‘At the Concert’ relays Abse’s experience at a concert, where his mind wanders because he is reflecting on the previous day’s activities rather than the music, suggesting that he is not enjoying the concert.
The poem consists of seven stanzas, with four lines in each, connoting a sense of routine, reflecting the monotonous tone held throughout the poem.
In the first two stanzas, Abse writes in past tense, relaying what he saw “yesterday while walking on the Ogmore cliffs”, setting the scene. He describes a sheep he saw as “listless”, which means lacking in energy and described the way “Its jaws moved sideways munching over and over”. The use of repetition suggests that it is mundane and links to the theme of monotonous routine. This is furthered by the repetition of “same old” in the following line, as well as the simile he uses to describe the horse he sees: “It must have been as bored as any statue”.
In the third stanza, Abse’s writing changes to present tense where he is actually “At the Concert.” This implies that the previous two stanzas were merely describing Abse’s daydreaming whilst he was “At the Concert”, suggesting that he is bored with the concert, adding to the tedious tone throughout the poem.
He is again distracted, this time, by a “pretty Miss” in the audience, who he describes as “motionless” and “unawakened by/the conductor’s sudden convulsions”. This can be interpreted in different ways. Firstly, the reader may interpret it in a positive way, as it could suggest that she is lost in the music and closing her eyes to enjoy focus on the hearing the music. Alternatively, she, like Abse, could be bored with the concert and is literally falling asleep. Personally, I am inclined to agree with the first interpretation, as he describes her possible awakening by “the very last note” as a “Prince’s Kiss” which has positive connotations with