Writings About Music

Allen and William and James

I read online how someone sought to resurrect a person dear with music. Just recently, I was asked where a title of a new composition had come from. "A poem by Allen Ginsberg," I replied, but I didn't know what poem. I had skimmed through a number of poetry books, both Chinese and English, searching for words that connected with my new piece, finding "celestial crocodile".

Celestial Crocodile and Honu Morning album

As it turns out, spurred by the question, I found the poem. Ginsberg had been in Benares when word of his mentor passing came. This was William Carlos Williams, who exerted a powerful influence upon Ginsberg. And so, he wrote "Death News" in lyrical response in 1963. Now, I feel a connection to Williams too, already having one for Ginsberg since my teenage years. We are all connected to all the terrible violence occurring too. 

His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. Its something I first read in high school, but there was no resonance until a few years later when it hit me like a snowstorm upon rereading one night. 

There is no snow or rain to speak of here in California. Those things have been choked because it has proven too great an effort for our civilization to change in order to save our earth. We feel no resonance with those who might follow us if they had a world to live in. It was stunning to read Yale historian Timothy Snyder's perspective on climate change.

The passage quoted two paragraphs above is the ending of a short story by James Joyce, presenting a powerful affirmation of life beyond foolish egos and selfishness. Let's listen to the wisdom of artists like Joyce, Ginsberg and Williams so others may listen too one day beyond us. Let's make the changes as brilliantly as Charlie Parker and Lee Konitz.

Not being entirely an angel, there are self-centered motives too. I hope future peoples (including the Chef of the Future) will hear my music like everyone else who composes.

- Michael Robinson, July 2016, Los Angeles


© 2016 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer.