Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Will Oldham Shannon Stephens

UPDATE (6/29/09): Ten months later, I have come to discover that this beloved song of mine, as sung by Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy's superb 2008 album Lie Down in the Light, is actually a cover. The original was written and performed by Shannon Stephens on her 2000 self-titled first album. You can learn more about Shannon here, where you can listen to the original "I'll Be Glad" and also read about her new album The Breadwinner, coming out later this year. As penance, I just might pick it up; either way, please continue to enjoy these wonderful lyrics!

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I'll Be Glad

By Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy) Shannon Stephens

I'll go anywhere that you do
And if you don't go before
Lord, I don't want to go
Without you anymore

Meet me in a pillar of fire
Shade me with a big white cloud
Lord, wherever you go
You'll always have me around

You will give my body rest
And never let me thirst
So I'm not going anywhere
If you don't go there first

And when I see you beckoning
Me, that's how I'll know
Lord, following your lead
Is the only way I'll go

When you get your flock together
Please take me along
Lord, I'm too weak to travel
I'll be glad you're strong

And I'll lean on your arm

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Nature Sabbath

Behind our home the trees are family.
Their hospitality is brave, and near—
I sit and listen to their tragedy;
I sit and eye creation’s stare severe.

A bird! He flies, careens invisible
To all but me; no eye is fixed but here
And now, in this time indivisible,
In this place inimitable. (The fear

Is of small things: bugs, neighbors, oxygen.)
A different bird—proud scarlet!—hops about.
The man who lived without the fox’s den
Is blinking, breathing slowly: in, then out.

The trees are eyelids—heavy, silent, deep;
The Holy One of Israel asleep.

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