Published on Academy of American Poets (

Mozart Songbook

Outside on Fremont Ave, black
snow and no such thing as a
white wig or a lovestruck violet
who sings his heart out. My lungs
ached, huge with breath and the harsh
sweetness of strange words. Veilchen,
Mädchenmy brother spoke them
to show how my tongue was a gate
that could open secrets. He pressed
keys partway, to draw softest sounds              
from the upright, and what he loved
I loved. That was my whole faith then.


Copyright © 2015 by Joan Larkin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I was nine when my teenage brother taught me Mozart’s song about a violet who dies happy, crushed underfoot by a careless shepherdess. Since Donald’s death, I’ve been struck more than ever by the ways his early gifts helped shape me, especially his love for music and language.”
Joan Larkin


Joan Larkin

Born in Massachusetts in 1939, Joan Larkin is the 2011 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

Date Published: 2015-07-16

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