Viola, soul of the string orchestra,
less bright in tone than that star violin
who hogs both spotlight and show-off solos,
yet like the piano, it is useful
for composing: Mozart, Dvořàk, Brahms
played it, wrote down ideas, notations.
More moveable than a grand piano,
lacking range of violin, piano,
its brilliant tone remains as attractive
as a sunny day in spring or autumn.
Viola, the butt of ten thousand jokes,
yet silently admired in Berlioz
when dreaming of Harold in Italy,
or in the hands of Debussy, Schnittke,
Martinu, Wuorinen, Penderecki.
In piece-work by Kurtag and Ligeti,
one discovers a mysterious world
of sub-atomic particles dancing
to Otherworldly force-fields of pleasure:
oblique pizzicato becomes warp-dream.
Distant planets pulse rivers of methane.
Dust beneath your old bed breathes spindly life.
We begin to understand dark matter
and we begin to understand our brain
will never decipher the viola.