Nov 12 2009
3rd re-write of the Speech and the last, I think…
CRITICISM is very welcome. Thank you.
Cymbals for thunder!
Father. Father! Yet not a word leaves my lips. A clash of dissonance sounds in my ears as the rain cruelly lashes at my already damp clothes, pulling my bonnet tight under my chin! A crackling, twisted fork of lightning leaps to the ground, and the sky, the air rumbles. The hem of my dress progressed from baby pink to sludge and mud. The country path is now streaming with little rivers, yet father is still moving forward with his purposeful stride, his back rigid, hands clasped behind his back, moving away from me. I splatter clumsily through the puddles, the four year old I am, trying to catch up to the imposing figure.
Stunned, I suck little sips of air into my squashed lungs. I lie in the mud, a ditch at the side of the road, my chubby fingers sinking into the sludge, the same colour my hair must be now. Struggling mightily, I try clawing out of the gully, bruising my hands, freezing my legs and arms. Scraping my chin, I drag myself out, desperately, wildly looking. A silhouette of a man of stone steadily strode away. He won’t wait. Sprinting as fast as my short legs could carry me, I splashed down the road, finally catching up to father. He does not stop, but inspects me while walking. His flinty eyes bore into mine. You’ll do. They said. You’ll do.
That is my first memory of father and of coldness and loneliness. He could be warm too, but he must try very hard when he needs to be. Though he pushed me beyond imagination, he was the man who taught me what my soul was made of. Music. My imagination can picture no fairer happiness than to continue living for art. Art is a fine gift! Music is the very air I breathe. What, indeed, is finer than to clothe one’s feelings in music, what a comfort in time of trouble, what pleasure, what wonderful feeling to give happy hours to so many people! And composing, to create! There is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound.
It has been this since I was two. I learned the language of music before I learned German. Not a word left my lips until I was four, but to me, music was my mother language. My father, though he was controlling, I have to admit, he gave me that gift. C he played. My eyes still level with the keyboard, my arms at my side, still, listening. C he said, C for Clara. I pushed down on the white block. And my heart leapt. And I smiled for the first time.
And Robert. Robert Schumann. My husband. Father tried to keep us apart, violently, which won him a year in jail for slandering viciously about us. We won against father…in court. He is the past, the toil and anger has washed away. I need not look back. Robert and I live in our new home. I am trying my hand at cooking, burning the coffee and over boiling the water –can you even do that? –burning the breakfast eggs, (we hired a cook after that) and almost burning down the house when Robert gives me a goodnight kiss. My belly is round with a…another child, and my mind full with love and Robert’s compositions. Robert’s music can induce me to tears; induce our cook to tears, sobbing on supper while listening through the ceiling. That is what I must remember, that though there are difficult times, he is still that genius, he can create such heavenly strains of harmony and melodies that intertwine with our very souls.
In the end, my own melody is still lost, wandering in that awfully large, crazed symphony of the world. I try to understand the very silken threads of a melody our souls are woven from, a clashing dissonance with someone else’s, or perhaps a sudden fit of perfect harmony with a loved one. Music is the very air I breathe. And with it, I will conduct my own life. Perhaps not alone though, but with one hand in Robert’s and the other in my children’s, I will let the music pull me forward, I need not look back.