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Music through most of history was a 'you had to be there' experience. Not until the introduction of Piano Rolls and Edison's Phonograph Cylinders in the 1880s was there a way to enjoy recorded music. Edison's invention in particular made it possible to replicate music for a wide audience, and to preserve voice as well as instrumental sounds. Unless you had one of Edison's phonographs, or a player piano, someone who was not present could only experience a performance
through someone else's description. And the best descriptions, often, are poetry. A nice variation on this are poems that describe someone's reaction to the music they hear. An excellent example is Child at a Concert by Jean Starr Untermeyer
Of course, the words to most traditional songs are poems. There are more poems titled 'Song' than I care to count in the collection. When a poem makes exceptionally good use of sound and rhythm, we often call it 'lyrical' as a form of praise. I say traditional songs - those where voice is the primary instrument. Much modern music is so heavily instrumented, or has such extensive instrumental bridges that the lyrics are not particularly poetic or memorable. Rock and Jazz have this problem, though you could argue that it is for opposite reasons. Folk and Blues lyrics often still work well when divorced from their melodies. Hip-Hop generally focuses more on rhythm than melody, and like much Alternative music, it is dependent on specific quirks of the arist's voice or expression to be memorable.
Like many of the categories in the Subject Index, Music is a frequent metaphor for something else, and is also used to reinforce other metaphors. Some of the 'Songs' in the collection were originally set to music (and a few, despite their age, are still played). Many were actual songs from plays, others were simply written in the form of a song. Music is also particularly effective at evoking memories, and this is a theme in a number of poems. Lawrence's Piano is such a poem.
If you like this subject, you may also like poems about Dance.
- A Song for St. Cecelia's Day, 1687 by John Dryden
Cecelia is the patron saint of music and musicians.
- On Julia's Voice by Robert Herrick
Typical Herrick - so much, said so well, in so few words..
- A Lost Chord by Adelaide Anne Procter
A musician finds, then loses, a chord whose perfect harmony brings inner peace.
- Violiniste by Wilder Dwight Quint
Is the poet in love with the music, or the musician?
- On a Viola D'Amore by Mathilde Blind
...Or maybe with the musical instrument?
- Corinna by Thomas Campion
Corinna's music and its moods.
- Of All the Sounds Despatched Abroad by Emily Dickinson
Her favorite music is the sound of the wind in the trees
- Sonnet VIII by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare explaining the idea of harmony in music and in life
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
- The Barrel-organ by Alfred Noyes
An excellent and unusual poem by the author of The Highwayman, describes music at sunset, and its wide-ranging effects
And in all the gaudy busses there are scores of weary feet
Marking time, sweet time, with a dull mechanic beat,
- Artist's Life by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
It's not only What music reminds us of, but Whom.
- The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth
A singer with an unforgettable song.
- Virtuosa by Mary Ashley Townsend
A musician who could master Music itself.
- Child at a Concert by Jean Starr Untermeyer
A first brush with Beethoven.
- Life and Song by Sidney Lanier
IF life were caught by a clarionet...
- The Eolian Harp by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
as the wind plays on the strings of the Eolian Harp, so Nature plays on man's soul
- Delia Sonnet LVII by Samuel Daniel
- Music: An Ode by Algernon Charles Swinburne
The Creation was not complete until there was music:
Lived not surely till music spake,
and the spirit of life was heard.
- Piano by D. H. Lawrence
Music evokes memories with great power, overwhelming the listener.
- The Music Box by Christopher Morley
Sometimes music soothes us to sleep, sometimes not.
- Music in the Bush by Robert Service
The power of a voice, even an aged voice - sentimental but good nonetheless.
- Music in the Night by Harriet Prescott Spofford
The ways in which music stirs the memory.
- Pierrot, The Rose, and Pierrot's Song
by Sara Teasdale
Music is associated with Love, unless you happen to be in love with a musician.
- Music by Walter de la Mare
Everything's better with Music:
When music sounds, gone is the earth I know,
And all her lovely things even lovelier grow;
- The Music Lesson by Mathilde Blind
Voice training for the Avian set.
- A Musical Instrument by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Voice training for the Avian set.
- Singers to Come by Alice Meynell
These words of nature and the heart
Await you like an instrument.
- Rain Music by Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr.
O WHY are there eyes like these,
That sparkle and dapple and tease,
- Song Making by Sara Teasdale
A painful process.
- Strings in the Earth by James Joyce
All the things that surround us make their own music.
- Music's Duel by Richard Crashaw
A nightingale (representing Nature) and a musician (representing Art) engage in a competition; is Nature or Art greater?
- To a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Poet wants to learn how the bird can make such music.
- Stanzas for Music by Lord Byron, (George Gordon)
THERE be none of Beauty's daughters
With a magic like thee;
- The Lady to her Guitar by Emily Bronte
Metaphors in praise of her instrument.
- The Harper by James Witcomb Riley
Music in memories of childhood.
- Songs of Joy by W.H. Davies
SING out, my soul, thy songs of joy;
Sing as a happy bird will sing
- Music by Steven Vincent Benet
His fingers swept the keys that flashed like swords,
- Barcarolle by A.W.E. O'Shaughnessy
A barcarolle is a Venetian gondolier's song - a slow, rhythmic romantic piece sung in 6/8 time.
- The Piper by Seamus O'Sullivan
Half an hour's escape.