AT THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE by Alfred de Zayas
Call it instantly the pinnacle of modern art,
a happy paroxysm, Jacobin revolt of heart:
Jørn Utzon’s architecture wakes our appetite
for sculpture in design, our love for height and light.
Shells rise from azure shores in pristine white.
Or are they swollen sails in stormy flight?
Archangel wings that waft in winds and skim
the surf to rise in high harmonious hymn?
Jørn Utzon’s shells are sails and wings and snowy mountains:
Forms composing function, flowing fountains
of imagination rushing from this water place
into the universe of time and space.
Close by, the Royal gardens germinate and sing
archaic melodies of life renewing.
See: a sacred Lotus greets the day,
a water lily floats into the bay.
Where rolling surf breaks on the shore
and foaming waves surge with a mighty roar,
roofs rise and slope off, dressed in fine ceramic tiles
criss-crossing and competing in aesthetic lines.
Beneath the broken eggshell tent
breathe varied forms of man’s enlightenment.
Symbolic canvas cover concrete walls,
beguiling aboriginal design enthrals.
This emblematic, genial site is home
to ancient Muses. Here the soul can roam
and lose itself in sound and ecstasy,
for here is vision, faith, integrity.
Outside the silhouettes evolve with light and shade—
the sunrise, sunset, starry skies are made
for lovers, young and old. Inside we feel, we dream,
we hear sopranos sing that things are what they seem.
God blessed his architects and engineers:
Sir Avo Arup shares Jørn’s honours and the cheers.
Together they composed this symphony in stone;
they orchestrated waves and naves that Psalms intone.
Cathedrals and Basilicas boast marble stairs.
In Sydney mélomanes sport concrete steps to airs
of Verdi, Wagner, Strauß, Puccini, Debussy,
whose sacred tunes proclaim man’s yearning and esprit.
Cathedrals are indeed like poetry in stone;
here too, stone prayers make this music temple zone
of spiritual transcendence, terpsichorean shrine
of ballet, thespian arts, of opera and choirs divine.
Not just Australian, Danish or Pacific:
This eclectic house is hieroglyphic,
primal, mystical, a common heritage
of humankind, a promise and a pledge.
On magic nights a myriad coloured lights explode
above these hallowed domes as in a pantheistic Ode
to Joy embracing in D-major all creation:
This is Sydney’s kiss of cosmic affirmation.