Fauré’s Requiem

By MAxima Kahn

The deer are here, four of them, all does, strolling through the underbrush, munching the tender leaves, picking clean the lowest branches of my flowering pear tree. It has been so long since they have spent time here in the daylight, I am glad to see them and watch their elegant dance among the trees.

I don’t go out on the porch this morning so as not to disturb the deer—and also because it is chillier. I sit inside and listen to Fauré, who takes my breath away with the beauty and perfection of his music. If I could write music like this but relevant to now, if only I could do that, be in that state of grace, what a gift and blessing and offering that would be. I would have to know that was worthwhile, that was enlarging the world, that was magnifying, in a sense, the glory of God, of creation.

Because there it is, this incredible offering. I hear it hundreds (is it hundreds?) of years later and am struck dumb by the silken gorgeousness of it. To give that, what would that be like?

I know you are wondering why I do not write about the appalling injustices going on in the world. What is there to say that would help? I cannot. You may think I am in my bubble, oblivious, talking about deer and Fauré, but far from it. I do what I know how to do. To some, it will seem like nothing, my prayers for peace, my little activism, my efforts at creation, but it is what I have been given to do, what I am capable of now.

I do what I can by speaking out, by living my life with care and simply, by trying to hold up another view, to heal a piece of the world around me. I do not know if I succeed at that, or if it is enough.

Teaching my poetry class last night, offering acceptance, love, tolerance, generosity to the people there, offering the idea of waking up to the world, the idea that each of them is precious and has something unique inside, the idea that we can take care with our world, our immediate world and the little gestures we make in it, and that this attentiveness to the details, this care, is important, matters, means something. We each have our own way. What more can we do than find that way and live it as best we can?

Every single time the soprano comes to her solo, Dona Eis Requiem, I feel like I will split apart from the speechless beauty of it—no matter how many times I hear it. It is nearly unbearable how rapturous and heartbreaking it is. To have written that melody and gotten that performance—what a thing that would be. It is the most perfect moment, the most perfect melody and the soft, low harmony supporting it. What more could you need?

The music moves on, and I can breathe again. But it leaves me feeling empty, wrecked and delirious, like after some profound sexual encounter, but more so, changed forever—even though I have heard it before, many times. That is its particular weird magic.

Music is the most mysterious and amazing thing on Earth. Because it is barely on Earth. It is not an earthly thing, but some other thing, something from another realm visiting us here. Bizarre that it comes through us, such inadequate vessels. I will never understand that. Because it is far greater than us and so far beyond us. And yet there are parts of it so human too, so very much from us, of us, about us. It defies understanding. And isn’t that part of its great beauty and wonder? Doesn’t that very fact make you want to sing and clap for joy?

Fauré’s Requiem—every time I hear it, I think it will almost destroy me with its beauty. Yet, it is intensely pleasurable. What a strange and wonderful paradox. What better could we wish to give our world?


Maxima Kahn lives in the Sierra Nevada in California. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Citron Review, Sweet, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Poem, Borderlands, Wisconsin Review and Spillway, among others. She has twice been nominated for Best of the Net and was a finalist for the Atlanta Review poetry contest. She taught creative writing at the University of California, Davis extension and now teaches workshops privately. She also blogs about artful, soulful living and teaches artists and dreamers how to unlock their creativity and live passionately at BrilliantPlayground.com. You can follow her creative process at Patreon.com/maximakahn.