No critic's sneering hate for life and skill Can penetrate the rapture you conveyed In raging passion shaped by human will, A sacrament in breathless serenade. You sang each word as if with final breath; Your song remains, a voice transcending death. (Read more...)
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These are some of the most eloquent words ever penned about Mario Lanza. And they are particularly timely, not just in light of James' masterful essay above, but as a withering retort to recent twitterings on this forum that Lanza lacked artistic integrity. "Such aching height...You lived for this, and knew no other terms." Bravo, David!!! (And where, oh where, did you vanish to??!!)
David, as someone who likes Tennyson, Kipling, Longfellow, E.B. Browning and other really good poetry, I tend to seldom like Objectivist art, poetry, fiction which usually falls an order of magnitude below those very high standards.
But this is a really superb poem.
It is one that will someday become a classic. It is heartelt and striking in images and not unimaginative Randish copying.
You really need to publish this for the widest possible audience! Don't let it fade away.
Yes, I know the pomos and cynics and jaded hipsters will say it's old-fashioned in style, too emotional, direct and clear in style, positive in tone, hero-worshipping, and with no sense of loss or degradation.
At the time David wrote this, I was especially moved by his line: "You sang each word as if with final breath ..."
This, of course, was an allusion to Mario's musical credo, "I sing each word as though it were my last on earth." That always inspired me, & to my great joy I have Mario saying those words on tape. Seeing them so lovingly captured, when David sent me the poem, just broke me up.
Overall, I remain in awe that someone just 22 years old, as David was at the time, could produce such a masterpiece.
I already complimented this wonderful poem very highly when it was first posted [post #3].
...But I do have one criticism regarding "For Mario Lanza":
"No critic's sneering hate for life and skill" is the single line that does not fit. Better would be (for example): "No critic's casual indifference."
"Sneering hate" is an awkward Objectivist cliche. And most people or critics don't necessarily -hate- Mario Lanza or other great sense of life experiences. That's too strong a statement. They are uncomprehending or untouched or non-heroic in their own emotional reactions. (Moreover, sneering and hate are two different reactions. The first is belittling and the second usually involves taking something more seriously...you don't sneer at things you react strongly enough against to hate and vice-versa.)
More important, this one line will dilute the impact and prevent ordinary, non-Objectivist people from responding to this poem. It dilutes the positiveness and rapturousness of the response by turning to a single negative line which doesn't fit the rest of the poem in *tone* or spirit.
It's an uplifted, exuberant, rapturous poem. Don't let a single shadow or doubt or hint of negativity fall within it. It's sort of like the description of the Concerto of Deliverance ( the rising...the essence and form of upward motion)- you wouldn't want to mix into the same paragraph any acknowledgement or mention that 'some people disagree...'.
I don't know about Lanza critics, but I've read many reviews where the critics make no bones about their hate of the subject. Rand critics are one example, and Rock magazines are especially cruel towards progressive rock and Rush in particular for being too skilled, pretentious, musical even. The contempt exists.
"'Sneering hate' is an awkward Objectivist cliche. And most people or critics don't necessarily -hate- Mario Lanza or other great sense of life experiences. That's too strong a statement. They are uncomprehending or untouched or non-heroic in their own emotional reactions. (Moreover, sneering and hate are two different reactions. The first is belittling and the second usually involves taking something more seriously...you don't sneer at things you react strongly enough against to hate and vice-versa.)."
How wrong you are, Phil!!! Lanza remains the most vilified operatic singer who ever lived. (For an example of what he was up against, read my essay here:
In Lanza's lifetime, his critics were merciless (and almost destroyed him), and although much smaller in number now, they're still very much around. Just go on to any opera forum and mention his name; you'll soon be met with catcalls. His critics will either denounce him as "the most tasteless singer who ever lived" (to quote a prominent member of the City of New York University's Opera-L forum), or - when confronted with examples of his great singing - they'll change tack and say, "Oh, well, his voice was too small for the stage...he couldn't even be heard from Row K" - a preposterous statement. The glee that greeted his death in certain quarters was almost palpable: Time Magazine sneered and said, "Well, his voice had been tarnished for years anyway," and critics such as Leslie Mallory prophesied that, "The music world will little note nor long remember Mario Lanza's contribution to vocal splendour."
Lanza's critics exemplify what Rand called the "hatred of the good for being the good."