Early Music II

Les Barricades Mystérieuses

François Couperin (1688—1733)


It set you thinking, didn’t it?

My little rondo à clef?

I work by these plinks the

harpsichord makes as I play it

deep in my thoughtless night,

just listening—

plink, plink, plink—

waiting for the thought that will

last beyond the night.


It’s easy making Masses for my King,

fizzy glories for the

vapid at Versailles

–though He is far from stupid!

But these endless Books, made

to stretch you students, or

at least your fingers

–they make me money.

Yes me—organist at St.Gervais

at sixteen, “organiste du Roy” at twenty-five,

the King’s Harpsichordist, too—

I need money!


For Royalty pays in fine things but

rarely cash—hard coins I can

clink together happily in

otherwise empty pockets.

So I write these things at night—

Books, orders, suites—and

pray God my tap

never runs dry.


Tic, Toc, Choc—hours drip by

as ink dries on paper and my

infants’ hunger sharpens my quill

quicker than a knife

and this sweet rondo slipped out from

my muted keyboard—sshh!

my children sleep, my

wife snores softly —

and mid-night I can’t help but laugh,

mid-folly, mid-despair.

I rush to write things down then slow

–to name them, but…..


A rondo is a round, and round it goes

–I can’t stop playing these infectious steps which

sweep me around this dark room

dancing with candles,

as though there were some

mysterious barricade between

me and it

and sleep.

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  • nuggetsandpearls  On March 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Hi and thankyou for commenting on my Twitter post regarding this piece. I really like your poem and it helps me too because I don’t know a lot about this composer, i’m aware of him but never really studied his music. Great poem and nice to make your acquaintance here on wordpress – maybe check out my blog by return although I’ve not posted in a month or two!

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