Tuesday 18 January 2022

'They lost the off switch in my lifetime...'

Sitting in the lobby of a chain hotel, fresh from sitting in a chain café, and all the time accompanied by a soundtrack of non-stop 'music' (and occasionally music), I happen on this poem by Les Murray:

Music to Me Is Like Days

Once played to attentive faces 
Music has broken its frame 
Its bodice of always-weak laces 
The entirely promiscuous art 
Pours out in public spaces 
Accompanying everything, the selections 
Of sex and war, the rejections. 
To jeans-wearers in zipped sporrans 
It transmits an ideal body 
Continuously as theirs age. Warrens 
Of plastic tiles and mesh throats 
Dispense this aural money 
This sleek accountancy of notes 
Deep feeling adrift from its feelers 
Thought that means everything at once 
Like a shrugging of cream shoulders 
Like paintings hung on park mesh 
Sonore doom soneer illy chesh 
They lost the off switch in my lifetime 
The world reverberates with Muzak 
And Prozac. As it doesn’t with poe-zac 
(I did meet a Miss Universe named Verstak). 
Music to me is like days 
I rarely catch who composed them 
If one’s sublime I think God 
My life-signs suspend. I nod
It’s like both Stilton and cure
From one harpsichord-hum:
Penicillium –
Then I miss the Köchel number.
I scarcely know whose performance
Of a limpid autumn noon is superior
I gather timbre outranks rhumba. 

I often can’t tell days apart 
They are the consumers, not me 
In my head collectables decay 
I’ve half-heard every piece of music 
The glorious big one with voice 
The gleaming instrumental one, so choice 
The hypnotic one like weed-smoke at a party 
And the muscular one out of farty 
Cars that goes Whudda Whudda 
Whudda like the compound oil heart 
Of a warrior not of this planet.

1 comment:

  1. Always a joy to encounter a new (to me) Murray poem. Thank you