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Poetry Magnum Opus

Dance Macabre


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Disjointed crotchets twist and twitch in silhouette,

to beat on a full moon drum.

And through dark walls of clay, cold figures wake

whose arms and legs strain to be free.

Stark faces press in bas-relief, to find a way

out from their world into this.

Then slowly, they emerge complete and wade

with arms and legs in time. Begin

to move in unison,almost as though they hear

a grotesque music. Beckon--

with candour and a chill savagery

for live partners-- to meet the dead.

Edited by Benjamin
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1930s film producers took stock excerpts of music from various sources to dramatise their work. A practise which still prevails although styles have changes so very much. I recall fondly the old Buster Crabbe/Flash Gordon serials that we watched as children on Saturday afternoons. The grotesque appearance of the Clay Men always accompanied by Dance Macabre ( Franz Waxman). Other such composers of the time whose works were used this way include Heinz Roemheld (The Invisible Man,1933. Bombay Mail 1934) Karl Hajos (The Werewolf of London 1935) and even Franz Liszt (The Black Cat 1934)The wonderful, extraordinary and imaginative music from film scores of those days is still well worth listening to. The original Dance Macabre can be heard by following the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXHeXaTycxk an excellent orchestral update can also be heard on


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Thanks for including the links, Benjamin. I wasn't familiar with the "Dance Macabre" and would not otherwise have gotten the allusion.


The poem must have been inspired by the musical composition and/or video(s). The "dark walls of clay" and associated images are especially eerie and add life to the imagery of the grave conjured by the illustration of the cross in the first clip. Well crafted and presented, as always.



Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Thanks Tony. Death personified, returning to Earth once a year to persuade us that it ain't so bad over the other side after all, seems to have been hi-jacked by Halloween. The concept of a "Danse Macabre" however,features in the history of many European countries dating back to the 14th century and the Black Death. Interesting from a historical and philosophical viewpoint but certainly not everyone's cup of blood. I applaud the creative musical ingenuity of Franz Waxman and his ilk. For every time I hear this particular piece of music I'm transported through time. I sit once more with monsters on a Saturday afternoon who scream and boo at Ming the Merciless and cheer Flash Gordon. :icon_sunny: B.

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An education for an old southern boy. I do remember dancing in a circle with other children as we sang--can't remember the exact words--Ring around the roses, pocket full of poseys, we all fall down. Also, Go in and out your window, for we are safe tonight. Lyrics about the Black Death, of course, but to us just jingles. How macabre.

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Nice one Franklin. “Ring-a-ring-o-roses. A pocket full o' posies. A-tishoo-a-tishoo. We all fall down.” There are different versions of the nursery rhyme in various European languages. The English one many believe, refers to a rosy rash of alleged plague symptoms. Posies or herbs being carried to offset the smell of the disease. Sneezing and coughing were the final symptoms before falling down dead. An interesting parallel to my poem. Thanks, Geoff.

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