Thursday, October 31, 2013

"And As Silently Steal Away"


I'd like to tell you a story to illustrate my point.  I'm unsure as to whether I'll get to the point or not.

Sometime before I was married, probably thirteen or fourteen years ago, I got the notion to set an old poem to music.  I didn't have a poem in mind, and, for the life of me, I can't remember what actually inspired me to do it.  I tried Whitman and Donne and a sonnet or two.  I even tried William Carlos Williams and e.e.cummings.  I checked anthologies out of the library, asked friends for suggestions, it was not yet a time when I looked to the internet for anything really, so, I just read and thought and considered.  I finally decided on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done.

I set to work and put it to music, trying and failing and trying and learning and failing better, until I got it.  It was what I had wanted it to be:


video
 
  The day is done, and the darkness
 Falls from the wings of Night,
 As a feather is wafted downward
 From an eagle in his flight.

 I see the lights of the village
 Gleam through the rain and the mist,
 And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
 That my soul cannot resist:

 A feeling of sadness and longing,
 That is not akin to pain,
 And resembles sorrow only
 As the mist resembles the rain.

 Come, read to me some poem,
 Some simple and heartfelt lay,
 That shall soothe this restless feeling,
 And banish the thoughts of day.

 Not from the grand old masters,
 Not from the bards sublime,
 Whose distant footsteps echo
 Through the corridors of Time,

 For, like strains of martial music,
 Their mighty thoughts suggest
 Life's endless toil and endeavor;
 And tonight I long for rest.

 Read from some humbler poet,
 Whose songs gushed from his heart,
 As showers from the clouds of summer,
 Or tears from the eyelids start;

 Who, through long days of labor,
 And nights devoid of ease,
 Still heard in his soul the music
 Of wonderful melodies.

 Such songs have a power to quiet
 The restless pulse of care,
 And comes like the benediction
 That follows after prayer.

 Then read from the treasured volume
 The poem of thy choice,
 And lend to the rhyme of the poet
 The beauty of thy voice.

 And the night shall be filled with music,
 And the cares, that infest the day,
 Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
 And as silently steal away.
 
So, there it is.  It's a cool poem even if it was written in 1844.  I think the words still work, even today as things seem so busy and confusing, a comforting voice from the past reminds me that songs can still "have a power to quiet/ The restless pulse of care."  Reminding me that it is good that the songs "gushed" from my heart.

However, that's not my point.  I am not here today to analyze this poem, I am not here to show you my song, I am not here to tell you about any of that.

Nope, I am doing this to remind myself now, and perhaps the boys sometime other than now, that there is time for this stuff.  I cannot believe, right now, that I ever had the hours, days actually, it took to do this.  I read for a long time, thought for a long time, practiced for a long time and was richly rewarded.

A big part of me feels that there simply isn't time for all this anymore, and, I am profoundly, impossibly, innately... wrong.  No, the problem is, I don't remember how to make this stuff important anymore.  My last post was about respecting and expecting creativity in others, yet, I don't treasure my own.  I tell myself that I can't write that song or start that project or even just get up and go stand in an empty field for a while and remember that I am part of this thing we all call life.  I forget that and it is very regrettable.

People who like what I do here always suggest to me things that I could do to gain a bigger audience.  These suggestions seem to always be things like Twitter or Google+ or a Pinterest page or a better blog interface on Wordpress or some other self-hosted site.  They seem to forget I'm sorta busy already, writing and creating the content here.  A buddy of mine told me I was "poised" to be really big and began to tell me all the marketing things I needed to do.   Speed this up, do this, post this here, "blast" this, tweet this, submit that, ad naseum.

Well, in my opinion, I need to do exactly the opposite of that.  I need to slow down.  I need to respect myself in this creative process.

I need to listen so I can hear more clearly the stories which are being told to me.

I need to read more to remember how many beautiful ways the stories can be told.

I need watch more to better see the stories unfolding in front of me every day.

I need to write more songs, play more guitar, read more poems.

And I really need to remember that I know how to do this.

Here's the thing, I've forgotten about the wildness of it all.  The craziness of it all.  I've simply got to allow myself the luxury of falling into things again.

I sometimes consider epic posts for this page and, well, I dismiss them out-of-hand because I don't know how I'd do it or I don't think I'd have the time for it.  Truth be told, what I don't have is the courage to do it, them, anything.  After a lifetime of experience I am afraid to be wild anymore, to dive into something as crazy as a Longfellow poem set to music, I'm afraid to finish a second novel, afraid to make a movie or record a new song.  It's crazy... how has it come to this?

It is very easy to blame the time constraints of this mad, instant existence that is the Twenty-first century.  It's easy to blame the boys or my job or society.  It's very tempting to blame the internet, social media, advertising, network television, game consoles and the inane glorification of busy.

And I do.

But, that's too simple.  Life is complicated and deep and nuanced and wild and blaming those other things keeps me from blaming myself.

So what am I going to do?

I am going to get wild.

Tomorrow there will be a stack of books on my desk, poems and novels which I will devour with a long forgotten passion, and I will fall into them and abandon myself to them and I will give them the time they deserve.

Tomorrow there will be new strings on a guitar which will be in a stand right next to me, not closed in a case, suffocating in the silence.  I will absently pick it up and sing forgotten folk songs and ballads remembering friends and chords as I need to, as they are given me.

Tomorrow I will write down that story I've been wanting to tell you, but, I'll wait with it as it tells itself, for once not pushing and bullying it into doing what I want it to do.

Tomorrow I'll bake a loaf of bread or two because I had a notion to, and, I'll remember the time I worked in a bakery making bread and muffins overnight and finishing a book I'd started by day.

Tomorrow I'll stand in the storm as it whips the fallen, golden maple leaves all around me, and feel the rain sting my face and wish it was snow or sleet because that would make it even better.

Tomorrow I'll say a prayer not just to God, but to the whole damned universe, and maybe I'll cuss or cry or be forgiven.

Wildness is nothing to be afraid of.  Oh, it can hurt you, but, it can also lift you.


At the beginning of this I wondered if I'd get to my point.  I finally have.  We need to encourage the wildness that is in our children, in especially our sons, and celebrate it.  We also need to show it to them, and, I think I am.  But I'd like them to see it in me more.

Boys, if you need to be wild, be wild.  I will let you, I will guide you if you'd like, it's sad to be wild alone.

Tonight, after I post this, I will turn off the computer - there is an on/off switch - and leave it off for a while.  If I need to write, I'll use the laptop, upstairs, in the light.  I've challenged myself to stay off FaceBook for a month or so, not because it's bad, but because I'd like to give my mind to something else.  I certainly plan to write more pieces here, and hopefully Marci will post them on my page.

It's funny, a part of me wonders if this makes any sense at all, but, for the first time in a long time, mostly, I don't really care.  It's what I needed to do.

It is where the wildness led me.


From Marci's  "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

(especially from the Halloween Mime)


"Time out - can I hum?!?"



That just keeps getting funnier and funnier...

Thanks for coming around.  Things might get a little different here in the coming weeks, I might be trying some new things.  Remember, will you, that Nick and Zack are the reason I do this and I try, for the most part to show them them, but I also owe it to them to show them me.


The Day Is Done

  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is done, and the darkness
   Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
   From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
   Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me,
   That my soul cannot resist:
   
A feeling of sadness and longing,
   That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
   As the mist resembles the rain.
   
Come, read to me some poem,
   Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
   And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
   Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
   Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music,
   Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
   And to-night I long for rest.
   
Read from some humbler poet,
   Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
   Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
   And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
   Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
   The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
   That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
   The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
   The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
   And the cares that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
   And as silently steal away.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16630#sthash.FAnVOkEk.dpuf

The Day Is Done

  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is done, and the darkness
   Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
   From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
   Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me,
   That my soul cannot resist:
   
A feeling of sadness and longing,
   That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
   As the mist resembles the rain.
   
Come, read to me some poem,
   Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
   And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
   Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
   Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music,
   Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
   And to-night I long for rest.
   
Read from some humbler poet,
   Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
   Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
   And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
   Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
   The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
   That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
   The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
   The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
   And the cares that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
   And as silently steal away.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16630#sthash.FAnVOkEk.dpuf

The Day Is Done

  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is done, and the darkness
   Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
   From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
   Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me,
   That my soul cannot resist:
   
A feeling of sadness and longing,
   That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
   As the mist resembles the rain.
   
Come, read to me some poem,
   Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
   And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
   Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
   Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music,
   Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
   And to-night I long for rest.
   
Read from some humbler poet,
   Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
   Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
   And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
   Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
   The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
   That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
   The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
   The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
   And the cares that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
   And as silently steal away.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16630#sthash.FAnVOkEk.dpuf

The Day Is Done

  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is done, and the darkness
   Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
   From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
   Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me,
   That my soul cannot resist:
   
A feeling of sadness and longing,
   That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
   As the mist resembles the rain.
   
Come, read to me some poem,
   Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
   And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
   Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
   Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music,
   Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
   And to-night I long for rest.
   
Read from some humbler poet,
   Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
   Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
   And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
   Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
   The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
   That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
   The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
   The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
   And the cares that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
   And as silently steal away.
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16630#sthash.FAnVOkEk.dpuf

16 comments:

  1. "Boys, if you need to be wild, be wild. I will let you, I will guide you if you'd like, it's sad to be wild alone."

    I'm in tears reading that. I don't know if you read my last post (who am I kidding, you're more likely to read it than most). I talk about realizing I needed to simplify. What I didn't put in my post was how much my stress was melding with and probably causing my son to be wild beyond reason. And this caused me to do the same, in a negative way towards him. It scared and angered me. Made me feel crazy. I did find solace from chatting with some of the other dads who were chatting about anger on the DB page. But I've yet to simplify, mainly because there were already so many things set in motion before I'd had that epiphany. But your post tears (as in rips) me up. I feel like I'm going to miss you, a person I've never met in person. And I'm jealous of your soon-to-be unplugedness. I could do the same, but I don't think it's my time to do so. But your post jerked me back to that moment that I realized I needed to slow down, trim the fat, focus and simplify, and be with my kid, my husband and myself.

    Damn I love your writing Bill. And as I've said before, I love your heart. Say hi to the wilderness for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear, dear, man, Brent, thank you for your tears. Knowing others can feel the way I do is so very comforting and profound. I sense your wildness and I see it in the look on the faces of your beautiful son and adoring husband. Go when you can, we'll sing a song together and laugh in the wind. Thanks for coming by, I mean that.

      Delete
  2. This post made me think about myself and where I am as much as it did you own plight. Thanks for that.
    Do your thing and go as you need to go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and again I say, there is peace in knowing others feel this way with me. I hope you can find a way to do your thing as well. It means a lot to me that you could stop by today.

      Delete
  3. I remember that as a kid I would write multi-page stories, and illustrate them, and bind them between pieces of cardboard into little books for my family members for birthdays and holidays. If I was a kid today (heck, I guess I kinda am), I worry that I'd be too busy on one screen or another to build things with my hands or use actual pens and pencils and brushes on paper.

    I am 100 % with you on the crime of being busy. The crime of keeping up with the Joneses. The crime of pushing so hard, so furiously, that you give up things that really matter. And at the same time that I believe that, I still end up sucked into screens and social platforms in ways that make me a bit of a hypocrite. How will my daughter learn to create works of art if she never sees me creating them? And how do we explore the world together if I'm glued to the computer?

    I admire your decision, your recognition of a decision point. No doubt you'll still struggle, as anybody would, to complete many of the projects that tantalize like mirages on the horizon. But like you say, you don't slow down just to complete a task more thoroughly; you slow down so that you can see the world better. So that you can find beauty and stroll hand-in-hand with it, instead of just glimpsing it fleetingly from a distance.

    This is a good post for me to read. And your poetry musing remind me of my favorite William Carlos Williams poem:

    This Is Just to Say

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    saving
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold

    There's quiet, and humor, and an ability to savor there. It reminds me of the un-busy life you and I seek.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know that poem well, Neal, thanks for reminding me. I will "find beauty and stroll hand-in-hand with it", I promise.

      The Red Wheelbarrow

      so much depends
      upon

      a red wheel
      barrow

      glazed with rain
      water

      beside the white
      chickens.

      William Carlos Williams

      "So much depends..." always gives me the shivers.

      I appreciate your kind and true words as much as I enjoy knowing you, a man like you, loving a daughter like yours, is out there in the wildness, laughing and screaming and loving so freely. Thanks.

      Delete
  4. You'll be missed in the spaces you leave and welcomed where you roam I'm sure, Bill. A man can't ask for much more than that. Great thoughts and a fantastic piece. See you on the flipside.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eric, thanks for those tender words. I do feel I am roaming, but, as I do, I'll fly my dream-catcher in the wild wind and snag you a story or two, I promise. Thanks for stopping by today, it means a lot to me.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Yes, Brian. I once was in a park with the boys when they were maybe two and a half or three. A car came in and the driver, a handsome black man, left his music on as he ate a sandwich happily bopping to the music.

      Nick looked at me and asked: "Can we dance, Dad?"

      "Yes, son," I answered, "You can always dance."

      Thanks for stopping by, you know you are always welcome here.

      Delete
  6. That was absolutely beautiful, Bill--one of the most well written pieces I've come across in a long time.

    Do what you need to do to reconnect with the many things you hold dear; I too am an eclectic person, and I understand how easy it is to focus on one creative stream, to the detriment of the others. Please don't forget, though, that what you have here (as proven by this post) can be as creative and striking as any other form of art. We'll miss you, and look forward to hearing of your great journey upon your return!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, Sean, those are kind and encouraging words. The "creative stream" is such a raging mystery to me sometimes, but, the wildman in me is sometimes compelled to jump in. Thank you for taking a look around today, I appreciate it.

      Delete
  7. This was great to read, Bill. Earlier this week, Neal had this idea to have Addison recite "The Raven" and then spend hours editing it into a video. I was a little skeptical -- was it sensible for me to rearrange my work schedule for THAT? But seeing his final product and reading this, it somehow makes perfect sense. We've got to carve out time for these wild, "non-sensical" things. I'm excited for you and what the future weeks hold.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for writing this.

    Lately I've been thinking similar things myself. I used to write music for fun, read books for fun, and so on. Even in the first few child-free years of marriage. Kids came, then both my wife and I had to work full time… time just seemed to evaporate. In the last couple of years I have tried to get back into reading, but it's slow; instead of 10-12 solid novels a year, now I'm lucky to finish one. (I'm halfway through Bleak House right now, but it's 900+ pages, so maybe that counts as two books?)

    Anyway… "It is where the wildness led me" -- maybe we'll pass each other out there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It is good to feel the call of the wild and to run with the moon. Sometimes it is the greatest thing we can do.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I need to respect myself in this creative process". Amen. Always keep thar in your mind and the rest will come. This may not be your point but is so important in life

    ReplyDelete