Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Viola Poem by Ralph Aldrich

My oldest plays the viola, and he has come to love the instrument.  In addition to school orchestra, he plays in 2 different groups through ASU, has private lessons and also plans to audition for the Phoenix Youth Symphony.

So, when I came across this poem, I knew it had to be included in my month-long celebration of the National Poetry Month.

This was originally printed in the CVS Newsletter Opus 1/1982.

A number of years ago a poet named Laurence McKinney wrote a little book called People of Note. (New York 1941). In it, McKinney wrote several poems giving his impressions in verse of the various orchestral instruments. McKinney's impression was not particularly flattering to the viola and Ralph Aldrich, poet laureate of the Canadian Viola Fraternity has wittily written the following reply:

Forgotten Man he might well be,
A jibe applied eternally.
But hark, the liberation call,
From C to A, once, and for all,
'Arise, O Resonance, Vibration,
Catalyst of orchestration.'
Fiddles' friend, Cellos' pal,
Saviour of Quartets' morale.
Who needs to envy First Violin,
When any Altist, with a grin,
Can change the course of history,
By altering the Harmony?
O, heed the call, Arise, and Shine,
And lay it on the ledger line,
That never was such rev'rence owed
Violists by all instruments bowed.
VIOLA, there's a mighty sound!
Behold Prometheus unbound!
Reject that 'head-cold' simile...
A Primrose brings no allergy.
Eat out thy heart, O Cello proud,
And Violin, go don thy shroud.
Pray Saint Cecilia's mercy mild
Forgive thy up and downbows wild,
For she in sacred restitution,
Bless'd VIOLA'S contribution,
Paying IT the compliment
Of genius' favoured instrument.
Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Britten,
All for orchestras have written.
Hear, O Man, and earth rejoice...
VIOLA played they all - BY CHOICE!

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