Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Dying of the Year

It is never a good thing to have to explain a poem, but the following one has, like many, a story behind it. It also contains a few musical terms, so I will append a glossary to save you having to trawl Wiki-sites, or look up your old Grade 5 Theory book.

I was at a party at one of those strange houses that one finds in Edinburgh’s South Side, best described as an architectural experiment. A combination of Art Deco and 1970s kitsch, it had brown wall panels and wall-sized windows that would have made the puritans proud – were they not facing an inner courtyard. From the street, it just looked like a wooden box, covered in foliage.

In one of the rooms of this inverted fish-tank, there was a rather rigid and lonely lizard in a glass cage. According to the hosts, it was so old they couldn’t remember what they (or the children, long-since flown) had called it. It seemed so sad that my friend (a violinist) and I both decided to write a poem for him.

This was my attempt, which I post here to reflect the dying of a decade, and as a pre-curser to my next selection of poems, which are all about fantastical creatures. I will post these poems over the coming year, a year of full moons that began with a blue one.


To 'Molly'

A creature called a gecko
Played the violin.
It was hard for him:
He came from the Nevada Desert
Where everything was secco.

It pained him in the neck – O
How he wished his
Long-limbed lizard fingers
Played the full length of the bow
A melody legato.

Now his home is just an echo
Of that North American Plain.
And though he oughtn’t complain
In his glass-fronted bungalow
It’s an uninspired existence Art Deco.

He hasn’t even got a name,
The sad, dried-out amphibian.
His sandy scales lack a leading-note:
Morendo, mixolydian.

Glossary of Musical Terms:

Morendo – dying away
Secco – dryly, without resonance
Legato – smoothly, un-detached
Leading-note – the seventh note of the Ionian (major) scale
Mixolydian – a ‘natural’ scale or ‘mode’, as if played from G to G

(therefore, with a ‘flat’ leading note, being a whole-tone interval)

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