Twenty mouths to feed. It is a wonder how
Anna Magdalena could manage to send
her husband out with even a bit of schnitzel,
a mere taste of wurst wrapped in brown paper,
perhaps a few pfennigs for a draught of beer.
And he driven to distraction, twenty long years
in his duties to the city: tuning endlessly
recalcitrant organs, giving lessons,
teaching Latin, conducting boy-choirs
of balky sopranos looking forward
to the day their voices dropped and they
could get on with the rest of their lives.
Writing the weekly church cantata
with some critic always finding fault.
But genug, he decided one gray, Leipzig day.
Enough. He must compose for himself:
Masses, fugues, concertos,
counterpoints of angels dancing.
No, he would devote whatever time
he had left to the glory of God,
go wherever the music took, give it
everything he had and go for baroque.