this is me

I will never believe
that this inglorious me
as you have labelled
is the only me to be,

but choose to seek instead—
however disastrously
however comically—
to define myself!

to create my me
in such colors and tones
as I would most wish
to be seen by you—

speaking hugely in words
and accents as I would
most insistently, most proudly
choose to be heard,

for this is me

this is me

[Inspired by Lia’s https://liathepoet.home.blog/2021/02/03/c-am-em-g/ ]

I cannot listen to this sing without crying. My thoughts dwelling on my mother and father, and our homelands in Scotland and Germany, and all of the family and ancestors there whom I will never know beyond the reading and imagining. So … here is Scotland’s own Kris Drever and Lau, singing “Ghosts”.

Am I Drinking Enough

another room, another bed
another wound to tend
as life clinging claims
more attention than ever
and my thoughts fall
back to moments of peace
however misguided the effort
however foolish the pungent
potion I had to down
in order to reach that
particular path to a much
needed silence

[Honestly, awaking this morning in an odd mood, I only wanted to share this song from one of my favorite bands, but it felt a bit impersonal without at least penning a verse to go with it. So, here is Mad Dog McRea.]

the music they adore

my weans whisper hopeful sounds
playfully panting giggling
as the chanter croaks in response
and i love it

how could i not adore this
having longed for ages for the art
to breathe rhythmic wonder
into hollow wood

i have sat in awe time and again
while acquaintances of old
have performed for gatherings
of family, friends

nothing so formal as would call
one man a patron, another a star
but for me it was all so magical
a dream to trace

laya, asena, laura, mark, halil, tuǧcan
i have in silence admired you all
for so very long with sweet memories
of your own music

i would my children should grow
wise and bold and even foolish
taking chances others might refuse
to discover themselves

i would have them be happy
beyond all measure of joy
and always imbued with the generous
gift of love

but more than this and all, please
may my beautiful weans all thrive
with hands hearts voices expressing
the music they adore

time

I wish I could say why. I have my suspicions, of course, yet prefer not to face them. Yet somehow this piece evokes in me a sense of loss. Of time that has gone, never to return. Of opportunities that shall not come again. I listened to it one day, and felt tears welling in my eyes, despite the fact that I cannot understand the Breton language.

Perhaps one day someone shall come and translate this for me, and I will learn that it has nothing to do with time at all. Or loss. Perhaps one day someone will come and set my mind at ease. Confirming that time is far from past. And that this life–a convergence of lines and voices and hearts–has as much relevance now as before. As much potential as ever. As much hope as man may know.

Infinite hope. I know I have used these words recently. And I believe them to be true. I have greater conviction now than at any point in my life that love can be true and enduring and yes–even pure. Yet these words, this voice of infinite hope cringes at this pervasive sense of loss.

For all of our efforts to “live in the moment,” we are creatures of time, and we exist in the past, present, and future. All of us. Yet my greatest weakness is perhaps that my spirit dwells far too much in times gone by.

[I see YouTube has managed to block viewing here on WordPress, but at least the link is still active to take you to this piece at YouTube.]

My Love is on the High Seas

I never truly understood how much joy my heart was capable of until it was touched by one whose own heart has known the greatest joys and the most tragic sorrows that human heart may ken.

With each plodding day and each mournful night, my spirit calls to her, my flesh craving her touch. My eyes seek high and low for a glimpse of her face, which once looked upon me with more love than I e’er deserved.

I think we all know what it is to be alone, don’t we? Adrift in a sea of harshest humanity, there endures such tremendous longing in the human breast for a true companion, for a tender voice, for a passionate kiss, for a warm embrace.

I have found my companion. She brought me the very peace that nourishes my spirit. And I need her now.

Now and always.

I know, I have shared the music of Julie Fowlis before, but what made me think of this song this night is this sense of longing, so well captured in the old Scots Gaelic Tha Mo Ghaol Air Àird A’ Chuain (“My Love is on the High Seas”):

On a quiet evening at the beginning of May
When the bat was in the skies
I heard a tearful young maiden
Singing beneath the shadow of the green branches
The sun was setting in the sea
And no stars yet graced the sky
When the young girl sang sorrowfully
“My love is on the high seas”

The night’s dew began to fall
Each bloom yielding softly to the droplets
The wind blew in a fragrant breeze
Bringing life and renewal to each field
The girl tunefully sang her song
Quiet and peaceful like the June dew
And this chorus constantly repeated
“My love is on the high seas”

Day darkened and the stars shone
Setting their course amongst the clouds
The maiden sat, burdened by her sadness
Her singing could not have been more soothing
I moved closer to the young woman
Singing of her love sailing on the sea
Oh sweet was her sad lament
“My love is on the high seas”

The music enticed me
Nearer to the brown-haired maiden of the warm eyes
And she prayed to the King of Heaven
“Protect my love on the high seas”
Her heart was breaking with love
When I took her by the hand
“Wipe your eyes, your love is safe
I have returned to you from the high seas”

Ajde Jano (Come, Jana)

Sometimes, when your heart is so full of love, as mine is now — and feeling so very blessed to be loved by one so beautiful and compassionate and kind — your body just wants to dance. Longs to dance. To move with the touch of the beloved, holding her in your arms. Feeling her heart beat with yours. With mine. … Come, my love, let us dance.

Here are the lyrics to this beautiful Serbian song:

Ajde Jano, kolo da igramo,
ajde Jano, ajde dus^o, kolo da igramo.
Ajde Jano, konja da prodamo,
ajde Jano, ajde dus^o, konja da prodamo.
Da prodamo, samo da igramo,
da prodamo, Jano dus^o, samo da igramo.
Ajde Jano, kuc’u da prodamo,
ajde Jano, ajde dus^o, kuc’u da prodamo.
Da prodamo, samo da igramo,
da prodamo, Jano dus^o, samo da igramo.

And the translation:

Come, Jana, let us dance the kolo.
Come, Jana, let us sell the horse.
We’ll sell them just so we can dance.
Come Jana, let us sell the house.
We’ll sell it just so we can dance.

for the old world

My thoughts return again and again to the old world, to the lands across the sea that my ancestors abandoned long ago. Well, not so long ago in fact, when my father left Germany to immigrate here to the U.S. As for my mother, God rest her blessed soul, she never knew the half of her own heritage. The Scottish, yes. But little did she know how many of her roots were settled in those ancient lands. And in England and Ireland and Germany and France.

I wish sometimes I could share with her all that I have learned. I wish I could take her hand and show her how large her world had been, this woman who dwelt so comfortably between four walls, so long as she could provide for her two sons. So long as she could make a safe and happy home in that small space. Little knowing how eagerly one of her own bairn would seek out the past she had lost.

She is only eight years old now, but when my dearest daughter arises to claim her life in her own voice, with her own hands, I pray she will abandon these walls and seek the world wide to find the life that suits her best. If it means leaving all this behind, my darling princess, then so be it. Create the life you will, and I will always be proud of you for it. For having found your own voice.

As for me, what time remains in this body still, what rhythm yet this heart may beat, what verses this mind may yet compose, I know it will not be here. My father left his home in the old world and hardly looked back to the heritage he had left behind. My mother barely knew hers. I will not die on these shores. I will afar. As far as this life may yet take me. And in the old world, in the company of true love, I pray I will at last find peace.

This, by the way, is the remarkable Julie Fowlis, and these are the words to this song, which I have copied from her website:

Bothan Àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach (A sheiling on the Braes of Rannoch)


Gur e m’ anam is m’ eudail
chaidh an-dè do Ghleann Garadh:
fear na gruaig’ mar an t-òr
is na pòig air bhlas meala.

O hi ò o hu ò, o hi ò o hu ò,
Hi rì ri ò hu eile
O hì ri ri ri ò gheallaibh ò

Is tu as fheàrr don tig deise
de na sheasadh air thalamh;
is tu as fheàrr don tig culaidh
de na chunna mi dh’ fhearaibh.
Is tu as fheàrr don tig osan
is bròg shocrach nam barrall:
còta Lunnainneach dubh-ghorm,
is bidh na crùintean ga cheannach.

An uair a ruigeadh tu ‘n fhèill
is e mo ghèar-sa a thig dhachaigh;
mo chriosan is mo chìre
is mo stìomag chaol cheangail.

Thig mo chrios à Dùn Eideann
is mo bhrèid à Dùn Chailleann,
gheibh sinn crodh as a’ Mhaorainn
agus caoraich à Gallaibh.

Is ann a bhios sinn ‘gan àrach
air àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach.
ann am bòthan an t-sùgraidh
is gur e bu dùnadh dha barrach.

Bhiodh a’ chuthag ‘s an smùdan
a’ gabhail ciùil duinn air chrannaibh;
bhiodh an damh donn ‘s a bhùireadh
gar dùsgadh sa mhadainn.

It was my love and my treasure
who went yesterday to Glengarry,
the man with hair like gold
and kisses that taste of honey.

You suit your clothes
better than any man on earth;
you look better in your garments
than any man I’ve ever seen.

You look better in stockings
and comfortable laced shoes,
a dark blue London coat
that cost many crowns to buy.

When you arrive at the fair,
you’ll bring home my gear,
my small belt and my comb
and my little narrow fastening
head-band.

My belt will come from Edinburgh
and my marriage head-dress from
Dunkeld,
we’ll get cattle from the Mearns
and sheep from Caithness.

And we’ll rear them in a sheiling
in Bràigh Raithneach,
in the brush-wood enclosed hut of
dalliance.

The cuckoo will sing
its song to us from the trees,
the brown stag and its roaring
will wake us in the morning.

http://www.juliefowlis.com/songs/

Yeniliğe Doğru

I find as the years have passed that time teases me to tremble with needs, with desires, with fears, seldom allowing me to treasure a moment of true peace. But through a blessed heart, through the love of another, I have at least discovered how joyous such peace can be. It was in gratitude for this blessed gift of peace that I wished to share these videos and images I captured near Çeşme in Turkey, accompanied by the beautiful and hopeful sounds led by one of the greatest voices in Turkish music, Sezen Aksu.

It occurs to me that a translation might help, although I could never do justice to the verses of the master Mevlana:

Her gün bir yerden göçmek ne iyi
How good it is to move from a place everyday

Bulanmadan donmadan akmak ne hoş
How fine it is to flow unsullied, unfrozen

Her gün bir yere konmak ne güzel
How beautiful it is to come to rest somewhere everyday

Bulanmadan donmadan akmak ne hoş
How fine it is to flow unsullied, unfrozen

Dünle beraber
Along with yesterday

Gitti cancağızım
my love has gone

Şimdi yeni bir şeyler
Now new things

Söylemek lazım
must be said

Ne kadar söz varsa
However many words may be

Düne ait
they belong to yesterday

Şimdi yeni bir şeyler
Now new things

Söylemek lazım
must be said

I wish

I wish, my love.
Knowing this as you do.

That life persists in waves of joy and sorrow, melting hearts to tears
and day by day expanding with laughter or with laments receding.

When all is weighed and said and done, take this from me, my dear:
be thou loved with such passion that outlasts proud time itself.

With such conviction that endures all demon doubt, be thou loved,
and trust to one truth above all else: that life was meant for this.

For us. To love.
And be loved.

Salt Lake City 15 Jun 2012

Divane Aşık Gibi

Quite some time ago, a group of musicians got together to share some rather traditional pieces of Turkish music, the kind of pieces that have been played and sung and reinterpreted by a great number of artists over the years. But there was a twist to how these musicians handled their interpretation. They were spread out across the country, bringing together not only a diversity of locations and voices, but styles and intruments that had never been used to play these pieces. Their most recent work has included musicians in several countries — seems the movement is growing.

I have shared this music before. So why do it again? Well, it’s not just that I enjoy this particular piece, but that I truly enjoy the diversity of voices and sounds. Worth sharing, I think. Worth encouraging when many voices come together in such a creative act. This is a video of the first of (currently) four works, published under the title of Doğa İçin Çal (Play for Nature). This piece is called Divane Aşık Gibi.