Today's piece of music by Hector Berlioz is from Harold in Italy. You can listen to the First Movement of Harold In Italy here. I like the part featuring the viola. Here is Wikipedia's article on Harold in Italy. You can also listen to the entire work here. You may also want to pursue the poem that this work is named for Childe Harold's Pilgrimage by Lord Byron and the poem itself - Gutenburg Project's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. I haven't read this poem yet, but it may see if I can find time yet this week.
Our poem this week by Robert Browning
What a pretty tale you told me Once upon a time --Said you found it somewhere (scold me!) Was it prose or was it rhyme, Greek or Latin? Greek, you said, While your shoulder propped my head.Anyhow there's no forgetting This much if no more, That a poet (pray, no petting!) Yes, a bard, sir, famed of yore, 10 Went where suchlike used to go, Singing for a prize, you know. Well, he had to sing, nor merely Sing but play the lyre; Playing was important clearly Quite as singing: I desire, Sir, you keep the fact in mind For a purpose that's behind. There stood he, while deep attention Held the judges round, 20 --Judges able, I should mention, To detect the slightest sound Sung or played amiss: such ears Had old judges, it appears!
None the less he sang out boldly, Played in time and tune, Till the judges, weighing coldly Each note's worth, seemed, late or soon, Sure to smile "In vain one tries Picking faults out: take the prize!" 30 When, a mischief! Were they seven Strings the lyre possessed? Oh, and afterwards eleven, Thank you! Well, sir,--who had guessed Such ill luck in store?--it happed One of those same seven strings snapped. All was lost, then! No! a cricket (What "cicada"? Pooh!) --Some mad thing that left its thicket For mere love of music--flew 40 With its little heart on fire, Lighted on the crippled lyre. So that when (Ah joy!) our singer For his truant string Feels with disconcerted finger, What does cricket else but fling Fiery heart forth, sound the note Wanted by the throbbing throat? Ay and, ever to the ending, Cricket chirps at need, 50 Executes the hand's intending, Promptly, perfectly,--indeed Saves the singer from defeat With her chirrup low and sweet. Till, at ending, all the judges Cry with one assent "Take the prize--a prize who grudges Such a voice and instrument? Why, we took your lyre for harp, So it shrilled us forth F sharp!" 60 Did the conqueror spurn the creature Once its service done? That's no such uncommon feature In the case when Music's son Finds his Lotte's power too spent 65 For aiding soul development. No! This other, on returning Homeward, prize in hand, Satisfied his bosom's yearning: (Sir, I hope you understand!) 70 --Said "Some record there must be Of this cricket's help to me!" So, he made himself a statue: Marble stood, life size; On the lyre, he pointed at you, Perched his partner in the prize; Never more apart you found Her, he throned, from him, she crowned. That's the tale: its application? Somebody I know 80 Hopes one day for reputation Thro' his poetry that's--Oh, All so learned and so wise And deserving of a prize! If he gains one, will some ticket When his statue's built, Tell the gazer "'Twas a cricket Helped my crippled lyre, whose lilt Sweet and low, when strength usurped Softness' place i' the scale, she chirped? 90 "For as victory was nighest, While I sang and played,-- With my lyre at lowest, highest, Right alike,--one string that made 'Love' sound soft was snapt in twain Never to be heard again,-- "Had not a kind cricket fluttered, Perched upon the place Vacant left, and duly uttered 'Love, Love, Love,' whene'er the bass 100 Asked the treble to atone For its somewhat sombre drone." But you don't know music! Wherefore Keep on casting pearls To a--poet? All I care for Is--to tell him that a girl's "Love" comes aptly in when gruff Grows his singing, (There, enough!)