Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Peter Tranchell

He'd halt the choir
to declare "Altos!
You're either too sharp,
or too flat!"
He'd pick sentences
from a newspaper
and set them
to glorious music.
When anyone wanted
to phone him
they would
have to send a letter
saying when they'd call
and he'd go
at the appointed time
to sit in his hall
by the phone.
To make things easier
his students
came up with the idea
to buy him a mobile phone
for his seventieth birthday.
He looked askance,
" A mobile phone," he said,
"How would I ever
keep up with it?"
Now they read
his obituary
in the newspaper
and imagine him
a choir of angels
that are either
too sharp or too flat
and where no phone
can reach him,
however mobile.

i.m. Peter Tranchell, 1922 - 1993, composer, Precentor of Gonville and Caius College and Lecturer in Music, Cambridge University. For more information on his life and work, please visit

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