Rannoch House, Newtown, Geelong. 1995.

Image supplied by Heritage Victoria

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.

Scarlatti’s Pearls                  

little finger-flourishes

on ivory


semiquaver splashes

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


Kevin Densley’s poetry has appeared in Australian, English and American journals. Densley’s latest poetry collection, his third, Orpheus in the Undershirt, was published by Ginninderra Press in early 2018. He is also the co-author of many plays with Steve Taylor, including Last Chance Gas, published by Currency Press