Three Poems about the Flute

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Shinobue_and_other_flutes.jpg#filehistory | Source

Ugly Duckling

I sobbed and sank into the well

of the plush, brown chair.

Lost my locket,

won in a carnival skills game;

just cheap gold plate, it

turned a shy, stocky ten-year-old

beautiful, inviolate.

Hold my flute gently in my hands,

silver-plated, closed holes—

cheap, beginner model,

yet playing, I’m transformed

as music pours through me,

habitual sadness turning to

ethereal loveliness, power, and joy.

Practicing today,

keys sticking, tone impaired,

another expensive repair.

Somehow I will earn the money,

to once again

work the sweet alchemy

that turns this ugly duckling

into a shining white swan.

Poem to My Flute

You’re like a magic wand

silver, gleaming white light;

I’m still afraid I’ll break you.

I’m finally learning your language,

trills and turns,

how to purse my lips and sing through you;

I spend hours with neck cricked,

arms cocked, fingers flying,

blowing breath and heart into you,

and you transmute them,

returning endless joy.

Play On (After Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun)

Late afternoon, and the faun

steps into the pearlescent grove,

trembling as whispered notes

melt into his basalt eyes,

iridescent sunlight dapples the grove,

his hooves strike the ground.

The vibrato, the long-blown, living breath

whooshing, warbling

through Japan, China, India, Africa, America, Peru—

through flutes blown as one

long breath, one thought,

deep in and long out,

through polished wood, bone, silver, gold,

through eons-old stone instruments

unearthed alongside squat, carved goddesses—

whom one might cuddle in the palm of one’s hand,

who too-often end up spotlit, on velvet, under glass,

exhibited as “Primitive Art.”

A Brief History of My Life as a Flutist

The three poems in this Hub begin to share my musical journey. Did you ever feel that one certain instrument is "yours"--that you are meant to play it? I've felt that way about the flute since I was in grade school. It seemed so ethereal and lovely, an expression of grace I feel within, despite not always projecting it. However, in grade school, I was told by my instructors that I should play clarinet, so I dutifully attempted to do that for a year or so, hating every minute of it. I did learn a smattering through that experience of how to read treble clef music. Later, in junior high and high school, I played guitar, ukulele, and harmonica and sang, but it was only after I left home for college that I found courage to buy my first flute, at a pawn shop, and begin to play. It was another two decades before I began to study seriously, as an adult re-entry student, taking electives in Music such as Beginning Woodwinds and Intermediate Orchestra. My love of Flute and application of that love as a musician grew, and in 2010, I earned a Second Bachelors Degree in Music (Flute). I continue to play regularly, and I hope to continue to improve for the rest of my life.

About the Poems

While I hope that each reader will find something in these three poems that uniquely touches his/her spirit and experiences, here is a little explanation of the poems in this Hub. "Ugly Duckling" strives to express the magic that artistic expression means to me, a way to communicate the intense beauty I feel, but might not show in daily life. By association with my artistry, I feel more beautiful. That may or may not be completely ethical, since true beauty is character-based; however, we humans are not yet perfect!

"Poem to My Flute" is a poem about the awe and love I feel for the instrument, which often seems like a living entity. I feel grateful to be allowed to play it. Musical readers, perhaps you have felt the same thing when playing your chosen instruments?

Finally, "Play On" is a more complicated poem, one that acknowledges the mystery and historical power of flute playing and that laments the fact that our society often ignores or suppresses the creative and beautiful side of life as we strive in a rational manner for further industrial accomplishment. The poem also laments how an artistic person, or even simply a beautiful person (as symbolized by that artistry), is often unrealistically idolized and "worshiped," rather than treated as a human being and a friend. That leaves the artist or beautiful person alone, unfortunately.

Jean-Pierre Rampal Plays Debussy's Syrinx

Emmanuel Pahud--A Fantastic Living Master!

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Comments 11 comments

Canscorpion profile image

Canscorpion 5 years ago from Steel Town

Oh healingsword...your poem touched my heart so. The way music is your art and flute your instrument, you both share a relationship of passion, admiration and a deep bond... every true artist i believe feels that way for his/her art and their instruments. It gives an artist a confidence and reason to be proud of themselves. That's why they share such love and adoration with their beloved resources to present their art. :)

I feel the same way for my words, my poems and my art. I felt so connected to your writing specially your poetry. and apart of that i'm a devoted music lover. So i especially love your hub, as well as your thoughts that you shared. :)


healingsword profile image

healingsword 5 years ago from California Author

Hi Canscorpion,

Thank you for your beautiful comment. I can feel your empathy, and I am glad you enjoyed the poems. You're right--creating beautiful art is a "reason to be proud of [our]selves." Even better, our art, be it music or writing, moves and inspires other people. Thank you again.


Maun and Squanto 5 years ago

i loved these poems! very well written that is how i feel when i play my uke.. very good


healingsword profile image

healingsword 5 years ago from California Author

Hi Maun and Squanto,

Thank you so much! I'm glad the poems resonated with you! I don't have a uke anymore, but enjoyed playing it so much as a high schooler. Play on...


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, Wow! I had forgotten how beautiful flute music was! I could only watch the first video because the second one said it has been taken down? Your poems were lovely, then I listened to the music and went back and read them again, and I saw exactly what you meant. I would love to be able to play the flute, the sound reminds me of woodlands, and elves and all things mystical, beautiful poems and beautiful music, loved it!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, Wow! I had forgotten how beautiful flute music was! I could only watch the first video because the second one said it has been taken down? Your poems were lovely, then I listened to the music and went back and read them again, and I saw exactly what you meant. I would love to be able to play the flute, the sound reminds me of woodlands, and elves and all things mystical, beautiful poems and beautiful music, loved it!


healingsword profile image

healingsword 5 years ago from California Author

Hi Nell, Thank you for your kind words and for engaging with my Hub. I am mortified that I didn't catch the video that had its "embedding disabled," and I immediately edited the Hub, replacing that with a different, and equally amazing video. Thank you for letting me know. Yes, trees/woods/elves is definitely part of the appeal of flute for me (though I love most kinds of music, and many instruments besides flute). I love trees, and living in Northern California with the redwoods is heavenly. I am also a huge science fiction/fantasy fan, including classics like Lord of the Rings, with all its elves. Thank you again, Nell. I look forward to reading more of your writing.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

I love lord of the rings too! imagine my surprise when my sons friend married Tolkiens nephew! I can't get over saying, mrs tolkien! ha ha


healingsword profile image

healingsword 5 years ago from California Author

Hi Nell,

Wow! That's a great connection. Tolkien must have been an interesting person to talk to. Of course, a writer is not always similar to his or her writing, when it comes to sensibility, don't you agree? I know some writers whose personalities make me feel the same as I do when reading their writing, but with some others, it's jarringly different.


ALEYNA SOYLER 4 years ago

your beautiful poems inspire me im 11 years of age i play the flute

your my inspiration

thank you


healingsword profile image

healingsword 4 years ago from California Author

Hi Aleyna, Thank you so much for reading my Hub and for your nice comment! I wish you happiness and many wonderful musical experiences during a long life!

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