Discover Prompts – Day 22: Tempo

Today is April 24, the day after Shakespeare’s birth and death days. I’m almost caught up with Discover Prompts! This entry is for day 22, the word “tempo.”

I see a theme, musical notes in my life and across these prompts. I also studied Latin in college and grad school.

Tempo – time, the rate at which a passage of music is played.

Tempo flies when having fun.

I have to work really hard to keep accurate time when playing the piano. A metronome helps, but not much. My fingers don’t want to do follow along.

I don’t dance either, not well, so not at all. I think there is truth to the idea of rhythm and old white guys. Got none.

But I can study tempo, and time, and with attention, I can write sentences that speed along with a grace of a galloping gazelle or I make my sentence stop short, bouncing with a quick trot, clippity-clop, like a horse slowing from a run.

The writers who best captured the rhythms of language that emphasized what they were writing about were both musical in their way. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is imbued with music, mostly jazz. The rhythms and cadences of his words mimic the jazz melodies he listened to while writing the book.

The other writer was Robert Penn Warren, a poet, who wrote the magnificent novel All the King’s Men. I read this novel as extra credit in graduate school. It’s big and long and difficult and dense and completely enthralling. At the opening, a car is speeding along the asphalt, and the tempo of the sentences matches the speed of the car as it goes over bumps and travels along.

I think a lot about time, which, of course, is related to tempo. But I think mostly about running out of time, about getting a late start, which is a worry, a rumination, which doesn’t help at all.

The metronome keeps tocking along. Relentless.

Tock tock tock tock tock . . . .

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