Tuesday, 22 January 2013


You can see her pouting
over the manuscript.
She doesn’t understand
music properly, but
the newfangled cittern
makes that irrelevant:
she can strum with half
the aplomb of anyone.
Just pity that poor fellow
using real skill to chisel
out enough gilded foliage
to half-plug her soundhole.
She’d say, “You’re a git.
Earn your wage.
Don’t complain.”
He'd say: "When God
was making men,
where did he put
your lughole
and your brain?"
Poem by Giles Watson, 2013. Citterns were adaptations of mediaeval citoles, with flat backs which made them less costly than lutes. They were metal-strung, and effectively the precursors to the steel-string guitar, both in design, and in the extraordinary variation in the talents of the people who played them. The poem is partly inspired by a cittern made of maple wood by Gaspar de Sallo (1540-1609), and partly by Pieter van Slingeland’s painting, "Woman with Cittern" (1677). The poem is, of course, a conflict between modern Marxist and feminist criticism. I agree with both.

Room 39, both of my poems are inspired by real musical instruments - that room is the musical instrument gallery.

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