HOPKINS AND MUSIC
The American Ballet
By ERN:EST MOSS
Last week we side-tracked a consideration of Hopkins and music by a discussion of some points of contact between music and poetry in general.
Here are some of the interesting points about Hopkins and music made by John Waterhouse in Music and Letters.
The attraction of music for Hopkins, an attraction sufficiently strong that " during the last ten years of his lire" he had riven as much of his energy and scanty spare time to music as he gave to poetry" lay in its detachment from the strife of the moral sphere.
Great music," Hopkins believed, " is a pure product of the inscape '—the .' make of man,' the 'ruder-rounded rind.' But it is with the individual self, which is tested by its use of the inscape it wears, that freedom of play and moral responsibility lies. In the creation of music this self has, or should have, no share.
" Man composes music by compulsion of the nature which he wears, sweeps what scope he is to sweep, and must obey," and " as Mrs. Duncan-Janes has pointed out in the fullest and best piece of Hopkins' criticism which has appeared so far, this urge towards music was akin to what is symbolized by the poet's love for dappled things,' to the agonised shrinking from an ultimate world of sheer white and black, right and wrong, which finds such powerful expression in 'Spelt from Sibyl's Leaves.'"
Probably, also, to his intense delight in organised pattern for its own sake, whether spatial or temporal, which is such a recurrent theme in his nature, descriptions and reflections (Note-books and Papers) appear most obviously in the concentration and cohesion of the technical resource of his poetry.
Hopkins told Bridges, who "persisted in getting the Purcell sonnet inside out: 'by the by, your remark on Purcell's music does not conflict with what my sonnet says, rather it supports it. My sonnet means "Purcell's music is none of your d—d .subjective rot " (so to speak). Read it again.'"
The Waterhouse article goes on to bring evidence that Hopkins's musical experiments and theorisings back up the view that " there was no hint of the charletan or mere iconoclast in Hopkins's eagerness to he an innovator: it was a reflection of his continuous search to find his trueand peculiar function in the active life."
There are other stimulating articles in this quarter's Music and Letters.
The American Ballet
I went last week to see the Philadelphia Ballet at the Hippodrome. One must not expect to find a severe and polished style. The company appears frankly to set out to produce light entertainment in ballet form.
The stories are easy to follow and the stage is continually filled and full of incident. The music does not need concentration. The company shines most in Terminal, a satire on the sort of American Life which is so familiar as to have grown stale.
I recommend those who think ballet is too much to stomach to try breaking themselves in at the Hippodrome.