Monday, May 20, 2013

The Abecedarian -- the poem by Sarah Slean

After performing "The Abecedarian" in Stratford this weekend, some audience members asked me about seeing the whole poem/libretto written by the lovely and talented singer-songwriter (and artist and  poet and arranger) Sarah Slean. Here 'tis in all it's beauty. Enjoy. But note that the poem is the property of Sarah Slean and may not be reproduced without her express permission.

 ABECEDARIAN - by Sarah Slean 

A - amelia earheart yearning to fly.
awe flowers open in her dreaming eye.
like the long and constant exhale of the sky
while the monk at his table, is writing.

B - what you reach for is already there, in your hand,
you may think we are birds condemned to the land,
but somewhere eternal, beyond feeble sight.
the gravity creature is always in flight.

C - consecutive clock has an itch it must scratch,
it will tick and will tock and will cower and crack,
but "circle", the word, contains all that C knows,
the hard kick of time and the soft way it flows.

D - parting the years like a volatile sea...
"Now" opens time like a dictionary
from young to old and from A to Z
you are always right there in the middle

E - ecstatic, the embers fly up to the trees,
exhaling their lives with elegant ease
the campfire instructs us to rise from our knees
but who, of the gathered, is listening.

F - follow me follow me follow me follow me
today is the fountain from which you must feed
forget that you fell from that Genesis tree
the fruits and the flowers are not fantasy

G - "God" is the guess that they want you to make
but grace, when it's granted, won't let you partake
go further instead, to the uncharted lake,
where you know golden swans are a-swimming.

H - the earth softly utters a holier word
in the hollow where bickering gods can be heard
"heaven is coming", "it's already occurred!"
they shout in the faces of unnoticed angels

I - this, the illusion we ironically see,
that I am not you, and you are not me
like ivy its climbing and choking the tree
that, despite a great crown, grew from one common seed

J - jewels of sweat on the Jesuit brow,
mecca vibrates under thundering bows
and the monk, at his table, cannot fathom how
there is only a mouse in the temple of Now

K - yet who can contest its most curious might?
this killer of kings, this glorious knight
who quiets the enemy, not with a fight,
but almost as if letting go of a kite?

L - in longing to know, we must love the unknown
with Kierkegaard, trembling, and aching for home
we leap and discover the light in a stone
is the very same light in the  heart of a master

M -  "master?, what master?", the suicides ask
"How am I a slave if I know not my task?
How can I love God when I know it's a mask
that my own starving mind has created."

N - Napoleon squirms in his watery grave
and Nietzsche's  convinced that there's nothing to save.
he spat on the flowers the poetess gave
as she murmured the sonnets of Rilke.

O - Overmen shatter, but archers will go,
even though hard the seasons of suffering blow
watch how he opens, caresses his bow
in the midst of uproarious battle.

P - piercing all shadows with blistering light
the arrows flies high through the perilous night
love, sent in earnest, will always make right
the erroneous aim of its sender.

Q -  then what must we make of the stumbling queen
who gropes in the firelight for answers unseen?
she poisons herself to dismantle the scene
that plays and replays in her memory.

R - ravens assemble all over her chair
and peck at the riches of rags in her hair
tangled in puppetry, courting despair,
her play will crescendo to ruin

S - that's when Seymour appears, his lost sister to claim,
like the monk at his table, he tells her, "don't aim,
how can you see, when you're drowning in shame,
the You that is ancient and without a name?"

T - "Tomorrow torments you and time is the terror,
a watch is the gift that will torture the bearer.
to live is no art -  art is for the pretender
to live, my dear queen, is an act of surrender."

U - "Undo the divisions a hungry heart makes
remember the swans in the uncharted lakes
theirs is a silence that slowly unties
the veil that for so long has covered your eyes"

V -  a veil, she imagined, a veil of lace
with patterns the mind wants to frantically chase
a veil that, though lovely, obscures the true face
of a queen who is yearning to see.

W - who will record the inquiry herein?
all of these questions have answers built in
Wonder is all, and forever has been
the jewel in our cognitive crown

X - sometimes there is simply no need to explain
the sexier side of existence is plain
delicious it is to know pleasure and pain
to court them, but never to marry.

Y - you are the puzzle, you, the perfection
you, the miraculous, living reflection
of everything vast and beyond feeble sight
you are the gravity creature, alight!

Z - like sandbags from magical hot air balloons,
we cut at the rope of our fictions and soon,
there's a You that is ancient and without a name
and zenith and zero are one and the same.