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Poem by Amy Lowell
Stravinsky’s Three Pieces
First Movement Thin-voiced, nasal pipes Drawing sound out and out Until it is a screeching thread, Sharp and cutting, sharp and cutting, It hurts. Whee-e-e! Bump! Bump! Tong-ti-bump! There are drums here, Banging, And wooden shoes beating the round, grey stones Of the market-place. Whee-e-e! Sabots slapping the worn, old stones, And a shaking and cracking of dancing bones; Clumsy and hard they are, And uneven, Losing half a beat Because the stones are slippery. Bump-e-ty-tong! Whee-e-e! Tong! The thin Spring leaves Shake to the banging of shoes. Shoes beat, slap, Shuffle, rap, And the nasal pipes squeal with their pigs’ voices, Little pigs’ voices Weaving among the dancers, A fine white thread Linking up the dancers. Bang! Bump! Tong! Petticoats, Stockings, Sabots, Delirium flapping its thigh-bones; Red, blue, yellow, Drunkenness steaming in colours; Red, yellow, blue, Colours and flesh weaving together, In and out, with the dance, Coarse stuffs and hot flesh weaving together. Pigs’ cries white and tenuous, White and painful, White and -- Bump! Tong! Second Movement Pale violin music whiffs across the moon, A pale smoke of violin music blows over the moon, Cherry petals fall and flutter, And the white Pierrot, Wreathed in the smoke of the violins, Splashed with cherry petals falling, falling, Claws a grave for himself in the fresh earth With his finger-nails. Third Movement An organ growls in the heavy roof-groins of a church, It wheezes and coughs. The nave is blue with incense, Writhing, twisting, Snaking over the heads of the chanting priests. `Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine’; The priests whine their bastard Latin And the censers swing and click. The priests walk endlessly Round and round, Droning their Latin Off the key. The organ crashes out in a flaring chord, And the priests hitch their chant up half a tone. `Dies illa, dies irae, Calamitatis et miseriae, Dies magna et amara valde.’ A wind rattles the leaded windows. The little pear-shaped candle flames leap and flutter, `Dies illa, dies irae;’ The swaying smoke drifts over the altar, `Calamitatis et miseriae;’ The shuffling priests sprinkle holy water, `Dies magna et amara valde;’ And there is a stark stillness in the midst of them Stretched upon a bier. His ears are stone to the organ, His eyes are flint to the candles, His body is ice to the water. Chant, priests, Whine, shuffle, genuflect, He will always be as rigid as he is now Until he crumbles away in a dust heap. `Lacrymosa dies illa, Qua resurget ex favilla Judicandus homo reus.’ Above the grey pillars the roof is in darkness.
Amy Lowell's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail email@example.com