Time and Hallelujah

Where did the time go? I sometimes ask at the end of a day as I pour myself my inch of brandy and settle into my chair to read another chapter of Middlemarch. (See last blog entry. Yes, I’m only half-way through and the book group meets in less than a week!)

Reading in the Courtyard

Reading in the Courtyard

And then I think of the beautiful day I had last Friday with two of our four granddaughters. First we found a garage sale where we nosed around the left-overs of old computers, shoes, baby clothes, books, CDs, and dirty garden equipment to find treasures: two flowerpots, a spiked-fur cat, and a penguin with sequin-covered flippers who went to lunch with us.  We also visited the library, checked out a million books, and then read them in the library flower garden–followed by a granddaughter gymnastics show of cartwheels and somersaults and backbends.

As I pulled into the garage later that day, I experienced one of those driveway radio moments: Renee Fleming’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” I could not move. And as I sat there, time elongated itself. Dissolved. I have plenty of time, I thought. More than enough. Music and a day with your granddaughters can do that.

I’ve started piano lessons here in Minnesota. I stumble along on the piano. Yet every now and then, what I’m doing actually sounds like music. My fingers forget they are attached to my hands and somehow link directly to some other melodious place that is still controlled by time, the beat. I can keep the time and be out of time at the same time. If only for a moment.

But back to Middlemarch, this novel has placed me in another time, the 1820s. George Eliot is writing about this period in England from fifty years later, the 1870s. So I am in three times: the present (my chair), George Eliot’s time (she enters the story to comment and guide us), and the actual time of the novel–when people rode horses and carts to get places, when there were no televisions, computers, and cell phones.

So what I’m trying to say is that time is not something I can find more of or even lose–although it is true that things can become lost in time if not recycled in garage sales.The clock and the calendar are helpful for telling time and making appointments, but not so much for dreaming. Time is the steady beat of my metronome, back and forth, keeping time. Time is the ticktock of my heart. A living beat. That beat is within music and poetry and Middlemarch. Hallelujah–repeated and repeated.


“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. ” 
― George Eliot


Writing Idea/Prompt:  The subject of time–how do we write about such an abstraction? Give it the old one-two (start with this minute) and see what you come up with in ten minutes. Or use George Eliot’s quote and go for ten minutes. Or listen to Renee Fleming or Leonard Cohen, himself, sing “Hallelujah” and see if the lyrics inspire you. (Click here for Leonard’s version of “Hallelujah” with lyrics.) The best version of “Hallelujah” is kd lang’s. Now she really sings it!


News: After sending out poems last February to over seventy publications, I was pleased that “The Remorse of Herod” was chosen by “Forge” journal. Why this one? Random. Someone was looking for a poem about Herod–maybe? Click here to read it. Also these editors were great to work with, so give them a try.  They adjusted the lines in the print version–which loses the idea of John the Baptist’s head being chopped off, but looks better on the printed page.

Also Redbird Chapbooks (Minneapolis) is going to publish my chapbook, What Can Be Saved: Poems. Yay!

Let me know if you have any publication news. I always enjoy hearing from you!



10 thoughts on “Time and Hallelujah

  1. I have Cohen on as write this. I’d never heard him sing it….”the holy or the broken hallelujah”….what a line! My favorite version of this is k.d. lang. Whooosh.
    Congrats on the poem being accepted…talk ’bout the time things take. Yup.

  2. HI, Janet. You are so right kd lang’s version is the absolute best! She really feels it. Renee Fleming has an amazing voice–but she’s better with opera in the big hall.
    I just added kd lang to the blog. I thought you would appreciate this!
    I’m trying to let go of a phrase that sometime repeats in my head:
    “It’s too late.” All the best to you, my friend.

  3. Loved “being in time, yet out of time.” That idea of flow that Steve Mitchell and I are leading workshops and writing about. And try Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah”.

  4. I really enjoyed your thoughts about time. What an interesting concept to consider. For some reason, this made me think of my childhood, growing up on a dairy farm. In the summer, my parents were very busy because “time” was running out to get the hay in, can tomatoes, pick berries, etc. It seems we’re always trying to make time last, or hurry it along for something to happen.

    Anyway, loved reading your thoughts

    • Hi, Nancy. Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog! I can see how the seasonal demands of living on a dairy farm would give a definite dimension to time. Things must be done, and in a time, or it would be too late. My childhood days in coastal N. C.were pretty laid back in comparison. Time sort of flowed along! Maybe I’d be a bit more disciplined had I grown up on a dairy farm.
      Anyway, so good to hear from you. I hope you and Bob are enjoying your new life in Portland. We miss you out here. Book group isn’t the same without you!

  5. Congratulations on your poem being published and your upcoming book! That is so great. When it comes to publishing, I can see patience and persistence are key traits to have:)
    I really enjoyed your Herod poem, a fresh take on an old subject.
    Thanks for the jumpstart ideas, I need them.

    • Thanks, Deb. “Patience and persistence”–you are right. I’m glad you liked the Herod poem. I’ll keep adding the jumpstart ideas to the posts–as much for myself as for those who read the blog. It helps to know that we can begin with only ten minutes–and always come back to add more. But ten minutes a day or even a month–is still ten minutes of writing. I always have to remember to lower my standards and just put words on paper. All the best to you!

  6. Hi Vicky,
    I loved your poem. Congratulations and thanks once again for the writing jump starts. So true, time stands still when you listen to Cohen’s Hallelujah . I am looking forward to our writing group. I think I need a shove more than a push right now to start writing. Summer lazy days have taken over.

    • Thanks so much, Brenda! It’s so good to hear from you. I’m a big Leonard Cohen fan, so that is partly what caused me to have the “driveway moment” when Renee Fleming was singing “Hallelujah.”
      We all need a little jolt every now and then. I’m glad we can provide that for each other when our group gets together in Florida.
      Best wishes for a good August…as summer begins to wind down.

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