Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beethoven Sonata

On days when I am unworthy of Beethoven,
when the sonata struggles with sun for shadow
and light, I seek a tincture to cleanse this blot
that makes me shudder at his notes and modes;
this abyss where root and bud smolder to a core
whose strange relic haunts the senses and their demise.

The music’s measure is a memorial of my ruin.
It recalls that past where just concern and defiant woe
found their syllables in fate and time’s deceit;
that fabled past where wheat does not die in the furrow
and the radiant face has virgin charms
that mock the obscene eye and transmutes
evening gray into wraiths of pine and elm,
collapsed barn and junked car.

But tonight an orange moon lingers over the lake
like a pillar in the mirror of a vast and unending dream.
Nature desires a chronicle that augurs a legendary past,
yet it bears nostalgia for wilderness.

Faust or saint, Beethoven,
I only hear your gift in remorse,
hymned in contrite prayer that angels might sing,
should they not abide in the love of God’s eye.

(c) copyright 2011 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.


  1. dang...that last stanza is really tight charles....the angels song that do not abide in the love of god....great first line too...unworthy of beethoven, smiles...also the first line of the second stanza...there is great feeling just underneath this man...

  2. The music’s measure is a memorial of my ruin...i get this...music has such immense power..so much strength and brokenness in it...beethoven - a genius - and broken as well when he turned deaf later - but it wasn't in his ears, it was in his heart, this well....and then the last line drives it home perfectly

  3. It is the magic of music that it can actually make us feel such a wide sweep of emotions. We can feel sad and it can lift us, or we can feel happy and a song can play which takes us right back to a reason we were downright miserable. And, all music does it too, doesn't it. I love each stanza, some lines are so wonderful, I ditto Brian's remarks. The last stanza is stunning!
    Glad you got the link to work now. :)

  4. O My. The unusual images compelled me to read this again and again until I sensed the senses, starting with:
    "I seek a tincture to cleanse this blot
    that makes me shudder at his notes and modes;
    this abyss where root and bud smolder to a core
    whose strange relic haunts the senses and their demise."
    I thought the poem would lead me to a tincture, but this speaker feels so unworthy, so abyss led, so unable to "abide in the love of God’s eye" that he really--perhaps for penance, perhaps for prayer--wants to ride the music to the barn, the car, the pain. It works.
    (I hope that I am somewhere near your intent, and not in my own world.)

  5. Charles, so much of Beethoven is melancholy to me. Your line, "...I only hear your gift in remorse" really captures it.

    such a weaver of words you are. wow.

  6. Great imagery and feeling.

    Also I just love how this reads. Has a flow to it, and sounds most amazing out loud.

    As always, excellent work.

  7. Beautiful and sonorous as the works of the composer, leavened with an element of the transitory nature of all our pleasures, at least to ourselves, however they linger for others. For me the penultimate verse was the standout stanza--every line Euclidean-ly balanced just right.

  8. So I think this is my favorite. (Though I probably say that every time--the one about your grandfather and grandmother comes to mind for sure, and the one on Times Square , or Broadway anyway), but this one, well -

    There is something about the beauty of certain music that is beyond imagining - for one thing, it resolves in the end. There's simply a rightness, which we fear not to find in life. And there's so much open pathos, and feeling, and somehow there it is again - that resolution (of sorts.) And, of course, one just wants to weep with unworthiness even though one feels this sudden great belief and uplift and nature as you've described.

    Chopin works too! I really really really love Mozart, but he's almost too perfect for it all. Puccini's not bad!

    I'm laughing now. Great poem. k.

    P.S. - you'll laugh, perhaps, to know I'm going to a Stockhausen concert on Friday with four orchestras. I haven't heard Stockhausen in some time and didn't buy the tickets, but I am really looking forward to it. Yes, it's a completely different plain! But still I'm looking forward to it! k.

  9. Outstanding images here. the second stanza is particularly strong for me, and what a finale here. Great write Charles. Outstanding read. Thanks

  10. Classic throughout--wonderful balance and pace, just like the Master's sonatas. The last stanza settles around the reader with such finality and simplicity. The art and intensity that underlies this composition elevate it to that "other" level. Very fine work.

  11. Beethoven's music certainly runs the gamut of emotions, probably like no other...and the power of your words match beautifully. Your last stanza, sounds like Beethoven himself..and brings to mind the chorale of the 9th symphony..music and words soar... Another jewel, Chaz!

  12. 'But tonight an orange moon lingers over the lake
    like a pillar in the mirror of a vast and unending dream'

    How beautifully expressed Charles! Music blends the emotions into many moods. And how easy you made it out!


  13. Tormented, probably, according to most. Not easy to verbalize the effect of a Beethoven sonata - your use of the moon made me think of the Moonlight; my personal favorite probably the Appassionata as it's the only one I never mastered (well that's going a bit far..it's the only one I could NEVER play). But before I got sidetracked I was going to say, I think you come close to achieving verbalization. By letting the music fill the spaces it has been before, the memories rise with the notes. The emotions of then wash over you once again and it all seems a moon, a mirror, and an endless dream. Yes, quite right!

  14. His Fidelio, or the Mass, almost outside what can be sung, yet I think he meant us to struggle, being a lover of humanity in the abstract and not as much in the embodied particular. I heard this and closed my eyes (silly as then I couldn't read the next line). Magnificent.

  15. Lovely write Charles ~ I specially like the last two stanzas ~ a gift in remorse that angels might sing ~

  16. Heavens Charles! I had to click away and come back to this. The imagery, the mood, the sheer beauty of this - especially the last couple of stanzas. Bravo.

  17. Beautiful...the mood is somber yet so soothing to me.

  18. so i take it you play. i sing classical music. would be cool to get together for you to accompnay me.

    i like hte last stanza a lot.

  19. this is a really good poem, well layered and well crafted like a symphony, smoothly taking the reader into the crescendo of a diaphanous space in time...

  20. I'm so glad that I read this poem.