Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maureen Forrester July 25, 1930 – June 16, 2010


Richard Wilbur, translation

Jorge Luis Borges: Ewigkeit


One thing does not exist: Oblivion.

God saves the metal and he saves the dross.

And his prophetic memory guards from loss

The moons to come, and those of evenings gone.

Everything is: the shadows in the glass

Which, in between the day’s two twilights, you

Have scattered by the thousands, or shall strew

Henceforward in the mirrors that you pass.

And everything is part of that diverse

Crystalline memory, the universe;

Whoever through its endless mazes wanders

Hears door on door click shut behind his stride,

And only from the sunset’s farther side

Shall view at last the Archetypes and the Splendors.


  1. A fitting tribute. Thanks.

  2. I will be posting a musical tribute this evening, Forrester singing Bach and Scarlatti, one of her loveliest records. But I did not want to wait for the preparation of the music files to pay tribute to this very great singer and noble soul. I feel this particular musical loss quite personally, as I did when Rudolph Serkin died.

  3. As a life-long Montrealer I am especially appreciative of your Maureen Forrester tribute. I was privileged to hear her throughout my own musically-formative years in the Mahler #3; Schubert Staendchen with chorus & piano, D. 920; and numerous lieder/chansons recitals accompanied by John Newmark (best known as one of Kathleen Ferrier's accompanists), in what was usually my own first live exposure to these works.

    The poem you attribute to Richard Wilbur is actually Wilbur's translation of Jorge Luis Borges' Ewigkeit.

  4. nello:
    indeed it is; thanks for pointing out my careless mistake, which I will fix immediately in the heading.

    I envy your having heard Forrester live; it must have been a treasurable experience.

  5. I am especially drawn to this tribute because it celebrates an artist I have the utmost respect and admiration for and the poem (a beautiful translation)is from one of my favorite poets.

  6. Another montrealer here, who remembers Forrester's singing as an out of this world experience. Mahler 3, 2, where she outsang and outinterpreded any other alto singer who sang these parts. She was known in Canada as The Golden Voice. Her tone quality was that of a shining, deeply bronzen instrument. You didn't expect top notes to be so refulgent and, in truth, they sometimes sounded silghtly insecure. But she was the real package. Like her fellow montrealer the great Ida Handel, she never cheated.