Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Coalescences" by Howard Stein

Howard Stein   

It was not love at first sight --
The main theme stated outright,
Unmistakable from the start.
No, it was hardly discernable
In old-fashioned correspondence,
Letters written on stationery
And mailed across half a continent.

Themes out of the news coalesced
Of our long and busy lives
From bits and pieces of thematic material
Like the beginning of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony,
From fragments of chaos
To the full-blown subject
That could never have been guessed.

Poet's Notes:  Although this poem is about love, it is more about how much of my life seems to work. That is, no big theme that marks a beginning followed by a set of variations. I love classical music, and many composers, such as Brahms, use the theme-and-variations form. On the other hand, Sibelius is the quintessential composer who often starts with fragments and hints and builds up to a climactic statement of the theme.

This poem traces the bits-and-pieces, incremental development of a love relationship in my life. What retrospectively could be construed as inevitability felt more like a surprise when love came to full flower.  It was as if I was the last to know! The poem is about my sense of wonder of how it all happened, and how equally wonderful was the full statement of the theme.

Editor’s Note:  The classical music motif in this poem works well, particularly in the more lyrical (hence musical) parts of the piece.  That the entire piece is not lyrical fits well with the speaker's chaos theory of love if you will.

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