Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: The Sackbut Player's Solo
By Beth LaBuff
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With velvet seats and lacquered wood,
And silence echoed off the walls
In hushed anticipation.
A poster promised classics from
L. van Beethoven’s repertoire.
The concert time was eight o’clock,
Announced the invitation.
“Come hear the modern debut,
An historic instrument
Unearthed near ancient Babylon,
A recent excavation.”
This four-stringed sackbut had survived
With two strings missing, two intact.
Harp from Nebuchadnezzar’s band
And Daniel’s generation.
The sackbut player’s grand entrance,
He held the cherished artifact.
A gasp rose from the audience,
A spellbound fascination.
But where to seat the sackbut? –
The dilemma of this age.
Among the flutes? … one flautist, though
Did flaunt his aggravation.
The maestro wildly waved his arms.
Musicians readied for their song.
An upbeat, first …the downbeat, next,
Con brio orchestration.
At center stage the player stood,
His instrument, he cradled.
The string he plucked was rusted through
And snapped from oxidation.
‘Twas the middle of the coda,
A shocked silence filled the hall.
The sackbut player’s starched white shirt
Was drenched with perspiration.
A flush crept up the maestro’s face
His anger …seven times hotter.
A handkerchief cooled down his brow
And saved him from cremation.
The sackbut player’s head hung down.
The flautist glowered, showed contempt.
And through a sneer he snidely said,
“Don’t quit your day vocation.”
When it was feared the song had failed
The sackbut fingers slowly plucked
The fragile sole-surviving string,
Grateful for preservation.
A mellow note, melodious,
It soared and drifted ‘round the hall.
Not heard for three millennia,
This musical sensation.
The audience burst out, jumped up,
With accolades and praises.
Down in their seats they plunked again
For encore’s presentation.
But with profuse applause, a draft.
The music drifted off the stands,
The hasty grab for music sheets
In the confusion, songs were swapped,
The parts redistributed.
Musicians puzzled o’er new notes—
A heart-sick palpitation.
The flautist’s shock showed in his eyes,
He blamed the sackbut player,
And in derision hurled at him
A frothed expectoration.
Despite the classics’ muddle
And the mixed-up sour notes,
The sackbut’s voice resounded
To the listeners’ elation.
Moonlight Sonata, Ode to Joy,
The jumbled songs’ cacophony.
A modern fascination.
One thing the world may never know,
Did “Sackbut’s Ode Sonata”
Cause Beethoven to roll over?
There’ll be no exhumation.
Note: It is believed that the “sackbut” of Biblical times (Daniel 3—KJV)
is a triangular stringed musical instrument. It is also translated “lyre.”
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