Regina Spektor Reads “The Everyday Enchantment of Music” by Mark Strand
“A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music.”
By Maria Popova
“Without music life would be a mistake,” Nietzsche proclaimed in 1889. Walt Whitman celebrated it as the profoundest expression of nature and Aldous Huxley as an expression of the “blessedness lying at the heart of things.” Philosopher Susanne Langer considered it “a laboratory for feeling and time,” whose mysterious power both eclipses and illuminates all the other arts.
Among the chorus of great writers who have extolled music’s supreme and singular power is the Pulitzer-winning poet Mark Strand (April 11, 1934–November 29, 2014) in a splendid prose poem titled “The Everyday Enchantment of Music,” included in his indispensable Collected Poems (public library).
In this recording from the annual Poetry & the Creative Mind event at Lincoln Center hosted by The Academy of American Poets, Regina Spektor — one of the great musicians of our time — brings Strand’s masterpiece to life with such loveliness and tenderness:
THE EVERYDAY ENCHANTMENT OF MUSIC
A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.
Complement with Strand himself reading his stirring poem “The End” in the final months of his life and his lyrical love letter to dreams, then treat yourself to this year’s Poetry & the Creative Mind if you are in New York and join me in supporting The Academy of American Poets with a donation so that they may continue to do their noble work of making this world a little more poetic.
Published March 23, 2018