Prelude and Fugue;
A Practical Guide
First, clear the mind of cant, of melodies
that anyone alive will know,
then tick off pulse, fast, medium or slow,
but one that notes will cotton to with ease.
Next, listen in the ether of your mind
to what might fill a void with notes;
now measure off a tune, yet not by rote;
hone it till it’s the best one you can find.
Now give yourself excuses for a snack,
or lunch or brunch or walking for a mile,
returning clear of head and with a smile
to polish up what first drafts always lack.
Persevere with what your inner voices hear!
To bring the thing to life could take a year.
II. Compose a Fugue
Nothing is more practical today—
or any day of this or any year—
than, when your mind is innocently clear,
to contemplate, compose and then to play
a composition lithe and strict of style.
Invent a subject no one will forget,
and follow with an answer, securely set;
employ the pair, include each voice, beguile
us with your contrapuntal skill, and weave
among the expositions episodes
related by their motifs and their modes;
add a thematic cadence, then take your leave.
Nothing humans do can take the place
of satisfaction born of mental grace.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Don
be pleased to hear them.