I have been working in Brest in the art college since September. I’m like a tourist, I come here for a couple of days and then go home. The sea air, the changeable weather, remind me even more of my first home : Dublin.
One of the first things I noticed was the sound of the seagulls. Then when I had more time in the city, I noticed how calm it was compared to Paris and how I could hear the other birds.
This evening in Brest, a cool spring evening, with a beautiful long stretch in the evening, the birds were pouring forth their song. As I sat there drinking in this beautiful moment the poem by Keats that I have been trying to learn for a long time came to mind. I listened and then I read it out. I still do not know it by heart.
So here it is an imperfect version because it is not yet in my heart. I find it a difficult poem to learn because of its length and also because it is as if there is something so beautiful inside it, that I am almost wary to take apart these delicate words. The words roll over you, roll out of your mouth, feeling to me like dewy wet fronds, that you push aside to fly on the blind wings of poetry to stand in the song filled glade…
I hope you enjoy this moment. Filmed on my phone so sorry for the image quality.
Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But being too happy in thine happiness,— That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees In some melodious plot Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green, Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth! O for a beaker full of the warm South, Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, And purple-stained mouth; That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-eyed despairs, Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee, Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: Already with thee! tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays; But here there is no light, Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves; And mid-May’s eldest child, The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight with no pain, While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad In such an ecstasy! Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain— To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn; The same that oft-times hath Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades Past the near meadows, over the still stream, Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?
A link below to a teaser showing what Zarboth is like live- but remember no video or record can ever replace the sweat and liveliness of a rock group in front of you. Unless of course you are in the rock group.
We will be playing next on Thursday 21st March 2019 in L’International Bar, 5 Rue Moret 75011 Paris, – here is a link to the Facebook event :