Friday, May 14, 2010

Untraveled Worlds

Inspiration comes from surprising sources. And I continue to marvel at the power of "Shuffle".  By mere chance the songs of life pop up at unanticipated times.  Hitting my stride well today and heading for home on a strong note, my favorite choral group, the Sprague High School Concert Choir, accompanied the last quarter mile of my walk.  It began with stimulating percussion, piano and violin, taking my mind back to the State Choir Championships a few years ago, when Director Russ Christensen pulled out his ace in the hole; a new song the choir had quickly learned to wow everyone at State.  It worked.  I remember feeling thrown back against my chair, breathless from the beauty, majesty, and vigor of this new piece of music, performed by a one-hundred voice choir that was defending its title as State Choir Champions.

The piece that so thrilled my heart that day and likewise swelled it today was "Untraveled Worlds", a new choral number by Paul Halley, with lyrics taken from Alfred Lord Tennyson's masterpiece, Ulysses.   I couldn't find a youtube rendition by the Sprague Choir, but here is one that comes close to their splendor; the BYU-Idaho Collegiate Singers 2009.

Hearing this beautiful music today prompted me to look up Tennyson's poem to read the inspiring words.  What a unique experience to read and identify with Ulysses, one of the greatest adventurers of all time, who isn't ready to be put on the shelf yet.  He still has places he wants to see, experiences he wants to relish, and new worlds he wants to discover.  I have never realized before that in some ways, old Ulysses and I are cut from the same cloth.  We appreciate the experiences of the past, all that we have learned, all that we have suffered and enjoyed, both with those we have loved and also alone.  We dread rusting unburnished, not to shine, from being unused and forgotten.  Bring on new things!  Follow knowledge like a sinking star!  Push off, and sail beyond the sunset!  To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!

Excerpt from Ulysses: ( I encourage you to read along as the choir sings; very inspiring!)
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
life to the lees.  All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
that loved me, and alone...

I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end.
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life!  Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

Come my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are---
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


Erica said...

I LOVE that song! I can hear it now...literally...thanks for the link!

Kim said...

I love the words of this song which I've never heard before. I love thought provoking literature! Thanks for sharing!!

Is that Armand Assante in the picture?