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Words Without Music

ISSUE:  Autumn 1944

(Symphony No. I, Opus 10, by Dmitri Shostakovitch) WH0 calls here? What strange hunter
in what strange land? Out of the dismal plains,
The endless, reaching plains that never reach,
His horn call sounds. Is this The voice of the past, the future?
It is all ages, a voice Vibrating the halls of time,
Shaking the skies of tomorrow;
And yesterday and tomorrow cry back.
The throbbing primeval drum shouts out its message
Of wild-eyed dances and naked limbs,
Of earth and the deathless life in earth.
Then, from the future, faintly at first,
But swelling from a pin-point note,
The glittering, scathing sword—
The sword by which man seeks to wrest
His destiny—crashes through the earth,
Slashing its face like a scythe.
The shriek of the sword resounds, re-echoes,
Sinking to a murmur.
Then, behind The noisome din, submerged, but now resurgent,
The sturdy pedal-point arises, phoenix-like,
To cry the nature of the elements.
Oh timeless voice of the hunter, call again!


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