Last weekend I asked my son Jonathan to bring his guitar with him when he and his younger brother came to stay the weekend. There is something that I cannot quite explain, a feeling of peace and security when the people I love are in the house with me, doing what makes them themselves. The boys might be playing a game, maybe Magic, the Gathering. Or Josiah may be studying, or deep into reading, Micah writing at his laptop or in the pages of one of his many journals, Brian at the keyboard playing Lorena McKennitt. And Jon might be listening to music, or strumming on his blue guitar.
This house remains full of all of this artistic and compassionate presence even on quiet weeks like this one when it is just me and Milton the cat. The halls echo with chords and notes, laughter and questions, or just the quiet serenity in the memory of a home full of people who have been reading, writing, playing and creating. Precious reminders that the world remains beautiful (I may have just stolen that from a Richard Blanco poem).
So this flashback contains some still pictures of Jon in his many states of beard-ishness, strumming at the blue guitar. The reading, part of last year’s National Poetry Month series, is cut down to less than five and a half minutes, so if you want the full poem you’ll have to do some searching. Previous links online seem to have vanished, and many places only publish “excerpts” from the original 33 cantos.
For commentary on poet and fellow Pennsylvanian, Wallace Stevens and what he was up to in this poem, please check out the video description on the video’s YouTube page. It’s a fascinating, long piece, a discussion, or perhaps an argument, between the voices of the people, the poet, the narrator, and the “Man with the Blue Guitar.”
But for me, I just like to listen to Jon strum those chords. I think that deep blue instrument was one of the best purchases ever made by this family. “Things as they are changed upon the blue guitar.” It certainly makes them brighter, and even in the shadows, more beautiful, or perhaps it brings out a beauty already there, but overlooked until heard like this.
Thank you, Jon. Play on.