Verse > Anthologies > James Weldon Johnson, ed. > The Book of American Negro Poetry
See also: R. Nathaniel Dett Biography
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James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).  The Book of American Negro Poetry.  1922.
 
The Rubinstein Staccato Etude
 
R. Nathaniel Dett (1882–1943)
 
 
STACCATO! Staccato!
Leggier agitato
  In and out does the melody twist—
Unique proposition
Is this composition.        5
  (Alas! for the player who hasn’t the wrist!)
Now in the dominant
Theme ringing prominent,
  Bass still repeating its one monotone,
Double notes crying,        10
Up keyboard go flying,
  The change to the minor comes in like a groan.
Without a cessation
A chaste modulation
  Hastens adown to subdominant key,        15
Where melody mellow-like
Singing so ’cello-like
  Rises and falls in a wild ecstasy.
Scarce is this finished
When chords all diminished.        20
  Break loose in a patter that comes down like rain,
A pedal-point wonder
Rivaling thunder.
  Now all is mad agitation again.
Like laughter jolly        25
Begins the finale;
  Again does the ’cello its tones seem to lend
Diminuendo ad motto crescendo.
  Ah! Rubinstein only could make such an end!
 

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