Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Holy Sonnet XIV

In my opinion, the best piece at this year's Festival was the Dr. Atomic Symphony written by my favorite living composer, John Adams. The symphony is excerpted from Dr. Atomic, his three hour opera about the last days before the first A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. It chronicles Dr. Oppenheimer and the other members of the Manhattan Project as they reflect on how the world will change because of their work.

The end of the symphony features a trumpet solo taken from an aria that Oppenheimer sings, using the text below from John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV. Powerful stuff. Read the poem and then watch the aria. It's moving, and when our trumpet colleague performed the solo, people in the audience were crying.

I think this should be the song of every Christian.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.


Sherry C said...

Powerful stuff, Dan.

Scott Lyons said...

Finally got a chance to sit down and listen to this. Very, very moving.