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Friday, November 4, 2011

Ben and Peter, beside the Sea


remembering
Benjamin Britten 1913-1976
Peter Pears 1910-1986


The excitement of a radio studio
at the time
the best source in the world
the microphones to everywhere
to be heard and be enjoyed
in the great days of radio
the same year
that Adolf murders all his gay friends
in the long night with knives
and here in this radio studio
the singers prepare
rehearsal for the great British audience
where a handsome young composer
meets a handsome older tenor
only to fall in love later
at the worst of the war

when going to jail in their country
meant shame and shun
Ben wrote songs for Peter
Ben wrote parts for Peter
while Hugh Auden and Ben
made a habit of art
and Isherwood made a pal of Ben
at the bath on Jermyn Street

Ben and Peter friends for 42 years
in love from the war on
collaboration at every level of music
in a freer America
to spend bright summer days with
Aaron
and all the boys
who weren't allowed to fight
the powers of Paragraph 175
who had to keep their secret
and they kept the secrets of others
pianist composer and tenor
the dreamer and his voice
open even to the Queen

and they would remember the war
with minor chords
of the saddest music
Ben with his requiem
and Peter singing the debut
at Coventry Cathedral
lionized by the audience
as they privately remember so many
secret friends who went away
in the fight.

Now remembered in the moments
of “Moonlight”
when one hears the soft
love words they say to each other
together for eternity
unmarried except
for the shared notes
they sang and played
the rings of golden vibration
that circle their boney fingers
side by side
north of St. Peter and St. Paul
in Aldeburgh, Suffolk
as they shimmer beside the sea

KENNETH GREEN (1905-1986), PETER PEARS AND BENJAMIN BRITTEN, 1943.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry G. Wick

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