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If Bach Kept Bees*

Translated from the Ukrainian by Olena Jennings


Creaking like hinges and bolts
attached to the shutters —  in a section
Pärt listened to a bee choir enveloped
in a golden translucence in quiet

if the bees grew to love Bach
if the hive was filled with music
he would not have to rely on string bow masts
silk and felt pads

sounds in grooves – in compressed light
in the silver composition of wings
Bach’s love of bees glows
the conductor’s baton is bent

from the synchronization of the bows
from that single movement – mirrored vibrations
a cosmic dust shines all around
and sound smells like ripe feather grass

and it’s totally unknown
how Pärt will get honey from these bees
from the tight strings of horsehair
from pine for shutters and podiums

from those uncertain cosmic movements
disharmony – chaos – darkness
from sharp edges – from round and streamlined –
from where we began

from silence or from a string orchestra?
from a finger against lips – from membranes in ears?
the Book of Judgment or the Book of Ezra?
from the word turned into a spirit?

in “The Passion of Matthew” – the bees
have quiet and heavenly voices
we will never find out
why Bach keeps bees for us

* Arvo Pärt. Wenn Bach Bienen gezüchtet hätte (1976)



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