Friday, June 12, 2009

The official start of summer

Have I had my head buried in the sand for the last few years? How is it possible I have never before heard of Josh Ritter? Better late than never, I suppose. And what better time to discover this ridiculously talented artist then tonight, at the Central Park SummerStage kickoff event.

The charismatic Josh Ritter -- backed by the iconic New York Pops -- accompanied by guest violinist Hillary Hahn -- a gorgeous poem read by author Mark Strand -- and the icing on the cake: a surprise appearance by my favorite contemporary artist, the great Glen Hansard.

Forget Summer Solstice. In my book, the opening of the SummerStage concert series marks the official start to summer. As if on cue, the skies cleared tonight after a long and dreary week of rain. The park filled with adoring fans. Josh and company rocked the stage.

And as I have done so often in the past, I began to wonder how I could ever consider leaving this great city.

Below, the poem read tonight by Mark Strand (accompanied by The Pops):

Black Sea
by Mark Strand

One clear night while the others slept, I climbed
the stairs to the roof of the house and under a sky
strewn with stars I gazed at the sea, at the spread of it,
the rolling crests of it raked by the wind, becoming
like bits of lace tossed in the air. I stood in the long
whispering night, waiting for something, a sign, the approach
of a distant light, and I imagined you coming closer,
the dark waves of your hair mingling with the sea,
and the dark become desire, and desire the arriving light.
The nearness, the momentary warmth of you as I stood
on that lonely height watching the slow swells of the sea
break on the shore and turn briefly into glass and disappear ...
Why did I believe you would come out of nowhere? Why with all
that the world offers would you come only because I was here?

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