The Devil's Bridge

On the Wayside:


always moving, and

living  inside movement. Not the
artful, cyclic, back
and forth
of the migratory birds, but
more the
of a tongue finding its way down

the tangled
streets of peregrine


the fountain's smooth, continuous,
laminar flow, nor
the fractal exuberance of
white water,
but a broken movement of stops and starts,
our passageway to the wayside,
to the
travail of

     these necessary crossings
     of arbitrary borders...

Light. Easy.
Taking refuge among the trees.

The rhythm, of cautious walking,
a weaving
of the unfamiliar and half-
picking up songs as we go like
so many seeds
moving from home to

home on
the wool of our pants.

(Photo: The Famous "Devil's Bridge" in the Schöllenen Gorge, the Alps.  
Click here (or on photograph) for the Devil's Bridge, Historic View )

| go to the musical score for string ensemble: Wanderer: Score |
About Wanderer: Poetry as Movement

Wanderer is the first piece in a cycle of 11 poems called On the Wayside.

Very different in theme and sound than the other texts presented in this collection,
the Wayside poems all share a rather formal, musical use of language.
(Some of these poems have been made into musical compositions. See above.)  

Instead of thinking in terms of meter or beats and the like, with these pieces
the details of rhythm and form emerge out of different qualities of large-scale
movement. This is much like the ripples, splashes and whirlpools on the surface
of flowing water emerge out of the deeper, formative movements of a stream itself.

Briefly, the two most important features of movement which concern me here are: 

(1) What I think of as waves of fluctuating density  which change in recurrent
patterns from low to high and back again:

   *        *       *    *  * * ** ***** *** ** *  *    *       *       *            *                
growing denser...                            ..growing less dense

(2) The movement to and away from centers of attraction:

     >       >       >    >  > > >> >>>>>
0<<<< << <  <    <        <           <              
           moving towards...             center           ...moving away from

The centers of poems are moments or places where meanings converge and
manifest in a musical way. In a longer composition, this is what holds the poem
together, with all the other sounds turning around the center, much like water
turns around the middle of a vortex.  

A poem's center is frequently also the part of the poem we remember first, that
'sticks to us', as it were, much like seeds, while walking along, sometimes attach
themselves to the fabric of our clothing.

While listening to Wanderer, you might notice that the main such center comes,
as I hear it, with:

travail of

     these necessary crossings
     of arbitrary borders..."

It is perhaps a phrase one can ponder. And the rhythm, of course, goes mysteriously
fold into fold:

__  __     __

     __   __ __ __ __   __ ___
     __   __ __ __ __   __ ___.

At the level of the individual sounds or words, there's a kind of geometric
play of one, two, three, five or eight steps (or syllables) to a phrase or line:

__  __
__  __  __
__  __  __ __  __
__  __  __  __  __  __  __  __

And, similarly, there are one, two, three, five or eight lines to a cluster,
grouping or stanza. This is what creates the visual irregularity of the line breaks
in all the poems of this cycle. (Mathematicians may see a certain fractal-like
quality in the patterns, with self-similar movements nested within one another.)

All of this is, of course, is only important from the compositional point of view.
What is of primary significance is the actual movement of meaning in the piece
as it is spoken or heard out loud. At the same time, for those interested in the
meaning of the movement, both as perceived and as conceptualized, this is
the way of looking which underlies the work.

| go to other Wayside poems: On the Wayside | Wanderer: Score | Devil's Bridge, Historic View |
| go to Picture/Poems: Central Display | PicturePage: Week IV |
| Map | TOC: I-IV | TOC: V-VIII | Index | Text OnlyDownload Page | Newsletter | About P/P | About Cliff Crego |

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(Last update: III.5.2002 )