Mozart’s Requiem is a deeply profound piece of music written for orchestra, choir, and vocal soloists. I have loved it since high school. A requiem is a Catholic funeral mass with different sections that help worshipers meditate on realities of the Christian faith related to death. Themes include eternal rest, God’s wrath, final judgment, and salvation through Jesus’s sacrifice. Mozart’s treatment of each section is breathtaking—at times restful, terrifying, poignant, and stunning in its beauty throughout.
This Requiem was commissioned by a man whose wife died. But according to Mozart’s wife, Constanze, Mozart began to believe he was writing it for himself at some point during its composition. Mozart did, in fact, die before finishing the Requiem. One of his pupils, Franz Sussmayr, brought the work to completion.
Recently, I’ve been listening to Mozart’s Requiem quite a bit. At one point, I decided to read the text of the mass, which I hadn’t done in a long time. As I was reading and listening, I thought I might write some poems based on the text. This wouldn’t be a translation or rehashing of the text but my poetic interaction with it.
Mozart’s Requiem has 14 sections, so when I’m done I’ll have 14 sections in my poem. This is an ambitious project but one I think I am up to (provided I don’t die before completing it, LOL). As I’ve noted before, I don’t read or write long poems as a rule. But I’m getting around this with my Requiem poem since it will be 14 short poems 😉
Below are two sections from Mozart’s Requiem I have finished poems for. To be clear, these aren’t my poems below, just samples from the text of the mass itself.
Introit: Requiem Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them. You are praised, God, in Zion, and homage will be paid to You in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer, to You all flesh will come. Grant them eternal rest, Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them. Rex Tremendae Majestatis King of tremendous majesty, who freely saves those worthy ones, save me, source of mercy.