I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.
My song resounds within a cloistered chamber. Set free, it might expire, like a fragile bird, on frosted thorns beneath the window.
How shall I cross the gulf between you and me without a Voice? A signature Voice, with a timbre, tone and inflection of its own, forged in grief and guilt, and tempered by the joys and blisses of my moments? A Voice, which, because it is authentic, steels me with hope and courage. I am God's creation. And so are you.
I must learn the art of listening, of crafting sentences for ears tuned into the zeitgeist and assumptions of our present world, our language and distracted themes. I must remember that cadence creates its own dynamic. Which is good. For you have not seen me coming. My word images will project onto the blank screen of your mind and they must be as finely-honed as I can make them, minimalist, many say, but as natural as the rhythm of the sea. Then I shall hope that the strings of your spirit will be touched, and that some vibrant echo will linger when my Voice is no longer a memory.
This is the singer's challenge. And the writer's, profoundly so.We all have gifts. What can we bring?
But when you feel you have no song to sing, perhaps you should examine your life for its abundance of blessings. A bird may sing on winter thorns when there is only ice to slake his thirst.
A few quotes from those who have practised these arts and know how the senses may flow into one stream.
Of course, there are those critics—New York critics as a rule—who say, Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer. Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
Maya Angelou, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings**
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.
I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.
I would like to paint the way a bird sings.
Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.
Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
Singing is a way of escaping. It's another world. I'm no longer on earth.
Sweetest the strain when in the song /The singer has been lost.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (Ward)
God respects me when I work; but God loves me when I sing.
Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing/A tone Of some world far from ours, /Where music and moonlight and feeling /Are one.
Percy Bysshe Shelley.
** (Interview: The Paris Review)