Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fantastic in the Fine Arts: Thomas Tallis, the Tallis Canon

In a way, I feel that the title of this post would be better as "The Fine Arts in the Fantastic." One of the things that struck me about the work of Madeleine L'Engle was how much her writing was in dialogue with other artists. It was through her books that I first encountered the poetry of Henry Vaughan, whose poem "The World" provides the title for A Ring of Endless Light. It is because of The Arm of the Starfish that I memorized the final stanza of Robert Frost's poem, "Two Tramps in Mud Time."

But perhaps my favorite artist that I have met in the pages of L'Engle's work is Thomas Tallis. Canon Tallis, who is a clergyman and not a composer appears in four of her novels, and much is made of the fact that he shares a name with Thomas Tallis, a sixteenth century English composer, who wrote, among many other beautiful pieces, the Tallis Canon.