Wednesday, February 17, 2010

how lovely are thy dwellings, jacob


“How lovely are thy dwellings, Jacob!” this was said
by Balaam in the wilderness, and then by Brahms,
who requiesced. Can we afford to go ahead,
converting them to condominiums lacking charm?

I do not live in any condominium when
I listen to the lovely music Brahms once wrote,
for listening to his two sextets I feel again
like Israelites in tents that led to Balaam’s quote.

This poem’s first quatrain was written on 1/31/07. The second was added on 2/17/10 after hearing a performance of the first Brahms sextet on KUSC. Linda responded with her most movingly plaintive lines cited below, and I have added my response to her hers.

Linda’s response to the poem was:

Oh let us dwell within our tent
and not depart for lack of corn or gold,
for wherewithal was here but then it went,
and we will lose our Eden as of old.

Linda’s poem is extremely moving, and elicits this response:

The tent remains, because it’s not prefab-
ricated out of stone and wood, but love,
transformed by it into a holy tab-
ernacle, not for raven but for dove.

My friend Bill Goldstein sent me a lovely composition he wrote to the words “How Lovely Are Thy Dwelling, Jacob,” to commemorate his beloved bother Jay, sung, I believe, by Avshalom Katz.


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