Poet Rita Dove Tells Of Beethoven's Return

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In commemoration of National Poetry Month, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Rita Dove reads her poem "Ludwig Von Beethoven's Return to Vienna" from her book Sonata Mulatica. The poem imagines Beethoven contemplating his deafness as he returns to Vienna.

Ludwig Von Beethoven's Return to Vienna

By Rita Dove

So when my proud city spread

her gypsy skirts, I reentered;

she burned a greater, constant light.

Call me rough, ill-tempered, slovenly–– I tell you,

every tenderness I have ever known

has been nothing

but thwarted violence, an ache

so permanent and deep, the lightest touch

awakens it –– it is impossible

to care enough. I have returned

with a second Symphony

and 15 Piano Variations

which I've named Prometheus,

after the rogue Titan, the half-a-god

who knew the worst sin is to take

what cannot be given back.

I smile and bow, and the world is loud.

And though I dare not lean in to shout

Can't you see that I'm deaf? ––

I also cannot stop listening.

Books Featured In This Story

Sonata Mulattica

A Life in Fine Movements and a Short Play

by Rita Dove

Hardcover, 231 pages | purchase

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Sonata Mulattica
A Life in Fine Movements and a Short Play
Rita Dove

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