Roxanna Panufnik (b. 1968 London)

She’s the British daughter of the Polish composer and conductor, Sir Andrzj Panufnik (1914-91).   She studied composition at London’s Royal College of Music and her works include opera, ballet, chamber, music for film and tv – and relevant here – choral.   She’s a fusion composer embracing, among others, middle eastern influences.   The cd I’m playing a lot is Love Abide whose sleeve announces New Choral Music – Diverse in Faith, Universal in Love.   The eponymous piece opens with the hypnotic mantra, Love is the Master, the title of a poem by the 13th century Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi.

Some call it a poem about romantic love, some a poem about his love for God.   For me his ecstatic, sensual passion addresses spiritual love for God as reflected in the secular love for another person.


Love is the Master

Love is the One who masters all things;

I am mastered totally by love.

By my passion of love for love

I have ground sweet as sugar.

O furious Wind, I am only a straw before you;

How could I know where I will be blown next?

Whoever claims to have made a pact with destiny

Reveals himself a liar and a fool;

What is any of us but a straw in a storm?

How could anyone make a pact with a hurricane?

God is working everywhere his massive resurrection;

How can we pretend to act on our own?

In the hand of love I am like a cat in a sack;

Sometimes love hoists me into the air,

Sometimes love flings me into the air,

Love swings me round and round His head;

I have no peace, in this world or any other.

The lovers of God have fallen into a furious river;

They have surrendered themselves to love’s commands.

Like mill wheels they turn, day and night, day and night,

Constantly turning and turning, and crying out.


*         *        *

When my father was dying, he gained comfort from these words in Liv Ullman’s autobiography, Changing which I’d luckily just read.   I wrote them on a card: she’s with an elderly Norwegian actor, Gunnar … Then his eyes focus on me, and far, far in them I see more than he says.   ‘I no longer think of death with panic’, he says quietly.   ‘If I become old enough and tired enough, death must feel more natural than birth.’


I’d like to clarify why I joined the Labour Party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.   It wasn’t because he could win over the middle-of-the-road voter: I know he can’t.   It was because I believe that the not-registered and not-voting are left wing and could be brought into politics by Corbyn.



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