тебя,

Когда б не зной, да пыль, да комары, да мухи.

Ты, все душевные способности губя,

Нас мучишь; как поля, мы страждем от засухи;

Лишь как бы напоить, да освежить себя —

Иной в нас мысли нет, и жаль зимы старухи,

И, проводив ее блинами и вином,

Поминки ей творим мороженым и льдом.

 

— Александр Пушкин, Осень (1833-1841)

 

 

 

October has arrived – the woods have tossed

Their final leaves from naked branches;

A breath of autumn chill – the road begins to freeze,

The stream still murmurs as it passes by the mill,

The pond, however’s frozen; and my neighbor hastens

to his far-flung fields with all the members of his hunt.

The winter wheat will suffer from this wild fun,

And baying hounds awake the slumbering groves.

 

This is my time: I am not fond of spring;

The tiresome thaw, the stench, the mud – spring sickens me.

The blood ferments, and yearning binds the heart and mind..

With cruel winter I am better satisfied,

I love the snows; when in the moonlight

A sleigh ride swift and carefree with a friend.

Who, warm and rosy ‘neath a sable mantle,

Burns, trembles as she clasps your hand. …

 

O, summer fair! I would have loved you, too,

Except for heat and dust and gnats and flies.

You kill off all our mental power,

Torment us; and like fields, we suffer from the drought;

To take a drink, refresh ourselves somehow –

We think of nothing else, and long for lady Winter,

And, having bid farewell to her with pancakes and with wine,

We hold a wake to honor her with ice-cream and with ice.

The latter days of fall are often cursed,

But as for me, kind reader, she is precious

In all her quiet beauty, mellow glow.

 

 

— Alexander Pushkin, “Autumn” (1833-1841)

 

 

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“Europeans coming to America are surprised by the brilliancy of our autumnal foliage. There is no account of such a phenomenon in English poetry, because the trees acquire but few bright colors there. … October is the month for painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world.”

— Henry David Thoreau, “Autumnal Tints” (1862)

 

 

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And, Roger W. Smith.

And, yes, the foliage is unmatched in the Northeast. I grew up in Massachusetts like Thoreau, and I never can or will forget the September and October days of my childhood.

 

 

— Posted by Roger W. Smith

   October 2018

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Mozart, 3 German Dances; Handel, Water Music Suite (arranged by Sir Hamilton Harty)

 

 

 

 

 
They are posted here on a scratchy LP from the 1960’s that a friend digitalized for me.

Conducted by Herbert von Karajan.

 

 
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My older brother gave me this LP as a Christmas present when I was in college.

I played it so often I wore it out. I purchased another album as a replacement.

My brother said, “guess it proves you really liked the gift.”

These performances by Herbert von Karajan are utterly charming. I was just getting into classical music then.

What a way to begin.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   October 2018

 

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Gavin Bryars, “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”

 

 

A well known early work of the contemporary English composer Gavin Bryars is “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” (1971). I feel compelled to post it here because it is a unique and stirring example of religious music, one exhibiting deep and sincere religious feeling. The piece can be accessed on YouTube at

“Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” is based on a recorded loop of a vagrant singing a musical fragment that the vagrant, an old man, had improvised and which Bryars heard by serendipity. It is based on a 26-second recording of the homeless man singing outside Waterloo station in London. The improvised hymn, which Bryars composed musical accompaniment for, consists of the vagrant singing the words:

Jesus’s blood never failed me yet, Jesus’s blood never failed me yet, Jesus’s blood never failed me yet. There’s one thing I know for he loves me so.

On top of that loop, rich harmonies played by a live ensemble are built, always increasing in density, before the piece gradually fades out.

The piece is divided into five sections, within which we hear the recurring refrain. It begins with the tramp singing without instrumental accompaniment — his voice faint and almost inaudible. As it progresses, the musical accompaniment is varied from section to section: string quartet, low strings, no strings, full strings, full orchestra.

Astonishingly — given that it is based on a 26 second recording of an improvised hymn — the whole piece is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes long.

 
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According to the composer, Gavin Bryars:

In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song — sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads — and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” [which Bryars recorded].

When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song — 13 bars in length — formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. … I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.

I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man’s singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the homeless man’s nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.

http://www.webcitation.org/699Wuhif4

 
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Columnist Stephen H. Webb called the piece “[t]he most Christological piece of music I have ever heard” and describes the work as follows:

At first we hear only the tramp’s voice, but then the strings gently begin; as if to say that no voice, no matter how rough and untutored, is without support. As the music slowly progresses, the string quartet follows the tramp’s lead but keeps a respectful distance, ready to provide full instrumental support while honoring his vocal freedom.

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/04/jesus-blood-never-failed-me-yet

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   October 2018

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Çalikuşu (The Autobiography of a Turkish Girl) now available in a complete, new English translation

 

 

The book is available on Amazon:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calikusu cover

 

 

 

 

Çalikuşu (The Wren)

by Reşat Nuri Güntekin

The Complete English Translation

Parts 1-4 Translated from The Turkish by Sir Wyndham Deedes

Part 5 Translated from The Turkish by Tugrul Zure and Edited by Angel Garcia

 

 

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Çalikuşu (The Wren, 1922) is a novel by the Turkish author Reşat Nuri Güntekin (1889-1956). The novel was published in English translation in 1949 under the title of The Autobiography of a Turkish Girl. The English translation, by Sir Wyndham Deedes, was incomplete.

Deedes did not translate the entire novel. The Deedes translation has long been out of print and is almost impossible to acquire.

Now a new, complete translation has been published.

 

— Roger W. Smith

   October 2018

 

 

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PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION

by Angel Garcia

 
This book is the result of an unexpected journey down a rabbit hole.

My mother loves foreign dramas. She fell in love with Feride and Kamran, the main characters of a Turkish drama that is available on Netflix. The drama is based on a Turkish book and she pleaded with me to find an English translation (if you know Filipino mothers, you will know the power of their soulful dark eyes and singsong voices). I figured the task would be an easy one, and the perfect Christmas present.

On Netflix, the drama is called Lovebird in English and Çalikuşu in Turkish. A bit of digging online revealed that Çalikuşu actually means “wren” and that the book is a Turkish classic written by Reşat Nuri Güntekin in 1922. An English translation by Sir Wyndham Deedes was written in 1949 but I could not find any available hardcopies. More digging, however, led me to an online file of the English translation, on which I spent many post-workday evenings manually typing it up and formatting it into a manuscript. Mission accomplished! I printed an actual physical book for my overjoyed mother that Christmas.

But I wasn’t fully content. My investigation also revealed that the English translation was incomplete. Fortunately, my engineering colleague and good Turkish friend, Tugrul Zure, was willing to check. I purchased the original Turkish version for him to compare with my manuscript and it was confirmed: the English version of Part 5 had left out many, many pages. Having now watched all the episodes on Netflix and also having read Deedes’ translation, I was intrigued and emotionally invested in Feride’s 192o’s Turkish life. The Netflix version of the story has deviations from the Turkish classic novel and ends much earlier than the classic novel, omitting Feride’s teaching adventures. How did Çalikuşu really end? If I could somehow procure a complete Part 5, would I even be allowed to put it together with Deedes’ Parts 1 to 4?

Luck was on my side. I began a search for the rights holder to Deedes’ work. Sir Wyndham Deedes passed away in 1956 without a wife or children. I instead found his grandnephew, Jeremy Wyndham Deedes, who was kind enough to allow me to use his great uncle’s work in assembling a complete English translation of Çalikuşu. To top it all off, my friend Tugrul was willing to help me translate the complete Part 5. Despite having moved away and preparing to have a baby with his wife on the other side of Canada, be continued to help me remotely.

So, a gigantic thank you Tugrul Zure and also to Jeremy Wyndham Deedes, who has graciously given his permission on behalf of the Deedes’ family. I can only hope that Reşat Nuri Güntekin and Sir Wyndham Deedes would approve.

Mom, enjoy! That goes for you too, Netflix Lovebird fans.

 

 

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a (2).jpg

 

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The first page of Part Five, which has hitherto not been translated into English.

 

 

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See also my post:
“A Turkish Novel”
https://rogersgleanings.com/2017/01/03/a-turkish-novel-2/

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pleonasm

 

 

Pleonasm is defined as the use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning, either as a fault of style or for emphasis. For example: see with one’s eyes.

From which have, an as example, pleonastic word pairs.

 

 

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“Tillotson, who had a great reputation in his day for simplicity and plainness of diction, had an extraordinary bent towards tautology. The following extract, chosen at random from his sermons, is fairly representative”:

Now Religion doth contribute to the peace and quiet of our ways these two ways. First, by allaying those passions which are apt to ruffle and discompose our spirits. Malice and hatred, wrath and revenge are very fretting and vexatious and apt to make our minds sore and uneasy, but he that can moderate these affections will find a strange ease and pleasure in his own spirit. Secondly, by freeing us from the anxieties of guilt, and the fears of divine wrath and displeasure; than which nothing is more stinging and tormenting and renders this life of man more miserable and unquiet. And what a spring of peace and joy must it needs be to apprehend upon good grounds that God is reconcil’d to us and become our friend; that all our sins are perfectly forgiven and shall never more be remembered against us! (Works, 6th ed., London, 1710, p. 52.)

— quoted in Studies in the Prose Style of Joseph Addison by Jan Lannering (Harvard University Press, 1951)

It seems to me that a lot of Protestant ministers in my recollection talked this way.

 

 

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John Tillotson (1630-1694) was the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury from 1691 to 1694.

 

— Roger W. Smith

   September 2018

 

 
Studies in the Prose Style of Joseph Addison - cover.jpg++

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J’accuse…!

 

 

A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A Dove house filld with Doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thr’ all its regions
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State
A Horse misusd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fibre from the Brain does tear.

 

— William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”

 

 

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When most people get indignant about government policies and actions, it’s usually against a leader such as Trump or Nixon whom they hate, or perhaps Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War.

Or a present or past dictator or tyrant. Their regime or administration. Their policies.

But, as William Blake has shown. Epigrammatically, emphatically. What most offends the moral sense, what tears a fiber from the brain is not policy or programs. As much as to contemplate the suffering of INDIVIDUALS, inflicted upon them by the state. Meaning they can’t prevent it, and usually have no recourse.

This includes the prisoners in our inhumane, horrible prison system – most of them. Guantanamo detainees. Offenses against human decency and Christian norms observable in the USA today. And, similar horrors abroad or in the days of yore. Such as political prisoners being tortured in Syrian jails and held and perhaps tortured elsewhere. The Gulag. Internment and concentration camps. The Killing Fields. And ….

I can’t resist preaching. I feel that I am right. Be thou like Christ. Love man. Not like the Pharisees. Obsessed with finding rulebreakers.

People seem to have for the most part moved on to the next issue du jour. The Mueller probe and the misdeeds of the Trump administration. The latest developments and revelations.

Believe me, these issues pale by comparison and will seem a lot less important at a future date.

What about the roughly 700 children who were separated from their parents at the border and have still not been reunified with those parents by the administration, according to a CNN report from five days ago (this figure includes more than 40 children who are 4 years old and younger)? And, the children who have suffered psychological harm from being torn from their parents and detained?

The separation of migrant families — of parents from children, and children from parents — under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy towards migrants is a crime against humanity. Or, to use another generic term, a human rights abuse. Pure and simple.

 

— Roger W. Smith

  August 29, 2018

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Bartók, Eight Hungarian Folksongs for voice and piano (nyolc magyar népdal)

 

 

 

 

Posted here as a single track:

 

Bela Bartók, Eight Hungarian Folksongs for voice and piano (nyolc magyar népdal)

 

nos. 1–5, 1907

nos. 6–8, 1917

 

The music is stunning and the performance by a Hungarian singer and pianist superb.

 

 

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This recording is from an LP on a Hungarian label which I bought in the 1970’s. The performers were Hungarian.

The harmonies and the rhythms are awesome. Bartók brilliantly achieves a fusion of voice and piano, and a fascinating interplay.

Hearing these pieces was a revelation for me.

The violist and Julliard Sting Quartet founding member Robert Koff, with whom I took a course in twentieth century chamber music at Brandeis University in my senior year, taught me to appreciate Bartók. From Koff, who was a very nice man as well an an inspiring teacher, I learned to appreciate Bartók.

One thing I remember Koff saying by way of emphasis was how important rhythm is in Bartók’s music; and how he achieves distinctive rhythmic effects (which can be seen in his quartets) that are based upon and echo distinctive rhythmic patterns in the spoken Hungarian language, which, Koff said, is a highly stressed language.

 

— Roger W. Smith

    August 2018

 

 

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CONTENTS:

 

1. Fekete főd, fehér az én zsebkendőm  (Snow-white kerchief, dark both field and furrow show)

2. Istenem, Istenem, áraszd meg a vizet (Coldly runs the river, reedy banks o’er flowing)

3. Asszonyok, asszonyok, had’ legyek társatok (Women, women, listen, let me share your labour)

4. Annyi bánat a szívemen (Skies above are heavy with rain)

5.  Ha kimegyek arr’ a magos tetőre (If I climb the rocky mountains all day through)

6. Töltik a nagyerdő útját (All the lads to war they’ve taken)

7. Eddig való dolgom a tavaszi szántás (Spring begins with labour; then’s the time for sowing)

8. Olvad a hó, csárdás kis angyalom (Snow is melting, oh, my dear, my darling)

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