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Sonata Mulattica: Poems

Sonata Mulattica: Poems

Rita Dove

ISBN: 978-0-393-33893-5

*Norton agency titles

240 pages

Select type: Paperback

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In a book-length lyric narrative inspired by history and imagination, a much­-celebrated poet re-creates the life of a nineteenth-century virtuoso violinist.

The son of a white woman and an 'African Prince', George Polgreen Bridgetower (1780–1860) travels to Vienna to meet 'bad-boy' genius Ludwig van Beethoven. The great composer’s subsequent sonata is originally dedicated to the young mulatto, but George, exuberant with acclaim, offends Beethoven over a woman. From this crucial encounter evolves a grandiose yet melancholy poetic tale.

from Vienna Spring

though dipped in ink, this Jacob
has grappled the shining messenger
for a glimpse of heaven
and won the battle: entirely master
of his instrument, he climbs the strings
agile as the monkeys from his father’s land.
Ah, Immortality has a new-wrought
human face . . .