Almanac Poetry: Vienna Dream


Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven when composing the Missa Solemnis, by Josef Karl Stieler, oil on canvas, 1820. Beethoven-Haus, Bonn. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]


Vienna Dream


It’s eighteen twenty-five.
I’m in a Viennese coffee house,
at a window table,
gazing at the snow-lined street.
A stern-looking, grey-haired man bustles past
in a fur coat, thumping his gloved hands together.
In the freezing cold, his breath comes out
as puffs of steam.
“Herr Beethoven!” a man cries out,
and frantically waves from across the road
but he does not hear the greeting, of course,
and soon disappears from my sight.
Over in the corner
of the room I’m sitting in,
past the heavy, exquisitely carved,
darkly varnished tables and chairs,
a pudgy, bespectacled man, quite young,
is seated at a piano.
He’s surrounded by some well-dressed friends.
They laugh, converse and drink beer
with considerable bonhomie.
Then all is suddenly quiet
as the man in the glasses begins to play.
The glorious tenor voice
of one of the company joins in,
filling the room with a melody
as beautiful and sad as unrequited love.
I raise my mug of steaming coffee
and savour the smell of the cinnamon.
I take a sip, and listen, in thrall.
I have to introduce myself, I think,
to the one who composed this wonderful song!
At its conclusion, I leave my table
and walk across the room.
The young man at the piano
has turned around.
He looks directly at me
with a quizzical expression.
I smile, and offer my hand:
“Herr Schubert, I …”



Schubert at the Piano, by Gustav Klimt, oil on canvas, 1899. Destroyed by a fire set by retreating German forces in 1945 at Schloss Immendorf, Austria. [Source: Wikimedia Commons.]


(Acknowledgements: previously appeared in Tamba magazine, 2019, then in my fourth poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, Ginninderra Press, 2020.)




Read more from Kevin Densley HERE

Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, is available HERE

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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose.

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