Burk Reacts to Orpheus with a Sonata For English Horns

NOTE: The following is from Burk Ketcham. I simply posted it here for him. — Ron


Even though I found our February book (Orpheus, Song of Life) to be a difficult read, the discussion was enlightening.  Sid asked why the Orpheus mythology has been used and had endured in so many different ways over the years. Nobody appeared to have an answer.  I felt that the author used everything Orphic she could find and dumped it into her book.  Sometimes, less is more!

One plus out of all this was David’s mention of Orphism, an artistic offshoot of Cubism.  Since I am trying to improve my artistic skills and knowledge,  I went to the web and discovered that Robert Delaunay was a  master of Orphism.  I had seen and liked his art in the past but did not know it was of any school of art.  A couple of the original paintings I did for seasonal greeting cards last year might be classed as Orphism.  It is a stretch to connect the Orpheus myth to the art produced by Delaunay but does it matter?  His art seems to use contrasting colors to advantage in abstractions.  I like that and, who knows, I may embrace Orphism.

Several years ago I wrote the following poem which may have had an unintended  link to the mythology of Orpheus:




I have a question my good friend

What if all the leaders of the world

Had to learn to play the same musical instrument

Which one would be most conducive to peace?


That is an interesting question

And I will ask around.

As to the least belligerent in sound

The harp quickly comes to mind


Then good fortune struck

And I found myself being driven to

A Cuban briefing session in Seattle

By the conductor of the Northwest Sinfonietta


Christophe Chagnard gave it some thought

And agreed that the harp was right up there

In the class of instruments non belligerent

But had another to propose.


That is the English horn

Of mellow and plaintive tone and

Originally named engellisches horm

Or angelic horn


Thank you Christophe and now to the UN

To require that all world leaders must

Learn to play the English horn

Or face humanity’s scorn


Our president is complying

While our military industrials

And their Congressional lackeys

Beat the drums of war.


Fidel Castro had this to say

I refuse to comply

As my beard would get in the way

And you can’t take that away


But I predict that some day

All world leaders will converge

To play my

Sonata for English Horns


And finally

We will have peace


Burk Ketcham



About Ron Boothe

I am a Professor Emeritus at Emory University, currently living in Tacoma Washington USA.
This entry was posted in 2015 Selections, Orpheus, Song of Life. Bookmark the permalink.

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