Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Poetry » Narrative

The Ballad of Jazz

by dogs

Hark, hear the enticing sound
of the Devil’s music
oozing from the ground.
It’s sweet satanic tone
meandering through bog and brier,
wandering into the ashen streets.
Its dingy roads infested
with grime and gloom.
Let the Devil give
Robert Johnson his guitar,
and set this town on fire
with the lust and desire
for his dulcet chords.
Let his monody compel
as his soul decays.
Slipping slowly into dismay,
as his hopes wither astray.
Music mesmerizing the mobs
as the venom from
a Devil’s deal
seeps into his veins.
Hark, hear the siren’s song,
dripping and drooling from
the jaws of Sarah Vaughn.
Her scintillating and titillating voice,
reeking of flawless perfection.
Echoing across the teeming
concert halls, filled with
thousands of her disciples.
Her voice smoldering with admiration,
like the innovative smoke
of drugs and cigarettes.
Inspiring creativity as
its misty brilliance
wafts out the windows
of Cabaret bars.
The hazy smog
becoming more the musician
as it possesses the melancholy
minds of its user.
While bewitching virtuosos
perform their minds,
mellifluous tunes sail
through the balmy air,
piercing the ears of
Black monkeys being
hurled into cages for
the miscreant of living.
Hark, hear their shouts
of fuming protest,
muffled by the oodles of tootles
from Louis Armstrong’s trumpet.
His stentorian tune
illuminates the night, this
melodious tone designating the gloom.
The music like eruption of radiance,
with a splash and a flash
of euphonious light,
he makes us all dance
and shriek with euphoric delight.
Hark, hear them play.
Their harmonious tone
enchanting every home.
Their dulcet songs
beguiling doleful hearts,
with the scintillating and titillating
ballad of Jazz.

P.S: Hey guys, I just whipped this for a history project. We're suppose to describe some sort of progression of jazz with at least three jazz artists in there and describe what it means to us. At least thats what I think our teacher wants, he was a little ambiguous in describing this assignment. Regardless, this is the result. I'm not sure if the ending is good or not, but as a quick side note here: 1. Robert Johnson supposidly sold his soul to the devil to learn how to play the guitar extrodinarily well. 2. Jazz artists are known for their abuse of drugs and how they used it for innovation to their music. 3. Louis Armstrong never took any part in the civil rights movement, and he was greatly criticized for that. 4. Jazz was often viewed by many as the music of the devil, but that vision of jazz progressivly dissapeared as I attempted to make the wording in my poem progressivly more upbeat. Thanks for reading!

Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.

Is this a review?



User avatar
1315 Reviews

Points: 23536
Reviews: 1315

Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:10 am
Hannah wrote a review...

I'm very confused as to why you chose a tone completely separate from the tone of jazz to write about jazz. Was it a conscious effort on your part? What is the dissonance meant to communicate? Using words like "hark" doesn't really fit in with any of my idea of jazz. You're using, too, more than a handful of 10 cent words, over and over and over with this vocabulary that's almost too distant to communicate. You use scintillating and titillating more than once, too, which, even if they're far away in terms of the poem, seems like close repetition because of the strength and identity of the words. These are the two choices that I think are weighing your poem down.

Let's see. What else can I remember? I definitely like that you describe the situation with Louis Armstrong by simply saying his music muffled the situation. I think that's a pretty apt and smooth description.

I was completely thrown out of the poem by the racism in "black monkeys", and I didn't even see why it was necessary. You weren't taking on the view point of those opposed to jazz. It doesn't function in any meaningful way toward the progression in your poem. I don't understand at all why its included. Also, I know it's part of the project, but naming these people by their full names makes it obvious they're only studied and not really "known". If you knew Louis Armstrong, what would you call him? What do those familiar with him call him? Louis? Armstrong? I don't know. It'd take a bit of research on that.

I think you had a good instinct in linking the idea of "music of the devil" to the man who supposedly sold his soul. That's a good starting place to open this history, but you have to be very sensitive. Listen to the undercurrents, and get in with them. Lay the history out, the progression, the information, but not from a distance. Get in with the music and the feeling.

Try your hardest not to pass judgments as you do in the section about drugs. You call the smoke hazy, bringing in your preconceived ideas of how they use the drugs. Hazy = not progressive, not clear, not possessing a clear mind, but then you slip in "for innovation" because you researched that they used it in that way, and you figure their minds must be "melancholy"? Is this from narrative research? If not, you're putting a lot of judgment on that use by the words you choose. Hazy, yes, is about smoke and the way it hangs in the room, but you don't mention the room, you're talking about a person and their use when you use hazy, so that's why it's coming off that way to me.

I hope some of these points helped you out.

PM me if you have any questions, please!

Good luck~

User avatar
413 Reviews

Points: 11009
Reviews: 413

Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:40 pm
Cailey wrote a review...

Hello! I'm here with the promised review. :) Although, I have to said my first reaction was just to say this is amazing and there's no reviewing left to do. However, since I know how extremely unhelpful, although encouraging, those reviews are, I went ahead and read this a second time in order to find a review that's at least somewhat helpful for you. :D
Alright, so in the second stanza you have three lines ending with the ay rhyme, which to me doesn't quite fit with the tone. You do an excellent job of setting up the tone of jazz as the devil's music, but here the repeated rhyme doesn't quite fit.
Also, you wrote "oodles of tootles" which just seemed a little over the top to me. It made me think of Dr. Seuss (Which isn't a bad thing, I love Dr. Seuss) but it doesn't really fit with the style of the rest of the poem.
Finally, you said that you were trying to lighten the mood as the poem went on, but to me the whole thing seemed rather heavy and, ah, I can't think of the word. But, it didn't feel lighter, until the very last stanza. However, with the last stanza it seemed almost too upbeat for the rest of the poem. I mean, you have the drugs and the fog and the mesmerizing music, and then you end with jazz in people's homes bringing happiness. It just seemed a little bit out of place.
But anyway, these are all just little nitpicks, and even if you don't change anything, this is still a fantastic poem!

dogs says...

Thank you Cailey for the wonderful review :). I suppose I rushed a little too quickly into bringing it to a more upbeat tone. I'll certainly see what I can do to make that transition smoother. Thanks!

User avatar
1238 Reviews

Points: 35807
Reviews: 1238

Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:27 am
niteowl wrote a review...

Hey dogs!

Here to a) return the favor, and b) get my third blue star and Fellow in Arms badge!

Overall, I really enjoyed this. You have some lovely images and words, and it flows pretty well. The nitpicks below are mainly related to grammar and such.

It%u2019s sweet satanic tone
meandering through bog and brier,
wandering into the ashen streets.

1) It's should be its.
2) I think "meandering" should be "meanders". It's more active and makes this a complete sentence. This happens a lot.
3) I think it's "briar", but I guess both spellings are correct.
4) I think this should be a comma and the next bit be part of the same sentence. Again, this applies in several places. The fragments annoy me.

Let his monody compel
as his soul decays.

This is lovely, but I had to look up monody, and I'm not sure it's appropriate. It seems to apply to old Italian music, not modern jazz. I don't know if your teacher would nitpick on this, but he might.

dripping and drooling from

Drooling makes me think of babies and invalids. I'd choose a different verb.

Her scintillating and titillating voice,

Again, I think this would work better as "Her voice scintillates and titillates"

The hazy smog
becoming more the musician

I think "becomes the musician" would be both clearer and stronger.

the miscreant of living

Miscreant as a noun refers to a person behaving badly, not the action. I think you mean something like "sin" or "crime" here. Pick a synonym of one of those.

designating the gloom

The trumpet appoints the gloom? That doesn't seem right. I think something like "belying" or "ignoring" would make more sense.

with the scintillating and titillating

Instead of just repeating these words again, it might be cool to incorporate verbs from the whole poem (e.g. meandering, bewitching). Not too many, obviously, but I think that would tie it up nicely. You sort of do this already with "dulcet", so it doesn't have to be verbs.

Overall, this was excellent. With some refinement, it will be even better and knock your teacher's socks off. Keep writing! :)

"And the rest is rust and stardust."
— Vladimir Nabokov