The piano tuner’s going up the stairs;
The spiral risers reach, now right, now left;
The banister gleams, unfolding like a clef,
To catch a falsifier unawares.
Up he goes on carpeted treads that furnish
Step-by-step solemnity, susurrus;
Trips on an appoggiatura luxurious;
Overhead the floorboards, flat and sharp —
The entresol’s his soles’ roulade and flourish —
Speak of a soul compassionate and curious,
Tauten as his fingers touch the harp:
Dolce largo family radio,
Ductile lasso famous rodeo,
Daunting loss oh famine redo,
Daughter owes so far a mere two,
Dotty, glossify my hairdo,
Do Ti La So Fa Mi Re Do.
Demon triads exorcised in time,
Now pianissimo his crashing finale
Echoes in the pantry and the alley,
And the dust, resettling on the blinds,
Sighs for the utilitarian and sublime:
Ptolemy facile libido,
Golem mythos, olé latigo,
Dew rain nymphs: Isolde, Dido,
Doe remiss fatality road oh,
Dory me those sole filets do,
Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do.
NOTES for Students of English
Appoggiatura – (Pronounced a-paj-a-TOO-ra, from Italian “support”) An embellishing tone preceding an essential melodic tone and usually written as a note of smaller size.
Demon triads – Musical tritones, augmented fourths or diminished fifths, referred to in the Middle Ages as “the devil in music” because of their perceived dissonance.
Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do conventionally designate the notes of a musical scale.
The words in italics come closer and closer to the pronunciation of the stanza’s final line, just as the notes that a piano produces when it is being tuned come closer and closer to the correct pitch.