The Rubinstein Staccato Etude

Staccato! Staccato!
Leggier agitato!
    In and out does the melody twist—
Unique proposition
Is this composition.
    (Alas! for the player who hasn’t the wrist!)
Now in the dominant
Theme ringing prominent,
    Bass still repeating its one monotone,
Double notes crying,
Up keyboard go flying,
    The change to the minor comes in like a groan.
Without a cessation

A chaste modulation
    Hastens adown to subdominant key,
Where melody mellow-like
Singing so ’cello-like
    Rises and falls in a wild ecstasy.
Scarce is this finished
When chords all diminished
    Break loose in a patter that comes down like rain;
A pedal-point wonder
Rivaling thunder,
    Now all is mad agitation again.
Like laughter jolly
Begins the finale;
    Again does the ’cello its tones seem to lend
Diminuendo ad molto crescendo.

    Ah! Rubinstein only could make such an end!

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.