Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 5 July 2010

The misspent youth

Sonnet – Wednesday night practice
(Or perhaps Julia was right)
The darkened nave entailed a womb of light
Gilding our boyish group. Standing, we sang
The Nunc Dimittis, Angels ever bright,
Stainer – all proof our aims were Anglican.
The words were null, my job to recreate
The notes with an unthinking treble voice.
I soared the heights towards the perfect state
Where notes become a licence to rejoice.
Fatigued by descants, holding volume low,
I left betimes starved like a refugee,
Ate Marmite toast then turned my face from woe
Dispensing with the evening’s ecstasy.
Oh wasteful child who lost that gift along the way
And deeded me this false reed in decay.

NOTE: Thanks to Lucy for bringing the techno-word “enjambment” to my attention.

7 comments:

The Crow said...

This is one of the better sonnets you've written, BB. I especially appreciate your description of the spot of light in an otherwise darkened hall as a womb - the Light within comes to mind.

Gilding our boyish group - how the light glints off their heads.

The words were null...where notes become a license to rejoice - how true. Reaching the note, the perfect sound, was the language that mattered. (I used to sing in church choirs as a kid, too, and, yes! my heat sang when I hit it right!)

The last line I felt keenly, too, for I can no longer sing. I tried singing Happy Birthday to a friend a couple of weeks ago and not only couldn't find the right note, no matter where I looked, but my voice cracked somewhere in the middle of my trying. I spoke the rest of the words.

Plutarch said...

I agree with The Crow. There is a genuine and plaintif note of sadness in it which resonates with other reasons for nostalgia. Why is my favourite line ... "Ate Marmite toast then turned my face from woe ...?

Lucy said...

You're welcome.

Along with the pic of you in the yellow t-shirt with legs I would also now quite like a one of you as boy chorister, if possible.

If not, not to worry, the poem is vivid enough.

A student at the RCM or somewhere was once siad to have replied to the question 'what do you think of Stainer's Crucifixion', with 'I think it would be a good idea.'

Which brings one on to the bill for Ratzinger's visit to beatify Newman. Truly an outrage. One feels all the more admiring of Thomas Cromwell, and inclined t take a leaf out of his book in terms of this bishop of Rome...

Avus said...

With Lucy vide Ratzinger's visit and Thomas Cromwell!
(Recently finished Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall")

Hattie said...

I'm sure you've heard the crack: not angels, but Anglicans.
I'm sorry I am so tone deaf about poetry. Must be my regional accent!

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: I start singing automatically as I enter the kitchen to prepare my brunch. I find it one of the great tragedies that the easeful singing of my youth has gone for good and I'm forced to pick songs with the narrowest range.

Plutarch: The desire to write this sonnet stemmed from that particular memory, arriving home famished and having my mother prepare Marmite toast. The rest, I suppose, is padding.

Lucy: Exactly my feelings, later in life, about Stainer. At the time, as an indiscriminate youth, it was simply stuff to sing.

Photos. Other than one of me ski-ing and one swimming (now deleted) - both of which left my face well-hidden - I have resisted showing myself on my blog. I suppose it would have one useful function, enabling bloggers the wherewithal to avoid me socially.

Avus/Hattie: A bas le Pape. Turn to my prose instead.

Julia said...

I know I am definitely working too hard when I miss a BB sonnet! I used to adore those moments after choir when my voice would do nearly anything. Now I sing for the children every night but miss the absolute stretching range that practice makes easy.