For Jazz

          Louis Armstrong

The right acknowledgement of Armstrong’s gift
Assumes his iron hold on harmony,
The flawless time dynamic that could lift
The energies of the most phlegmatic company,
The fevered ecstasy of his singing, a personality
Like the sun appearing, and the endless melody
Triumphantly projected, soaring from height to height,
Sound as good money, clear as a cloudless night.
Beyond these things, what we can sometimes miss
Is the streak in him of will, and of decision.
Sweetly irascible, befitting a nature that began
In the Colored Waif’s Home, he was immovable on this:
To play the king, to fill a simple line with passion,
And at the end of it all, to have lived a happy man.