Peter Bolton

(2nd April 1942 / Brecon)

The End of Music


There was a boy who, not having dedicated himself sufficiently to his studies,
Left school with no qualifications whatsoever.
One thing he had learned, however, was some skill in playing the violin.
His name was Tarlin.
He could keep a good beat and he joined a country dance band,
Travelling the land in their company.
For years they went the rounds, from village to village,
Giving great pleasure, but earning only a paltry living.
It came about that Paskip, the son of a rich merchant,
Looked upon the people and thought,
‘They dance and sing and enjoy themselves,
And I’m not making a penny out of it.’
He had been well taught by his father.
Beginning with his friends, he studied the behaviour of the people:
He noted their national pride and their admiration for the army,
A body of soldiers who kept them safe from harm.
The solution was obvious and a new musical style was heard.
Soon to be known as ‘rank’n’file’.
A band was formed, the Royal Parade Ground booked and posters were displayed throughout the kingdom.
Money spoke and it did say.
‘This is the latest. This is the greatest.’
The populace flocked to see this sight and hear this sound.
As it was the latest and the greatest they were readily parted from their money.
For who would choose to be left behind?
There was not even one small child to cast doubt on the Emperor’s new clothes.
Soon the land was full of trumpeters and big bass drummers and no one wanted to dance to a violin any more.
The folk dance teams were reduced to penury.
Tarlin walked alone through the countryside, still playing on his fiddle,
Now a beggar, a busker relying on such small change as came his way.
As age wearied him his music grew sadder, and yet stronger.
It became an elegy, a requiem of isolation.
One day, as a military band played, and the dancers marched in step;
Outside in the icy blast with fingerless gloves all frayed,
A solitary figure played his noble tune, a memorial to a lost heritage.
Passing youths and lasses jeered.
‘Get with it, Grandad, ’ they cried and into the venue they went:
Thus the money they might have used to set up happy homes was from them parted.
Paskip had grown very rich.
It was said that he was the wealthiest man since time began.
Some louts emerged, goose-stepping as they came.
Drunk with the strident music.
‘Listen to that squeak, ’ one of them shouted. ‘Let’s oil it.’
A bottle was raised and Tarlin’s head was cracked.
He stumbled and dropped the violin.
They laughed, but not for long.
They saw him fall; they watched him die - And The Music Stopped.

’Play on, ’ cried the dancers,
Supposing this to be but a marketing stunt.
‘We have paid our money.’
The band tried to please, but were reduced to raucous cacophony.
The drummers were no longer able to keep a rhythm.
Eventually, in disgust, the punters wended away to their homes.
They reached for compact discs, hoping to recapture the lost mood.
Not one disc would produce anything but noise.
There Was No More Music.

That is how it will remain.

Or

I will allow hope.
Tarlin’s violin was placed in the folk museum.
People come to see the quaint old instrument.
Nobody knows whence legends come.
They are a legacy of our past, an echo of our heritage.
It is not said that a child will come?
A child who will open the case and draw out that fiddle,
A youngster who will place the violin under his chin as though he always knew how.
The bow will be drawn across the strings,
And the sweetest sound that ever was heard will fill the air.
Then there will be music again, but nobody knows when that will be.
Nobody knows.

Submitted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Edited: Friday, September 27, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This is one of Esme’s London restaurant poems in which she plays with her unmentionable predicament.

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