Fight fire with fire
And the world is burning.
Fight fire with water
And the world keeps turning…
For over Two-Thousand years
Fine minds have
Pondered the problem
Of philosophical dualism.
The living soul
A quickening spirit.
This dilemma, perhaps, can
Best be approached by
Considering three questions.
Clean the house
Before a birth?
Tidy the house
Before a guest?
And what must have
occurred before one
Is able to
Do these things?
– Count Jack Black
…Face of moving water
Breathing in water
The water a breathing face…
Today I will speak to you
For, today, we hold a race
A sprint to the death
Whose spirit yields to the swiftest
The fleetest of foot…
He, who with the most fateful
Imagination of mind
Can picture the year
through a carnival of fear…
It is he whom we call great
He, who grants freedom to stars.
Another one of Robin’s early efforts.
When invoking the Bardic Spirit there are not too many candidates around, unfortunately…
For a spell this was my all time favourite song ever, if only for its helter skelter whirl of minor key madness…
‘Waltz of the New Moon’ appears on The Incredible String Band’s third studio album, ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’, which is widely regarded as their finest album.
The title is colloquial slang for a gallows or scaffold.
‘Oh, who can see in the eyes of fate,
All life alone in its chronic patterns?
Oh, swan, let me fly you
To the land of no winds blowing.
I know nothing, and know that I know nothing;
All is in the eye, and in its blinks of seeing.’
The first verse appears to record a conversation between Swan and Fate. Swan asks a question and is invited by Fate to another world where no winds blow with the proviso that Fate itself is ignorant but merely watches. ‘Blinks’ here, operate as links of time.
‘So just like the morning,
The ghost of the following day…
Hoary, Hoary, Hoary, Hoary…
Rear the rollers, wild and stormy…
Echoes holy… Only lonely… Gone beforey… Hoary… Hoary…’
The start of the next verse may represent the journey or flight and certainly if the morning is the ghost of the following day we have now travelled or somehow got beyond time in some way.
(Later in the song it becomes clear that this ‘disjoint’ in the day is not natural and can be rectified.)
This is immediately followed by an exhortation to listen…
‘Hoary’ here, is ‘venerable’, ‘ancient’ and ‘holy’.
Whatever decides Fate is very old and appears to be linked to the Sea which despite an absence of wind still rears and is stormy.
This ‘something’ is older than loneliness.
‘Oh, rivalry and opinion still cast their wild spells.
Effort and contrariness change the directions of time.
The lion still growls in your hollowness.
Please let’s be easy, please let’s be friends.
Watching and learning like small children.’
In this verse the wild nature of whatever governs Fate appears to be linked to Swan’s propensity for dissension and emptiness.
Swan is exhorted to reconcile its differences with Fate and learn together by watching for and listening to the lonely ‘Old Friend’.
By so doing the schism in the days can be rectified and a harmony achieved which needs not fame nor fate.
‘Till out of the morning
Is growing the strength of the day…
Hoary, Hoary, Hoary, Hoary…
Hear the rollers, wild and stony…
Echoes holy… Only lonely… Gone beforey… Hoary… Hoary…
Servant of fame or fame for a servant, (Hoary… Hoary…)
You see what you see, you see seldom what is
Servant of fate or fate for a servant, (Hoary…Hoary…)
You see what you see, you see seldom what is.
(Hoary… Hoary…) Servant of fate, Oh…’
‘The Eyes of Fate’ by Robin Williamson, appeared on the second Incredible String Band album entitled, ‘5000 Spirits’.
‘I stand up next to a mountain
and I chop it down with the edge of my hand…’
– Voodoo Chile.
I. ‘WHO SCARED YOU?…’
I saw the snout first and thought it was a snake.
But snakes move swift and smooth and this fella was
cautious, shy even… timid as he nervously tested the air.
Jed who had been repeatedly twanging his ruler on the top of a bedside-
cabinet as he talked, paused mid sentence… and held the ruler… airborne.
‘Lizard!’ He whispered, somewhat redundantly, as the little fella
carefully zig-zagged out from the ceiling panel, his legs moving
akimbo like synchronised swastika’s, first one way then the next…
He was a beauty alright.
marble eyes and a
delicately pin-pricked snout.
Just as I thought he was going to edge
all the way out and stay for awhile,
the fridge motor shuddered into life.
A whip-lash curl of his tail: he was gone.
II. ‘HOUSE BURNING DOWN…’
Road… and more road…
The ice we picked up at our last stop has long
since melted along with the thermometer which
we bought there too: its plastic base melding with
our metal dash. With a top temperature of only forty-
degrees celsius it was a pretty pointless purchase anyway.
I am beginning to understand why Jed was
so cautious about the decision to start out.
Some of his concerns come back to me.
‘There’s no air-conditioning in this thing you know.’
‘The mechanic reckons she’ll just about make it round.’
We pass a long stretch of salt devoured bush.
The bark of all the trees resembles baked clay.
Their heat gnawed limbs offer
stunted surrender to a barren sky.
… Road… and more road…
III. A BAPTISM OF FIRE
Joshua said, “Judas Thomas, while you are still
in the world, attend to the questions of your heart,
and it shall be revealed to you: who you are,
why you exist, and how you will come to be.”
“Who are you to say these things to me?” Said Judas Thomas.
Joshua said, “you do not know who I am from what I say to you?
Then you have disregarded the living one who is in your presence.
You are like a fruit picker who loves the fruit but hates the tree.
I am the light that is over all things,
I am all: from me all has come forth,
and to me all has reached.
Split a piece of wood…
I am there.
Lift up a block of stone…
I am there also.
I shall give you what no eye has
seen, what no ear has heard,
and what no hand has touched,
for the thing that I shall give you
has not arisen from the human heart.
I have thrown fire upon the world, and
look… I am watching it until it blazes.
Whoever is near me is near the fire.
Whoever is far from me is far from the kingdom.” …
– Excerpt from, ‘The Living One…’