A Piano Lesson
A Piano Lesson on “La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin”
(Prelude. Claude Debussy, 1910)
G flat or E flat minor? Should we care?
She’s trapped in five-barred prisons of black dots.
Our task? To set her free. Forget “Rigeur”
Play her as Debussy must have seen her.
Or play like Renoir, had he but painted songs
of Provence swathed in purples, gold and blue,
drowsing in the long, long summer’s ground-bass
where field and Alp and this short Prelude
greet her, twelve tones deep in lavender.
Play that first note to tell her that you’re there!
Pause till she lifts the latch, opens the door,
steps out in her little shoes - such dainty shoes!
Let her pace these down-and-up arpeggios, wearing -
straw hat, long skirts - white muslin stitched with blue
over ruched pantaloons, her bodice trim,
a lacy shawl, and ribbons, ribbons, ribbons
on her breast and hat and hair, a wicker trug
for rose-hips by her way. She turns, squints in the sun
whose beams fall stepwise to the garden gate,
pointing the path to where her sweetheart waits.
Think of her fingers busy with wild flowers
to help you through those four-part fugal bars, then
let the next rising measures sound as though
she’s pondering. Should she dare to jump the stream?
(Petite cherie! Look to the stepping-stones!)
Now make Degas look over Renoir’s shoulder,
as the forte triplets, presaging grande jete
send her hat skimming. She leaps - unladylike,
but no Maman to scold – lands safe,
picks up her hat, laughs at her fun . . . So why
these gloomy chords like clouds (with pedal) laid
between her sixteen summers and the sun?
No matter! Here’s where she sings the first motif,
(coaxed dolce from the treble - lift the mood . . . )
Someone close by is calling out her name.
She does not need to ask “Who’s there?”
as the last spread chord drifts slowly, like
a sweetheart’s fingers through her flaxen hair.
Posted over on his site The Doc's Homeopathic Poems
Listed as #85 over on Magpie Tales 48