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The end was coming in his quiet kingdom.
A tyrant with his conversation books
Which really meant that he did all the talking,
He set old friends against each other. He
Was never a nice man as Haydn was.
I know you think I cite the bastardry
Of artists to excuse myself because
My conscience would ache otherwise. It’s true,
But let me say — I’ll whisper it — this much:
It might have taken inner turmoil to
Bring him at last to this sublimity,
A fist of rage unfolding to a touch
As light as fingertips on curling toes,
And if he did not smile, watching the bows,
It meant a blessing when he did not frown.
Still air, still air, and still the flakes come down.

The women he loved best were out of reach —
The Countess Kegelwicz, Countess Guiccardi,
Countess Erdödy, Countess This or That —
Because of his low birth. Pity him, then:
His “van” did not mean “von”. He was not noble,
Except for ranking above any man
Alive, and she, the one he called Immortal,
The Immortal Beloved,
Knew that, and gave him what she had to give:
They kissed each other, at the very least.
“My angel, my everything, my very self”
He wrote, and wrote it always in his music.
His Josephine was like Napoleon’s: there always
Even under other names. Jeanette,
Eleanore, Magdelena and Babette:
They all were her, and when he reached for her
They all were in his arms. Born for each other.
Sie waren für einander geboren
Wrote her sister Therese. Unless Therese
Was the Immortal Beloved. Speculation
Continues. But for sure, though short and ugly,
The famously great flirt was not all talk:
He knew exactly what a woman felt like,
Although, perhaps, it only almost happened.
The Distant Beloved was someone else again,
And no one has an inkling who Elise was –
We just know he wrote her a bagatelle
Which, played on YouTube by Pogorelich,
Must stir the depths of his immobile hairstyle –
But it’s fair to guess Beethoven felt the heat
A woman gives off even from her insteps,
Before he reached the cool room of these structures
Separately drifting in transparent air,
Connected only by the space between them.
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