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Lay for the Day
29th March


1795: Ludwig van Beethoven gives his first concert in Vienna, a little over two years after moving to the city. Born in Bonn in 1770, he had made his public debut as a musician at the age of eight, in Cologne.
1827: Beethoven is buried in Vienna. He was 56 years old.

 

Composure: an Ode

His face is covered in calluses. His brow is deafened with hair like a rock in the sea. His eyes open their feeding fringes on a salty light, and his ears are full of mussels. His mind, too, expands slowly in its opaline casing like a mollusc.

With the powerful mandibles of the sea-hyena he splinters his prototype fortepianos, cracking open the naturals for their marrow, licking his lips over lickerish flats and sharps.

A sonata for snapped strings proves taxing. By the time he’s scratched the final flourish beneath the dedication to his married second cousin, the heap of violins behind his chair is keeping the loyal little maid from dusting the rows of little royal figures she arranged on his derelict harpsichord.

He’s lowered down in the end at the end of a chain, in a shroud with wraparound sleeves. It’s years before his time and the moon is empty. The monumental marble he left unfinished, Multiple Collision, is placed on the tomb, just in case.

John Gibbens
from Makings ’84–’88

 

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar