Reflecting and Remembering

     Lest we forget, living in the relative peace of Western Europe, just what war can do, November serves as a month for reflecting on the consequences of war and the sufferings of those who still endure it now, in 2017.

My poem “Merciless Day” was last year set to music by composer Simon Mold. If you would like to hear the music and poem, please follow this youtube link.

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Sad Piano

For me there’s something poignant about a piano put out for removal by the local waste collection service. How many songs have been played on that old piano? Dances danced? Shows accompanied? Romances begun? A piano’s wood and metal structure is surely more than the sum of its parts. This little poem, a haiku, celebrates and mourns the piano you see in the photograph.

put out with rubbish

abandoned to sun, rain, I

play only sorrow

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More on Music & Poetry

For those who love music AND poetry, please paste into your browser the link below to be taken straight to a recording by Amemptos Music Limited of Simon Mold’s  piece “Chaconne for the Fallen”…which is also my poem “Merciless Day”. Simon’s work has earned him the accolade of Composer of the Month for the Central Composers Alliance. Now enjoy a few minutes’ thoughtful music that expresses a longing and hope for peace.

http://www.composersalliance.com/composers/work.cfm?work=1390

A Treble's Voice amendedartwork

Music and Poetry!

A Treble's Voice amendedartwork

Merciless Day

 

The world wakes with a chip on its shoulder –

Reluctantly. Too chill, too soon

Between cold clouds the stars grow colder.

By the light of a cruel, one-eyed moon

 

The iced ribbon of road runs into the sky,

As merciless day cracks open:

A grudging window of heavy-lidded grey.

Now soft night shatters; sleep is broken.

 

Rooted in earth, black trees stand, darkly

Bearing the weight of recrucified Christ.

Suspended from stars, stiff branches hang starkly

On thousands of Calvaries where soldiers have diced,

 

On thousands of mountains where troop tanks have rolled,

In thousands of valleys where armies have moved

To thousands of Bethlehems where peasants untold

Have given up first-born and babes they have loved.

 

Kyrie eleison! O, deliver the war-torn.

Christe eleison!

O when will be your true morn?

Kyrie eleison!

O bring us your new dawn.

© Lizzie Ballagher

This poem has been set to music by composer Simon Mold as part of a 100th anniversary World War 1 commemorative requiem mass. It was performed in various UK venues in 2014 and in 2015 and is now recorded by Amemptos Music Ltd

http://www.amemptosmusic.co.uk/ourstandard.asp?pageid=82

on the album A Treble’s Voice sung by Oliver Barton.

The might of the little

In a January storm two years ago (and I take heart from this now that colder weather returns to the northern hemisphere) I heard a wren burst into such loud song that her voice drowned even the roaring wind. And now, happily, this poem was one of two chosen by poet John Siddique as one of those commended in the 2015 Poetry Space national poetry competition.

Storm Wren

Over the whinnying, plunging wind,

The frantic strain of sycamores bent double in anxiety;

Over the thundering train of cloud-carriages

Blundering eastwards in the blast;

Over the heaving spines of conifers uprooted in a tyrant gale,

 

One small dun wren

Opens her tight brown beak

And with a clear cathedral voice cleaves,

Breaks the blackened heart

Of this relentless western storm:

 

A shout to crack

The feeble egg-shell

Of the watery world—

Soaring, rolling notes, a mere breathful—to tip

The whirlwind off its antic axis.

 

Sing, wren, sing!

And let angels, larks & nightingales

Take notes.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

2014-11-09 14.50.17

Shadow Dancers

In this final post on dancing, I imagine someone I once knew who played the piano for ballet dancers: someone who never drew attention to himself – just played.

Shadow Dancers

High summer’s light—June light—and curtains
At French windows shift in air invisible.
Fiercely frowning, alone, an old man bows to the piano keys.
His fingers flash & fly, strike black & white alike.
Behind him, he hears pale dancers
Who are not there,
Who might return (or not),
Who once were here (but now are not)—

Hears them slip, skip, step to his fingers’ lift & lilt;
Hears at the shining grand-piano keyboard
The schuss, the brush, the hush of silken shoes
On polished gold-grained floorboards
As his hands follow & give chase:
Shadow & reach
Echo & overlap
Criss-cross & race.

His fingers stretch & span the keys
While dancers spin & leap the fifths & octaves.
Around him, around the ones who are not there,
Mirrors gleam back lightness of steps; glass
Beams back the dazzle of brilliant notes:
Waiting for the beat,
Syncopating feet
All resonating.

In the dancing room,
Echoing the poise, the pose, the pause
Of pallid dancers in an empty place
With drifting translucent curtains,
Echoing the peace of dancers in a bleached, bare, beech-wood space
Of bright piano keys,
Of mirrors floor to ceiling height,
Of white light full of angles, reflections, refractions—

The music cascades, fades in a dying fall.
See! The player at the grand piano turns, quite spent.
Pale dancers in his head, his ears,
Have also turned; not one of them remains:
Just soundless music in his hands, his mind.
Somewhere, something (he cannot say) aches today.
Some kind of loss (o! strike white! strike black!) breaks grey in him.
Then something takes his breath away.

© Lizzie Ballagher

2015-07-17 13.05.412015-07-16 10.12.30

With thanks to the managers and staff at Dance Junction in Rochester, Kent, UK.