Song of the Apocalypse

              If the sublime were ever found in poetry and in nature of the apocalypse resonating within, “the great mass/Lay bedded in a quickening soul” (133-135), could it be found in a higher degree in music? Is the “still, sad music of Humanity”, the sublime portion of man’s essence, of man’s mind devoid of terrestrial vices? I would say, yes if this is the answer to both these questions. However, what first must be disputed is the true character of the music. Most likely, the music, harmony, wind and breath serve as metaphors either in part or in whole of nature or consciousness. Wordsworth says, “I yearn towards some philosophic song/Of truth that cherishes our daily life” (229-230) indicating that the music is more than music an implicit truth. The following reference of the Orphean lyre is another thought provoking venture into the music as a philosophical revelation of the mind, “With meditations passionate from deep/Recesses in man’s heart, immortal verse” (231-232). One could say that these descriptions generalize the music of the apocalypse, but there is another distinction.

                While listening to the “Creation” by F.J Hayden my class and I became aware of the sharp contrast between the burdening, loud, and impetus crescendos and the movements of seeming silence. Wordsworth must have listened to and enjoyed this song, as its qualities reflect the nature of the apocalypse. After, the “passionate” deep “immortal verses”, he longs, “that mellower years will bring a riper mind/And clearer insight” (236-237) the mellow years contrasting the burden of the passionate, immortal verses. As such, he is stating that there will be clearer insight in the seeming silence which coincides with the “lifting of the veil” motif of the apocalypse. One can see now how the character of the music resonates with the notion of apocalypse. This relationship is magnified because the apocalypse also has parallels to creation of the world given the themes in “Creation”. Not only that, The creation of the mind is the creation of the world, as Wordsworth says, “I had a world about me –‘twas my own,/ I made it; for it only lived to me,/ and to the God who looked into my mind” Book 2 (144-146). The music is the mind chamber from which everything sublime stems. Shifting between creator and creation, eventually we become the music. 

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~ by bobcat101 on September 6, 2012.

2 Responses to “Song of the Apocalypse”

  1. I particularly like your equating the creation of the mind to the creation of the world, which I think ties in exactly to what we were talking about regarding the moments of rapture and of silence in Hayden’s “Creation.” You end with an evocative possibility that the interplay between the creator and the creation gives way to music, which I enjoy. Perhaps it is in those instances of loud and quiet that give way to the birth of music. Very interesting to think about!

  2. I totally agree with the above comment. The music metaphor is clearly much more than that; it literally captures the sound and stillness that Wordsworth is tring to recreate in poetry. And yes, the apocalypse is not just destructive but also creative! I’m very interested in your last statement–“we become the music.” How exactly does this happen to the reader/listener of Wordsworth’s the Prelude? How, in other words, do we become one with his musical poetry, in the same way in which our minds become one with Haydn’s composition?

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