Dispatch from Belfast 1996

John Field – 1996 Dispatch from Belfast*

the first play, his hands
a long way off
from his shirt and casket cuffs
demonstrating clementi’s
instrument with his soft fingertips.

The society of Russia
made him “Darling”
finally, his mistress
made him
her husband after
three years under under his

This time, these next years
now more composed, and composer
a productive period, no children,
just music from his pen
in St. Petersburg, how charming,
this new music entering
the 20th century.

The green of Northern Ireland;
the mysterious notes, nations
a history behind him, ahead
another city, the city
of silence, he couldn’t bear to
hear, this Moscow, this noise
or finally any noise at all.

Unlike Beethoven he was not deaf,
he just couldn’t bear to hear
even the shuffling of feet,
the noise in the street,
the revolution never quite up
to his standards, and the greater
the greater
his need for silence.

The more he stayed silent
he didn’t have any idea
the world turned around him
faster than he could.





this must have come from program notes at a symphony orchestra concert, I believe most likely in Belfast. I was on a jaunt with other Canadian artists and arts managers in 1996.





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