J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode, Part IV

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode,
Delivered on Vacation
In the Isles, 2010

Editor’s Preface:
A new, extended version of
Perhaps Riddle’s most famous
Poem, written during a time
Of supposed sanity, and ease.

IV. Snow-Quiet Vienna

Once with Samuel too
In a town ringing
I went…
Towards sounds of fire raging,
Soft ash falling
And falling, churches
I thought too holy to burn,
Burn. Dreams
In that nether world
Of stuff of mists of mirrors. London
Burns, while you
Sleep. Yes,

In a savage land
I walked through days
Of rains and fogs.
Ceaseless wet.
Mud so thick
You sink and sank.

Guards more wild than rivers
We thought to subdue, so
Extreme our dreams
In lands without borders.

I also remember
Last speaking with Mozart.
Time and Death
In noxious rooms.
Silent sounds of
Marching music. While
White and limp
Fingers strum notes to
A death never to
Die. Unable

A body bloated cannot fit
A pale shirt on. Yes,

Dying candles that
Flicker in the winter chill
Let in from a window we forgot
To close. Such
Troubled days such
Rising and sitting, rising
And sitting. Moving
Like shadows on walls in
Snow-quiet Vienna. Songs

Written in the night.
A flourish of pens
By fires of ember
And coal.

Posted as part of Poets United Sunday Pantry.

13 thoughts on “J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode, Part IV

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) December 20, 2015 / 8:22 pm

    I think your odes has become one my favorite Sunday readings… in the first stanza I feel like I’m pulled into the world of Dickens.. to the foggy world around the Chancery.. then you are taking me to Vienna where I see the shadow Orson Wells, and the insistent melody of Harry Lime Theme… Mesmerizing


    • The Literary Doc December 20, 2015 / 8:37 pm

      Thanks Bjorn! I love hearing your ideas about Riddle, and all the people and places the poem makes you think about.


  2. ZQ December 20, 2015 / 9:18 pm

    Simply lovely!


  3. Truedessa December 20, 2015 / 11:38 pm

    I had to read this twice as my mind wandered through the many layers. Churches too holy to burn….dreams in that nether world..sounds as if one is trying to find their way through the haze and mist of what is reality and memories a window one forgot to close as the memories still send a chill down the spine. Mozart lives long after death through his music. This has a mystical feel about it.


  4. Mary December 21, 2015 / 12:21 am

    I keep thinking about the idea of last speaking with Mozart. I am very sorry…..but I wish I understood the whole story.


  5. thotpurge December 21, 2015 / 12:57 am

    This is great… London burning while Mozart plays in snow quiet Vienna…what images!!!


  6. Sherry Blue Sky December 21, 2015 / 1:48 am

    This is an ode that takes the reader on a long journey. I loved all of the settings and images…….the limp, white fingers and the bloated body are images that stay with me……..


  7. Sumana Roy December 21, 2015 / 6:06 am

    the poem is like a canvas with so many images of different worlds…beautiful…


  8. kaykuala December 21, 2015 / 10:38 am

    A perfect blend of music and art. Mozart’s music unmistakably very alive and with varied images.



  9. Jae Rose December 21, 2015 / 12:54 pm

    Absolute poetry – i love the sense of journeying and responding to the environment…i love the shadows..and the tennis candlelight – makes for quite excellent composition!


  10. Brother Ollie December 21, 2015 / 1:27 pm

    That last stanza is cool lingering image.


  11. Sanaa Rizvi December 21, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    Such an exquisite write 😀

    Happy holidays 😀


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