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LITERARY STYLE INSPIRATION: THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN

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ROLLING WITH JAMES JOYCE ON AN IRISH HILL

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ODE TO THE BOOKISH GIRLS

The imperial march

imperial march vogue nippon cathedral veil blackLately darling, I have been spending my mornings with the skeletal maestro at the Cathedral, listening to him play the organ and my favourite tune, Elgar’s Imperial March.

Taking off my shoes before I go inside the Cathedral, to feel the cold of the tombs lying under the marbled floor, I pass the wooden benches and the gold encrusted altar; I pass under chandeliers and climb the stairs to arrive at the small door of the organ room.

The maestro spends his free time playing this four hundred year old instrument. He is always there before me, his thin frame taking up a mere quarter of the stool and his bony hands resting on the keys as he warms up the instrument.

He never looks up at me when I arrive; he never says good morning and he never smiles but his playing becomes stronger as I sit on the other end of the stool, looking down over the balcony at the aisle, at the wooden benches and the velvet damask.

I wore a black gown yesterday, together with a black lace veil around my face because I knew the Queen who had mourned her love for almost forty years would be marching down the aisle of the Cathedral — the woman who had worn black for the rest of her days after the one she fell in love with died.

The maestro played the first notes of the Imperial March, at which the Queen herself, worn down by age and loss, and adorned in black lace, appeared at the door of the Cathedral. Oh I wish I could have a drop of her confidence and grandeur as she stood there all alone, waiting for those decisive notes that would initiate her march.

When the marbled walls of the cathedral and the frescoes drawn on the cupola reverberated with the strong sound of the organ, the Queen started her march, slowly, followed by her black cathedral veil, while her black lace dress skimmed the marbled floor carved with Latin prayers.

I wanted it to be a long march and an even longer melody. The maestro played and the queen marched for an immeasurable time while I sat there, heeding to nothing else except to the woman and to this melody…

Inspired by Elgar’s Imperial March and the eternal allure of Queen Victoria.

Story credits: Image via Vogue Nippon.

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