Monday, November 23, 2009

the tinkling piano our guide

{Play the piano by clicking on the keys}

~by D. H. Lawrence

SOFTLY, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cozy parlor, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is in vain for the singer to burst into clamor
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamor
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.


Concert Party

~by Siegfried Sassoon

THEY are gathering round....
Out of the twilight; over the grey-blue sand,
Shoals of low-jargoning men drift inward to the sound—
The jangle and throb of a piano ... tum-ti-tum...
Drawn by a lamp, they come
Out of the glimmering lines of their tents, over the shuffling sand.

O sing us the songs, the songs of our own land,
You warbling ladies in white.
Dimness conceals the hunger in our faces,
This wall of faces risen out of the night,
These eyes that keep their memories of the places
So long beyond their sight.

Jaded and gay, the ladies sing; and the chap in brown
Tilts his grey hat; jaunty and lean and pale,
He rattles the keys ... some actor-bloke from town...
God send you home; and then A long, long trail;
I hear you calling me; and Dixieland....
Sing slowly ... now the chorus ... one by one
We hear them, drink them; till the concert’s done.
Silent, I watch the shadowy mass of soldiers stand.
Silent, they drift away, over the glimmering sand.



bookmanie said...

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Kirie said...

Holy moly! What a lovely poem by Lawrence!! Thank you for sharing that one this morning. It is a beautiful way to start a week of thanksgiving. Our home is filled with music as my daughter and I start to learn the piano--what a poignant view this poem brings to our sometime future...


the watercats said...

beautiful piano thingies!!! Just annoyed myself by trying to figure out the alien talk from third kind.. just when I almost had it, I'd hit the wrong key again!!

We had a friend of our's keyboard in the sitting room and I did try and teach myself. I cannot separate my two hands though... It's now in storage up in the spare room safe from frustrated fists :-)

RB said...

I love DH Lawrence. It's funny you posted this now as Thanksgiving is approaching; it reminds of how important, and troubling, it can be to reconnect with our families and pasts.

Owen said...

Two beautiful pieces Lydia... a pleasure to discover them here. The glimmering sand of Egypt... were they off to someplace like Gallipoli from their base camp I wonder...

Lydia said...

@Kirie- Great to hear from you. Yes, I thought the poem started the week of thanksgiving off well too. And I absolutely love that you can actually relate to the theme, both real-time and in the future. :)

@RB- Glad you enjoyed. I thought each poem spoke to pieces of what you described in your comments. Good for you to mention "troubling" because for many the holidays are powder kegs of emotion and worse. Would that everyone could recall nothing but joy and ease...

@the watercats- I plunked around on it and made some good noise too! When you mention a keyboard upstairs I suppose you mean just that and not a full-size piano. I've always been in awe of people who manage to get them to upstairs apartments and rooms. ugh.

@bookmanie- Nice to have you here for a visit. That's kind of you to think of mentioning me on twitter. As you know I am staying away from it because I fear how time-consuming it would be for me!

@Owen- The second poem set me to dreaming too: painted me as an observer in the scene and made me wish I could have all the troops home for the holidays.
As an expat do you have a Thanksgiving dinner there in France?

Rhiannon said...

Well that was fun! Thank you for putting that piano in your post. I've always wanted to be a piano player but I do so enjoy others that are so talented at it. Actually playing around with this piano here on your post, I actually sounded pretty good. Maybe there is something to natural ability after all?...:o)

I love these two poems. Made me think of the movie "The Pianist" which I just recently watched the DVD the other day with my friend. Have you seen it? It was so sad yet such a good movie.

I have some food for thought about how we all celebrate Thanksgiving and just did a new post in regards to the Native American Indians who's land it was before we came along.

Hope you have a "Blessed" and "Thankful" Thanksgiving Lydia.



Carlos Lorenzo said...

I like the scene depicted by Lawrence. The piano tinkling bringing back memories of Sunday hymns, of a mother smiling and singing and so on during childhood days. It reminded me of a teacher I had back in first grade. I was able to visit her house where she had this wonderful piano and the sound of it made me love this instrument forever more, like some sort of worship. I learned to play some chords and even went to an audition but I failed. When I listen to a good piano, well played, from a short distance I remember those days and get gooseflesh :)

Carlos Lorenzo said...

Well Lydia I wrote a whole essay on my childhood memories about piano but I am not sure if it was accepted by the comment filter. I am reading this about the meme-free stuff. I hope it does not get lost. Anyway, I enjoyed the D.H.Lawrence fragment.

Darlene said...

Where did you get the clever piano graphic? Even though I have a real piano sitting in this room I had fun playing the computer piano. It's like a toy; you can't put it down.

The poem of times gone by reminds me of when I was a child listening to my grandmother play. Some memories are bittersweet. Music and memories can always bring a tear to my eye.

Jennifer said...

In spite of myself, Lydia, I find myself reading poetry! Interesting that you chose a Siegfried Sassoon poem -- he's one of the poets Pat Barker writes about in that WWI trilogy I mentioned (which you may already know and I may have already said -- but still, it struck me.)

La Belette Rouge said...

I have never read that Lawrence poem before. As always, he is genius. I can almost hear the piano.

Lydia said...

@Jennifer- How 'bout that! And I think it's truly strange that the Sassoon poem is in the Barker trilogy that you recommended earlier. Thanks for this second reminder; I should probably just order it even if I won't read it until next year! Even stranger: I'd never heard of Sassoon before reading the poem last evening!

@Darlene- I sent you an email with the info on the piano widget. You can get there by clicking on the chopped off words ("get" "share") on the lower left corner of the piano widget.
Your sweet memories made me smile, but with a tear on the way...

@Carlos- I'm glad that your comments weren't lost! Wouldn't that first-grade teacher be amazed that you would be recalling her piano these years later - and via this kind of technology? What a wonderful story the Lawrence poem stirred from you.

@Rhi- I actually picked out some tunes more easily than on our piano in the living room (I don't play), and wonder if it's the mini-size that has something to do with our perspective?
Will be by your blog to see your tribute. I have an old postcard for Wednesday along that line of thought. Happy Thanksgiving, friend.

@Belette- It really is a great poem. I get more out of it each time I read it. And even more when I heard it read out loud by my husband.

Jennifer said...

Actually, I don't think the poem is in the trilogy, but the books are based on real people -- Sassoon spent some time under psychiatric care after writing a letter of protest against the war (he was an officer; this was a very bold move). Anyway, funny coincidence.



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