Liszt Sonata in B Minor

           “He lay in bed last night and envisioned
           every note of the performance.”
                                  overheard at Julliard
To play the piano
on one’s back,
as supine as a car mechanic

The poetry itself reflects the pathos of rumination, the emotions of contemplating beauty. Dacey argues that such meditation is creative work, writing that he longs “To play the piano/ on one’s back/ as supine as a car mechanic.” He desires to think about beauty and to work with it. The first line’s creativity couples with the second line’s eros as both sentiments find their grounding in the third line’s image of a greased-up mechanic slaving beneath a car. The desiring of art, the first line, and the contemplation of beauty, the second line, are defined as hard work by the third. - Nathaniel Schmidt, age 27

On the ceiling,
the starry sky
of the score.
How soft to the pianist’s touch
the ivory of the quilted keyboard!

I love how the composer in the poem is comparing his quilt to the piano. This simile is very touching and captures the readers attention. - Natalie Price, age 14

A difficult passage
is an ensnaring
tangle of sheets.

There is a strong feeling of anxiety evoked in this stanza. The pianist recognizes the limits of his own ability when confronted with long and faced-paced runs of Liszt composition, and the resulting worry of failure becomes a haunting nightmare, sheets wrapped tight around his body. - Heather Bulliss, age 21

As his wife beside him
sleeps through the crashing chords,
he remembers blind pianists
who played brilliantly in their dark.

What skill, what practice this would require! Hands so familiar with the keys that the eyes long gone dark need not even want to see as the hands glide and lift comfortably over the surface! He takes comfort in this, in the knowledge that it is possible to know the instrument, the song, so well it is possible to never stumble. - Heather Bulliss, age 21
I love the thought process of the performer here, envying the blind. It's as though the musician seeks enlightenment by blocking out non-auditory senses. This image is indicative of both the musician's anxiety and the supreme focus required to execute his art. - Kyle Austin, age 25

At the bottom, his feet
are the bars of one measure.
Liszt himself
is stretched out beneath the bed
like the great sea-demon that guided
the Ancient Mariner’s ship.

Dacey has, until this point, ignored his sleeping wife, being trapped inside a dream-world. A life spent only here would end in death, however, as Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner knows all too well. Pursuing personal desire (the albatross for Coleridge, music for Dacey) above all else results in a hellish existence. Dacey’s ability to admit this predicament shows a reclamation of will. He works with the music just as much as it works with him. Thus, even though the music lead the poet to ignore his spouse, Dacey now dictates that the music brings him home. - Nathaniel Schmidt, age 27

The sun rising
is the composer’s last
whole note.

This poem is captivating right from the beginning quote, which could be a poem in itself. We can see inside the pianist's imagination, how he envisions the physical space of his bedroom to be the manifestation of bars of a measure, a keyboard, and even the score itself. The imagery of the starry sky as the score made me think of the insignificance one feels when looking up at the stars, yet also the feeling of peace and belonging, a sense of awe at the beauty, perfection, and sheer greatness of what is above me. This feeling expresses what the pianist feels when observing the score, making it a very powerful comparison - Laura Crouch, age 20.
This poem captures the brilliance of dreams in a wonderful vision. It travels within the human mind to show us the passion for an art that can overtake us. He is married to not only his sleeping wife, but also his music. - Daisy Hall, age 14
This poem is beautifully written. I love the consistency of the objects tying the composer to the bed. - Rachel McGuinness, age 20
By ending this poem with the introduction of light, Dacey adds such an optimistic touch to a poem that has stayed in the dark. I love the “I once was blind, but now I see” allusion he brings with the ending that suggests a great power in music, both played on an instrument and with words in poetry. - Rian Bosse, age 23
The tone of this poem is very lighthearted . The musician in the poem is so
passionate about music that he relates his life to his music. Comparing things such as "The sun rising is the composers last note" finishes the poem, the musicians piece, and his sleep during the night in one line which I thought was very creative. - Natalie Price, age 14
The second stanza seems the most extraordinary. How simple but strange this image which overturns the pianist’s axis and confuses high culture and the working class. What follows reads a bit like a draft. The “Ancient Mariner” allusion feels unnecessary, and the transition from stanza to stanza a is perhaps little too jarring, though the structure may be to blame for that. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to watch Dacey transform the concert hall into a bedroom. And I must concede—the final stanza manages to close the
poem with an applaudable mix of delicacy and power. - Justin Majetich
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.