So, you went to Salisbury at the weekend?
Yes. To the ‘Celebrate Voice!’ Festival.
And heard what?
I sipped my Monk Pear tea. Schubert. Susan
Bullock, the Wagnerian soprano. She was singing
lieder. But I think that she was upstaged by the moon,
You can read my poem and decide for yourself.
Schubert in Salisbury
Our invisible feet traverse The Close
and we are shrouded in darkness. It’s there:
luminous, transcendent, yet immanent,
its sculpted details sharp in the moonlight.
Together, on this frosty evening,
our hearts ache from Schubert’s yearning lieder:
betrayal, grief, regret and bitterness.
Oh, farewell to the world- let them feel love;
they may thank you yet – sooner or later,
but tearfully– and probably too late.
In the medieval hall she sang to us
and we were insulated by the warmth,
the spotlit dais; the shiny Steinway.
Elbow to elbow, we brushed each other;
applauded to show solidarity.
But, propped up, in the great closed porch, a lone
cold, shadowy figure, tightly cocooned
in damp, lumpy bedding, breathes not a word.
The stone finger of God points to the sky,
as if to seal the lips of the divine.
Before us lies a man who has no voice,
but merely craves some heat from God’s stage door.
The singer did not bow to him tonight;
he did not hear the piano lid come down.
He falls asleep and hears the angels sing-
the spire above, his ladder up to Heaven.
And we, like Jacob, rooted to the earth,
wrestle and wrestle with our own demons.
The moon vanishes behind a dark cloud.
She sang: Und finster die Nacht, wie das Grab!*
The frozen sleeper turns onto his side
and we hurry, before the gates are locked.
*’and the night dark as the grave.’