Ellis Parker Butler

(5 December 1869 - 13 September 1937 / Muscatine / Iowa / United States)

A Study In Feeling


To be a great musician you must be a man of moods,
You have to be, to understand sonatas and etudes.
To execute pianos and to fiddle with success,
With sympathy and feeling you must fairly effervesce;
It was so with Paganini, Remenzi and Cho-pang,
And so it was with Peterkin Von Gabriel O’Lang.

Monsieur O’Lang had sympathy to such a great degree.
No virtuoso ever lived was quite so great as he;
He was either very happy or very, very sad;
He was always feeling heavenly or oppositely bad;
In fact, so sympathetic that he either must enthuse
Or have the dumps; feel ecstacy or flounder in the blues.

So all agreed that Peterkin Von Gabriel O’Lang
Was the greatest violinist in the virtuoso gang.
The ladies bought his photographs and put them on the shelves
In the place of greatest honor, right beside those of themselves;
They gladly gave ten dollars for a stiff backed parquette chair.
And sat in mouth-wide happiness a-looking at his hair.

I say 'a looking at his hair,' I mean just what I say,
For no one ever had a chance to hear P. O’Lang play;
So subtle was his sympathy, so highly strung was he,
His moods were barometric to the very last degree;
The slightest change of weather would react upon his brain,
And fill his soul with joyousness or murder it with pain.

And when his soul was troubled he had not the heart to play.
But let his head droop sadly down in such a soulful way,
That every one that saw him declared it was worth twice
(And some there were said three times) the large admission price;
And all were quite unanimous and said it would be crude
For such a man to fiddle when he wasn’t in the mood.

But when his soul was filled with joy he tossed his flowing hair
And waved his violin-bow in great circles in the air;
Ecstaticly he flourished it, for so his spirit thrilled,
Thus only could he show the joy with which his heart was filled;
And so he waved it up and down and ’round and out and in,—
But he never, never, NEVER touched it to his violin!

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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