Alfred Kreymborg

(1883-1966 / United States)

Preludes - Poem by Alfred Kreymborg

If you stand where I stand-
In my boudoir-
(don't mind my shaving-
I can't afford a barber)-
you can see into her boudoir-
you can see milady-
her back, her green smock, the bench she loves-
her hair always down in the morning-
(the sun conspiring with the curtains?)-
reddish brown,
with ringlets at the tips-
the hairdresser called this A.M.-
him I have to, I want to afford.
Unhappily, you can't see her face-
only the back of her small round head-
and a glint of her ears, two glints-
but her hands, alas, not her hands, though
unhappily, you can hear them.
It isn't a clavichord-
only a satinwood square-
bought cheap at an auction-
but it might be, you'd think it,
a clavichord, bequeathed by the past-
it sounds quite like feathers.
Bach? Yes, who else could that be-
whom else would you have in the morning-
with the sun and milady?
Grave? Yes, but so is the sun-
not always? No, but please don't ponder-
listen, hear the theme-
hear it dig into the earth of harmonies.
A dissonance? No, 'twas only a stone-
which powders into particles with the rest.
Now follow the theme-
down, down, into the soil-
calling, evoking the spirit of birth-
you hear those new tones-
that sprinkle, that burst-
roulade and arpeggio?
Gently now, firmly-
with solemn persuasion-
hiding a whimsic raillery-
(does a dead king raise his forefinger?)-
though they would, though they might-
no phrase can escape-
the theme, the theme rules.
Unhappy? Nay, nay-
they ought to be happy-
each is because of, in spite of, the other-
that is democracy.
He can't spare a particle-
that priest of the morning sun-
A mistake? Yes indeed, but-
all the more human-
would you have her drum like a schoolmaster-
abdominable right note at the right time-
in the morning, so early-
or ever at all?
She'll play it again-
oh don't, please don't clap-
you'll disturb them!
Here, try my tobacco-
good, a deep pipeful, eh?-
an aromatic blend-
my other extravagance-
yes, I'll join you, but wait-
I must dry my face!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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