With what attentive courtesy he bent

Frances Cornford was either grand-daughter or great-niece of Charles Darwin, he of the theory of evolution; and mother of the young Spanish Civil War poet, John Cornford, who was killed in action. But her poetry has a voice which deserves to be heard in its own right, not just as an addendum to other famous lives.
This poem is a wonderful vignette, capturing a moment which can easily be missed but which has its own delicate beauty. And I always enjoy the tuning up whenever I go to a concert.

The Guitarist Tunes Up
Poem by Frances Darwin Cornford
With what attentive courtesy he bent
Over his instrument;
Not as a lordly conquerer who could
Command both wire and wood,
But as a man with a loved woman might,
Inquiring with delight
What slight essential things she had to say
Before they started, he and she, to play.

From <http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-guitarist-tunes-up/&gt;

The central image here is of the guitarist leaning over his instrument as if he was caressing his lover, and, in a sense, it is a similar experience of oneness and single-minded attention. And both moments, tuning the guitar and getting up close with a lover, usually lead to sweet music afterwards.

The Poetry Dude


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