“Finishing the” haiku

Stephen Sondheim born
This date, 1939
Musical master

Stephen wasn’t born
A master, of course, though he
Caught the bug at 9

Passion sustained him
Through divorce of his parents,
Mother’s cruelty

Hammerstein friendship,
Mentorship showed him the ropes
Taught him to compose

Soon he wrote lyrics
“West Side Story” and “Gypsy”
He was on his way

Music, lyrics flowed
And “A Funny Thing” happened
“Company, “Follies”

And “Send in the Clowns”
From “A Little Night Music”
Was Top 40 hit

Impressive awards
For show tunes: Oscar, Tonys
Even Pulitzer

From difficulty,
Math-to-music mind, much toil
He fashioned genius

Clever, biting words
And complex polyphony
Told stories in song

“Sweeney Todd” stripped bare
The mad human appetites
Fed by life’s tortures

“Sunday in the Park”
Extraordinary picture
Vision’s fevered grip

Ambiguity
In all its splendor and pain
Hearts cracked wide open

All so delicious
And so outside-looking-in
Sondheim to the core

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