A Dionysia, Part 1

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A Dionysia, Part 1 is a music video for Franz Liszt’s Orpheus, with the beginnings of the first and second elegies of Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Duino Elegies, and with Friedrich Hölderlin’s Hyperion’s Song of Fate from his novel Hyperion.


Liszt, Franz. “Orpheus, S98.” Liszt: Symphonic Poems. Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Michael Halász. Naxos, 1997. CD.


painting by Edvard Munch: The Sun (1911 - 1916)
Edvard Munch. The Sun. 1911 – 1916.

painting by Claude Monet: The Garden at Giverny (1922 - 1924)
Claude Monet. The Garden at Giverny. 1922 – 1924.

painting by Claude Monet: The Entrance to Giverny under the Snow (1885)
Claude Monet. The Entrance to Giverny under the Snow. 1885.

painting by Franz Marc: Deer in the Forest II (1912)
Franz Marc. Deer in the Forest II. 1912.

painting by Pavel Filonov: Formula of the Cosmos (1918 - 1919)
Pavel Filonov. Formula of the Cosmos. 1918 – 1919.

painting by Claude Monet: House of Parliament Sun (1903)
Claude Monet. House of Parliament Sun. 1903.


Rilke, Rainer Maria. The Duino Elegies. Translated by A.S. Kline. Poetry in Translation, 2004. Web. Accessed 6 Jan. 2015. <https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/Rilke.php>.

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic
Orders? And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,
and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry
of a darkened sobbing. Ah, who then can
we make use of? Not Angels: not men,
and the resourceful creatures see clearly
that we are not really at home
in the interpreted world. Perhaps there remains
some tree on a slope, that we can see
again each day: there remains to us yesterday’s street,
and the thinned-out loyalty of a habit
that liked us, and so stayed, and never departed.
Oh, and the night, the night, when the wind full of space
wears out our faces – whom would she not stay for,
the longed-for, gentle, disappointing one, whom the solitary heart
with difficulty stands before. Is she less heavy for lovers?
Ah, they only hide their fate between themselves.
Do you not know yet? Throw the emptiness out of your arms
to add to the spaces we breathe; maybe the birds
will feel the expansion of air, in more intimate flight.

Every Angel is terror. And yet,
ah, knowing you, I invoke you, almost deadly
birds of the soul. Where are the days of Tobias,
when one of the most radiant of you stood at the simple threshold,
disguised somewhat for the journey and already no longer awesome
(Like a youth, to the youth looking out curiously).
Let the Archangel now, the dangerous one, from behind the stars,
take a single step down and toward us: our own heart,
beating on high would beat us down. What are you?

Early successes, Creation’s favourite ones,
mountain-chains, ridges reddened by dawns
of all origin – pollen of flowering godhead,
junctions of light, corridors, stairs, thrones,
spaces of being, shields of bliss, tempests
of storm-filled, delighted feeling and, suddenly, solitary
mirrors: gathering their own out-streamed beauty
back into their faces again.

For we, when we feel, evaporate: oh, we
breathe ourselves out and away: from ember to ember,
yielding us fainter fragrance.



Hölderlin, Friedrich. “Hyperion’s Song of Fate.” The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English. Vol. 4. Translated by Charles Wharton Stork. 1914. Project Gutenberg, 2004. Web. Accessed 6 Jan. 2015. <https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12060>.

[Note: A Dionysia uses the translation cited, but with Hölderlin’s original indentation, and exclamation point in the second line, added to the translation.]

Ye wander there in the light
On flower-soft fields, ye blest immortal Spirits!
Radiant godlike zephyrs
Touch you as gently
As the hand of a master might
Touch the awed lute-string.

Free of fate as the slumbering
Infant, breathe the divine ones.
Guarded well
In the firm-sheathed bud
Blooms eternal
Each happy soul;
And their rapture-lit eyes
Shine with a tranquil
Unchanging lustre.

But we, ‘tis our portion,
We never may be at rest.
They stumble, they vanish,
The suffering mortals,
Hurtling from one hard
Hour to another,
Like waves that are driven
From cliff-side to cliff-side,
Endlessly down the uncertain abyss.