Musica universalis (revised)

Chanting, chanting little boy
How I wonder what he sings
World of words unrecognized
Melodies we cannot share
Tune him out and carry on
Background noise before bath time.

One night: lyrics diamond-clear!
Like a drum my heart beats time
I joined in but then he stopped
Broke the spell and then my heart
Twinkle on my shining son
Make the star-song all your own.

The original version of this poem was inspired by an incident earlier this month. I thought using the same rhythm as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” would suffice to connect my poem to that song, but began to think of other ways to evoke the nursery rhyme. I’d love readers’ thoughts on whether this revision is more or less effective. For ease of comparison, I’ve copied the original below. 

My boy chanting as he plays
How I wonder what he sings
Melodies we cannot share
Never songs I recognize.
Tune him out and carry on
Background noise before bath time.

One night: lyrics diamond-clear!
My heart skipped to beat in time
I joined in but then he stopped
Broke the spell and then my heart
Twinkle on my shining boy
Make the star-song all your own.

9 thoughts on “Musica universalis (revised)

  1. First, i love (and know) the subject matter – that moment when you want to jump in and join a kid as they play, but, no offense, it’s a private thing. I’ve learned to appreciate from afar and not give any indication how much bliss is going on in my head.

    Second, I love the revision. It starts off with a bang. Not that the original is bad. It’s like an upgrade from a real good cheddar cheese to Provolone, which is just superlative.

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    1. Such a good point about not interrupting a child’s private play. For some reason, I believed that he would want to know that I understand him, but he was probably just as happy to sing without any input or attention from me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love both, but the second one shimmers more for me…perhaps because it has a universal appeal. In the first, you are talking to your child. In the second, you are expressing both the magic and guesswork that surround parenting, and this tugs at the reader’s heart. Mine included.

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  3. I’m not sure which is more effective, honestly, but I like that the last two lines are virtually the same in both. The ending really clinches it for me, I think. 🙂

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    1. The last two lines seem to have prompted the most replies. In fact, that’s where the whole thing began. A friend on Facebook had said “Twinkle on, Philip” and prompted the whole thing.

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