1. THEATRE

Strolling Players

Dancers, actors, acrobats!
Stripey trousers, floppy hats!
They weren’t born to swing a scythe,
pay a toll or weigh a tithe.
Not for them the horny hand,
tied to tilling leaden land.
They will never need to chew
on millet bread or turnip stew.
Red carnations, blue cravattes,
body supple, spirit blithe,
seguiriya, sarabande,
then tomorrow pastures new.

 

2. COMEDY

La Commedia dell’Arte

The art of comedy’s a sacred thing,
as fresh and precious in its gift of bliss
as when a worshipped one’s initial kiss
transports us first. Like Fragonard, we swing
to Lena Horne’s delightful rites of spring
on wings of wonder. No analysis
can pull apart a pleasure pure as this.
We humans laugh as nightingales might sing.
We’re told to think creators must be serious,
but humour’s both unruly and imperious,
and ridicule’s the boy-god’s sharpest dart.
We laugh and learn, though lifeless lead-weights weary us,
for dreariness is deadly, deleterious:
thank heaven for the comedy of art.

 

3. OPERA

L’Elisir d’Amore

To pass a perfect Spring, which never ends!
Forever to be handsome, healthy, young,
with psalms of sunlight, waiting to be sung!
To live a life of love, greet loyal friends,
and linger in the vineyard, lost among
sweet grapes of laughter, bursting on the tongue!
To never know a shadow on the heart –
for this, we have the alchemy of art.

The sun will always sparkle on the grange,
spry sparrows ever skitter to and fro.
Sopranos come and tenors tend to go,
but music is immortal, doesn’t change.
The drama will discard, evolve, accrue,
will always sound the same – and always new.

 

4. VERNACULAR MUSIC

Flamenco Song

I wasn’t ready for it when it hit.
Pathetic, self-absorbed, wallowing in grief,
plaiting the threads of self-disgust and wit,
I toyed with tragic sonnets for relief.

The night was hot. The cleft of Guadalin
crammed air, weighed down with jasmine, hard to breathe,
like musk in tall clay jars. I heard a skein
of song. It rose. It swirled. It dipped and writhed.

There, at my window, I was held, transfixed.
It was the ancient song of blood and soil.
That wailing voice was stinging, bitter – but was mixed
with darker tremelos which fizzed and boiled,

then sank again. It almost seemed the shock
of that shrill voice, embodiment of pain,
had stunned guitarist’s hand. His rhythmic knock
reminded me of coffins in the rain.

Voluptuous and frightening at one time,
mellifluous and jarring, fresh yet rotten,
the music was both guttural and sublime:
my puerile self-obsession was forgotten!

 

5. SCULPTURE

Micaelis Me Fecit

There lies a town in northern Spain
(thank God it’s little-known!)
where every chapel, church and fane
is hewn from honey stone.

Nice chunky arches, columns too,
with barley-sugar twist:
and gargoyles, griffins, gremlins who
quite cordially coexist.

To stroll here is to turn, with love,
some bestiary’s bold pages,
and marvel at the mindset of
those early Middle Ages.

Capricious carvings crowd one door,
coeval “carls” of Beckett:
and, scratched into one caricature,
Micaelis Me Fecit.

The mason sits in effigy,
a chisel in his hand.
He eyes us quite audaciously:
that look, we understand.

He doesn’t care for Time or Fame,
or Wealth, or Noble Birth:
that “Michael Made Me,” is his claim:
and Michael knows his worth.

 

 

Barrister, teacher and journalist, Michael Coy is an Irish poet who has settled permanently in the south of Spain. He readily admits to a serious rhyme-and-rhythm habit. Winner of various poetry prizes in Britain and Ireland, Michael has been published fairly regularly in the British poetry journal, ”Orbis.”


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11 Responses

  1. Sathyanarayana

    I loved OPERA the most. Lyrical with soft sounding words. Well knitted meter perfected the craft.

    Reply
    • Michael Coy

      You are so kind! Thank you for your appreciative words. I cherish them.

      Michael

      Reply
  2. James A. Tweedie

    Michael,

    These poems address a subjects that are dear to my heart and soul. For me, at least, they sing.

    “Like Fragonard, we swing
    to Lena Horne’s delightful rites of spring
    on wings of wonder.”

    “We laugh and learn, though lifeless lead-weights weary us,
    for dreariness is deadly, deleterious . . .”

    “The drama will discard, evolve, accrue,
    will always sound the same – and always new.”

    What delightful phrases, conjuring up such delightful images! Each expressing the obvious in ways that transform common experiences into deep and profound ones.

    How appropriate that each of these fine poems should carry the words “Micaelis Me Fecit.”

    Reply
    • Michael Coy

      My Dear James,

      Oh my goodness! What a fabulous response!

      Your warm appreciation is a delight and an encouragement.

      I am hugely grateful to you! (And the “Micaelis Me Fecit” reference didn’t escape you!)

      Warm regards,

      Michael

      Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      It reminds me that Michelangelo Buonarroti signed his name to the Pieta that he sculpted at the end of the fifteenth century. It can be seen on the band across the Virgin Mary’s chest:

      MICHAELANGELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTINUS FACIEBAT

      (Michelangelo Buonarroti the Florentine made [this].)

      It’s the only time Michelangelo ever signed one of his artworks.

      Reply
  3. C.B. Anderson

    Michael, the flow of vivid images proceeded with nary a hitch. These meaningful poems were, above all, intelligible and sharply executed, and the rhymes were impeccable. In #2, am I correct in thinking that the boy-god is Cupid?

    Reply
    • Michael Coy

      Hi, C.B.!

      Thank you so much for your very generous and (if I may say so) extremely perceptive observations! Your compliments are really flattering. And yes, the boy-god is Cupid.

      Once again, many thanks!

      Michael

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        And as for love, romantic comedies do their best to make fun of courtship and marriage, but the best of unions are not something I would care to disparage. There is plenty of love to go around, and its scarcity in specific places is, in my opinion, the only excuse for the notion of redistribution.

  4. Monty

    I find myself slightly perplexed as to why you bothered with your recently-attempted translations on these pages . . when it’s now evident that you can write such worthy poetry just in the English.

    The above work is a thoroughly enjoyable sequence of well-written, near-faultless poems . . . well played.

    Reply
  5. David Watt

    Michael, I love your phrasing in each of these poems.

    I note that the rhyme pairs in ‘Vernacular Music’ included breathe/writhed, soil/boiled. These pairings, although not exact rhymes, still worked perfectly within this piece.

    My favourite rhyme overall is: weary us/deleterious.

    I hope to read more of your work.

    Reply
  6. Lannie David Brockstein

    Hey Michael,

    As your fourth work listed in this thread is titled “Flamenco Song”, can you please provide us with a link to a video or sound file that features you demonstrating how the melodies of its lines are meant to be sung?

    From Lannie.

    Reply

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