Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Fugue

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Today’s poet, Thomas Carper of Cornish, ponders not only the origins of classical music, but the influence of its notes and patterns on the listener. At the same time, he treats us to the music of one of his best sonnets.

Fugue by Thomas Carper

Perhaps the birds first taught it, their ta-wee
Repeating while they soared, with every bird
Performing calls and cries unfailingly
In what seemed freedom. This was overheard
As pattern from a singing sweep of sky;
Then lengthened, varied, twittered with a trill;
Then given darker tone to multiply
The implications of the tune until
The listener who noted every note,
Who heard each harmony, could overhear,
Before the breath fell silent in the throat,
Music beyond the limit of the ear,
Music with every moment moving toward
Complete fulfillment in a final chord.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2011 Thomas Carper. Reprinted from Creators, Author’s Manuscript Edition, by permission of Thomas Carper. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.