23 November, 2008

Ray LaMontaigne Sings "a sweetly tortured song" of Winter

Winter Birds from Ray's new album Gossip in the Grain strikes right to the heart. Ray's Winter is a farm widow with an angry plough, fallow fields, and a fox sleeping beneath the kitchen floor. And, perhaps not so coincidentally, Winter is placed on a farm suffering from neglect:

"The stream can't contain such the withering rain,
and from the pasture the fence it is leaning away.
The clouds crack and growl
like some great cat on the prowl
crying out, "I am, I am" over and over again."

But even in winter, there are lovers:

"The days grow short/as the nights grow long.
The kettle sings its tortured songs.
A many-petalled kiss I place upon her brow.
Oh, my lady, Lady I am loving you now."

I find this song very moving, with its earthy imagery, farm and kitchen setting, and birds giving voices to the trees. There are echoes of old tales, and a conscious focus on nature fitting this planetary time when we are starting to appreciate that we are losing the last bits of it.


05 November, 2008

Daybreak of Hope

"Night's candles are burnt out

and jocund day

stands tiptoe

on the misty mountain tops."*

Last year in Japan in November when the fingerprinting for non-Japanese legislation came into effect, I took a walk on Konpira-san mountain where I tried to lift my spirits by taking pictures of a place I knew I would not walk again. There was a great deal of regret and sadness then, as there still is now.

Yet today I find myself feeling hopeful that things will improve after the American election and in celebration of that hope I'm posting a few pictures from that walk.

(*Romeo to Juliet, in a situation the complete antithesis of this, but nevertheless, as is usual with Shakespeares's plays, the poetry is versatile and subject to frequent misquotation.)