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.


Nightingale, nightingale,

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.

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