Matthew Brennan: “At the Esterhazy Palace, Twilight”


From my courtyard bench, I strain to hear
the quartet playing in the Haydnsaal,
its harmonies and haltings, its struck strings
falling, then rising like a fountain’s stream.
But now this music mingles with another
orchestration—the scrapes and scrubs of masons
remaking the North Tower’s ancient walls.
I marvel at their labor, sweat that serves
Beauty, too. So, I wait until their racket
rings no more, and the cello’s sweet, sad notes
surge up like tides beneath the moon and muffle
the workmen’s stuccoed craftsmanship.

Matthew Brennan has contributed poems to such journals as Sewanee Review, Commonweal, South Dakota Review, Notre Dame Review, and Poetry Ireland Review. His most recent books are One Life (Lamar University Literary Press, 2016) and The House with the Mansard Roof (Backwaters Press, 2009). He has also written criticism for American Book Review, New York Times Book Review, Georgia Review, and Southern Quarterly, and he has published four scholarly studies, including The Poet’s Holy Craft (University of South Carolina Press, 2010). He is professor emeritus at Indiana State University.

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