a work of unbroken openness – part 2

I’m not sure this can be put to verse. It may end up being prose. Or perhaps prosery. As long as it’s not “poser-y”, I guess I can live with it. “Part 1” was a lame limerick; perhaps I’ll bookend the trilogy with a hobbled haiku. It’s all still art. Right?


Look at all those holes…



At what


That’s the art.

That’s at the heart

durchbrochene Arbeit is a term that helped bring my wife and I together 26 years ago, in a masters level music theory class. It’s a term we both still repeat every time we listen to Brahms’ Ein Deutsch Requiem. Every. Single. Time. For the purpose of music theory, the term refers to a musical phrase that is begun with one instrument and then passed off to another. In the Brahms’ requiem, it happens All. Over. The. Place, as Professor Johnson quickly and persistently noted. Not just in Brahms, though. It’s ubiquitous, from Bach to Bernstein and beyond. Literally everywhere you look. Or listen.

My very limited German language knowledge told me that Arbeit was “work”. I made an assumption based on context that durchbrochen had something to do with “broken”. I was yesterday days old when I learned otherwise.

The word translates as “openwork“, as in the ceramic pictured above, but the term is also used in knitting, crochet, lace work, architecture, woodwork, jewelry design, and, as noted – music.

If you take the German apart further, the literal translation is “pierced through”.

But that, I’m afraid, is misleading. It puts the focus in the wrong place.


That’s the point.

Not the holes, the gaps, the piercings.

The beauty, the art, and the heart

lie in the materials connecting the spaces.

I chuckled when I put the whole translation together, durchbrochene Arbeit thus being “openwork work”.

Redundant, I thought.

But not.




Or it all falls apart.

Don’t focus on the holes.



to what


If you don’t see it.

If you don’t hear it.

Look and Listen



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s