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“Encore,” Ensign, Apr. 1978, 19


On the first warm morning

he played

his cornet

for the valley to hear,

and people pausing in their milking or

the feeding of children

knew summer

had come.

He played

on special days

when hay was thick in the fields,

a good rain

had fallen,

and sometimes for no reason at all

except that yellow roses

were so heavy with blossoms,

the fences sagged.

A shoemaker,

looking the same in a leather apron

or a brown suit,

he grew old playing for weddings,


and those occasions when

an old soldier faded away

or a young one

came home,

cold and rigid under a flag,

sounding taps so tenderly


stopped their sorrowing

to listen.

When death came,

the children

following his plan

erected a stone carrying his name

under a line

of music

from a cornet cadenza;

and in the cemetery, as the sun

comes up

when the hay

is thick,

a good rain has fallen,

or yellow roses

are shining on the fences,

people say


you can hear the old man

playing it.