What is it makes her eyes change like this
when guitar music slips through the air,
as if the music and her irises share
some pulse? “It is direct and crisp,”

she says, “like no other instrument.
These are fingerprinted sounds.” Her dress
is long, her face and limbs are motionless,
a figure in daguerreotype, an ornament

returned to weary life from the mantel.
I take her hand. We’re only twenty-six,
marooned in modernity, transfixed
by ancient melodies, pre-romantic.

We cannot marry or even love
in earnest. A century ago, or two,
we never would have doubted who
we were. She asks, “Who’s the composer of

this piece?” It’s ending. “Only says
‘Anonymous.’ Composers didn’t matter.”
“Just like today,” she says. And laughter,
beginning in our eyes, breaks the malaise.

William Craig Rice

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 13 Number 8, on page 33
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