Floyd Skloot

Handel in London, 1741
February 7, 2013 Skloot Floyd

Handel in London, 1741


Wedged in a chair near the open window,

Handel gasps and wheezes as he takes in

the August air, fanning himself with a sheaf

of jumbled scripture Jennens gave to him.

He knows the time has come to turn away

from text, move beyond thoughts of prophecy,

sacrifice, or resurrection, and find his way

to the wracked, seething place where words

stop and music always lurks. Where God’s

glory awaits release. He has not been well.

Stroke, melancholy, the weight of work.

He has begun to imagine an end, the terror

of unending silence. Not sure he could rise

from the chair if he wanted to, he closes

his eyes and imagines Ireland, the viceroy’s

invitation, the sea breeze ahead. He dozes

a moment, then starts because all those old

scraps he has been hearing, brief passages

from operas he wrote long ago, from Italian

duets, songs for castrato, are returning,

insisting he make use of them, clear his mind

for fresh melodies. He feels his heart race,

the familiar frenzy beginning to bring

him close to the face of God. Hallelujah.

Floyd Skloot’s recent collections of poetry include Approaching Winter (2015), The Snow’s Music (2008) and The End of Dreams (2006), all from LSU Press, which will publish his ninth collection, Far West, in 2019. His most recent book is a fictional memoir, The Phantom of Thomas Hardy (University of Wisconsin Press, 2016).