William Aide

Pianist. Poet. Teacher.

Robert Schumann: Carnaval

Poems by William Aide


The dancers masked in Carnaval are clowns

composers lovers dual selves who sport

and dream and whirl and chase each other down

and laugh and never need to know defeat,

Masked vivacities are sweet —


Opening pages crying Schumann!

Trip the pompous, dot the chords,

beam my everlasting numen,

zoom like greeny hummingbirds,

leaping maskers, all too human,

vitus-dance beyond all words!


Pierrot turns on his own misterium

(the tiny town points in the baritone);

he punctuates a sweet delirium,

a sad obsessive loon,

a tic beneath a lantern moon.


Nimble be quick and boisterous wit.

triple somersaults, quintuple twirls

never a doubt comes tumbling out of it

now and forever, you get the girls!

Valse Noble

Nobility is most itself when likened:

striding danseur leads the masquerade

moved by Obligation, slackened

by Tenderness, his promised bride.


Unsteady dreams for hire.

I teach brutal men the lyre.

I am love’s pale fire.


Imprisoned in my wrath,

remembered butterflies impale me,

I am the passionate man.

Action-bound, I will burst forth

fears cannot assail me —

Meet your Florestan!


No man will contain you,

saucy frolic,

men will not disdain you;


money will maintain you.


More of the same and yet

a saner, trimmed Coquette.


(not to be played)

Triple anchor —

no one knows

blight or chancre

from the rose.


Compositions’ butterflies

populate my mind;



settle on the wind.

Lettres Dansantes

ASCH, the little town from which she came,

SCHA, the music-letters of my name,

motive curving

amorous glancing

sudden swervings

swift romancing

LETTERS DANCING blaze my fame.


(Clara, aged 15)

O my prophetic soul!

All in strength you will do,

bear my children, heal

my mind, rue

the day I conquered you!


Neurasthenic nocturne —

I shall do a mock-turn.


My first love, vexed,

abandoned, perplexed.

I, smugly oversexed,

Ernestine, this driven waltz,

frantic pitch that never halts,

amber-catch of all my faults.


These amiable line dances,

these strutting nonchalances

conceal us for awhile;

withdrawing let us tell

just how we loved so well,

then sashay back in style.

Pantalon et Columbine

Nothing so obscene,

codger with a hard-on

chasing Columbine!

Or may just a friendly spat —

she wins

that’s that.

Valse Allemande

Tentative at first

then laughter burst-

ing out

from Franco-German pout.


Pizzicati’s black violin —

listening is a sin

Schumann understands.


sawing the air to

pieces in my hands.


I would never wish you haunted,

do not feel accused;

longings that I never vaunted

leave your heart bemused.


Tell me you still love me,

Why so fierce?

Talk with me.

All the stars above me

believe my remorse —

drop your disguise,

look into my eyes,

walk with me,

waltz with me.


Hearts eased,

prestissimo reprised.

Marche des Davidsbündler contre les Philistines

Quick march blusters in three-quarter time,

brash experiment,

all in merriment,

hoary-heads and David League elated —

final scene

all thirteen

foes decapitated!

Carnaval, his blithest paradigm.


And philistines and all their dreary wrangles

dissolve in vivid play immerse in jest

exuberant enough to rout the angels.

Suffering seems unreal once it has passed.

Dancers hold each other fast.

Robert Schumann: Carnaval

by William Aide, piano