Morning Songs

An aubade is a composition about or evocative of sunrise. As popular songs go, Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken” is among the prettiest. Beck’s euphonic Morning is a keeper:

Can we start it all over again this morning?
I let down my defenses this morning
It was just you and me this morning
I fought all my guesses this morning
Won’t you show me the way it could’ve been?

I’ll relate an experience that might sound like nothing much but it continues to have an effect on me a year-and-a-half later. Make of it what you will. At dawn, my father-in-law and I were passing through a little town in eastern part of Poland, he drove. It’s countryside with birch forests and tall, flower-adorned crucifixes at every crossroad.

Driving slowly through the wioska, we turn a corner and a burst of early morning’s sunlight floods everything. How to describe this. My perception opened for a moment. This lasted for a microsecond. What I saw, when we turned that corner, was a young woman pushing an infant stroller and a little boy walking with her.

They were real people, actually walking on the sidewalk and like I said, the vision was a flash but during it their silhouettes against the golden sunlight made an effect of the light being the sole reality. People who describe their near-death experience talk about an overwhelming sense of being embraced by love and for that moment, without a prelude and ending at that same instant, that is exactly what I felt.

That morning is when I stopped worrying.

“When the Morning Lights Arise” (orig. “Kiedy ranne wstają zorze”) is Franciszek Karpiński’s aubade, written c. 1800. My translation:

When the morning lights arise
To You the earth, to You the sea,
To You the elements sing:
Be praised, mighty God.

And man, without measure
Showered with Your gifts,
Whom You created and saved,
How can he not praise You?

Still rubbing my waking eyes
I at once call to my Lord,
To my Lord in Heaven
And I seek Him by me.

Some into the sleep of death have fallen
After lying down last night…
We still woke up
To praise You, God.

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A Poem About Gods

I’m discovering Zbigniew Herbert’s (1924 – 1998) poems as we speak. In one of his poems, Herbert described himself as a bard who merely knocks on doors behind which truths are revealed. Herbert’s Apollo and Marsyas below (orig. “Apollo i Marsjasz”) describes a torture-execution. In Greek myth, satyr Marsyas challenged Apollo to a music contest. The contest was judged by the Muses, Marsyas lost and was flayed alive for his affrontery in challenging a god.

As always, I recommend reading along with the musical interpretation. It’s not an inviting proposition, given the language barrier, which is why I made the line-by-line translation.

“Apollo and Marsyas” — Zbigniew Herbert

właściwy pojedynek Apollona
   the actual duel between Apollo
z Marsjaszem
   and Marsyas
(słuch absolutny
   (an absolute ear
contra ogromna skala)
   vs. immense scale)
odbywa się pod wieczór
   takes place in the early evening
gdy jak już wiemy
   and as we already know
sędziowie
   the judges
przyznali zwycięstwo bogu
   ruled in favor of the god

mocno przywiązany do drzewa
   tightly bound to a tree
dokładnie odarty ze skóry
   meticulously stripped of his skin
Marsjasz
   Marsyas
krzyczy
   cries
zanim krzyk dojdzie
   before the cry reaches
do jego wysokich uszu
   his mighty ear
wypoczywa w cieniu tego krzyku
   he reposes in the shade of that cry

wstrząsany dreszczem obrzydzenia
   shaken with disgust
Apollo czyści swój instrument
   Apollo cleans his instrument

tylko z pozoru
   only seemingly
głos Marsjasza
   is Marsyas’ voice
jest monotony
   monotonous
i składa się z jednej samogłoski
   and composed of one vowel
A
   A

w istocie Marsjasz opowiada
   in fact Marsyas relates
nieprzebrane bogactwo
   of the inexhaustible richness
swego ciała
   of his body

łyse góry wątroby
   the bald hills of the liver
pokarmów białe wąwozy
   the white digestive gorges
szumiące lasy płuc
   the murmuring forests of lungs
słodkie pagórki mięśni
   the sweet mounds of muscle
stawy żółć krew i dreszcze
   the joints bile blood and shudders
zimowy wiatr kości
   the bones’ winter wind
nad solą pamięci
   over the salt-flats of memory

wstrząsany dreszczem obrzydzenia
   shaken with disgust
Apollo czyści swój instrument
   Apollo cleans his instrument

teraz do chóru
   now the choir
przyłącza się stos pacierzowy Marsjasza
   is joined by the spinal stack of Marsyas
w zasadzie to samo A
   in principle the same A
tylko głębsze z dodatkiem rdzy
   only deeper and with a touch of rust

to już jest ponad wytrzymałość
   this is now beyond the endurance
boga o nerwach z tworzyw sztucznych
   of a god with nerves of synthetic fiber

żwirową aleją
   down the gravel alley
wysadzaną bukszpanem
   lined with boxwood
odchodzi zwycięzca
   departs the victor
zastanawiając się
   wondering if
czy z wycia Marsjasza
   Marsyas’ howls
nie powstanie z czasem
   aren’t the birth of
nowa gałąź
   a new branch
sztuki – powiedzmy – konkretnej
   of – shall we say – concrete art

nagle
   suddenly
upada mu
   at his feet falls
skamieniały słowik
   a petrified nightingale

odwraca głowę
   he turns his head
i widzi
   and sees
że drzewo do którego przywiązany był Marsjasz
   that the tree to which Marsyas is tied
jest siwe
   has turned white

zupełnie
   completely

Idle Thoughts On Misheard Lyrics

Everyone has his story on misheard lyrics that illustrates some biographical quirk. My three:

1. Boney M — “El Lute

I heard a bit of Disco as a kid in the late 1970s and El Lute was one of my favorite songs, even though I didn’t speak a word of English at the time. That campy Euro-Caribbean band would not cross my thoughts again until two decades later, when I came across their Greatest Hits in a music store. Now fluent in English at almost thirty years old, I bought the tape and took a trip down memory lane. When I got to El Lute, I played it again because the song’s lyrics captured my attention, with its story about the famed Spanish outlaw.

Eleuterio Sánchez is either a murderer as convicted, or an innocent man per his steadfast claim. Only he knows the truth. He was born in 1942 to a dirt-poor peasant family in northern Spain, remaining illiterate until adulthood. He learned to read, earned a law degree, and wrote two books while serving a thirty-year prison sentence.

Because they own the recording industry, the song is anti-Franco propaganda. Nevertheless, you might still have a brain, but you don’t have a heart if your pulse doesn’t quicken to that story. See Point No. 8, short excerpt here:

Do you believe that a race has its destiny? If so, then ours is to build and destroy, at turns… “The European soul craves more; it needs more. If necessary, it will upend and destroy the world to get that ‘more.’ It will even destroy itself.”

I don’t mind stealing communist propaganda toward my ends. After all, I’m just taking back what’s ours: they co-opted our talent, they hijacked our folklore, so like cultural Viet Cong, we salvage the usable parts of the enemy’s equipment. Like in this bit of fun with El Lute:

And he wanted a home
Just like you and like me
In a country where all would be free

“Free love” vs “date rape” is the dividing line between Baby Boomers and Generation X. The dividing line between the previous generations and Millennials is that the latter never had a country of their own.

Though he taught himself
To read and to write
It didn’t help El Lute

The modern pursuit of an education is like grabbing a dancing reflection on water. Ancient Greeks called the program of learning that was essential to carrying out the duties of a citizen “liberal arts.” (Latin: ars liberalis, “the mastery of practices fitting a free man”). John Milton wrote that the ultimate purpose of education…

“… is to repair the ruines of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the neerest by possessing our souls of true vertue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” (1644)

At my university seminar, we poured feminist grievances over Beowulf. In a twisted way, that was still education because education is as much revealed-desire to know, as it is acquired knowledge.

This is analogous to elite military training. A bus full of Army Special Forces trainees on their first day, all of them hand-picked by their respective company commanders as cream of the crop, pulled over on the side of a road on its way to the selection school where ruthless weeding-out is done up-front. The bus driver was uncommunicative with the soldiers, who were growing restless with the delay. What they didn’t know, is that the driver is an instructor who evaluated his passengers on their behavior and the first round of people, complainers and such, was cut before they even arrived at the school.

To be taught, a man must be teachable. I had a few excellent professors but on balance, it was my frustration with the corrupted learning that constituted my education. The Alt-Right is similarly self-educated in that by discovering the Red Pill, we reclaimed the accumulated wealth of Western wisdom, the path to which for us was a labyrinth.

With the prize on his head
People still gave him bread
And they gave him a hand
For they knew he was right
And his fight was their fight

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Or to put it differently: if you’re a guerrilla fighter, never harm your friendly civilians. If you’re a civilian, show your fighters some appreciation. At the very least, never rat them out.

On walls every place
They had put up the face of El Lute
And he robbed where he could
Just like once Robin Hood

Every nation has its populist myths. There are ballads of Pretty Boy Floyd begging a meal from struggling farmers in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, then leaving one thousand dollars on their dinner table under his napkin before disappearing.

El Lute’s story ends well for him, but what does that have to do with us?

And then freedom really came to his land
And also to El Lute
Now he walks in the light
Of a sunny new day

2. Pink Floyd — “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”

A quick gloss over an autobiographical matter: during my almost-teenage years, my family and I spend several months in Austria. This was at the beginning of the 1980s, and we were part of a wave of Eastern European asylees en route to their ultimate destinations in the Western Hemisphere. We were put up in a lovely Gasthaus in an Alpine village, but also spent a total of about two weeks at refugee camp outside of Vienna, at a facility that for me is the touchstone of dignified state architecture.

It was built in 1900 as a training academy for Imperial artillery officers. After WWII, the occupying Soviet Army used it as barracks. In 1956, it served as shelter for Hungarians after their crushed uprising, and the center continued to process Soviet Block refugees through the end of the Cold War. You can guess what kinds of refugees came through there more recently. That building today:

TR1

One chilly morning, my dad took me into town outside the camp’s gates, to a breakfast diner. The small town was overwhelmed with foreigners, who were mostly from Communist countries that shared their borders with Austria. A man my dad’s age, a fellow-Pole, hears us talk and asks if he can join us, all tables being taken. Leaving the two adults to their conversation, I turned my attention to the busy scene inside the restaurant.

The jukebox comes on, playing a catchy, unfamiliar song that I correctly judged to be in English. When the song ends, a strangely behaving, possibly-drunk young man approaches the jukebox, drops coins into the slot and that same songs begins to play again. He shouts something in German to nobody in particular and guessing by his look, he was an East German refugee. This cycle repeats several times, with the song ending and the young man loudly announcing something as he puts it on again. I didn’t mind the repetition, as I was becoming captivated by the song’s bass line and the sneering intro vocals.

A twelve-year-old travels with wide-open eyes, absorbing every detail of a new country. This being Austria, I was fascinated with the Nazi lore I’ve grown up with behind the Iron Curtain, now being a guest near the epicenter of that legacy. The reason my thoughts went there is because the shouted line in the song, just before the refrain (in reality “Hey! teacher!”), had me convinced to be “Heil! Hitler!”

And that, my fellow AltRighters, is how I ended up right here with you.

3. Nirvana — “Smells Like Teen Spirit” 

Ten years later I’m a student, doing my brief stint as a waiter in a mid-Atlantic college town. The evening shift had ended. A wad of cash in my pocket, I was in the mood for loud music and a buzz, so I told a co-worker: “Let’s go to X.” He and I walked one door over to a pub/dance club and we grabbed a table.

With our white dress shirts, now comfortably unbuttoned at the neck, we were indubitably the only dudes in the place not wearing flannel. It was difficult to talk over the noise. Doesn’t matter: a peculiar new song came on, its opening power chords halting the conversation. Then the hello, hello, hello, hello as the shell is chambered, then boom! goes the payload:

With the lights out!
It’s less dangerous!
Here we are now! …

“… undertakers?” — asks my colleague, quizzically arching his eyebrow.

***

Idle Thoughts On Songs About Home

Home, home again, I like to be here when I can
And when I come home cold and tired
Its good to warm my bones beside the fire
— Pink Floyd

Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living.
— T.S. Eliot

Homer’s “Odyssey” is about man’s struggle against temptation, monsters, and gods in his quest for home. As the foundational poem tells it, you can go home again, provided that you rid it of squatters. Modern songs, no less, express that love for home, either the satisfaction of having found it or the realization that you truly know what you have only after you lose it.

I compiled a few songs that carry that spirit, omitting ones with the word “home” in their title.

Madness “Our House.” Home and hearth figures prominently in English art. It’s no surprise that the now-universal metaphor for home, the Hobbits’ Shire, came from that land.

Our house it has a crowd
There’s always something happening
And it’s usually quite loud
Our mum she’s so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down and a mess is not allowed

The Head and the Heart “Down in the Valley.” This indie folk band shares the road-weariness of touring, and how all the tedium and grind are worth the moment it all comes together at show time.

I know there’s California, Oklahoma
And all of the places I ain’t ever been to but
Down in the valley with whiskey rivers
These are the places you will find me hidin’
These are the places I will always go
These are the places I will always go

Bonus — check out their song “Shake.” Trust + chemistry = friendship. That’s home too. The melody and the video: pure joy.

Dream Academy “Life in a Northern Town.” The song was written as an elegy to a young musician who had died ten years earlier. Its snapshots of a northern English town, filmed for the video in 1985, evoke a cloudy place that as an ice-age European, I find homelike.

NorthernTown2

A northern town

Jason Isbell “Travelling Alone.” Home is where the heart is, as every vagabond knows. Isbell sings about the ultimate state of homelessness, being alone:

Damn near strangled by my appetite
Ybor City on a Friday night
Couldn’t even stand up right

So high the street girls wouldn’t take my pay
They said come see me on a better day
She just danced away

Morrissey “Every Day is like Sunday.” Many of the songs on this list are from England. There is something that cries for rivers of blood about the English people’s ancient love of home, so chronicled in their folklore, contrasted with the present diversity nightmare. The lyrics paint a survivor’s longing for death in a post-apocalyptic landscape that was once a sunny place. The opening vocals in “Sunday” are possibly my favorite of any song.

Trudging slowly over wet sand
Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon, come Armageddon!
Come, Armageddon! Come

The Tuttles and AJ Lee covering “Hickory Wind.” Your life’s arc might lead you to “the riches and pleasures.” But should it all dissolve to lonesomeness, your thoughts will turn homeward:

In South Carolina there are many tall pines
I remember the oak tree that we used to climb
But it makes me feel better each time it begins
Callin’ me home hickory wind

Lonestar “Already There.” This song was heavily played during the height of U.S. troop deployment to Iraq, obviously meaningful to those who were missing their loved ones:

A little voice came on the phone
Said, “Daddy when you coming home?”

Maybe it’s just my interpretation, but those lines, beginning with “I’m already there,” read like the words of a fallen soldier who had finally come Home:

He said the first thing that came to his mind
I’m already there
Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind
I’m your imaginary friend
And I know I’m in your prayers
Oh, I’m already there

Waylon Jennings “Luckenbach, Texas.” There is at least one industry compilation that ranks it as the all-time greatest Country song. It is about having drifted from home, as can happen between two people…

I don’t need my name in the marquee lights
I got my song and I got you with me tonight
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love

… and in the bigger picture, as the song is a call for Country musicians to reclaim their roots:

Let’s go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we’re livin’
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys

Guns N’ Roses “November Rain.” This epic ballad ranks among Rock’s top-five all time greatest songs, with “Light My Fire,” “Tuesday’s Gone, “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Black.” But there is something else that’s special about it. The song’s closing lyrics are a salutary reminder that there is daybreak:

So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Heroic Hymns

Archaeology is something that ends up on a museum shelf. In contrast, history is a living part of the human organism. It lies dormant until the smell of death trips an alarm. Take a look at various early/mid-20th century German, Polish, and Russian marching hymns “then” (with partial lyrics), along with a contemporary performance “now.”

Germany

THEN: Horst Wessel Lied was the national anthem of Germany from 1933 to 1945. Its writer Horst Wessel was marked for death by Communists over his Weimar-era street fights, his face and address featured on posters with slogans “strike the fascists wherever you find them.”

Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA marches with calm, steady step
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit within our ranks.

Clear the streets for the brown battalions,
Clear the streets for the stormtroopers
Millions are looking upon the swastika full of hope,
The day of freedom and of bread dawns!

NOW: “Wir sind das Volk” (We are the People) came to prominence during 1989 protests against East German government. Now Germany stands at the threshold of heroic possibilities. They have a lot to lose by speaking up and taking to the streets under their present government, but even more to lose by remaining silent.

You’re up there, you cowardly figures
Paid by the enemy, mocked by the people
But once more there will be justice
The people will try you, God’s mercy upon you!

We have been silent for too long
Were much too quiet
After decades of silence
It’s time once more to take the streets!


Poland

THEN: The March of the First Brigade. It was an anthem of the Polish Legions formed during World War I by Józef Piłsudski and is an emblem of the early-20th century struggle for independence.

The Legions — a soldier’s melody
The Legions — a sacrificial pyre
The Legions — a soldier’s gall
The Legions — a dead man’s fate

REFRAIN:
We, the First Brigade, a team of riflemen
We’ve thrown down the gauntlet
And our lives to the bonfire!

They cried that we had gone stark mad
Not believing us, that there’s a way!
Bereft of all, we’ve shed blood
With our dear leader at our side!

For the sake of posterity,
We’ll devote the rest of our days,
To sow honor ‘mid duplicity
Heedless both to blame and praise.

NOW: Written in 1908, Rota (The Oath) became popular across partitioned Poland, its lyrics defiant of the forced Germanization of children of the time. In the video below, it is played and sang during the November 2016 Independence Day march in Warsaw.

We won’t forsake our fathers’ land
We won’t let our speech be buried
We are the Polish nation
From the royal line of Piast
We won’t let the enemy oppress us

So help us God!
So help us God!


Russia

THEN: USSR National Anthem. Composed in 1930, it replaced “The Internationale” as the national anthem to boost the morale of Soviet forces during WWII.

Unbreakable union of freeborn Republics
Great Russia has welded forever to stand
Created in struggle by will of the people
The united and mighty, our Soviet Union!

REFRAIN:
Be glorified our Soviet fatherland, united and free
Built by the people’s mighty hand (in 1944 version)
Fortress, in brotherhood strong
The party of Lenin, the strength of the people

To Communism’s triumph lead us on!

Through tempests the sunlight of freedom shined
And the great Lenin lighted us the way
He raised the people to the righteous cause

Inspired us to labor and to valorous deed.

NOW: As performed by Russian armed forces during the 2016 Victory Day parade, presided over by Vladimir Putin.

Pretty Faces

Hope Sandoval is deep inside herself, a diva reputed for her paralyzing stage fright.

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” ― Pablo Neruda


Mary Hopkins’ finishing-school “daahnce” is a turn-on. Smiling is a vocalist’s challenge. Having a genuine bright-eyed freshness is another professional challenge, but not for her.

“Why, he wondered, should he remember her suddenly, on such a day, watching the rain falling on the apple trees?” ― Daphne du Maurier


Melania Mina Špiler is not as Apollonian as she’d have you think. See her eyes roll back and her breasts heave in preemptive surrender to her great teacher.

“She had curiously thoughtful and attentive eyes; eyes that were very pretty and very good.” ― Charles Dickens


Courtney Love speaks to our spirit in this live performance, climaxing in whooping cough at 2:45. Her Pacific Northwest accent is pretty, like when she says “pahhhrrrts.”

“She had the secret of individuality which excites and escapes.” ― Joseph Conrad

You remember your first make-out with a girl (or otherwise). Tell us about it if you’re not shy. I described mine here.

Open thread.

“Warszawskie Dzieci”

This post is about nationalism (which in contemporary context is synonymous with patriotism: love of family and belief in a future), as well as a look at the 1944 marching song “Warsaw’s Children” and Laibach’s creative reinterpretation of the original. If you recall the post titled Zero Hour a month ago, it marked the August 1, 1944 outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. The campaign lasted 63 days and Warsaw fell on October 2, 1944.

In a time when national monuments in America and Sweden are torn down, the sight of healthy people openly honoring their heroes, freely in their own public space and in a peaceful relationship with the state, is aspirational.

“Taking migrants would do more damage to Poland than European Union’s sanctions… Remember that the now very numerous Muslim communities (in Western European countries) started out as relatively small numbers.”
— Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s Interior Minister, May 2017

I think that people in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia know that any compromise with liberalism leads to death. Western people in their deluged countries look at the Visegrad Four as the first victors in the long war against globalists.

My translated lyrics to “Warsaw’s Children” are at the end of the post. Here is the original marching song, performed last year on the anniversary of Zero Hour:

The avant-garde Slovenian band Laibach recently created their own interpretation of “Warszawskie Dzieci.” At turns, they sing fragments of the original in Polish and weave in a spoken English translation of a popular prewar song “Heart in a Knapsack” (Serce w plecaku). The video below was made by Poland’s National Centre for Culture.

There are original forms and derivative tributes. The former are often simple, self-contained, and perfect. A creative tribute drinks the waters of the original. Classic forms inspire mannerist interpretations, and as such the cover-form offers tantalizing possibilities that can succeed spectacularly, revealing the compressed wealth of the simple original. At other times, the creative tribute misses the point or runs away with the artist’s ego, and fails.

Does Laibach’s cover of the original song work for you? Frankly, it blew my mind:

***

Warszawskie Dzieci

No disaster can break free men
No bloody hardship frightens the bold
We’ll go together toward victory
Our people arm-in-arm.

(Refrain x2, after every verse)
Warsaw’s children, we go to fight
For your every cobblestone we give our blood
Warsaw children, we will go to fight
On your order we’ll bring wrath to the enemy!

Powiśle, Wola and Mokotów [districts]
On every street, in every house
When the first shot is fired, be ready
Like the golden thunderbolt in God’s hand.

Built with hammer, saw, chisel, trowel
Our capital city, proud of her sons
Who stand with her faithfully 
To guard her iron laws.

Glory to the fallen, freedom to the living
May Heavens hear our song 
We believe that righteous Almighty
Will repay for the blood that’s spilled.