Frank Corcoran

irish composer

Home » Archive by category "Humble Hamburg Musings" (Page 103)


Crawling on from birth

To stem and leaf and petal

Then comes its glory

Eden was. Now it

Awaits its green transcendence

Our caterpillar

Tensed time is crawling

With the caterpillar´s hairs

Come, God of Insects


The pain is terrific; waiting to get pregnant with the next musical work. eg. for fractal tuning-fork, frogs´real-time chorus and festival orchestra ? Or something smaller, perhaps ? A humble Harp Solo, a miniature Bassclarinet Solo ? But what has been left to say? Sing? ( Have I already sung it ? Self-repetition is no fun. ) There is then another terrific pain, that of waiting for a premiere or crawling towards a work´s performance ( – will they ? won´t they? The money? Where ? Who´ll prepare? )
So there´s two pains now for the price of one.


From the ink-well of the sky trees enjoy now and again a pint in interdendric peace.They slurp, imbibe, quaff that blue-stuff . Great blossomers fill their gobs with heavenly dark juices which angels ( with nothing better to do ) have been quietly brewing for some time now. Trees sate their selves. They grow heavy with clotted goblets . A pint of sky´s your only man, oaks, winking at each other over beaded brims of ink-wells. Californian grand boles let down that liquid, a litre of sky-ooze. Your European dendron´s not far behind as the elms fill parched, treey orifices with watery white-blue on certain days we´ve all had, as a contrast to chlorofilled greens and their woody atmosphere, forests smelling of harmless mushrooms or harmless animals´ spoor in their gloaming.
Out of heavenly vessels that once were on village-children´s pre-Famine desk-tops trees do drink. A lot. Their boles and blossom and fancy foot-work need the dancer´s drought, its satiation. Enough is not enough of the high atmospheric. They enjoy oral and labial quenching, sloughing and guzzling down Heaven’s ink-wells´liquid. Yup !
Trees´beaks love. Trees are deep-down more skim-milk blue than greenish sap. From tap-room to toe-lips rhey crave and slaver. Tiny trees ape their giants´ bibulosity, From high pots trees accept injected true-blue. I thirst.
An elder was heard; a high birch inclined in order to dabble in the real ould mountainy sky-dew. An enormous sky-watcher, perhaps a dinosaur-tree,would go insane for even the lighter stuff, easier to pour, mixed in with skim-milk . Injest, trees. Digest these oaks´ beastings. Make pleasurable drink-smacking up there near your heavenly buckets of this potage. Sip please! No gulping, we´re trees, all arboreality , sylvan or heavy drinkers. Hear the ground-swelling of this oceanic swilling. Look skywards, trees anonymous. From these troughs and those stratospheric wells of ink a mantle of blue for their botanic brewery. Trees tongue their ink as a swaddling child its clouds´ooze. Out of this rarified high air the foggy dew is trees´due. Trees do, yes. Wooden beaks pleasured. Unsawn branches soar towards the bursting amniotic. They empty ink-wells , their very inner veins now very fullish with pan-treey superfluity, almost sick with this heavenly milk. Noble trees, a grá for blob and droplet, the blue dropped note.

QUASI UN LAMENTO ( for my N.S.O.I Concert in Dublin, March 8, 2005 )

If Orpheus had had three saxophones to hand, he also would have availed of their power to mourn. Or an accordeon. Still, it´s important to get rid of the bleating, the whine the old cow died on. Music can lament alright, but it has to get rid of the merely private. While it also affirms, it is bewailing not so much any particular “Dies Irae” as the very passing of the very time of which music is made. Even without the double reeds or any particular register the composer´s plangency begins its unsettling work. In Vasari´s Corridor in the Uffizzi is a fine Roman copy of the Greek original ” Marsyas Being Flayed Alive”. Apollo, a string-player, takes his awful revenge on the poor wind-player. My one-movement work, ” Quasi Un Lamento”, my sound-sculpture, screams , moans; the seven wind-instruments easily overpower anything the four strings can sob; my piano and percussion add a third element of violence. The accordeon at the close can whimper its Requiem “Kyrie”, five tones, Doh-Re-Mi-Fa-Mi, a fundamental archetype of Western music.

And QUASI UN CANTO for Full Orchestra, then. “I don´t like music but I love to sing!” was Leonard Bernstein´s self-protecting spakes on and off television. In “Quasi Un Canto” a prelude ( it doubles at the end as a postlude also ) frames the orchestral song as it unfolds its 5 tones, A,B,C sharp, C,D and E flat in instrumental groups of three ( three trumpets, three flutes, etc. ) and later in groups of four ( celli divisi, etc. )
Hear my song, sardonic, splintered, quasi unisono then. This branches outlegato or blocked or bursting its way through musical space. Harp, piano and a panoply of percussion ( including bodhrá¡n and clashed cymbals to be lowered in a bath-tub of water ) mediate between the ideas which are really one idea. Vertical is horizontal is oblique. This is song, the full throat.




I had been practising that for in or out ( – which ? ) of sixty odd years now. So I studied my profile, seeking to weed out even one weaky candidate in the list of morituri which my face was showing for all of those said and done and well-sung years. I hummed, then I hawed my Urmotiv, that 3-tone cell from which all of life´s lovely algorhythms trip so lightly : Doh, Re, Mi, from

the “Kyrie” of the Mass for the Dead. As I lay so blythely , controlling my breathing, but not yet my last, a pattern seemed to be emerging: shriving memory recalled flawed projects with me, a child in the forties. The anal stage, definitely my force to move the stars. Wiggle the left big toe; I´m still alive.Thanks, doctor, it can´t be too long now. And
you did promise you will say to dying me: ” Bye-bye now!” – Doc. ? You will ? ( And why does it matter so to us, doc., to us the dear departing, I wonder ? But it does…. )
Then I let my old thoughts loose to roam freely around the next storey of the memory-palace which, it seemed was now finishing with the life which I was terminally
considering…. e.g. my plans in them seventies, just before the diving-rudder was jammed forward into a ” down” angle and the Atlantic´s ocean-floor rose hard to greet us both. I dived. Now old wounds can tear the heart no more, apparently, in a cardiology that´s ” uneasy till it rest in Thee.”
( She peeked around the plastic curtain. ” Is your chamber-pot full yet …. ? ” )

Only rhythm remains in the end,the still firing neurons like to report.Take this left big toe, for example, and its world-formula: Let A be any one of your plans.Then let B minus A be the place you finish up in, eg. second place in the under fourteens´ 4-hand reel. That means C is your unknown quantity and it´s equal to B squared x A squared x O which is nought.

Quod erat moriendum. So which of my dying ” I” s was I currently fooling, eh ?

Begob, now just let the big toe dream its non-existent future after its imminent demise, a future world of toelessness, no less, but no longer my future world as seen from the couch I was sprawled on for the very last time. ( I really was, accept it on faith, really dying to die, but, I suppose, I just couldn´t. It does happen…. ) Suffer , ye multiple selves, all my past tenses. Blow, nurse´s bugle! Don´t forget to hoist this hero´s freshly-dead corpse up on its ( I had not prepaid; I forgot; it, too, can happen ! ) ) pyre. Mother had, father went. Meanwhile my toe was registering a great cold. Suppose mother had wanted me to be a Swiss Guard at the Vatican ? The toe, total cold now, had dozed off.
( So this´d be a further deformation of my phylogenetic derailment somewhere back along the furry-hairy parents´ line, is that it, toe ? )
Do it, dier! Like a wind-hoving skier. Now! So I smacked my hand-held piece of druids´holly that the Hospice For The Dying lady recommended for such vespers. Tap on the middle of the branch twice. Then knock once at the left side, druids ? But which banal deity might sidle in ? I did want to hear his god´s approach, her ghostly patter at my crackling fire. Into the intensive care ward padded, it burst Banagher, The Old Piper of Drooling Pentatonic, knobbly knees all blue under his lent kilt. He blew! ” Stop! Dying, I mean! Stop, this instant! Halt your processes! ” My staged thanatology was halted in its tracks; cold the toe, I saw that the fire barely flickered; my white hair stood on end . The hero´s pyre was consuming those ghostly faggots Mr. Yeats had wisely foresung. – Heavens ! Enough is enough! So it was then. So I snorted: ” Enough is enough! I hereby now appoint ME as Myne Lord Self, I designate myself Lord Smart! I am ,
therefore I am ! I will to will ! Remember her birthing , mother, pious he ! Herald, herald this thus! I am who am reclining here and I am about to reclaim my near-gangrenous toe !” In they trotted, mother´s small trooping gods and, of course, his goddesses. Goodly loud brayed the trumpeter, bold as brass , a Swiss Guard, as it happened. Then it happened. A gigantic weakness made my newly deified bladder burst. It put the pyre out.

MAD MARCH HAIKUS – Variations On Issa

Matt, The Thrasher, gave
Her iron-dusted petals.
Their molecules kissed.

This mountain is sick.
Bird, beware all ferritin
Of a high recluse.

The mosquito blood
Sang in the shining syringe
Brown sultry music.

Na cuisleanna ag
Iompar ualaigh dearg na marbh.
Fear bréige órga.

E s´illumina
Il spaventapasseri.
Sera dei morti…

Hear that colour song –
Crimson wine, dark blueberry;
Insects have no blood?

Ease out that rice-plant .
How badly she planted it !
Slowly it rises, green.

Blossoms´ferrous pain
I am a sour-sweet cherry!
Big world now bigger.

Little mountain-bird,
Coo not; woo not my iron
In its thick sick blood.


Dear Dad,

Would you now trot down to me, outta your Heaven and into my splendid Garden, Dad . Praise it and de viper here, you are “a man and not a whinger” , Dad ; laud its lithe, green-and-yellow neck up for divilment , Dad. If that tongue strikes, no more the bittern will cry in my Italian Garden nor will they find lamb or lion in the wild sky. Nor a whinge out of us little five, Dad, no whimper.( I was offered on two altars at one time , I just had to. I had . To. ) .
Cry and we weep alone to a thick barytone smather of God´s rich Italian harmonium : ” Sick est qui tantum ergo “. So c´mon down, Dad, and just accept a little glass of Italian love, a small nip of limoncello to our tangible, yellow success at husbanding and husbandry, Dad , with ripening neighbours; the purple plums may even heal worse, little-known woes.
Dad, ” I hate the sun! ” – will I save this ? Sick were our ” Tantum Ergo”s on the family´s modest harmonium . So, Heavenly Dúidín, it´s our wish, we little five, that you climb down to us in this Magic Garden. We´ll , our turn, be wanting to shin up out of this Italian-balmy air , to glide up from a barytone´s lawn-mower-pride and his sickle and clippers and leather gloves and heavy viper-boots with your jaw-bone in our hand , Dad, as a warning to life and limbo, to five mites´ hopes and fears .
Often was your agathology dressed up, marinated angelology; this garden would like to know how often . In this Lazio evening-glow . Really and truly. Dad, it´s your silence. But my garden. You´re STILL lonely up in that stellar Nunc Stans ? Dad, you gotta be tough to stick that for ever. Up there alone ?
Here I´m alone with our evening-viper. Hello, viper alone, hallo, hallo, alone Dad ; what about The Bonaventuran Light Which Created My Snake ? Not, Dad, that you ” hate the light” ? ( – Bonaventura was a reasonable my-stick, si, sic, and all these boreens of his Jacoponean- Franciscan un-sandled foot-work lead thither et whither and thence nunc. Surely, he was reared under Bagnoregio´s burning, thermonuclear sun.
No sun shone into Tullamore Jail. You told little us nothing. C´mon down now on a sun-ray, Dad, sliding into my viper-garden and forgive ( you have ) your first-born treble singer. Is it Heavenly loneliness gives a little gardener sunny pause. How awful our saintly isle is becaming , Dad, how awe-less its Second Coming, your Hibernia . You sought for Bonaventura, Happy Fra of Happy Light, up above your sunless jail-window, Da, in ( meantime, it was procreate, procreate, procreate, procreate, procreate ) Tulach Mór Jail.
So you don´t miss us five mites.You never did? On occasion – that viper flashed – I miss you, yes. – Dad, suppose YOU are my Heaven fair. Suppose It, You, equals the lonely pain, no Nirvana for Nathair Nimhe in No One´s Heaven, our Dad; it´s Our Total Flop. And yet I´ll put my Seven Last Questions to you, Dad. For a start: 1. Where have all the pixels gone ? Wo sind sie geblieben? ” An bhfaca daoinni´sliabh riamh? ” 2. Who is typing these here questions here on this snowy screen anyhow ? 3. Is Bonaventurean Light even whiter than white ? 4. Who shall ever dare judge the Judge ? 5. Are His daughters beautiful ? 6. Are you allowed to answer these questions, Dad ? – Who´s there stopping you ? 7. Supposing I did get back from you seven answers, Dad, what then ? Would it allow me to compose haptic music ? Would it ? With an inane title like : ” All The People I´ve Slept With Since 1969″, now would it ?