Odyssey

 

odysseus_sirens
Herbert James Draper – Ulysses and the Sirens – 1909

Sing, through me, O muse, the famous story

Of he, the wily wanderer far and wide

Who – after Ilium was lost – did travel

Through distant lands and cities; there to learn

The manners and the mysteries of men.

Though oceans overwhelmed his troubled heart

And waves of sorrow rocked him now and then

All his companions did he not abandon

He found his way, at last, back home again.

Homer –  Odyssey – 1st stanza, retold by me 2017

odyssey[1]

 

Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed

And genius versatile, who far and wide

A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,

Discover’d various cities, and the mind

And manners learn’d of men, in lands remote.

He num’rous woes on Ocean toss’d, endured,

Anxious to save himself, and to conduct

His followers to their home.

 

Homer – translation by William Cowper, 1791

 

Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_054
Henry Fuseli – Odysseus facing the choice between Scylla and Charybdis, 1794/6

 

 

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.

He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men,
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.

Homer – translation by Robert Fitzgerald, 1961

 

It is never too late to begin an odyssey.

I have poetry in my soul.

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Stolen Dreams

Caledonia

I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away
So I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that’s the reason why I seem
So far away today
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had
Oh and I have moved and I’ve kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
Oh and I have tried and kept on trying
Stolen dreams yes there’s no denying
I have traveled far with conscience flying
Somewhere with the wind
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had
Now I’m sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames that could not get any higher
They’ve withered now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands are shaken and the kisses flow
Then I will disappear
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had

Dougie MacLean

 

Things, Only Things.

While I was in Darwin, people broke into my house again.  Despite the massive bolt and lock I put on the door.   I got back to Halls Creek on Sunday morning, which is when I learned of it.  The road had been opened on Friday so I drove straight down to take a look.  The police had resecured the door, but really they need not have bothered.  I was devastated to find that everything of value or of significance to me was gone, or destroyed.

Everything.  My valuables, my artefacts, my documents, my kitchen stuff, food, tools, whatever.  Gone.  What was not taken was wantonly destroyed.  They stabbed holes in my bodhran, they smashed my laptops, trampled any books, cds and DVDs they did not take. They pissed on my clothes and desecrated the bed.  They wrote on the wall but not in ink.

I truly could not handle it.  Once I found my most precious things were not there, I did a perfunctory check of the rest and realised I could not cope and I could not stay.

I did not stay. I just locked the door again and left.  I am back in the SPQ.

I tell myself it is all just things, only things.

But I am grieved and angry.

That is why I wrote the Prozac song.  Humour is my coping mechanism.  Even so, I took a double dose today.

 

Steps

As every blossom fades
and all youth sinks into old age,
so every life’s design, each flower of wisdom,
attains its prime and cannot last forever.
The heart must submit itself courageously
to life’s call without a hint of grief,
A magic dwells in each beginning,
protecting us, telling us how to live.

High purposed we shall traverse realm on realm,
cleaving to none as to a home,
the world of spirit wishes not to fetter us
but raise us higher, step by step.
Scarce in some safe accustomed sphere of life
have we establish a house, then we grow lax;
only he who is ready to journey forth
can throw old habits off.

Maybe death’s hour too will send us out new-born
towards undreamed-lands,
maybe life’s call to us will never find an end
Courage my heart, take leave and fare thee well.

Hermann Hesse

Merciless Beauty

 

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O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful, a fairy’s child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her Elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!—
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

People

People Ain’t No Good

People just ain’t no good
A thing that’s well understood
You can see it everywhere you look
People just ain’t no good

We were married under cherry trees
Under blossom we made our vows
All the blossoms come sailing down
Through the streets and through the playgrounds
The sun would stream on the sheets
Awoken by the morning bird
We’d buy the Sunday newspapers
And never read a single word

People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good

Seasons came, seasons went
The winter stripped the blossoms bare
A different tree now lines the streets
Shaking its fists in the air
The winter slammed us like a fist
The windows rattling in the gales
To which she drew the curtains
Made out of her wedding veils

People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good at all

To our love send a dozen white lilies
To our love send a coffin of wood
To our love let all the pink-eyed pigeons coo
That people they just ain’t no good
To our love send back all the letters
To our love a valentine of blood
To our love let all the jilted lovers cry
That people they just ain’t no good

It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They can comfort you, some even try
They nurse you when you’re ill of health
They bury you when you go and die
It ain’t that in their hearts they’re bad
They’d stick by you if they could
But that’s just bullshit baby

People just ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good at all
People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good
People they ain’t no good at all

Nicholas Edward Cave
People Ain’t No Good lyrics © Disney Music Publishing

Rebel

All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants windows are all bright
With the faces of the children

And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tables
Giving thanks for God’s graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call Him by the prince of peace
And they call Him by the Savior
And they pray to Him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavour

And they fill His churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in Him increases
But they’ve turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber’s den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations

And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

But pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgment
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment

In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
There is a need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

Jackson Browne