comfort of home & Britten’s Phantasy

The “phantasy” referred to in this poem is the Phantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings, Op. 2, by Benjamin Britten. My daughter played this piece in her senior recital at Oberlin. (This You Tube recording is not her, but is very beautifully performed.)

A phantasy is playing
too quiet to hear
until I use my heart
to really listen

Spirits lifted by pure sound
I arrive just in time
to turn around and go again
until I can’t tell where

Is this home?
It looks familiar through the tears,
but I cannot stay long –
it is time to run back
to the song that is my real home,

where I can rest unafraid
to greet the sadness
awaiting with sweet comfort
upon my return

Poem ©Daniel von der Embse

going on a bit more about john cale


The other day I posted a video of John Cale performing Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night set to music. Then today I read The Ambassador of China, a poem by k.a. brace. That got me thinking again of John Cale, and his haunting song The Chinese Envoy. I am always surprised at how many people have never heard of Cale, or are vague about him. He is one of the most influential figures in popular music of the late 20th century. He came onto the scene as a member of The Velvet Underground, a band that I must confess held little sway for me. I listened to Cale’s solo work a bit while in college, but never got into it deeply. I rediscovered him some 40 years later and continue to be amazed at the depth of his talent as a musician and writer. It was during a period of personal crisis that I got interested in Cale’s work, and I found much to relate to in his personal story. Many people tell me they find my work very dark, and I suppose it is no coincidence that I love the darkness of Cale’s lyrics. He is now in his 70s and lives in Los Angeles, and is still working, still making music.