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Poem: An Ode to Music

Updated on February 23, 2013
The Serenade, by Frederico Andreotti. From
The Serenade, by Frederico Andreotti. From
Frangipani Flowers from
Frangipani Flowers from
Purple Orchids, from
Purple Orchids, from

Listen to Insingizi!

Voices of Southern Africa
Voices of Southern Africa

This album of a Zimbabwe acappella trio, who now reside in Austria, is truly outstanding. Insingizi sing in the mbube style, which has become increasingly popular. Here is a trio that sounds twice their number, with beautiful, well-crafted renditions of songs. Most songs are religious or moral. Their rich baritone chorus and harmony to the lead tenor provide songs that move you to tears. The sound quality is absolutely perfect.


(Note to the Reader: You can go straight down to the poem, Ode to Music, in the capsule below, skipping this introductory capsule. Pratonix)


How I Started Writing Poems in my Teens

I wrote this poem ‘Ode to Music’ when I was about 18 years old. I was studying in college then, doing my B.A. It was a Jesuit college, and there was little scope for relaxation or fun. The Jesuits tend to be very strict, and their system of teaching was to have tests every week, with exams every fortnight. They kept your nose to the grindstone.

I started writing poetry when I got into college. Most of the poems were written between 1971-73. Actually 98% of my teenage poems were written when I was studying in Loyola College.

Poetry was a form of escapism - from the dullness and drudgery of studying in a strict Jesuit college. I loved the English language, I loved English literature (I was doing my B.A. in Eng. Litt.) and I had read lots of stories, novels and works of fiction by then. My imagination needed an outlet. The time had come for me to give expression to my creative literary talent. I had the writing skills, having done well in school, both in English Grammar and English Composition. So I started writing poems. I think I wrote more than 250 poems, but what I put up on in 2006 were only about 90 poems or so. So after 35 years, 90 poems survived out of the 250 odd poems. The mortality rate of teenage poems can be pretty high. These 90 poems which I still think are worth publishing, are available for viewing on, if you wish to peruse them.

My Love for Music

My love for music began when I was very young. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I remember listening to Connie Francis and Cliff Richard on the gramophone. The Beatles came in the mid-60s, but I can’t remember having falling in love with their music. Some of you may not like me saying this; but the Beatles songs seem to be ‘low-class’ and somewhat like jingles. (Elvis Presley I got to know much later, sometime in the early ‘80s; who can ever forget ‘Hound Dog’?) My interest in popular Western music and songs picked up when I got into college – Neil Diamond, T Rex, Mungo Jerry, Boney M, Abba, the soundtracks from English films, reggae, etc.

I wrote the poem ‘Ode to Music’ in the most ‘unmusical’ and 'unpoetic' surroundings. We were staying in an apartment whose long front balcony faced the main road. It was a road full of traffic, but between the road and the apartment were two large trees – one tamarind, the other wood-apple. (Both were cut down later under road-widening.) The scene before me was certainly not something to inspire a teenage poet - I ‘escaped’ into the depths of my imagination and created this little ode. I think the images in the poem still carry a freshness about them. The opening stanza of the poem seems to me to describe classical music.

My taste in music grew in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I was fascinated by the funky disco music of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ – I was crazy about ‘Staying Alive’ by the BeeGees for almost a whole year. I remember travelling by road in a jeep, with a friend, and coming into a coastal town in the area where I worked. As we came into town, the music of Boney M hit our ears – it was ‘The Rivers of Babylon’, played on a high-volume loudspeaker. It lifted our spirits in a wonderful way; that was back in 1979.

Moving from popular Western music, country & western and the Billboard/Grammy top hits, I came across a few classical music (Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos) cassettes in the early ‘80s. My love for baroque music was stimulated by an audio-cassette titled the ‘Top Hits of 1750’. Sometime in the ‘90s I lost the cassette, but my love for classical music developed rapidly – soon I was listening to Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, and so forth. I liked Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, too. Recently, I discovered that Daquin’s Le Coucou was the piece I heard way back in the early ‘80s that inspired in me a passion for baroque music. Handel’s Water Music fascinated me for years. And I was charmed by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, especially the concertos relating to Spring and Summer. Nowadays I listen to Handel’s Overture for the Royal Fireworks, and I relax to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. I found the Canon most helpful while taking long, brisk walks in the park. It does great in a gym, on a treadmill, because of its huge soothing effect.

My tastes in music have grown exponentially in the last few years. These days I am listening to different kinds of music across the globe. I listen to African music (South African: Soweto Gospel Choir; Zimbabwe: Insingizi), Cajun, Zydeco, Ragtime, Boogie-Woogie, etc. And I have not lost my love for Caribbean music. I also love my own church songs sung in the native tongue from our church song book titled ‘ Songs of Zion’. Somehow, I have not been able to appreciate contemporary Christian music; CCM turns me off. I prefer the classical hymns of olden days. And the great gospel music of the 'Philadelphian' revival in Victorian times. I sometimes imagine that it would be wonderful to hear ‘Jesus, Keep me near the Cross’ playing from an amplified organ in Westminster Abbey and heard all the way down Victoria Street, and even all the way across Westminster Bridge.

I’ve been wondering, during my recent visit to New York last year, how it would be if LAGQ’s Variation on Pachelbel’s Canon (what they call the Loose Canon) was played on West 34th Street, somewhere near Macy’s. These days, having fallen in love with Insingizi, I’m thinking: 'How would it be if they played their songs in Wanderer’s Park, Johannesburg during those fascinating one night cricket matches, where fours and sixes are hit all over the ground?' I can’t forget the native South African’s love for music; I remember the night I watched on T.V. a match played in Port Elizabeth, where Jacques Kallis scored a century, and the stands were filled with jolly, vibrant music. It was great fun. Cricket should be like that. But I suppose elegies and adagios are more suitable for five-day Test cricket!

One last comment, before I sign off: “Good music is a delight to one’s soul. But Christian hymns and spiritual songs are life to the spirit.”(That statement can be understood only by those who are truly born of the Spirit!)

© Pratonix


The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe
The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe

"If you feel tense or stressed, listening to these selections will calm your nerves and renew your spirit." My favorite here is the Canon in D major by Pachelbel, but there are some other good pieces here, too!


Ode to Music - Part 1


is a message of the heart
transmitted to the soul
in drops of cadence
trickling down
a stem of harmony,
to swell into a blushing bud
of notes that warble
in the ear.

Music is a picture of my heart
reflecting unshed tears,
expression of a smile
that frames the inner eye;
in savage melody,

beating jungle drums
to startled cockatoos
and lonely wolves,
the ghostly moon
a cold Siberian waste.

is the feathers of a dove,
the exultation of a hymn
sung as a prayer,
the heartbeat of a hoof
galloping to fight,
the gnash of steel,
and rattling chariots
breaking in retreat.

is the roaring of a cataract,
a river flowing to the sea;
the arrow in the air
that strikes a tingle
in the breast.

is the wind that moans
through window-cracks,
the mother
and her child,
the blooming of our lips.

is the rhythm of ethereal tongues
before the patter of the rain,
the sadness of a flute
through nostalgic airs,
the cymbal and the drum

that beat in maddened rage.

is a fruit about to fall,
the toll of bells,
carts winding home
in funereal march.

is the dulcimer and xylophone

spattering in crystal cries
of happy children,
piano and dance.

swaying skirts,
a kiss,
laughter in our eyes.

by Tan Pratonix


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    • Steele Fields profile image

      susan beck 

      8 years ago from drexel hill,pa

      You're very good--your images are consistently unique and fresh (even years later!) I really enjoyed this. I'm glad I stopped by. Thanks.

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 

      8 years ago from UK

      Fascinating background to poetic ode. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      I'm blown away and I clung to every word in both background and ode. Your background is a story in itself, told with a clarity and vividness which carry the reader into each and every experience and place. Your poem is a treasure. Thanks for sharing both. I feel such kinship.

    • reemhmam profile image


      8 years ago

      thanks for this topic

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      your credentials or quite impressive for one so young,i should like to think that your soul was possibly linked to a time far past.i don't believe in reincarnation but you see the soul and spirit are two very different things a soul binds the spirit and flesh together, so it could be that your soul is linked to past experience's.anyways your very good bravo on your ode to the by thanks for ur interest in my stuff and your Christianity your brother in crist jesus jim.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      8 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Mr. P.

      Enjoyed the poem as well as the background. Thanks.

    • samsons1 profile image


      8 years ago from Tennessee

      up & beautiful! thanks for sharing from your heart...


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