A man sat down at an upright grand,
the sounds in his head from a one-man band,
and picked at notes that he chose by chance.
The chance came off in a lively dance.
He'd never sat at keys before,
keys he'd thought the keys to a door,
a door that was always double-barred,
the door to the wonderful avant-garde.
But now that world seemed to open up.
Time, he thought, to sip from its cup,
so he took a swig, and it went down well:
he'd a natural bent for the tunes of hell.
So he picked at more keys, cocking his ear,
some white notes there and a black one here;
he strung them together and let tham go
in a song of gladness and human woe.
Good and evil were mixed as one,
all was there from under the sun;
he listened to how they jogged along
and whether the mix was right or wrong.
Just sixteen notes 'till a sort of theme
emerged from the clattering, jarring stream,
and people wept in the countryside
to hear such sounds - but no one died.
Not even a critic passed away,
as you might have thought, if you'd heard one say:
"It will not do, it honks and it swings -
apart from which, consider your strings:
they're vertical man, not lying down:
it isn't a grand, it's too 'down-town'.
It's all too easy and user-kind,
a child could follow your tune, we find.
There's nothing to startle, there's no surpise,
nothing to shock or open the eyes,
there's nothing to set the teeth on edge
or cause a drunkard to sign the pledge.
Your melody breaks no rule or law -
I have to ask what the hell it's for!
It slightly jars on the sensitive ear,
but nothing a madman could call sincere.
What should we hear in your wavering line,
hesitant man or something divine?
The earth spinning madly out of control
or the gods befuddled with alcohol?
The moon petals the sea. Rose petals the sea. Stone sea. Stone petals. Rose petals of stone. Stone rising before me. Sea moves. How moves...
extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
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Ah, 'tunes of hell'!
Insightful. I think this lad could have done better had he not persisted with the tunes of hell.
Can you play hell on a piano? It is such a lovely instrument.
I've gone all honky-tonk Dave! I liked this journey.
I found it difficult not to get up and dance to this Dave - you have the dance lilt exactly.
A marvellous ballad, I have really enjoyed it. I feel particularly close to the end and love the word "befuddled".
What a goody Dave I love it ..it seems to get faster and faster as you read it out loud!I think ballad is my favourite!
Some piano players play like they have come straight from hell, no melody at all just noise :-).
Not even a critic passed away; we could do with less of them though.
Story of my life! (And many others, I guess.)
Sure, it's a wonderful instrument: it will do anything! (And after all, the devil has all the best tunes.)
Yes, it's all about the journey - not the destination. Thanks.
The Weaver of Grass
Thanks for that, I was afraid I'd made it to te-tum-te-tum.
Many thanks for that. Very cheering!
I have warmed to ballad a lot of late - being a late starter!
Indeed - be they the ones thems call avant-garde?
Maybe next time - I'll see what I can do!
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