Poem of the week: Listening to Beethoven’s Fifth on YouTube

Brought me back to our valve radio
that broadcast Radió Éireann all day,
high on a shelf in a corner of the kitchen.

One evening downstairs alone
I stood on a chair to switch on the power,
rotate the tuning dial past the lit names of cities,
London, Copenhagen, Berlin, Stockholm,
the shock of foreign voices, a miasma of static.

I kept going – shifted wavelength and frequency
until a Symphony Orchestra burst in at full volume,
carrying a melody across the room
through an open window to the front lawn,

and up the stairs to the landing,
as the first movement gave way to strings
changing the tempo, charging the house with vibration,
then as now – the miracle of transmission.

Catherine Phil MacCarthy’s
most recent collection is
Daughters of the House
(Dedalus Press)

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