After Danse Russe*

After Danse Russe* May 8, 2012

A hundred years ago, a composer

wrote music about a puppet who

comes alive when his strings are

cut. Then a poet who delivered

babies wrote a poem stirred by

the same thing; confessing to his

grotesque loneliness, to his tangle

of strings in the middle of the day.

And I confess to my own blunt

meanderings like a bear without

food in a glass forest. Forget being

original. If cut free, we are drawn

to the Origins where the arrhythmia

of being awake and alive at the same

time forces the heart to stop ever so

briefly when we realize we are all

alone and yet never alone. All of

us puppets dreaming of no strings.


*William Carlos Williams wrote his poem Danse Russe (French for Russian Dance) in 1917. The poem centers on a puppet who comes alive once his strings are cut and Williams’ poem speaks to his own coming alive in a moment of solitude. It is interesting that the ballet Petrushka was debuted in 1911 by The Ballets Russes (French for The Russian Ballets); the legendary, itinerant ballet company directed by Sergei Diaghilev between 1909 and 1929. The original music for Petrushka was composed by Igor Stravinsky. Petrushka is a traditional Russian story of a puppet who comes to life.

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