In these last few postings, especially Make It Personal, Part II, it becomes clear that context imparts meaning in a big way. Or, how about that c# minor in the Mozart V concerto (Make It Personal, Part I)? It is dramatic because it breaks in upon this pleasant major (here, the dominant E) tonality…. Context.
The modern biographers worry
“how far it went,” their tender friendship.
They wonder just what it means
when he writes he thinks of her constantly,
his guardian angel, beloved friend.
The modern biographers ask
the rude, irrelevant question
of our age, as if the event
of two bodies meshing together
establishes the degree of love,
forgetting how softly Eros walked
in the nineteenth century, how a hand
held overlong or a gaze anchored
in someone’s eyes could unseat a heart,
and nuances of address, not known
in our egalitarian language
could make the redolent air
tremble and shimmer with the heat
of possibility. Each time I hear
the Intermezzi, sad
and lavish in their tenderness,
I imagine the two of them
sitting in a garden
among late-blooming roses
and dark cascades of leaves,
letting the landscape speak for them,
leaving nothing to overhear.
He was then asked to read it again giving the full title: “Romantics: Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann”
Eureka! The words snapped into focus. With everything we know about these two people, meaning and memories swirled off the page.