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Thom Moore: Blog

Seven Things Aloom -- track sixteen: Life Ahinge

Posted on April 7, 2013

Life Ahinge


"You weary soldier, hear me sing,"

the Bright One says to take away the sting.

"You ragged squire, come hear me sing,"

the Bright One says, and fugitive is king.

"Like heavy vine, like fruited bough,

in company with women now,

for you alone all of us sing:

the champion home, the hero king,

champion come home, hero made king."


"You've done your labours, everything,"

the Bright One says, the Bright One sings,

"Done every task, tied every string,"

the Bright One says, and makes the man a king.

"And like the dead, ended and all,

wait for the matrix choice and call,

so our wombs ache to fetch you home;

the welcome rings, the king is enthroned,

welcome rings out, king has his throne."


"There never was, is no other way,"

the Bright One sings, and levels her gaze,

"no way on earth, by night or by day,"

the Bright One sings, and man is all amazed,

"no way to come to paradise

save through these gates, true and tight,

this fatal stricture, man-commanding,

opening up at the touch of your hand;

they open up, touched by your hand."


"The me that mocked you, me that grew cold,"

the Bright One tells all those beyond the fold,

"the me that you were dying to hold,"

the Bright One tells the boy inside the old,

"she spoke to send you on your way,

yet here you are, with me today:

you circle back to hear me sing:

your life ahinge, the cardinal thing,

life ahinge on the cardinal thing."


©1999 Thom Moore, reg. IMRO, MCPS


This effort behind this song would be called by some hubris, by some chutzpah ... a devoted follower of some of the notions about poetry and its bases that were divined and defined by Robert Graves, chiefly in his magnum opus The White Goddess, in a rare fit of inspiration while on night-shift at the Votkinsk Permanent Portal in Russia, and in an access of goodwill due to the fact that I had just been treated very well by a group of Russian medical personnel (doctors, nurses, their spouses ... this was in 1990), I decided to write a poem that would ‘distill all the truly important, basic information in his work’ ... duh.  Before taking offense (if you are a Graves fan) or ridiculing the notion (if you are not, and don’t know how this stuff works), just read the poem:


"Come hear me sing,"

the Bright One says,

"in company with women,

all of us alone with you,

berries to your vine. 


"You've done your tasks,"

the Bright One says,

"and like the welcome dead,

so our wombs ache

to fetch you home. 


"There is no way,"

the Bright One says,

"for man to come to paradise

save through these gates,

this fatal stricture. 


"The me that mocked you,"

says the Bright One,

"spoke to send you on your way. 

You circle back to me,

life ahinge."


             ... of which, obviously, the ‘theme’ is the notion of revolution of a man’s life around some locus ... which is usually, at least in my understanding of Graves’s notions, the woman whose existence enchants and enslaves him, the thing towards which he strives, struggles ... and returns, like something on a hinge.

             Having returned to Ireland in 1995, and butting yet again up against the notion that ‘songs are not poetry’ (a base conception that has prevented Bob Dylan from being awarded the Nobel prize, for example), I decided, just as an interesting exercise, to transform my Graves-summing poem into a song, to have something to illustrate the fact that I am well aware of the difference between the two ... and this song was the result.  For several years I was in mortal fear for my life, having actually created something ‘perfect’.  I suppose I was saved by the fact that very few other people thought so.  Oh, well ... win some, lose some. At least I managed to mention the unmentionable, ever-so-politely.