Rannoch House, Newtown, Geelong. 1995.
The keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757), and a poem I wrote about them, have a close connection to my favourite rental place, an historic mansion in Newtown, Geelong, called Rannoch House, built in the middle of the 19th century.
I was a tenant there for a couple of years in the mid-to-late 1990s, until my area became the next part of the vast building to be renovated, and I had to move out. I lived in a few divided-off rooms in the rear section, in what was originally the servants’ quarters. The owner and his family occupied most of the building and there were also other tenants like me in outlying parts, such as the converted bluestone stables that were a short walk from my front door.
My rooms had wonderfully high ceilings, thick plaster walls, and brilliant acoustics. All the music I played on my small stereo CD player sounded excellent. That said, the cold, mathematical beauty of a collection of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas, played on a CD I purchased around then, was perhaps most suited of anything to fill the space around and especially above me.
My Scarlatti poem (below) was inspired as much by my living space as by the sublime music itself. I recall composing the poem sitting on the carpet in my lounge room there, clacking away on the enormous metal frame typewriter I regularly used at the time. The poem first appeared in print, fittingly, in a Geelong publication, Deakin University’s literary magazine, Mattoid, in 1996, while I was still living in my little area of that wonderful mansion.
across black and white keys
crystal rivulets of notes
upon which to run my fingers are these
keyboard sonatas, musical pearls
by Domenico Scarlatti.
He wrote a string of them.
Scarlatti’s Pearls has also appeared in The Journal (UK), 2003, and Vigorous Vernacular, Kevin’s first poetry collection (Picaro Press, 2008; Ginninderra Press, 2018 reprint).
Stereo Story #546