Monday, February 16, 2015

Song not worth repeating

Codeine Coda

-Dreamt under the terrible influence of Percocet

I rode out of town on a lion skin, raw and feminine,
My satchel filled with lemons and limes, thyme and cinnamon
And sundry other spoils grown under the African sun.

The sounds of war were still stuck in my ears, the shock of the gun
Still ringing in my brain, the endless wailing of innocence undone.

Byron and Rimbaudelaire rode by my side and riding
Behind them on tired steeds a thousand legionnaires done fighting.

Who can free the sticky songs from tripping tongues and burning
Villages my companions beseeched me and I, bone weary, turning
To the salivating sky, could not reply for fear of starting
Another song not worth repeating.

I was listening to Faure and staring at The Tranquilized Tongue on my bedstand and thinking about this poem. So that's how Coleridge did Kubla Khan I guess. The words came to me upon waking! I hadn't dreamed the poem whole, but it came out whole, line by line, as if pre-formed. My opiated brain was taking various influences; I can feel Stevens, Whitman and Dickinson here, Ostashenvsky and Byron in the rhyme, Coleridge in the exoticism, and even some sprung rhythm from Hopkins.

Perhaps because it comes from the subconscious it has a dream like ability to evade any absolute interpretation. This is one of the trickiest things to get, something pointed that nonetheless has an open ended interpretability.

In this case, hard to tell if the soldiers are done fighting, because they can't stand the horror of it, or if they are done because they have just pillaged a city. It feels fiercely to be from both sides of the equation and that is fascinating. It is both the hero and the villain at once. You also can't tell exactly what a song means here, I don't think. And is this a song that bears repeating, or not, is implicitly asked by the last line.

And what does it mean to be raw and feminine? Especially in the light of soldiering?

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