{poetry friday: bach inventions}

I love J.S. Bach’s musical “inventions,” which are short compositions which Bach composed for his students to learn keyboard mastery. They’re logical… in the way that scales are, with each note coming properly after the next, and coming into a lovely, restful conclusion… and they’re also… complex. I ran across a poem about them, and it just… sings. Don’t we all wish our busy, complex, chaotic lives were made into something so orderly and wise?

Bach Invention

by Jane Tyson Clement

If I could live as finished as this phrase,
no note too strong; each cadence purposed, clear,
the logic of the changing harmony
building and breaking to a major chord
strangely at home within a minor web
of music; if I could define my end,
from the beginning measures trace my course,
I might be old and prudent, shown by laws
how to devise a pattern for my days
and still be free, unhampered, yet refined.

He sat before the keys and turned the notes
into a fabric of design and peace;
here are the notes, the keys, my fingers free
to run them through their course, and here my mind
seeing his wisdom work within the chords,
finding his knowledge in the finished line.
I would be wise if such restraint were mine.

1939
Smith College, Massachusetts

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone which is a most provocative blog name! Have a good weekend – rest and reorganize.

7 Replies to “{poetry friday: bach inventions}”

  1. I’m not a fan of Bach nor most classical music, which is surprising, given how much I love order and patterns and things like that. Beautiful poem! I esp liked “strangely at home within a minor web
    of music.” I love the language, and it also resonated because I gravitate toward music in minor keys:>)

  2. Tanita, you and Bach’s interventions prompted me to write a golden shovel from your poem. I used this wonder strike line, “if I could define my end,” to bring the muse to my desk. Thanks for inspiration on this Sunday morning.

    Within the hustle of a day, if
    life was simply organized and I
    as well, balance would follow. Could
    order bring me to a place where I define
    existence in this odd quarantine life and fill my
    restless time with fruitful ponderings that never end?
    Β©CV, 2020

    Now off to leaving Bach in the background, inspiring me to organize yet another closet for our major life move.

  3. So after I read your post I looked for Bach’s Inventions, forgetting what they are until I began listening. I think that will be my music for the day, Tanita. Perhaps, along with the poem’s wishes, I will strive to “live as finished as this phrase”. Thank you for a post that will continue on with me!

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