Painting by Peter Paul Rubens
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There is a lot in this beautiful, intimate little song by Lou Reed, who is making a fourth appearance on the Sunday Service. The reference to Leda and the Swan is what lands the song on the list, though there are other nods to literature, too, including the title itself.
Power And Glory
I was visited by The Power and The Glory
I was visited by a majestic hymn
Great bolts of lightning
lighting up the sky
Electricity flowing through my veins
I was captured by a larger moment
I was seized by divinity's hot breath
Gorged like a lion on experience
Powerful from life
I wanted all of it--
Not some of it
I saw a man turn into a bird
I saw a man turn into a tiger
I saw a man hang from a cliff by the tips of his toes
in the jungles of the Amazon
I saw a man put a red hot needle through his eye
turn into a crow and fly through the trees
swallow hot coals and breathe out flames
and I wanted this to happen to me
We saw the moon vanish into his pocket
We saw the stars disappear from sight
We saw him walk across water into the sun
while bathed in eternal light
We spewed out questions waiting for answers
creating legends, religions and myths
Books, stories, movies and plays
all trying to explain this
I saw a great man turn into a little child
The cancer reduce him to dust
His voice growing weaker as he fought for his life
with a bravery few men know
I saw isotopes introduced into his lungs
trying to stop the cancerous spread
And it made me think of Leda and The Swan
and gold being made from lead
The same power that burned Hiroshima
causing three legged babies and death
Shrunk to the size of a nickel
to help him regain his breath
And I was struck by The Power and The Glory
I was visited by a majestic Him
Great bolts of lightening lighting up the sky
as the radiation flowed through him
He wanted all of it
Not some of it
Leda and the Swan
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
W. B. Yeats
Here is Mr. Hughes with a spirited reading of what he, perhaps, admired most in nature, or man, or both.
Photo by Yashi Wong
in the lightning
how he laughs...
translated by David G. Lanoue
With this post, the regular Sunday Service is back. In fact, there will be a little more activity around here once again after a bit of a working hiatus. Perhaps more on that at a future date.
We'll just have to see. Meanwhile, Bix Beiderbecke beckons.
Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.
Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 134 songs
I heard someone the other day describe Lou Reed as a "talk-singer" and I think that may be right. I have to admit that the song I hate as much as any in this world is "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed. I can't turn that one off fast enough when it comes up. I should really give his other music a chance, though.
Thanks for this post - wonderful. In many years of reading Ted Hughes I had never heard his voice - how odd - he did a very nice job with the Yeats poem.
Charles, you might want to check out Lou Reed's "Lulu" collaboration with Metallica - a good track to start with might be "Iced Honey". Lou Reed is quite incredible, what with the Velvet Underground and all. The Metallica boys must have a lot of respect for him or they wouldn't have collaborated on an album. "Lulu" is pretty weird in places but quite engaging for metalheads who are showing their age.
you also might try on for size his
Metal Machine Music c-d (album) and his Ecstasy album (c-d)
anywhere you start with Lou Reed is "a trip" !
not sure my comment went through so
try his ECSTASY album and then his
Metal Machine Music album
both "trips" worth taking... for those who do.
Charles, thanks for the note. Some recommendations (excellent ones) from fellow Lou Reed fans follow in the comments.
Jeffrey, I do think Charles will be especially intrigued with Lulu. Thanks.
Ed, also two fine Lou albums. Metal Machine may particularly hit the spot for Charles.
I love Ecstasy.
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