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Peter Huggins


Beethoven's Hat

 In this version of the story,
Beethoven meets the Empress and her family
Near the Teplitz spa.

Instead of moving aside and taking off
His hat, as Goethe supposedly did,
Beethoven strides

Down the avenue and forces
The Empress to yield, to address him
With the respect his genius demands.

The drums beat in this version:
The trumpets blow and the cymbals crash.
That must be why V.I. Lenin
Admired Beethoven's Appassionata so much:

He heard the music of the revolution,
Responded absolutely, and played Russia
His variations on the truth.

I doubt the hat. I doubt whether Beethoven
Would confine himself to a hat.
A hat's too restrictive, like the symphony

Whose boundaries Beethoven expanded
To push the music outward, out there,
Toward the pure tones of joy
I listen to and praise.


Peter Huggins books of poems are Necessary Acts, Blue Angels, and Hard Facts; he is also the author of a picture book, Trosclair and the Alligator, which has appeared on the PBS show Between the Lions, and a novel for younger readers, In the Company of Owls.

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