Slow motion in the quiet of the room;
so potent is the smell of her perfume
that you think she’s eternal,
that you think she is everything…
but no-one knows what she is.
Repentance for all you should have said;
her entrance seems to raise you from the dead
and you think she’s really with you,
and you think that she’ll always stay,
always ready to forgive you,
always ready to grant you her mercy
– but in her own way.
When she comes, she’ll be a stranger;
struck dumb, you’ll try to protest
as the drum beats out the danger…
too late, you should have noticed
that the lady with the skin so white,
like something out of Blake or Burne-Jones
always blocked out the light
and shadowed all you owned.
Still you think she’s forever,
yesterday and tomorrow…
but no-one knows where she is.
Stillyou swear that you can win her
and your prayer is that she’ll want you;
aware, once a saint, now you’re a sinner
and your sins are going to haunt you
when the lady with her skin so white
like something out of Edgar Allen Poe
holds your hand so very tight
and you hope that she’ll never let go.
Easy targets, easy crosswords, easy life:
these key margins leave you balanced on the knife,
bleeding darkly In the end it all comes down
to sleazy bargains.
That hidden key-you tried so hard to find it,
all you can conceive is the effort to be worthy.
Even now you need tobe reminded
that La Belle Dame is without mercy.
The lady with her skin so white
– you never did quite catch her name –
now she holds you in the night
and she’ll never let go again,
she’ll never let go again.
A Place to Survive
It’s easy to say, when you’re so down,
that everything’s pointless;
your eyes burn, your ears howl,
your limbs are disjointed.
Barren fields, the barren earth,
never more will it flower –
rub your face and your hands in the dirt:
now is the hour!
So stand straight, looking over your shoulder,
walk on, though you fear to arrive;
don’t wait till you know that it’s over,
be strong – it’s your place to survive.
While the holocaust rages around you,
be the eye of the storm;
though the extent of disaster astounds you,
forearmed is forewarned.
You may have passed time in happier ways,
but there are other mountains to climb:
you’ve never lived as you’re living today –
now is the time!
Stand straight, though your back breaks from trying,
walk on – even now you must strive.
Don’t wait; while you’re waiting, you’re dying.
Be strong – it’s your place to survive.
The universe is doubtless unfolding
just exactly as it should
and these dreams of remorse or foreboding
won’t do you any good.
The joy, the passion, possessions you own,
the bitterness and the pain,
the end of everything you’ve ever known:
all these are ordained.
Stand straight looking into the future,
walk on–we’ve each got our own lives.
Don’t wait for a guru or tutor,
be strong–it’s your place to survive.
Stand straight, looking over your shoulder,
walk on: though it hurts, you’re alive.
Don’t wait – if you wait it’s all over;
be strong – it’s your right to survive.
He’s a man of the past and one of the present,
a man who hides behind a mask behind a mask;
a clown, a fool, believing it cool to be down
or that the game is all about who laughs the last.
So he tells all his problems to his friends
and relations, exposes his neuroses to their view.
They accept as fact
every masochistic mumble of his act;
how could they know what was false
and what was true?
Sometimes when he wakes
he feels he’s walked into a dream
but all it takes
to remind him things are what they seem
is the belief
that the man behind the mask can really dance
he sees himself cavorting,
Pierrot for a while
to find relief
in the shelter of the dark, most telling mask.
After all the pantomimes are ended
he peels all the make-up off his face
to reveal, beneath,
the tears running all down his cheeks:
alne, he opens to the world…
but it’s much too late.
He’s been left, in the end, without a face.
Meurglys III, The Songwriter’s Guild
These days I mainly just talk to plants and dogs –
all human contact seems painful, risky, odd;
so I stay acting god in my own universe
where I trade cigarettes in return for songs.
The deal’s made harder the longer I go on:
I find me gone from all but secret languages.
If only I could phrase satisfactory words
in conversation, to make my passion heard…
Meurglys III, he’s my friend,
the only one that I can trust
to let it be without pretence
– there’s no-one else.
It’s killing me, but in the end
there’s no-one else I know is true,
there’s none in all the masks of men,
there’s nothing else
but my guitar…
I suppose he’ll have to do.
Talking in tongues is easy when you know how,
quite pleasing, but still nothing works out right.
Pressurised lungs, heart bleeding,
you’d better slow down
and show that you can make it through the night.
However dark it seems,
the present is just the present,
beyond it no further darness lies concealed
and through these desperate dreams,
this longing for friends and comfort,
you know that in the end all will be revealed.
When no more plants or dogs
or rooms are there to hear you,
and no-one is left near you, then you’ll see:
in the end there’s only you and Meurglys III,
and this is just what you chose to be,
Though I know all this is just escape,
I run because I don’t know where the prison lies.
In songs like this I can bear the weight…
I’m running still,
I shall until,
one day, I hope that I’ll arrive.
I will arise:
in the depths, I will open my eyes;
as my breath almost fails me, survive.
Wait – there’s something unclear,
there’s soemthing I fear now drawing close.
Could it be you? Whose is that voice?
Is it now time to make a chice?
Ah – that irrational pain!
This ridiculous brain now bursts with joy.
Could it be me? Could it be now?
Should I begin to take my vows?
I will return:
as I live, as I breathe, as I burn
I swear I will come through,
with my hands stretching out in the dark,
with my eye pressed up tight to the glass,
wondering if it’s all been true.
All lyrics by Peter Hammill