Monday, June 26, 2006

"I have known more men destroyed by the desire to have wife and child and to keep them in comfort than I have seen destroyed by drink and harlots."

-W. B. Yeats

I will not stick my neck out and agree with him entirely. But I can see what he was talking about.

Banality kills, faster than booze.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thunder Road: The Dirge

Bruce Springsteen has a different version of Thunder Road in his 'Live 1975-1985' collection. It is a tired dirge to youth and ambition, unlike the album version, which was a celebration, powerful and desperate at the same time.

The live version is a distinct song in its own right.

So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore

You don't believe him when he sings this in the original, but in the live version you do. Springsteen sounds old. And the girl seems much more important.In the album version, he is not talking to the girl. Sure she is addressed, but it is merely incidental. You can see the guy is wrapped up in what the future will bring him. It is Springsteen, of course, and you know that the future did bring him a lot, and the song becomes a huge celebration of that special belief that people have in their uniqueness, which was proven to be true in dear Bruce's case, and when you are young, you think it will be proven in your case too.

The live version came as a shock to me. Coming from Bruce the Boss, it should have been a gloat as much as a song. Who can sing the song with a smugger, more satisfied smile? But it is strange what he makes of it. Was Springsteen disappointed in any way? Well, I would have been too, if I had released such horribly mediocre albums as Human Touch and Lucky Town to follow up Darkness on the Edge!

Kidding. But only partly. We all end up being disappointed to some extent. Not with the world, but with ourselves. We are not the perfect, ideal heroes we see ourselves. As we grow, we catch ourselves lying, cheating, manipulating, compromising, and getting used to the mediocre, and we realize we are no better.

It's a town full of losers
And I'm pulling out of here to win.

Only, you pull into another town of losers. Maybe fewer losers, if you are lucky. But losers, nonetheless.

Yes, I am not exactly upbeat today.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Gieve Patel: Desi Doctor Poet

It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of the knife
Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out if it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leprous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone won't do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out –
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out-snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,

And then it is done.

- Gieve Patel

A killer of a poem, if you will excuse the lousy pun. I always admired its surgical precision, and today I discovered the poet was a doctor. Another poem by Gieve Patel, I discovered while searching for this one.

it makes sense not
to have the body
hermetically sealed, a
box of incorruptibles.