Poetry about the viola d'amore
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.
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.