Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joan Bransfield Graham - ONE LANGUAGE: Listening to Saint-Saens' "The Swan"

Listening to Saint-Saens’ “The Swan”
Joan Bransfield Graham

The cello holds,
curved in its cave,
secrets that the
world would save.

Coaxed to share,
with eager ear—
watch the boundaries

While sighing strings,
harp, violin,
strum on something
deep within,

pluck a faint,
remembered chord,
where our fondest
thoughts are stored.

Notes that capture
wind through trees,
the lull of time,
an autumn breeze.

Rhythms echo,
lift us high--
anticipate . . .

time suspended,
lush terrain—
music’s peaks,
piano rain.

Same planet, sky,
moon, and sun . . .
feel the whole world
breathe as one.

© Joan Bransfield Graham. All rights reserved.

I love Joan Bransfield Graham's poetic paean to music as a universal language. Like poetry, music can pull us all together... but music doesn't have a language barrier. Since she was inspired by and wrote this poem while listening to Saint-Saens' The Swan, I think we should all listen to it... which we can via the magic of YouTube and Yo Yo Ma... and see if we can't find someone to share the combo of music and poetry with, too.

This isn't the first time Joan's mixed poetry and music. In fact, she has a CD called The Song We Chose to Sing that's full of her poetry and her photographs both set to music (and you can see the trailer right here, in fact!). Frankly, I find her poetry itself musical as she weaves words and makes the reader see so clearly (like she did last time she was here with I am the Poem). And that's just one reason I sing with happiness about having Joan Bransfield Graham here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday ended with Alan Katz and 101 Donations. Tomorrow, Francisco X. Alarcón with On Monday I Feel Like a Dragon/El lunes me siento como un dragón!  For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.


tanita✿davis said...

Ooh, Saint-Saëns is lovely in all things; I adore the Carnival of the Animals. It's a poem in notes.

Carol Grannick said... the poem aloud while watching Maya Plisetskaya perform "The Swan" (I have the DVD, but here's a YouTube link:

Nothing like it. Nothing. And this exquisite poem simply makes it even better!

Charles Waters said...

I first became a fan of hers courtesy of Paul B. Janeczko's anthologies and now this poem only deepens my respect for JBG!

Anonymous said...


Elaine Magliaro said...


What a truly love poem! BTW, I love SPLISH SPLASH and FLICKER FLASH. My second graders really enjoyed both books too.

Joan said...

Many thanks to Tanita, Carol, Charles, Catherine, & Elaine for their thoughtful comments. Carol, I appreciate the link to that gorgeous ballet. Elaine, after graduating from college, I taught Second Grade in Cinnaminson, NJ. Kudos to Greg for all the time and effort he puts into this marvelous opportunity to celebrate poetry.