To Beauty

(Tribute to Sarah Lane, American Ballet Theater Ballerina)

Who see you move across the stage
Themselves are moved by easeful gifts
That vivify as they assuage
The day’s reflux. Your grace uplifts
The torpid languisher, inspires
The anti-Philistine, assures
The patron this fine art requires
Him for a pas de trois and lures
The self-hailed athlete with its strength.
Kinetic beauty pairs with soul
And dewy countenance at length
Entrances, capping off the whole.
Black Swan, Snow Queen, or Les Sylphides
Display balletic beauty, creed and deed.

 

To Haute Culture

(In Memoriam for the late Shirley Verrett, Metropolitan Opera Soprano)

Ms. Verrett’s Norma at the Met
Was unimagined on my part when we
Shared diction class at Juilliard, and yet
E’en then her clear superiority
Like opera itself was both remote
And reachable, a queen of divine right
So vocally impeccable that note
On finessed note had power to ignite
And keep an elegant suspension of
That outside world controlled by digital
Dictatorship. Cathartic swank above,
Mahogany warmth below, all integral
Components of the haute culture: her song
From arte galant to fervent sturm und drang.

 

sturm und drang: a literary and artistic movement in Germany in the late 18th century, influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and characterized by the expression of emotional unrest and a rejection of neoclassical literary norms.

 

H. Wendell Howard is professor emeritus at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. He is also retired as a choral conductor, a forty-year career that began after receiving a diploma in voice from the Juilliard School of Music. He earned his Phd in English and music from the University of Minnesota. He has published over 150 articles, essays, chapters in books in journals, periodicals, and volumes throughout the United States and Canada. His poetry has appeared in Roanoke Review, Hellas, Orphic Lute, Indiana English, and Delta Epsilon Sigma Journal, and a number of other publications. He is the author of In Praise of Women, Poems, a volume published by the Mellen Poetry Press,

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