He wrote in shadow of death
ringing within his mind
the Requiem that he reckoned as an omen,
two months before his own last journey
by cart to the unnamed paupers’ grave.
He wrote while she he played with as a child,
the Queen of France, gazed out through glass
at the hoarse mob uncomprehending, soon
to lay her porcelain neck upon the block,
while his own life
that dawned with royal fireworks over Europe
was flaring to its end of shame and dark.
He wrote with genius, wrote it for a friend
the master-clarinettist Anton Stadler
who made his instrument a voice.
I am bereft, lost in the mystery
of music leaping quenchless, undefiled
from bowels of earth to iridescent day –
something he carried from another kingdom
some secret spring of light in monstrous darkness
joy born again from heartbreak of farewell
exuberance of a traveller between worlds.