The Music of the Spheres: a poetic adventure resumes

The Music of the Spheres

A number of years ago I was given an interesting poetic commission.

I had come to know the composer Marty O’Donnell, who is famous, amongst other things, for having composed the music for Halo, and for Destiny, two major games for the computer game company Bungie. When he was working on the music which would help to frame the game Destiny, a game whose narrative and architecture draws on the classical and mediaeval idea of the heavenly spheres, each with its own character and distinct music, he composed a beautiful new suite of music called ‘The Music of the Spheres’, and as we had talked together about the ‘seven heavens’ of the mediaeval world-view he asked me if I would compose a suite of poems to go with the music.

I came up with a sequence called ‘Seven Heavens, Seven Hells’. It consists of fourteen poems, arranged in seven pairs, which I composed in direct response to Marty’s music but also drawing inspiration, as we both did, from the mediaeval ‘seven heavens’, the crystalline spheres of the planets with their different characteristics and influences.

The whole approach, both to the poetry and the music, which Marty and I discussed early was a response to the idea, based in mediaeval astrology of ‘opposing pairs’. Each of the seven spheres has a certain cluster of associations and influences, Venus with Love, Mars with war and martial valour, the Sun with gold, but also poetry and inspiration etc. But equally it is possible for each of these celestial influences to become corrupted and malign, for, as St. Augustine says, good is primal and evil is always a corruption of some original good. Astrologically this is expressed in the idea that there is a diurnal, or good and light-filled aspect of each sphere, but also a nocturnal or dark aspect. Michael Ward, whose work Marty and I both admire, draws this out brilliantly in Planet Narnia, his account of the Seven Heavens in the thought and writing of CS Lewis.

A group of enthusiasts for Marty’s music, have, with his and Bungie’s blessing made a series of videos incorporating both the music and my poems. a while ago I posted a link to the first of these for the moon

I’m happy to say that the complete suite has now been posted. These poems will also appear in print in October as part of my next collection with Canterbury Press which will be called ‘After Prayer’. You can click on This Link, to go straight to a page which has links to all eight videos in what they are calling the Golden Age Anthology. Or you can scroll down and enjoy each of the videos embedded here:


Filed under imagination, Music, Poems

8 responses to “The Music of the Spheres: a poetic adventure resumes

  1. Jenny Arnerlöf

    Oh if only I could be your full-time student Malcolm!

  2. Eric Blauer

    Wow, that was so amazing! Listened to them all today. They were especially great having just finished the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. They fit so well with the last few chapters of That Hideous Strength when the Angels come down to St. Annes. I also read some of the Silmarillion’s first chapter about the makers of things using music. It just all meshed together in a scrumptious feast. Thank you. Still stunned by your poetry in it all. Masterpieces!

  3. Malcom,
    Isn’t it great to finally see and hear this? I’m so happy that these great poems can be shared with the rest of the world.

    Maybe someday we can work together again.


    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Marty yes I’m thrilled they are out there at last, and with the music they were written for!

    • Owen A. Spence

      I need another Marty-Malcolm collaboration in my life. If you guys do work together, keep me and Landon in the loop, and maybe we can work together on making something like we did here for whatever you guys do next. Maybe it can be an official release this time instead of a fan project that only a few thousand people see. Wouldn’t that be cool?

  4. Pingback: Malcolm Guite and the Music of the Spheres – Letters from the Front: The Archives of J. Ronald Chesterton Lewis

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