The devil’s playground

Be embraced, you millions!
This kiss is for the entire world!
Brothers! over the starry canopy
Must a loving Father dwell!.

Beethoven’s 9th, Movement III.

Retired University of Pennsylvania music librarian and lifelong friend Carolyn brought Beethoven’s line to our attention in response to today’s earlier post, “Now (regretfully) I Know.”

“Hitler,” she said, “was purportedly extremely partial to Beethoven’s 9th,” especially to the lines above. Her comments remind me again that even beauty itself can become the source of ugliness. Good and evil lie next to each other in this world, just a breath away from the other.

It’s not just an idle mind that is the devil’s workshop. [H. G. Bohn, “Hand-Book of Proverbs,” 1855]. It’s also a lofty mind, propelled by the best in us.

High ideals – a world at one, a world at peace; feel the embrace, you millions, this kiss is for the entire world – are not just lofty. They are also the devil’s playground where light is turned into darkness, love into hate, hope into despair, hugs into gropings, and kisses into kisses of death.

Thank you, Carolyn, for the comment. The physically blind Beethoven surely would cherish the prospect that the world will not allow Hitler’s distortion to become the the last interpretation of the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th.

It is left to us to redeem the hug and the kiss with the spirit of hope and contrition we know by heart:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.” (Just enough bread for one day.) “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 5, 2016.





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