by: Alfred Kreymborg (1883-1966)

      F 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!

"Preludes" is reprinted from The Masque of Poets. Ed. Edward J. O'Brien. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1918.




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