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Posts Tagged ‘Beethoven’

 

 

There are no barriers for a person with talent and love towards work.

            —Ludwig van Beethoven

 

 

Everyone knows Beethoven

went deaf, could hardly hear

by the time he composed

the Moonlight Sonata.

I think of him sometimes

when I want to believe

in impossible things.

Like great harmony

born out of dead silence.

Like love in full bloom

despite drought.

Like finding a pocket in time.

Like hope, growing like mint.

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Joyful, Joyful

 

 

 

From the back row, no one can see

that the flute player’s white oxford shirt

is mis-buttoned. His dirty blonde hair

falls into his eyes. He tosses it back

with a flick of his head, picks up his instrument

and focuses his attention on the conductor.

 

With a lurch, the sixth-grade band launches

into the last section of Beethoven’s 9th,

and the familiar tune of Ode to Joy

brightens the dim auditorium.

 

The conductor keeps perfect time,

and the students, though stilted,

follow her rhythm. I think of Vienna,

1824, in the Theatre am Karntnertor,

when Beethoven himself stood on stage

at the end of his career to direct the premiere,

his first time on stage in twelve years.

 

Though he could not hear the symphony, he furiously

waved his arms in tempo, moving his body

as if to play all the instruments at once,

as if he could be every voice in the chorus.

 

And when it was done, the great composer

went on, still conducting, not knowing

it was over until the contralto soloist moved to him

and turned him to face the ovation.

 

With the greatest respect, and knowing

that applause could not reach him,

the audience members raised their hands and hats

and threw white handkerchiefs into the air,

then rose five times to their feet.

 

When the sixth grade band director

lowers her arms, the young musicians stop with her.

They rise and bow, and the audience claps

and some of the parents whoop.

And the students bow again, and again,

though the clapping is done.

They do not yet know how to carry pride

in their awkward bodies, and they stumble

and list off the stage.

 

The flute player’s black pants are too short

for his long thin legs. He is growing in ways

neither he nor his mother can understand.

There she is, weeping in the back row,

in her ears, in her heart, a song of joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Changing My Tune Midway

The beets are always disappointing.

I dream of beets densely red and robust,

beets that have weight to them,

beets that take effort to slice.

But this year, again, they are small,

puny, even, though there are a lot of them.

I suppose a better gardener would research

nitrogen and potassium and how to best amend.

I suppose a better Buddhist would not complain.

But I am not a Buddhist. And I am no great gardener,

just a woman with a bit of dirt to play in.

They say that Beethoven, when he could hear,

would ask people in the audience to give him a tune.

And someone would hum for him, or whistle,

and he’d play the tune back and then improvise

variations on their theme. What tune

am I whistling for the master? A song

of paucity? Of ingratitude?

And how might it carry on, one variation

after another? This began just a little whine,

or so I thought, a little melody for more.

But who is master of this score? Oh woman

who sees the glass half empty, do you really

still believe that there’s a glass? Don’t you see,

this is not a poem about beets?

It’s about the way small things can last.

The beets are always disappointing.

I dream of beets densely red and robust,

beets that have weight to them,

beets that take effort to slice.

But this year, again, they are small,

puny, even, though there are a lot of them.

I suppose a better gardener would research

nitrogen and potassium and how to best amend.

I suppose a better Buddhist would not complain.

But I am not a Buddhist. And I am no great gardener,

just a woman with a bit of dirt to play in.

They say that Beethoven, when he could hear,

would ask people in the audience to give him a tune.

And someone would hum for him, or whistle,

and he’d play the tune back and then improvise

variations on their theme. What tune

am I whistling for the master? A song

of paucity? Of ingratitude?

And how might it carry on, one variation

after another? This began just a little whine,

or so I thought, a little melody for more.

But who is master of this score? Oh woman

who sees the glass half empty, do you really

still believe that there’s a glass? Don’t you see,

this is not a poem about beets?

It’s about the way small things can last.

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