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QUESTION: Why is it an archetype that in heaven there are angels playing harps?
What's being discussed now was known centuries ago.
That's what an archetype is all about, and it is an archetype as well that angels in heaven play
harps. I suspect this goes back to the lyre, and what Orpheus was able to do with
his. More on this below.
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Now, the Celtic harp music has long enchanted me, and we know that the Irish claim to the kingdom of lullabies, which is a heaven unto itself, cannot be challenged.And what is a lullaby, but the soothing of the most distraught person there is - - a newborn trying to adjust to living on dry land.
The Irish have no contenders in the realm of lullabies. My favorite it The Garten Mother's Lullaby.
See the newborns in the Kosica-Saca hospital in eastern Slovakia enjoying Mozart through headsets, because, said Slavka Viragová, the doctor in charge of the hospital's maternity unit, who launched the music project, the birth trauma is "enormously stressful for the baby." Makes me wish they could hear harp, and Celtic lullabies too.
Or Rachmaninoff (see below**)
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OF HARP LULLABIES . . .
"The Song of the Harp-Weaver," by Edna St. Vincent Millay "Son," said my mother, When I was knee-high, "you've need of clothes to cover you, and not a rag have I.
"There's nothing in the house To make a boy breeches, Nor shears to cut a cloth with, Nor thread to take stitches.
"There's nothing in the house But a loaf-end of rye, And a harp with a woman's head Nobody will buy," And she began to cry.
That was in the early fall. When came the late fall, "Son," she said, "the sight of you Makes your mother's blood crawl,— "Little skinny shoulder-blades Sticking through your clothes! And where you'll get a jacket from God above knows.
"It's lucky for me, lad, Your daddy's in the ground, And can't see the way I let His son go around!" And she made a queer sound. That was in the late fall. When the winter came, I'd not a pair of breeches Nor a shirt to my name.
I couldn't go to school, Or out of doors to play. And all the other little boys Passed our way.
"Son," said my mother, "Come, climb into my lap, And I'll chafe your little bones While you take a nap."
And, oh, but we were silly For half and hour or more, Me with my long legs, Dragging on the floor,
A-rock-rock-rocking To a mother-goose rhyme! Oh, but we were happy For half an hour's time!
But there was I, a great boy, And what would folks say To hear my mother singing me To sleep all day, In such a daft way?
Men say the winter Was bad that year; Fuel was scarce, And food was dear.
A wind with a wolf's head Howled about our door, And we burned up the chairs And sat upon the floor.
All that was left us Was a chair we couldn't break, And the harp with a woman's head Nobody would take, For song or pity's sake.
The night before Christmas I cried with cold, I cried myself to sleep Like a two-year old.
And in the deep night I felt my mother rise, And stare down upon me With love in her eyes.
I saw my mother sitting On the one good chair, A light falling on her From I couldn't tell where.
Looking nineteen, And not a day older, And the harp with a woman's head Leaned against her shoulder.
Her thin fingers, moving In the thin, tall strings, Were weav-weav-weaving Wonderful things.
Many bright threads, From where I couldn't see, Were running through the harp-strings Rapidly,
And gold threads whistling Through my mother's hand. I saw the web grow, And the pattern expand.
She wove a child's jacket, And when it was done She laid it on the floor And wove another one.
She wove a red cloak So regal to see, "She's made it for a king's son," I said, "and not for me." But I knew it was for me.
She wove a pair of breeches Quicker than that! She wove a pair of boots And a little cocked hat.
She wove a pair of mittens, She wove a little blouse, She wove all night In the still, cold house.
She sang as she worked, And the harp-strings spoke; Her voice never faltered, And the thread never broke,
And when I awoke,—
There sat my mother With the harp against her shoulder, Looking nineteeen, And not a day older,
A smile about her lips, And a light about her head, And her hands in the harp-strings Frozen dead.
And piled beside her And toppling to the skies, Were the clothes of a king's son, Just my size.
Comment about poem: “We were very poor and my father had left my mother and us. She used to recite this poem when we were going to sleep. I still recite it in my mind at night. It helps to relax me and help me to sleep. Through the years I've forgotten some of the lines. Thank you for posting it on your website.”
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