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Women’s Stories of Successful Aging

Irene Jordan Caplan: Wordsmith

To the Maker of Music (1935)

Irene graduated from high school in 1935, when she was only 16 years old. Chosen as “Class Poet,” she wrote this poem dedicated to the “Maker of Music.” Her sons found the poem among her papers shortly after her death in May 2016. In an uncanny way, the poem describes what listeners heard whenever Irene sang, the “low, rich phrase which will draw a tear / At the beauty of it all.”

Play on the strings that lie waiting,

Touch them lightly, play softly as you begin,

As if, in beginning, half-afraid, hesitating

To sound the doubtful notes, and then –


Draw forth notes that are clear & joyous

Till they bubble over in glee,

Make the ever-changing rhythm

One of ecstasy.


When it reaches a peak of tempo and time,

Gradually let it fall

To a low, rich phrase which will draw a tear

At the beauty of it all.


Play a song of true harmony

Without discord or strife,

Maker of music, when your fingers stray

Across the strings of my life.


                                    [written in 1935 because I was

                                    elected “class poet” for H.S. graduation]