Autumn is upon us here in Somerset, today is the equinox, and a quick glance at the net tells me it is the festival of Mabon. A time, I read, to give thanks for the sun and begin to prepare for winter, not that we have seen much of the sun this year, but hope springs eternal.
As I have grown older I feel much more tied to the seasons and aware of the change than I did when I was younger. I now try to watch the sunrise on the shortest day at Avebury, for no other reason than it feels right. I suspect that we humans were meant to live with the rhythm of the natural year and we lose that harmony at our peril.
Here is Anne Briggs singing Fire and Wine. I am slightly ahead of myself in season change but it’s a great song (written by Steve Ashley) and performed by one of our greatest traditional singers.
Steve Ashley wrote Fire and Wine as part of a song cycle of the year Stroll On (http://www.steveashley.co.uk/biography.html). I’ve still got the vinyl copy I’ve had from the early 70’s as well as the later cd. It is a really interesting album with a song for each month and Song a poem by John Donne that Steve put to music.
I was lucky enough to catch Steve’s band Ragged Robin supporting Steeleye Span back in late 1972 when they played most of the album. Great performance, if you like Anne’s version then it is worth checking out the album.
Staying with slightly early season change, here is the Incredible String Band and October Song. This is from their first record if you like it you could try this live version I have just found on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W_Pk4cqGGo ).
There is a simplicity to the lyric that I have always loved, especially:
For rulers like to lay down laws
And rebels like to break them
And the poor priest likes to walk in chains
And God likes to forsake them.
I think in this simplicity is a great wisdom, but hey I’ve loved the Incredible String Band since I was a kid.
Anyway let’s do some poems. I’ve been struggling with an idea this week and it has yet to coalesce into anything I’m prepared to share in a post. Actually there are a few like that at the moment, slightly too autobiographical to show. So here is a poem I’ve had for a while, again it’s based on an actual incident, driving back home late at night. I was the passenger I should add and so had the time to gawp at the stars.
SPEED THE PLOUGH
Save it isn’t a plough,
It just looks that way to us.
Different lengths of time for
Unconnected light to arrive here,
At the same time.
We speed homeward,
The plough perfectly framed
In the side window pane,
Until a too bright Taunton drowned the light.
About this next one all I will say is that Edgehill is a station just outside of Liverpool.
WAVING AT TRAINS
I never waved at trains,
Too far from the tracks.
A middle class myth
In the books I read.
It happened to me just once,
Sat on the train at Edgehill,
Just outside the station,
Little children waving
Two fingers at every train.
Here’s a question, if you could would you do it all again exactly as you have done now?
She unveils the machine,
Offers me the chance:
Relive my youth with wisdom.
Taunts me: Too afraid of the trip?
That backward slide through time?
Sensing the truth she is wide of the mark,
For I know my fear so well.
I am frightened of arrival.
Of the thousand possible paths before me
That I know I will discount,
To chose the path I took.
Hush! It all begins again.