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The maestro and the war-scarred boy

  • 28 August 2017


Vengerov's violin

Symbiosis with the instrument intensifies.

In intimate rehearsal of its lives,

the young man senses other hands,

the artisan who crafted it

for other fingers, other strings,

before it passed in turn to him;

to soar beyond the fleeting day,

the repertoires young lovers crave;

to serve the muse of perfect time,

aligning spirit, heart and mind.


He takes his flawless artistry

to children traumatised by war,

and plays for them this old violin,

his oracle of everything.

One lad has improvised

an instrument: two strings,

a stick as bow; and thrown away

the rifle he was issued with

to maim, destroy.


Together they make music,

the young maestro and the war-

scarred boy, learning from each other,

sharing joy.


Poems by Jena Woodhouse have twice been shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize (2013, 2015). She is the author/compiler/translator of seven published books in various genres. In May 2016 she was writer-in-residence at Booranga Writers Centre, Wagga Wagga NSW.

In 1997, violinist Maxim Vengerov became UNICEF's first Envoy for Music and has met and performed for children traumatised by war in such places as Uganda, Thailand and Kosovo.