Pauletta Hansel

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Ghazal of the Lutanist by John Drury

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Yesterday a sonnet, today a ghazal by poet and University of Cincinnati professor John Drury, also of North Avondale (and our sonnet writer LaWanda Walter’s husband.) John will read his poetry at the Cincinnati Library’s Poetry in the Garden Series on April 25, 7 pm in the Downtown Library.) Notice how each couplet’s refrain is made fresh with each repetition.

Ghazal of the Lutanist

Ever Dowland, ever doleful, the lutanist says come again
to melancholy, whether he’s silent or plays “Come Again.”

Invitations that mention “deadly pain” and wail “out, alas”
won’t seduce anyone but a masochist who prays Come! Again!

Torches at court leave shadows for uneasy liaisons,
dark rooms where ladies-in-waiting, in silent lays, come again.

Courtiers whisper on back stairs, place notes in ruffled sleeves,
but the lutanist can’t catch the phrase. Come again?

The page rubs his eyes before stretching gut strings along the lute
and poking around for the tuning peg’s eye. Dark days come again.

When panes of leaded glass fill like goblets with tinted light,
John is fingering scales on his lute as sun rays come again.

John Drury

The poem first appeared in Able Muse (Summer 2011) and was reprinted in John’s most recent book, Sea Level Rising (Able Muse Press, 2015). The book’s website includes a video in which the poet’s reading of the poem is accompanied by lutanist Rodney Stucky playing pieces by Dowland. Here’s the link.

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine

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