Categories
music Poetry

“The Known Great Composer”

A few years ago I was online scanning the concert listings at a world-class venue in London. On this particular occasion I was looking for small scale music-making. The Baroque era is a favourite of mine, and I chose a recorder and theorbo programme.

On the day of the concert I was early, and so decided to spend some time in a book shop. Afterwards, I went to the concert hall and started my packed lunch. Before I could finish it was time for the concert to begin.

During the concert sometimes the instruments played together, sometimes they played solo. For one recorder solo, the recordist played two recorders simultaneously! When the theorboist played solo pieces, one of them was introduced as a passacaglia – which, to my amusement, collected philistinic giggles. If only the pictures of musical aristocracy on the walls of the concert room had ears of flesh!

This poem, The Known Great Composer, is about the concert. Head and shoulders above, one composer and his music made my whole time in London memorable. Memorable for the right reason – music.

No prizes, but if you can guess the Great Composer I don’t mention, you are a winner! Clue: Imagine the accompanying music in this clip being played two octaves lower on a solo cello…

First verse

“The Known Great Composer”

“The window blinds close

The stage lights are adjusted

Two musicians walk on stage

And we welcome them warmly…”

On the way home, I happened to see someone I knew. We talked for a while, and I expressed that I would be writing a poem about the concert. By this time, my mind had already begun putting the poem together.

Furthermore, before arriving home, I visited a local art gallery and talked more about poetry to the exhibiting Artist, referencing the couple of books I bought earlier that day written by the Poet Laureate.

Categories
Poetry

This is the Month – Eastertide

This is the month

When they say that it rains and pours

Down come the showers

From heaven’s open doors

But in-between the cascades

There are beams of sunlight 

Shining through clouds

Heavy laden and fluffy white

This is the month

When the daylight grows longer and longer

With the sun rising earlier

And setting later and later

There is also a change

In the quality of light visible in the atmosphere

This phenomenon only happens

Once in the northern hemisphere 

This is the month

When spring is well and truly here 

It’s time for leaping of the lamb

And the young deer

Buds are prising open

Seeds and bulbs germinate

O’ the splendour

Of nature’s natural nascency about this date

This is the month

That brings high tides to our shores

As the moon orbits closer

And waxes more and more

These signs are where

The Jewish people take their Passover

And from where Christians

Take the major holiday called Easter

There is nothing like Eastertide

Celebrating a fantastic event

It happened 2000 years ago

And I, in a sense, was present

The most spectacular display

Of God’s agape love

Crucifixion and Resurrection

The only plan from above

On a Friday God laid sin on His Son

The sin of men nailed to a cross

He crucified the sinless Lamb

And took away our dross

On a Sunday Christ is raised

And we are raised with Him

This same Resurrection Power

— The Spirit — is at work within

And now we can live righteously

The old has gone, the new has come

Spreading the Good News Gospel

Of what Jesus Christ has done

This is the Month (audio)

Categories
Poetry

‘The Sky, The Sky’

When you look at the sky, what thoughts go through your mind and what feelings do you experience? Could you put words to any of this, or not really? In many respects the sky is nebulous, which implies that it can be described in a multiple of different ways.

And the imagination…

Maybe try this as an exercise:

  1. Go to the sky
  2. Close your eyes momentarily
  3. Open them and write down the first thing that comes to mind

Many years ago on my walks around a large office complex, I felt drawn to look out the windows at the sky. I cannot necessarily put it into words, but it did me good; her other worldliness, her perceivable yet unperceivable character, her secrets and mysteries, her colour spectrum…

In my first poem about the sky, I use a mono-rhythmic tercet scheme:

The Sky, The Sky

The sky, the sky in all its many shades of blue

Spectacled scientists tell us it has to be this hue

Much praise, I think, to them is certainly due…’

(verse 1)

Here is the first verse from my videobook: The Sky, The Sky

The music in the video is J. S. Bach’s Minuet in G.

Categories
Poetry

New Book?

The ‘Lightbulb’ Moment…

Approximately eighteen months ago I was checking my emails whilst listening to the radio. One email was from the Globe Theatre in London and I happened to be looking through their linked, online catalogue. The radio station was BBC’s Radio 3 and a musician was talking about their preferred recording of a Wagner composition.

At that time, I had been a Wagner enthusiast for a few years – even seeing part of one of his compositions at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall… A thought occurred to me…: “What would it be like to hear the whole piece performed by German musicians and singers…?”

The CDs

Anyway, back to the ‘lightbulb’ moment. As I was looking through said catalogue and deciding how to use my discount code, floating over the airwaves came Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’. And, almost simultaneously (I think), my eyes landed on the theatre’s ‘Shakespeare Dictionary’. 💡 How about combining the two? This could be a world first: The Ring Cycle written in Shakespearean language!

Anachronisms

On New Year’s Day, 1st January 2022, I officially started the research. I was excited and looking forward to penning the ‘Shakespearean Ring’. I had a couple of German to English translations — good… Simply use the Shakespearean lexicon, etcetera, instead of contemporary English — and everyone will understand… But will they…? Where’s my red marker!

Exeunt The Bard and his contemporaries
Stabreim v Couplet

Wagner’s ‘Ring’ (or ‘The Ring of the Nibelung’ to give you its full title) is a seventeen hour opera. He, himself, sourced various versions of the epic poem, writing and re-writing the text in stabreim. He also composed the music.

Definition of Stabreim: (Ger.). A versification style based on alliteration, common in German and other north European poetry of the early Middle Ages. It was adopted by Wagner when writing his own librettos …

from:  Stabreim  in  The Oxford Companion to Music (online)

This project will be a re-working into another poetic style, the couplet, and is based on research I conducted.

Research

Definition of Couplet: two successive lines of verse forming a unit marked usually by rhythmic correspondence, rhyme, etc…

from: Merriam-Webster (online)

The first verse from part one penned recently:

The Ring of the Nibelung

📕 The Rhinegold

📗 The Valkyrie

📘 Siegfried

📙 Twilight of the Gods

Part 1: The Rhinegold

From left to right by nature’s design
Flows continuously the ready River Rhine
Lighter turquoise evenly spread
Becoming darker towards the bed
Near the floor the water dissipates
Leaving an increasingly breathable state
This vaporific man-sized space
Moves continuously and at apace
Across the floor of the riverbed
Where no man can naturally tread
Are rough rocks and undercurrent tides
And vertical caverns unimaginably wild…

Categories
Poetry

‘A Natural Virtuoso!’

I went to the National Poetry Library in London earlier this year. I was on a mission: to find out which magazines published similar poetry to mine. For the next two hours I looked at everything that was available. All, bar one, had absolutely no poems about music — not even remotely! In my first poetry book ‘Soaring Higher’ (see ‘books’ page) there are six full length poems with such tasty flavours!

This poem is about a musician — and no ordinary musician at that — but a Virtuoso. “But what is a Virtuoso?” I hear you cry. According to Grove Music Online:

Virtuoso ( It., from Lat. virtus : ‘excellence’, ‘worth’ ) A person of notable accomplishment; a musician of extraordinary technical skill. In its original Italian usage (particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries) ‘virtuoso’ was a term of honour reserved for a person distinguished in any intellectual or artistic field: a poet, architect, scholar etc. A virtuoso in music might be a skilful performer, but more importantly he was a composer, a theorist or at least a famous maestro di cappella. In the late 17th and 18th centuries a great number of Italian”

“A Natural Virtuoso!”

“Just a few words I’ve penned over tea

That I hope will warm your heart and bless

Who in all the wide-world could it be?

An appreciative music lover no less…”

A piece of music that requires virtuosic technique is J. S. Bach’s famous showstopper: Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Fragments of the Toccata are included in a video of myself performing the poem.

For the full poem click here: A Natural Virtuoso!

This video is one of eighteen poems available in my VideoBook. Click here for more details: Soaring Higher (videobook)

Categories
Poetry

‘This is the Month – Eastertide

Facts around the writing of this poem:

In the Spring of 1990 I set about writing a poem about Easter with the intention of having it published in a journal that would be available at that time. When the poem was eventually finished, it was without ‘Eastertide’ in the title. Although I had virtually no church attendance since childhood, I found myself including elements of the Easter story.

Then, before summer was in full swing, some Christians started to befriend me. They were from a local church canvassing the area. I was eventually invited to a Sunday morning meeting and someone named Colin Spurdle was due to pick me up. However, for a good reason he forgot and said he would come the following week. That Sunday came and I was so eager to go that I decided to go by myself. I have now been attending the same church for thirty years, plus.

During my years at this church, the poem was redrafted, extended and finally finished.

“This Is The Month — Eastertide”

“This is the month

When they say that it rains and pours

Down come the showers

From heaven’s open doors…”

I hope you enjoy this extract: “This Is The Month — Eastertide”

Categories
Poetry

‘The Garden of Eden’

This rhyming poem is based on the Biblical events that took place in the Garden of Eden — and includes a reading of the future. When writing these verses, care was taken to adhere to the fidelity and the sequence of events as given in the Bible.

The music that goes with this poem is the Elizabethan Serenade by Ronald Binge. It is light and grandiose with such positive, live giving vigour.

The Garden of Eden”

“God created the garden of Eden

A pure unspoiled paradise

An ordered beautiful landscape

That could grow and increase in size…”

For the first verse of this poem, click: The Garden of Eden

Categories
Poetry

‘Swaying, Swaying in the Breeze’

It was a windy May afternoon when I was walking down the garden path. I happened to notice, it seemed for the first time, an array of beautiful flowers in bloom. Maybe it was their swaying that caught my attention. Anyway, I stopped for a closer look and saw bumble-bees indiscriminately landing on them; one, then the other. To capture this nature in action, I made a video recording with my phone.

The following morning this scene, with words, was going round my head, and before breakfast the poem was complete.

The music I paired with the poem, Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata, echoes the back and forth movement of the flowers. For added imagination, one could imagine dancing ladies instead of flowers.

Swaying, Swaying in the Breeze”

“Swaying, swaying in the breeze

Dancing, dancing beneath tall tree

Moving another way in slight air

So handsome, so pretty, so fair

Hues and shades, rare and fine

What invention, what design…”

Click here for: Swaying, Swaying in the Breeze

Categories
Poetry

‘Gone Fishing’

This poem came into being as a result of a theme that was set by a poetry group in Croydon, Surrey. The theme was sport, and I hadn’t a clue what to write until I was engaged in a mindless activity at home. So, during unfruitful mind activity, fishing surfaced. As I wasn’t too familiar about fishing, I visited a local angling shop to find out more… and the rest is history!

“Gone Fishing”

“It’s 3:15 am and I’ve just packed my lunch and kit
The predictive seaweed looks clammy as I check it
The shipping forecast confirms, rain is on the way
And hovering around minus two for most of the day…”

Naturally, ‘The Trout’ by Schubert leads up to the narration.

For the fist verse, click: Gone Fishing

Categories
Poetry

‘Cumbria’

This poem is a whistle-stop tour of Cumbria in the North West of England. All the places mentioned in the verses were part of my itinerary. As The Lakes were Wordsworth’s country, I felt inspired to write. Two other poems were also written here: Pennsylvania and Wrynose Pass (see above).

“Cumbria”

“I’m writing from Lakeland’s Ambleside
This holiday is making me tired
Lots to see, lots to do
(Quite comfortable at Hotel Vale View)
Lots more to do, lots more to see
Kodak is making a fortune from me!…”

The music that is before the narration is: Farewell To Stromness by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

And here is a sample: Cumbria

(For more Information go to the ‘Books’ page.)