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The Raven

Trey Reely | October 2009

Once upon a contest dreary, while I fretted weak and weary,
Over a fast and furious tempo in Holsinger’s score –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a rapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my bandroom door.
“Tis some parent,” I muttered, “Rapping at my bandroom door –
In 38 time and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I began to reason, t’was the middle of contest season;
And each passing separate note wrought its dangers from the score.
Slowly I began to waver at the sight of semiquavers
From my score of much disfavor – disfavor for the wretched score –
For the rare and varied meters that the composer penned before –
In 58 time and many more.

Presently my soul grew stronger, hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
but the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came rapping, rapping at my bandroom door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you” – here I opened wide the door –
Darkness there and nothing more.

Back in the bandroom turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard the rapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my bandroom window;
Let me see then, what should be there and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore –
’Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flit and flutter,
In stepped Holsinger of the stately days of yore;
“Must you write pieces of motley meters,” I said, “art thou surely mad?
Blasted tempos fly like mustangs, losing every sophomore,
Fingers flapping, joints a-snapping, toes a-tapping, tapping till the toes are sore.”
Quoth the Maven, “Know the score.”

But the Maven, sitting lonely on my conductor’s chair spoke only
Those three words, as if his soul in those three words he did outpour.
Nothing further then did utter, not a baton then did he flick
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “78, 98, 118, more –
On the morrow my arm will die trying to tame the perilous score.”
Then the Man said, “Know the score.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” I said, “what he utters is pure madness
Inspired by some hyper children named Haven, Grayson, and Niles.
Whose hectic pace must possess the musical score –
Sending notes in flight that bring forth more.
Quoth the Maven, “Know the score.”

And the Maven, who is sitting, waves his arms and begins his spinning
On my conductor’s chair, frenetic spinning as I implore;
And his eyes have all the beaming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er my score casts shadows on the bandroom floor;
And my despair from out that shadow that flitters on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore.