The weekend was full of perfect fall-in-the-mountains light: clear enough to cast blue shadows on the clouds and foothills, gold enough to make you realize it’s autumn and the last rush of green grass and garden won’t last. This time of year always reminds me of being a new college student, full of hope and English and music classes, and so I listen to Beethoven and I think of this poem. It’s probably the best part of fall.
This is just a little bit of Mark Doty’s “Grosse Fugue,” found in Atlantis; the Bethoveen is an orphan movement from a late string quartet, and you can listen to it right here.
…No way to know what’s gone,
only the new flowering, the brilliance
that candles after rain; every day
assuming its position in the huge
gorgeous hurry of budding and decline:
bloom against dry leaf; unreconciled sorts
I have been teaching myself
to listen to Beethoven, or trying to–
learning to hear the late quartets: how hard
it is, to apprehend something so large
in scale and yet so minutely detailed.
Like trying to familiarize yourself,
exactly, with the side of a mountain:
this birch, this rock-pool, this square mosaic
yard of tesselated leaves, autumnal,
a jeweled reliquary. Trying to see
each element of the mountain and then
through them, the whole, since music is only
given to us in time, each phrase parcelled
out, in time