The moonlight sonata

The simplest of the weightiest of things,
the stuff of all that is true:
the special first time and the later each time,
together alone
woven into the light of the moon.

Music, like life, plays on
to a slow heartbeat with a gentle shy ache,
the melody building to a longing so intense
that it harmonizes with every action we make
to bind us.
Just listen.

Beethoven’s music is incredible: dynamic, courageous, beautiful, strong, delicate, heartfelt. But of all of the things that best characterize his music it is the essential organic flow that grabs you and holds you from start to finish. When listening to Beethoven’s music it seems as if every note is the natural consequence of the previous one, that his music is a fountain of sound which is bubbling forth like a spring, the most naturally flowing thing in the world.

Amazingly, the truth of his music is that it was not that way in development. Many of Beethoven’s sketchbooks still exist and that natural flow is actually the work of hundreds of tiny and slight revisions which slowly take an original idea and mold it to the perfect form of symmetry and flow that characterizes his genius.

While no one can equal the art of Beethoven—only Wagner had the hubris to think that, and as good as he was, he was wrong—I do hold Beethoven’s music to be the standard of what poetry should be: a naturally occurring organic flow, the rhythm of which never intrudes into the meaning of the poem or the experience of the reader, but which sits in the background, quietly facilitating the reading and the reflection of that meaning; helping, but never distracting.

Thank you for reading The moonlight sonata. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge,


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2 responses to “The moonlight sonata

  1. How did you know to send me this one? My son has loved the maestro’s work since Tennyson was 4.5 yrs old and could identify a lot of B’s work (oh, the nerve to call him B). Since I started blogging, I’ve wanted to post mom-son’s piano-drum duet of Moonlight. As I was gearing up for it, life happened through my finger injury. I am fond of your second stanza.

    • Thank you very much! I like this poem too, a lot and love Beethoven’s music immensely. You are wise to have introduced your son to it at such an early age.