I always loved Elgar’s Violin Concerto so I wrote a sonnet about it.

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Today sees the publication of another of my poems, Sonnet On The One Hundredth Anniversary of Elgar’s Violin Concerto as Today’s Poem in the online journal Every Day Poets (see LINKS to the right of this column and click on their name)

I have been playing around with formal poetry forms and this poem is the second of my two sonnets. I hope you have a moment to click on the site to read it (and vote for it if you feel the urge). It is also possible to sign up for free to this excellent site and receive a daily poem by email. The internet isn’t just porn and eBay – yay!

Why Elgar’s Violin Concerto you may ask, especially as this is my second poem on the subject – I have an Elgar Fibonacci poem, Violin Concerto,  published by The Fib Review Issue 6(see Muse-Pie Press in LINKS). Well, I love it for one and have done so since I was 13 years old when I was given a recording of it for a birthday present – the one played by the schoolboy Yehudi Menuhin and conducted by Edward Elgar that was recorded (1932) in  the same Abbey Road Studio as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album.

It, with his Second Symphony, rank as personal obsessions for me with their yearning,  melancholy voice of sublime but anguished love. Unhealthy for a 13 year -old to clock onto this perhaps but then, well, I’m a wolf.  One or other of these pieces is always somewhere just below the surface of my consciousness as a melancholy but also inspired soundtrack to my everyday life. It was a moving moment when I first worked with Yehudi Menuhin in a number of television programmes. Over a period of years we became friends and I often thrilled to the thought that I had shaken hands with the man who had shaken hands with Elgar.

The Violin Concerto in B minor Op 61, to give it its proper title, was completed in 1910 (well I started writing the poem in 2010 but I went through several drafts before getting it accepted for publication in 2011) and carries an enigmatic inscription at the head of the score : Aqui está encerrada el alma de
(from the novel Gil Blas by Alain-René Lesage)….translated as ‘Herein is enshrined the soul of…..” with five dots concealing, presumably, somebody’s name. There have been many theories as to whose name is hidden here but the general concensus, and my favourite, is that it is someone called Alice Stuart-Wortley, the beautiful daughter of the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais known to Elgar by the nickname Windflower. There is enough evidence to put their names together not just as just good friends and, if our ears are opened wide enough,  it is not too much to read the concerto as a love poem about a secret relationship. This is what I have chosen to believe and the sonnet takes this as its theme. I hope you like it.

Alice Stuart-Wortley (1862-1936)

Here is the slow second movement in that wonderful 1932 recording – it is not Elgar’s easiest piece but it will reward you with many years of melancholy pleasure if you persevere with it.

2 Comments

  1. I especially loved your rhyming "crochet" and "secret". Brilliant. A lovely sonnet.

    Thanks also for the Elgar sample.

  2. Thanks Brian – it is great to get feed back like that.

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