Friday, July 1, 2011

Joy in Red, White and Blue

Last year, I decorated a silver convertible in blue letters, silk roses, and flags to ride in the parade. My daughter brought her new favorite toy, vuvuzela (or zuzuvela? - I can never remember the name of this infernal noise maker). We stocked the car with postcards and candy and rolled through the town. The Poet Laureate's crew consisted of: the inspired poet of light, Susan Rogers; my favorite USC Viterbi Chemical Engineering Student, Ania (the best in her department, who just graduated with the Order of Troy and a Ph.D. Scholarship to UC Berkeley); and translator/producer extraordinaire, Elizabeth Kanski.

We wore colorful scarves I had bought in Washington, D.C., and we had so much fun! There were horses, classic cars, firemen, dirt bikes, clowns, civic groups, scouts - and everyone who was not marching in the parade, watched it from the sidelines. Thanks to the Rotary Club's efforts and Ellis Robertson's leadership, we'll have our parade again. Hurrah to Sunland and Tujunga! (I live in Sunland and these are two different little towns in my mind...)

This year, the decorations are not yet done, the poems to give away are not yet printed, but I have a little poem to share, with the best wishes to everyone who truly celebrates the joy of independence, that is the essence of the Fourth of July.

We live in a land of limitless possibilities. Let's be grateful for all our gifts. Our parade goes down the Foothill Blvd., from Mt. Gleason and Summitrose, to Sunland Park. It starts at 10 a.m. See you in the parade!

The Color Guard

Above the hills' crooked spine, clouds dissolve
into the azure. A red rose lazily unfolds its petals.

Mr. Lincoln blossoms by the birch tree,
glowing with the innocence of lost summers.

White bark hides among green leaves.
pale oleander spills over the picket fence,

shines against the deepest blue of the iris.
Its yellow heart matches sunshine's gold

bouncing off the brilliant sphere of stamens
in the bridal silk of matilla poppies.

My garden presents the colors at noon
dressed in the red, white and blue of the flag.

At night, fireworks tear the indigo fabric
into light ribbons and multicolored sparks.

The visual cacophony echoes the loudness
of sound explosions imagined by

that quaint musical genius, Charles Ives.
The orderly march of brass anthems

scatters into the chaos of laughter -
a child's delight - the Fourth of July.

And here's a link to the astounding piece by Charles Ives that I mention in the poem, the best Fourth of July celebration I have ever encountered.

Charles Ives (1874-1954) - The Fourth of July (Third Movement of A Symphony: New England Holidays, 1904-1913)

I do not have the time to dig into my class notes about this piece (my favorite for both music appreciation and history survey classes). Here's the note posted on YouTube by "inlandempires" with the recording:

"A parade of Americana with thematic nods to such popular tunes as Columbia the Gem of the Ocean, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Battle Cry of Freedom, and Yankee Doodle. Probably the most complex and fascinating of the four movements of the "Holidays" Symphony, Ives's Fourth of July takes metrical and motivic play to its outer limits. Commenting in his Memos, Ives wrote, "I did what I wanted to, quite sure that the thing would never be played, although the uneven measures that look so complicated in the score are mostly caused by missing a beat, which was often done in parades. In the parts taking off explosions, I worked out combinations of tones and rhythms very carefully by kind of prescriptions, in the way a chemical compound which makes explosions would be made."

Happy Fourth of July!

1 comment:

  1. Happy 4th to you too, and thank you for the link to the Ives piece.