Of all the music created by Gustav Holst, Mars, the Bringer of War was the most terrifying to my young ears. The first time I heard it was in a music lesson at school, in which we had to work out the planet for each of the seven pieces, and I sensed darkness, drama and a kind of urgency, particularly in the Morse-code-like punctuation and the strident brass. I envisioned the red planet, a fiery orb in the solar system, Martians arriving in thousands of spaceships, marching across fields and through streets, fire and brimstone raining from above.
The piece is a march, a strange and powerful one, which reflects the mood of the time in which it was written, its first performance being in September 1918. But as a rock fan, I was completely taken by the various interpretations of Mars by bands such as King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Powell, Diamond Head and Black Sabbath.
rocking out in my bedroom
red planet of war
Kim M. Russell, 2nd March 2020
My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday: Mars
Frank is our host this first Monday in March and we’re talking about red-faced Mars or Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar, named after Mars, the Roman god of war, an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus.
Frank says that Mars has captured our scientific and cultural attention since ancient times and some poets have found inspiration in the Red Planet; he shares examples of poems by Wyn Cooper and Longfellow.
Whether it’s the God of War or the Red Planet, we are writing haibun that allude to Mars.