Poetry Tuesday: XVI

Happy Poetry Tuesday!! It’s almost Thanksgiving, are you excited? I’m excited. I love eating. Anyway, onto poetry.

This week’s poem hits very close to home for me. First of all, it was written by a Pittsburgh native, Robinson Jeffers. And he’s talking about a piano. Now, for a little story time. When I was nine, my mom got an old upright for free from a church. It was old and out of tune, so they were going to throw it away. My mom wanted to take it apart for the woodwork (the front was hand-carved with acorns and oak leaves). I really wanted to keep it intact, so my mom set it up in our family room (fancy talk for “second living room”), showed me middle C, and left me to my devices.

I loved that piano. I could sit for hours poking at the keys and not be bored. Unfortunately, when Hurricanes Ivan and Francis hit the area in 2004, my grandpa’s house was destroyed and he moved into the family room, so the piano had to be taken apart. We were able to save some of the wood for shelves and decoration, and my mom saved a whole octave of the keys to make a wall-hanging for me, but we had to get rid of the rest. My mom, God bless her, bought me a wonderful electric keyboard for my birthday, but the old upright would always be my first piano. So with that, this week’s poem goes…

To an Old Square Piano

Whose fingers wore your ivory keys
So thin—as tempest and tide-flow
Some pearly shell, the castaway
Of indefatigable seas
On a low shingle far away—
You will not tell, we cannot know.

Only, we know that you are come,
Full of strange ghosts melodious
The old years forget the echoes of,
From the ancient house into our home;
And you will sing of old-world love,
And of ours too, and live with us.

Sweet sounds will feed you here: our woods
Are vocal with the seawind’s breath;
Nor want they wing-borne choristers,
Nor the ocean’s organ-interludes.
—Be true beneath her hands, even hers
Who is more to me than life or death. – Robinson Jeffers


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