‘Alma redemptoris mater’ antiphon
The Hilliard Ensemble
to seal whats unwritten
You’re coming, are you, downdrifting light?
Fingers, waxen as well,
strange and aching rings.
Fingertips melter away.
You’re coming, downdrifting light?
Clock’s honeycomb empty of time,
bees myriad bridelike,
ready for flight.
Come, downdrifting light.
‘You know that when the eyes stop being directed at objects whose colours are in daylight, and turn to those whose colour are lit by the lights of the night, they are dimmed, and become virtually blind, as if there was no clear sight in them.’
‘They certainly do.’
‘Whereas when they are directed at things whose colours have the light of the sun shining on them, they see distinctly. The same eyes now manifestly do have sight in them.’
‘You can look at the soul in the same way. When if focuses where truth and that which is shine forth, then it understands and knows what is sees, and does appear to possess intelligence. But when it focuses on what is minded with darkness, on what comes into being and is destroyed, then it resorts to opinion and is dimmed, as its opinions swing first one way and then another.’
from Plato’s Republic
Tomás Luis de Victoria
Kyrie from Missa Gaudeamus
The Cardinall’s Musick
No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new. Whoever has approved this idea of order, of the form of European, of English literature, will not find it preposterous that the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past. And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities. [..] He must be quite aware of the obvious fact that art never improves, but that the material of art is never quite the same. He must be aware that the mind of Europe—the mind of his own country—a mind which he learns in time to be much more important than his own private mind—is a mind which changes, and that this change is a development which abandons nothing en route, which does not superannuate either Shakespeare, or Homer, or the rock drawing of the Magdalenian draughtsmen. That this development, refinement perhaps, complication certainly, is not, from the point of view of the artist, any improvement. [..] But the difference between the present and the past is that the conscious present is an awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past’s awareness of itself cannot show.
Some one said: “The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.” Precisely, and they are that which we know.
T. S. Eliot, from the Tradition and the Individual Talent.