Humanist Voices in Verse: Faur

This week’s poem is by Richard R. Cuyler. He received two degrees in English literature and taught at both the secondary and college level. He has also served on the staff of two university presses. Now retired, he enjoys writing poetry.

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Fauré’s “Sanctus”

I strangled the high blissful note that Sunday.
Our choir had a tenor section: me!
So I was trapped as soloist by default,
my untrained voice some untried recipe.

Those lonely practices with that effulgent
tenor blasting through the tape acclaimed
I was confronting beauty that a solo
makes so intimately joyful.  I aimed

to sing and claim it mine.  Such praise to God
in swelling outburst reassured my flaccid
soul, but this impassioned time – one
of many hungered for – could not outbid

my dogged mind and vault me over to
some settled faith.  I could not repress
those questions with their underlying thrum
of doubts; my spirit had to acquiesce

to quiet reason.  Should I relinquish Fauré’s
Requiem and my soul-owned “Sanctus”?  How might
they stand if I denied their Christian message?
Without my belief how would they still delight?

Then light and truth: The sacred lay in Fauré’s
genius, in the incessant urge to plumb
the heart.  Beauty in all its earthy human
garb can stand without the troublesome

umbilical tie to some higher power.
I secure that “Sanctus” in a secret urn,
a Grecian one like Keat’s, where faithlessness
confronting beauty knows how to discern.

© 2013 Richard R. Cuyler