|Alice Munro - Nobel Laureate|
"A story is not like a road to follow … it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.”
Hooray, Alice Munro, and hooray, Canada!
In Ms. Munro's honor, I'm going to post the lyrics to the unofficial Canadian national anthem, "Hallelujah," a song of Leonard Cohen's, covered by dozens of other musicians. If you've ever sung it in a group setting (as we did during a lecture once at Vermont College of Fine Arts - that was glorious!!) you'll know how mysterious, hard-hitting, prayerful and haunting it is, just like the stories of Alice Munro. Below are the lyrics, but you need to hear this song as it is sung live (that last stanza of hallelujahs!) so here is a link to k.d. lang singing it. It's my favorite version - gad, gad, gad, seriously right.
And the line in it that speaks to the writing of Alice Munro?
"There's a blaze of light in every word...."
I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
There was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
[P.S. Just want to add, for the record, that there are apparently 28 verses to this song - not sure if anyone has ever recorded all 28...? k.d. lang doesn't sing all the verses I have up in the post - if anyone hears of someone singing a much longer version, please drop me line at the email address above. I'd love to hear. For now, k.d. lang in Montreal is as close to a perfect fit (singer to song) as it gets.]
The Poetry Friday round-up is hosted today by Laura Purdie Salas over at her blog, writing the world for kids. Head over there to see what other people have posted.
Wow, I never saw the lyrics written out before! All I ever caught of the song was one or two lines and the haunting chorus.ReplyDelete
The quote from Munro is quite poetic, isn't it? Thanks for finding it for us!
This is the perfect post -- the song, the lyrics, Alice Munro!ReplyDelete
Great tribute to Alice Munro, Julie. I love K.D. Lang; have seen her perform in person twice, but not this song. Soulful, stirring, and very prayerful. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Yes! A blaze of light in every word! Alice Munro tries to capture that and I think we, as poets, do too. Love, love, love Hallelujah. I never knew all these lyrics, only a few verses, so thanks for posting! An amazing song to be sure.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing this. I too love the K.D. Lang version, though it's hard not to think of Shrek now when I hear it!ReplyDelete
Good grief, I still remember the first time I heard this song. It's one that just echoes down deep.ReplyDelete
What a great thing to compare with Alice Munro's win!
Love to see my flag waving on your site! I was totally thrilled when I heard about the Alice Munro win.ReplyDelete
I read my first Alice Munro story when I was helping with a Scholastic book fair at our school many years ago. For some reason, a copy of one of her books of short stories was also on the table (though this was an elementary school) and when the customer traffic petered out, I began reading one of the stories. Of course it was time to go before I got done, and so I was thrilled when the teacher in charge offered me that I could take any book as a thanks for my help. Guess which one I took!
"And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"
Thanks for all of the lyrics. I don't think I'd ever seen them before. I'm not sure the song makes any more sense to me, but I still love to sing along. It's definitely worth the hallelujahs at the end!!
Julie, this is one of my favorite songs in the whole world. Like Diane, I've never looked at the lyrics written out (though I knew them). All last summer, this was the yoga cool-down song in my zumba class. I looked forward to it every time--and then I found tears in my eyes while doing dancer pose. Kind of a perfect moment, actually, though a little embarrassing! Something about the way the line "It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah" sums up heartbreak... Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
I'm so happy about this celebration of Alice Munro. Heard about while reading the last story of her collection from some years back, the title with a long list of words including Happiness, and one of the best stories with cancer in it ever. Leonard Cohen is the perfect way to sing her honor.ReplyDelete
I was happy to hear that Munro got the award. Love this song and surprised to hear it has 28 verses!ReplyDelete