StoryRhyme After Dark: The First Violin

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The First Violin
By Harry Buschman


They tell me it was a chilly gray day in October on the northern Adriatic coast. It was a day that chilled the bones of an old Italian farmer as he sat disconsolately under a spruce tree in his barnyard.

His name was Gepetto and he hummed an old song to himself, one he remembered from his boyhood days in Calabria. It was on a farm near the toe of the Italian boot. Life was easier there. The days were longer. The girls were prettier, and there was music in the air everywhere from morning 'til night. It was the music he seemed to miss most.

As he hummed the old song he was struck with a musical inspiration. He envisioned it in complete and finished form and it was played by the tail of a horse, the dried exudation of a spruce tree, and the intestines of a dead sheep.

"What would happen," he considered, "...if I built a box of seasoned spruce, cut a hole in the center and stretched a lamb's intestines across the face of it, then stretched the resin-coated tail hairs of a gray male horse drawn tight on a maple stick––like the strings of a cross bow, and then dragged them across the gut on the face of my spruce box?" There was no one around to answer his question. It was a rhetorical question anyway but because the old man was Italian he knew the answer without asking. He didn't need anyone to tell him. "It would give forth beautiful music," he answered.

Yes, the old man was Italian, and as all Italians know from time immemorial, the great questions in life can be answered in musical terms. The agonies of the barber in his shop, the gondolier, the waiter – even the organ grinder with a monkey on a string see everything in terms of music. The old Italian sitting under a spruce tree suddenly realized that God had given him all the necessary raw materials to make a violin. He had never seen or heard a violin––he couldn't play a violin, but with all the raw material God had given him, he sure could make one...

...and that he did.

(c) 2015 Harry Buschman
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