Poetry Corner: March/April 2017
On Hearing Couperin's
"Rossignol en amour" Played on
the Harpsichord by Ruth Dyson
For an hour or more you had talked,
Wittily, knowledgably; about your harpsichord,
About conventions of ornamentation, about
Aufführungspraxis – leaving your listeners
Much better informed, relaxed and amused,
Better people in fact. And then for no
Immediately apparent reason, just inspiration, perhaps,
You decided to play us more Couperin,
The Nightingale in Love: The talk of
Tremblements, cadences, appoggiaturas came to
Amazing life: in unforgettable notes the
Forlorn bird trilled, softly, wistfully,
Hopelessly, The sighing dying echoes of long forgotten love.
Then I remembered how years
Ago in some distant olive grove
At two in the morning I heard
The song of the nightingale flooding the
Still soft night with mellifluous musical
Heartbreak, the sad forlorn sound
Pouring round the gnarled old branches.
For that brief space, the music and
The magic moonlight illuminating the
Mystery of the world.
In your heartfelt sound
You sang for us all.
Today, the harpsichord
Evoked for us the
Faraway echo and the
Poignancy of that vanished song.
The player spoke for you
And for us all.
– Alexander Kelly
"On Hearing Couperin's 'Rossignol en amour' Played on the Harpsichord by Ruth Dyson" is from Visitations: Poems of Flesh and Spirit, Elo Press Limited, 1986. Reprinted with permission.