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Glass Serenade (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: Have you ever heard of a “Glass Harmonica?” Otherwise known as a glass armonica, glass harmonium, bowl organ, or hydrocrystalophone, this musical instrument composed of rotating glass bowls was invented by Benjamin Franklin and became so notorious for creating eerie melodies that a bunch of superstitions and spooky tales appeared about it. The spooky mysteries surrounding it my main reason for posting this piece now, despite its Christmas theme.]

On a clear evening                       with the starry havens

                                    as a silent audience

                   for an old gentleman who hobbles into a forest glade

         where multicolored lights hang in strings among the lower branches

                                       of the surrounding trees

The old gentleman wears a burgundy coat       its pockets occupied by cogs and gears

                                              a dark jacket             with white frills at the collar

                                              a cream-colored        three-cornered hat

                                     and a blue eye patch        over his left eye

He approaches a table upon which rests                    glass bowls arranged horizontally

   from large                                                            to increasingly smaller sizes

         each run through with a long        iron rod attached to a wheel

                        and glitter like the wondrous centerpiece

                                      at a Yuletide banquet—

                                         a Glass Harmonica

                                           first fashioned

                                          by Ben Franklin

The old gentleman steps upon a foot pedal to set the rod into motion

          dips his fingertips into a bowl of water nearby

                 then                             as lightly as a conductor

                      can flourish a baton through the air

                            he brushes the glass bowls as they rotate

                                       with his fingertips

Music echoes from the polished         transparent surfaces



                     and ethereal

                                                             as the lights wink in sequence to a melody

                                 that in its own way

                                                                          speaks of Sugar Plum Fairies

Clockwork moves in the shadows                  and glides into full view

               wooden ballerinas                                     toy solders

                                               and wind-up swans—

                            they dance for the entertainment of all

                                   weaving around each other

                                            the creaks of their joints an accompaniment

                                                              to the overall rhythm

The old gentleman smiles             a mischievous         crooked smile

           as he controls the performers before him with each note

                         like puppets on strings—

                                 perfect marionettes to grace the night

He makes the toy soldiers dip the ballerinas

                                          while the swans swirl about

               their wings outstretched

                                                    as the song gradually slows

A clock rings somewhere                 one heavy dong following the next

                                        twelve times

             and the old gentleman lifts a finger to his lips

                                                      winks his one good eye at You

Between one blink and the next

                                                                   the figures retreat into the woods

                    the lights transform into fireflies that scatter

                                                and the old gentleman is gone

                                                            one of his white frills drifting down

                                                                              to the ground

                                                                                      where the Glass Harmonica

                                                                                                  once stood


13 thoughts on “Glass Serenade (A Poem)

    1. Hehehe. I’d also recommend looking up a few videos about it. One of them, where a gentleman in a white wig plays them on a starry night, was the inspiration this poem. When Benjamin Franklin invented the instrument, people started to spread rumors that it caused madness and such, but thankfully there have been more recent attempts made to highlight it as a solid instrument in its own right.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite possibly. I’m working on one poetry collection right now, with an overarching storyline. But I also love using poetry to share fascinating things I’ve learned, so I’m thrilled you enjoyed this one. ^_^


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