Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tea in the Sahara: Issa's Sunday Service, #145

Tea in the Sahara by The Police on Grooveshark

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This song, dating back to Sting's days with the Police, recounts a story told in the chapter "Tea in the Sahara" from Paul Bowles famed novel, The Sheltering Sky. It is the story of 3 prostitutes, a prince, and a wish for tea in the Sahara. More sordid details of this lovely fable may be found here.  

The Sheltering Sky has attracted attention over the years, including a fine movie adaptation by Bernardo Bertulucci. Early on, however, one writer nailed it precisely in review: that writer, Tennessee Williams, in the New York Times, on December 4th, 1949. Largely the review is a fine piece of writing, something rarely seen in those nary august pages today - and, oh, what a killer last sentence. 
"Tea In The Sahara"

My sisters and I
Have this wish before we die
And it may sound strange
As if our minds are deranged
Please don't ask us why
Beneath the sheltering sky
We have this strange obsession
You have the means in your possession

We want our tea in the Sahara with you
We want our tea in the Sahara with you

The young man agreed
He would satisfy their need
So they danced for his pleasure
With a joy you could not measure
They would wait for him here
The same place every year
Beneath the sheltering sky
Across the desert he would fly

Tea in the Sahara with you
Tea in the Sahara with you

The sky turned to black
Would he ever come back?
They would climb a high dune
They would pray to the moon
But he'd never return
So the sisters would burn
As their eyes searched the land
With their cups full of sand

Tea in the Sahara with you
Tea in the Sahara with you
Tea in the Sahara with you
Tea in the Sahara with you

Here is the elegant opening of the critically acclaimed film, showing first what they are fleeing from and then where they arrive:


Photo by Jessie Eastland

rising into
the year's first sky...
tea smoke 
 translated by David G. Lanoue 


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Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 145 songs

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