Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Will Oldham (for real)

It has come to light that in the very beginning of the Sunday Sabbath Poetry series more than 10 months ago, it only took me two entries to make a mistake! The post (now correctly updated) was on Will Oldham, the man behind the musical stage name Bonnie "Prince" Billy, for the lyrics to the last song on his 2008 album Lie Down in the Light, "I'll Be Glad." It's my favorite song of his, but as it turns out, it was a cover of a now nearly decade old song by Shannon Stephens (who, incidentally, is on the same label as Sufjan Stevens, Asthmatic Kitty Records, and has a new album coming out).

So! Let's take ol' Oldham all over again. Since discovering Lie Down in the Light, he has become one of my favorite living musicians, and the man is nothing if not consistently dependable. He churns out new work every couple of years, and it's all fantastic -- which is a great gift to someone like me going backwards through his discography. Anyway, let's back up from track #12 to #10 on his 2008 masterpiece, and listen to equally wonderful, intriguingly numinous lyrics. My own poem afterward is, coincidentally but fittingly, a kind of sequel to the sonnet I matched with "I'll Be Glad," which was an ode to the trees behind our apartment. Now to the trees in front of Pitts Theology Library.

- - - - - - -

Lie Down in the Light

By Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy)

When the sun welcomes us in
And the earth's protective skin
Fails and peels back, face to chin
Then we start it all again

Why do you frown?
Why do you try?
Why don't you lie down in the light?

Who's gonna hold my heart?
Who's gonna be my own, own, own?
Who's gonna know when all is dark
That she is not alone...

Heed this word: beware
For my heart's ways are unclear
A fundamental prayer
Leaves the evil one stripped bare

Why do you frown?
Why do you try?
Why don't you lie down in the light?

Who's gonna hold my heart
Who's gonna be my own own own?
Who's gonna know when all is dark
That she is not alone...

Everybody says that it's all right to be there
Everybody says that it's all right to show
Time and again one of us falls behind
It's as if we tried to know what we can't really know

- - - - - - -

For the Ents of Emory's Quad

Each day I walk outside my work—
In which I do not work, often,
But fake my time like a liar—
And the trees are always there, still

At root but swaying in clearly
Planned celebration at my sight.
They greet me exuberantly
In the Lord, with leafy smiles and

Shrugs carrying on, happy if
Only for the company. When they
See I am blue, their peaceful limbs
Bend down to pat my tired spine,

Also to swat my behind when
I admit to mailing in the
Day's work. But their fast creaturely
Friendship, I always welcome with

Short, stubby arms of flesh, designed
For this very thing, soon at hand.

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