Would-be composer and pianist who has written a musical poem, To England, in the 1938 profanity-laced novel The Black Book: A Novel by Lawrence Dutton.
To England should have been an abstract of all the hours we spent together in elegy. In a decorated world, confused by banality, by tears and recriminations, they should still put forth an image in the music: as faded photos, or pressed leaves in a book, can surprise by their evocations.
That night, huddled by the fire, listening to the tone poem, its melodic squirts, its lapses into pathos, I realized that he had not managed to translate his legend of death. The death under the shield had become the death of a Wagnerian swan: A romantic confection- the one thing he was trying not to do. The piano was full of galvanic ballerinas, falling in splashes of fluffy extinction around him. The swan with the goitre singing Wagner, its arse keeping time, its mouth full of toothpaste. But the real- death if you like (these abstractions bore me), the doom which he saw settling down over England, which we smelled out and reported true for him- that he has missed.