Adagio for Strings

Adagio for Strings

One heart stops, while another beats,

yet feels as though it has stopped,
knowing that mourning
has the power to be endless.

Time passes, and a life follows
its course, its pulse subject
to random intrusions.

Music will play the strings
of a heart, so that it seems
as if it will never heal.

A memory, no true intrusion,
may become a knife, turning,
tracing old scars.

Yet it’s the brilliance of that music
and the beauty of those memories
that have the power to sustain.

And a heart continues to beat.

This is a response to Poetics: Cry Me a River, the prompt from Amaya at dVerse, which is to write a poem about a piece of music that has the power to bring a listener to tears. That would be Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

Image source: Curtis Institute of Music – Samuel Barber

38 thoughts on “Adagio for Strings

      • We are on the same page! I’ve meditated to this music many times over the years but because it was on a CD with other instrumentals, never knew the name of it before. Truly reaches right into my body, takes me somewhere hauntingly beautiful, past all words…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What a powerful line, “mourning
    has the power to be endless.”
    And yes, the infamous adagio. The adagios of all adagios to pull at the heartstrings as if we forgot about our endless journey ahead. On another note, I know you’re a long-time reader of Peter Notehelfer. Do you know what’s going on or how to get in touch? It appears he’s deleted his whole site:(

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Barber’s movement touches me every time I hear it.
      I did not see that about Peter. I just sent a brief email his way. I’ll let you know if I learn anything.


  2. I love the circularity of your poem, Ken, and the isolation of those two lines that are separated but linked by heartbeats. I was moved by the lines:
    ‘A memory, no true intrusion,
    may become a knife, turning,
    tracing old scars’.
    Thank you for sharing a beautiful piece of music I forget until I hear it again – a bit like giving birth, you forget the pain until you’re reminded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kim.
      At first, I was stumped by the prompt. As beautiful as it is, that music doesn’t come to me unprompted, which I suppose is a good thing, considering it’s effect on me. I think of my mother, particularly, and I’d rather have the fond memories than I would the loss.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This music gets my heart beating every morning, it is my wake up alarm. It is a beautiful intrusion. I like how your poem emphasizes the healing of scars through this music, that is the intrinsic quality of it. Thank you for this Ken.

    Liked by 1 person

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