Friday, April 14, 2006

Danse Macabre

The skeletons are in a dancing mood.
One grabs a violin and starts a tune
Just as the clock strives twelve. A brilliant moon
Illuminates this lively bony brood
Who leap and twirl, their spirits all renewed.
With passion that might make the living swoon,
Knowing their little jig is up too soon,
They triple-step, by icy time pursued.

A prima-ballerina lead the way,
And even as the others tire and fall,
She seems to just fly higher into space.
At last, a cock crows. Dawn. The whole mad fray
Stops dead. But then, she stands, alone of all,
And curtsies gravely, with exquisite grace.

(Inspired by this.)

EDIT: I suppose I should comment further, that Saint-Saens is one of my favorite composers, and his Danse Macabre has been a particular favorite since my college years. I have often thought of writing a poem about it. I have even tried a few times. But I have gotten nowhere, until today, when this came to me in the form of the first line, which popped into my head. Yes, once I had the first line I had to work at it, but I find having a first line is key for me.

The musical piece is itself based on a French poem, but my poem does not follow it except in the basic idea that the dead start dancing at midnight and stop at dawn.

As for the form of the poem, in case anyone wonders, it's a sonnet in the Petrarchan style, fourteen lines of iambic pentameter with an abbaabba cdecde rhyme scheme.

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