Thursday, 11 May 2017

May #6: The Peace Of Wild Things

 When despair for the world grows in me
 and I wake in the night at the least sound
 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
 I go and lie down where the wood drake
 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
 I come into the peace of wild things
 who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
 And I feel above me the day-blind stars
 waiting with their light. For a time
 I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

That's my favourite poem. The Peace Of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry. It says so much to me about life, the world we live in, sadness, worry and sleepless nights. There was a time, when I was a younger man, when insomnia troubled me a lot. Living out in the countryside, I would often get up before dawn and go out for a walk; sometimes in the darkness, sometimes in that dull, dead twilight before dawn. I went into the peace of wild things, up to the reservoir, watched the birds on the water, the first rays of sun breaking over Castle Hill in the east.

I don't do that anymore. I live a bit further away from the wild things now, and besides, I'd wake the whole house. Instead, I use music to help me rest in the grace of the world and stop me taxing my mind with forethought of grief.

6. Steely Dan - Showbiz Kids

One great band to feed through your headphones in the wee small hours, when all else seems dark, is Steely Dan. And one of my favourites at the moment is Showbiz Kids. There's so much going on in this track, it's like three different songs playing at the same time. Lyrically and musically, it's endlessly fascinating. It's a very witty song (love the reference to the showbiz kids with their "shapely bods", wearing their Steely Dan T-shirts), but I've been puzzling for some time over the chorus - the bit the female backing singers repeat, over and over again, but which isn't included in the booklet that comes with the Countdown To Ecstasy CD or any of the online search engines which list the lyrics.

To be honest, once you've got that refrain in your head and started wondering what it is... it's the sort of thing that'll keep you awake at night.

Well, finally, I found out. Maybe you know. Maybe you don't. Maybe I'll tell you. Maybe I won't...


  1. Thank you for sharing the poem; it is perfect. I take solace in nature every time... it soothes and heals and how true are those words, "...wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief". Just watching the birds in the garden going about their business, wrapped up only in the present moment, is all I need. Or even just watching a spider spin its web. Funnily enough was just saying to Mr SDS this morning while looking out the kitchen window at finches tucking into sunflower seeds that if I ever get housebound and infirm please make sure I'm lying next to a window with a birdfeeder in view.
    But yes, music works too, of course (and in the above scenario will be essential if I should lose my eyesight!)

    As for Steely Dan: hot sweetness? Golden hot sweetness ?!

    1. For a moment, I thought that last comment was a reaction to Becker & Fagen...

      Glad you liked the poem.

  2. I've always thought it was "Go to Lost Wages" - a dig at Las Vegas, but now you've got me worried!

    1. No, you're right. Apparently it's a pun from an old Jerry Lewis routine.

  3. Love your posts but very time poor this week so not keeping up - Am with you on the sleepless nights however - The old windmills won't shut down and just too many people depending on me. Ironically the music that has been seeing me throught the small hours is Donald Fagen's Nightfly.

    Glad you confirmed the chorus bit - thought it was that but couldn't be sure.

    Lovely poem indeed but no time this week to be out and about with the wild things which is sad.

    1. Don't worry, Alyson, you are under no obligation to read or comment on this guff. No one is. I really only write it for myself anyway. Sometimes I think you're all just figments of my imagination.

    2. Oh it's not guff as well you know it but the real world (yes there is one and we're not figments) has encroached on me - It turns out the paperless office is not for me and struggling with all the hours I spend in front of a screen. Having a little break from posting new stuff at my place but hope to return with the next installment of my American Odyssey soon (but Massachusetts not a bad place to be holed up in).

  4. I can't believe you avoided the temptation to mention the Super Furrys. That's what gets stuck in my head whenever I hear this song.

    1. Go on, you've lost me. Do tell me why.

  5. Not sure if you were being serious Rol....


    1. Ah. Quite. My memory is not what it was.


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