Monthly Archives: June 2018

Debussy’s Arabesque

Arabesque

Arabesque No.1, by Debussy,

stops me in my tracks, with its beauty;

stills me with its simplicity,

softens me with its fragility,

infects me with its poignancy.

And every time it does it to me,

my mother comes alive in my memory.

 

My mother, who played piano proficiently,

in spite of lack of opportunity.

Who became a dutiful housewife,

and devoted domestic slave, to her family.

Who spent her days toiling in the kitchen,

while we were dozing, or watching TV.

 

My mother, who sold her piano,

and never forgave herself for doing so.

Who loved flowers, and gardens, and trees.

Who loved Chopin, and paintings, and poetry.

My mother, who would have loved

Arabesque No.1, by Debussy.

The inspiration for this poem is simple enough to explain.  I listen to classical music most mornings, on BBC Radio3, and every time I hear a solo piano piece by Chopin, Debussy, Brahms, Schumann, or Grieg, memories of my mother automatically come into my mind.  Chopin was her particular favourite, and I don’t think she’d heard that much by Debussy; but I feel sure she would have loved his Arabesque Number One.

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Endless Rejection

Despondency

Classical Music, Philosophy,

Art, Science, History,

Literature and Biography

are all grist to my intellectual mill.

 

The problem is, the wheels of my mill

are dulled at the edge, and grind exceeding slow,

producing poems and prose

that no-one wants to know.

 

Week after week, anxious, tense;

week after week, steeped in suspense.

The vain hope my luck will change; this time I won’t fail.

Then the curt dismissal: the rejection email.

 

After so much failure, I cannot respond.

I just sink deeper in my slough of despond.

Readers of this blog over the last few years will be well aware of my struggles and frustrations with getting my poems published in magazines and journals.  Apparently it’s generally accepted that most poets submitting to literary journals will have around a 90% rejection rate.  The only reasonable way of looking at it, I suppose, is to adopt a stoical, philosophical attitude to the rejections, and to rejoice when you get the occasional acceptance.  The problem for me is I find it very difficult to adopt such an attitude, and I still tend to treat each rejection I get as a personal affront.  I was provoked into writing the above poem by the latest rejection, after having built up my hopes, yet again.  I suppose I shall recover, eventually.

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