The Harper

Master of discords John
Makes harmony seem wrong
His treble sings to his bass
Like a sow consoling her young.

If he played with his shoulder blades
He'd make a pleasanter tune;
He reaches out for a chord
As a dog snaps at a bone.

Playing away to himself
Nobody knows what tune,
Even the man who made it
Cannot recall his own.

A wonder the way he works
He never keeps tune or time;
With skill and care he goes wrong
Mountains of errors climb.

Give him the simplest catch
And once you're in at the kill;
He mangles it patiently
Like an old loud derelict mill.

Copper scratched with a knife
Brass cut with a rasp
His nails scrape at the strings
Till all shudder and gasp.

God help you gentle harp.
Pounded and played by his fist.
There isn't a chord in your breast.
Without a sprain or a twist..

Translated from the Gaelic * Author unknown


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