The Forever Sonata

The Forever Sonata

(To Frederick Kelly)

In a morning of tranquil splendor
He rowed the bay,
The air hung fragrant with peace.
He did not notice in the cut of the water
The agitation of shadows foretelling doom.

In the word “water” is the word “war.”
But who would think that?
Certainly no one
Out for a row in a morning of splendor.
And the Somme? Who would even know

What the Somme was, though the Somme was
Already calling somberly his name
In the somber roll call of the dead.
And the Somme drummed on ahead of him
As he rowed through splendor morning.

Never to know morning would become mourning,
As the Somme drummed somberly his name.
And where peace once hung fragrant in the splendor
Morning, now hung acid
Stink of the war, the acid

Odor of the dead who rowed
No more, no more.
Now across the bay a century later,
Splendor rises in the morning air,
Air through which I can sense

The dead rowing where the fragrance
Of peace laurels his brow,
Laurels with the music of his sonata,
His sonata that will play
Forever in the splendor.

Philip Kuepper

See also “F.S. Kelly’s Lost Sonata Found After 80 Years”

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