Saturday, 7 September 2013

Played out

Here comes a poem from 1991. I was reminded of it by Sarah Stamford's tweet, apparently following a presenter's slip of the tongue in the last night of the Proms 2013, about Vaughan Williams making a similar posthumous appearance.  It was published in Cous-cous 8, August 1995, p. 8.


I dreamed it in the autumn: a late work,
Rachmaninov's symphonic miniature,
written in nineteen-seventy-five, The Yawn ...
tired twilit composition, half a minute
of themes long worn ... it had its premiere
in nineteen-eighty-six: Rachmaninov
himself conducted, made a modest speech
faintly across the air: we heard him hope
they would not ask for the Symphonic Dances
as an encore. Laughter, polite applause.
Conducting's such a task when you're a hundred
and thirteen years old, dead for forty-three.

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