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Emmanuel George Cefai

Freshman - 1,954 Points (12th March 1955 / Victoria, Gozo)

The Last Sonata


He willed it so, he yearned it so
He prayed for it, he suffered for it
The last sonata!


He made it last!
He willed it last!
At last!


Not much of verse
For a parched throat
Had he:
Yet all in all
There was a sweetest melody
A heavenly melody
Under starlight under the dark
Midnight sonata!


How much suffered he!
Birth was
The beginning of suffering
Of tragedy on tragedy:
Heaved the breast in pain
Not all the Earth’s wealth
As quiet
Needed he!
Only a last sonata!


Venice was before him
And its sad violins
And Stabat Mater
And the band that played
Whilst the sere leaves
On that chill even flew
They too felt
They too suffered
They too were torn
They too yearned
The last Sonata!


Bits of flesh torn
Here and there
A hundred pieces
And more
Cut here and cut there
A Hand that struck
A soul that sighed
A bent that fell:
At last!
The last Sonata!


It was the Sun
Yet the sky grew
Grew black in face
Day lost all grace
And light slow fades
Instead dark grows
And frowning trace
Then suddenly
Three thunder claps
The Earth did rent
First one – a shock!
Then other – soon!
The third – and fear!
The lightning thrilled
Screamed the dun skies
‘The Last Sonata! ’


No light
No warmth
Just chill
Just frost
A heart beats dim
A brain gets dull
And eyes that fade
The last Sonata!


A Poet Seer
On a bed stretched
A Poet Seer
On the dark clouds
His brain is lost
Yet not the Soul
That clear wanes
And knows it wanes
Grapples the last
Grapples to last
All desperate
A Poet Seer
On a bed stretched
The last Sonata!


Quick, quick, low
Is the breath!
Low, lower, lower
A thunder bursts
A storm flares up
Early night falls
This last Sonata!


The body still
Moves not
The body stretched
The Poet Seer
They raise him high
The catafalque
The body still
At last found rest
The Poet Seer
In last Sonata!

Submitted: Friday, May 23, 2014
Edited: Friday, May 23, 2014

Topic(s): life

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  • Veteran Poet - 4,340 Points Daniel Brick (5/30/2014 12:12:00 AM)

    I already wrote a comment that appears in my POSTINGS but not available for you to see. But I have had a chance to re-read your poem and come down from the fevered heights it took me to. I deal with a lot of Post-Modernists for whom the notion that great art derives from great suffering is an old-fashioned idea they have discarded. But I believe it, and if my belief has wavered, your poem has restored it. The cumulative effect of these stanzas is ecstatic, I lived intensely each passage and each one summoned me to a higher state of appreciation for the sacrifice of the Poet Seer in first living his art and then producing the art object - the LAST SONATA - which embodies it. At this moment I am hearing Mahler's Ninth Symphony in my head because it conveys the values of art and life your image of the LAST SONATA symbolizes. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,340 Points Daniel Brick (5/29/2014 11:58:00 PM)

    This is a traumatic poem about the trauma of making art. I was transfixed from the first stanza straight through to the end. The intensity, the high stakes, the sacrifices, the deadline - all of these things make your poem a peak experience. The idea that art, at least great art is born out of suffering is a visionary Romantic view of Art - Beethoven's life and career certainly embodies it, and I immediately thought of him as I read the first stanzas and he stayed in my mind to the end. Ironically, his last three sonatas are luminous, ethereal, they seem to float above life's suffering. But his Grosse Fugue - that could be the music that expresses the essence of the last sonata of your poem. I was heartened to find the Poet Seer again despite the traumatic circumstances. (Report) Reply

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