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Jul 2013
The bittersweet harmonies of
Barber’s song of ruing
carry me back two score years
to that day I sat intent on the bench -
Barber’s accompaniment on the stand.

Ben Walker exploded into the room
“Have you heard about the president? ”
My blankness answered,
“Kennedy's been shot! ”
My stiffened fingers lifted from the keys.
Dread-filled I stammered,
“Will he be all right? ”
Unable to utter the words,
Ben shook his head.

Scenes flicker on our mindscreens
like scratched newsreels -
tears staining Bernstein’s face,
Eroica and Resurrection
weeping our televised agony,
Oswald doubled over Ruby’s bullets,
a toddler's unbearable salute.

Watching motorcade frames
repeat in slow motion,
we careen on rubber legs:
a nation’s heart shattered in Dallas

The somber song plays on:
Housemans’s words
Joined with Barber’s melodies:

'With Rue my Heart is Laden.'

*April, 2007
I was practicing the piano part of a song by Samuel Barber set to a poem by W.H. Auden. I was to accompany Ben Walker, a baritone friend who was to sing it an upcoming recital when he burst in and gave me the horrific news.
Robert C Howard
Written by
Robert C Howard  Estes Park CO
(Estes Park CO)   
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