The great Paul Muldoon was on ‘The Verb’ on Friday (10pm Radio 3; available on iplayer for another 4 weeks). He began answering a question from the poet Bernard O’Donoghue (he is from Cork; Muldoon is from Armagh) thus: “Well that’s a very Corkian question”. It is worth hearing just for that.
This is called Advice to Parents (by me, not Muldoon)
They say that playing Mozart to a child
Will help him to grow up healthy and wise.
He or she will have a higher IQ
And, who knows? Even grow to like you.
I’ve been told that the music of Frank Zappa’s
The stuff to get him sooner out of nappies
The more you play him Bach,
The sooner he’ll read a book.
If you graduate to Schubert, he
Will cope much better during puberty.
By the time you’ve got him on to Shostakovich
He’ll know everything from what causes frost, a clove hitch,
To algebra and a hundred other things
And all because he hears the music sing.
Poetry I suppose can be just as effective
But I think you have to be selective
Perhaps cut out the racier bits of Chaucer
Until he can manage a cup and saucer;
And some of Byron, well, perhaps his entire oeuvre.
To read that to your child would take some nerve.
And maybe Paradise Lost, Beowulf, Morte d’Arthur
Isn’t quite the stuff for starters.
But coming back to Mozart- Don Giovanni?
The Requiem? Maybe not
Until they’ve got past the nappies and the snot.
But my advice is, nevertheless, a piano sonata
Will make your child ever so much smarter
And reading him Alfred Lord Tennyson
Will make him more of a genius than Einstein or Thomas Edison