quietly we become audience — Hilary Tann Frogpond 27.1
Danny Blackwell ponders sound and silence:
While preparing this week’s re:Virals I learnt, as did some others who have contributed comments, that the author of the haiku under discussion is a musician, and I just noticed that each line has 3 syllables, and the haiku has the effect of sounding, to my ear at least, as a run of triplets. Even taking into account the possible pauses between lines, the lines still tend to have a feel of triplets because of the natural rhythms and stresses of the English language. This is not, however, something I noticed during the many readings I made of this poem, and only occurred to me when I decided to take on the potentially odious and pedantic task of analyzing it, and it may be that the meter is of negligible import in comparison to the content, and that the rhythm arises accidentally, as it were, from the message the poet wanted to convey. (Passing from musical to poetic terminology, the meter of this poem would be mainly considered as consisting of dactyls, although one might consider line 2 as a molossus or an anapest—meaning, in layman’s terms, that the stress is placed equally on each syllable of “we become,” or with a stress falling on the final syllable.)
But syllable-counting aside, I wonder if the poem speaks to the phenomenon of the musicians, before or after performing a piece, as they listen to the applause of the audience, and therefore become the “audience” of the audience, paying witness to the sound of the public, turned performers with their sonic applause. (The resulting paradox being that the poem could explicitly revolve around the word “quietly,” while implicitly being about the noise of a grateful audience.) Or maybe the musicians become one with the audience in the reverent silence between songs, which unites the musicians and audience as one collective “audience,” all performing a truncated version of John Cage’s 4’33’’.