Last night at the Troubadour I read my poem Cecilia Speaks. Anne-Marie Fyfe had given us the theme of ‘Lost’ – I’d been tinkering with it for a while but suddenly it seemed to fit itself together.
Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians. I wanted to explore how music animates a player, but is impossible to remember afterwards: something so powerful evaporates almost completely away. I imagined my Cecilia to be inside a piano, waiting to be discovered.
I can’t better Auden’s words and Britten’s music in Hymn to St Cecilia – have a look at Auden’s genius here.
Auden’s refrain has been in my head ever since:
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.
Singing that when I was young was the first time I’d heard Auden or Britten, and it electrified me. Here is my attempt:
I’m blind. I hide – a weft on warp –
and weave a fabric through these strings:
they hold me mute as if of rope
until I hear you listening.
Then, when you touch my steel and wood
I’m rock and Siren, storm and port:
I rise through air and fill your blood,
and drug your mind, and silence thought.
And while I breathe you shall be God,
and while you’re God, you will forget
the day you trembled where I hid
and lost your heart, when we first met.