Poetry about the viola d'amore

From The Viol of Love, Poems by Charles Newton Robinson, 1895
The Songs to the Viol.
Songs, like dreaming chrysalids,
When the fateful heart-fire bids,
At the bursting of the rose,
Loose their prisoned embryos!
Large in passionate surprise
Flame the splendour-weaving eyes!
Wide in sun-warm rapture spread,
Moisture-welded wings unwed,
Ardent in the noon to dare
Pulsings of the vagrant air,
And eager to be full unfurled
For the exploring of the World!
Houghton Library This is a short excerpt from this very rare book. Please contact the library for more of Charles Newton-Robinson's volume of Poems about the Viol d'amore.
In Sympathy

It is rare these days, the viola d'amore.

After three-and-a-half centuries

Through Vivaldi and Berlioz

Your average musician only knows

That one fact: it is rare today.

But it always was.  It never had

A golden age like the viol or lute.

At its end, no soft scroll rolls over, but instead

A blindfold Cupid's head

Listens and looks vaguely sad.

In the yellow light of a subway

Or a Laura Ashley living room, always

The d'amore sounds as if it's played

In some solemn, sacred place, made

Of marble, lit by a single glass-stained ray.

The secret of that acoustic halo

Lies in the strings.  For every one that can be bowed,

There is a second string, set below,

Untouched and untouchable, as though

To preserve their mystery they lie low and stay low.

These hidden angels are the sympathetic strings.

For each racked cord of gut, a thin

Shiny counterpart whispers in tune with its mate.

Whether gut groans or sings, the other will vibrate.

When sinew tires, the other sustains.

When its voice has faded, its effect remains,

And in its better, silver self, it rings.

Mark Bennett




WHAT fairy music clear and light,
Responsive to your fingers,
Swells rippling on the summer night,
And amorously lingers
Upon the sense, as long ago
In days of rouge and rococo!

A century of silence lay
On strings that had not spoken
Since powdered lords to ladies gay
Gave, for a lover's token,
Fans glowing fresh from Watteau's art,
Well worth a marchioness's heart.

Your dormant music, tranced and bound,
Was like the Sleeping Beauty
Prince Charming in the forest found,
And kissed in loyal duty:
And when she woke her eyes' blue fire
Turned the dumb forest to a lyre.

Thus Amor with the bandaged eyes,
Fit symbol of hushed numbers,
Most musically wakes and sighs
After an age of slumbers:
Beneath your magic bow's control
The Viol has regained her soul.

Mathilde Blind


"Viola d'Amore,"

Sometimes, love does die,

but sometimes , a stream on porous rock,

it slips down into the inner dark of a hill,

joins with other hidden streams

to travel blind as the white fish that live in it.

It forsakes one underground streambed

for the cave that runs under it.

Unseen, it informs the hill

and, like the hidden streams of the viola d’amore,

makes the hill reverberate,

so that people who wander there

wonder why the hill sings,

wonder why they find wells.


Moya Cannon's poem, "Viola d'Amore," which is set in the Burren in County Clare.