Chinese Verse in Floyd Lyrics
It’s not that widely known that Pink Floyd quoted lines from classical Chinese poetry in a couple of their early songs. (Not widely known, but known nevertheless – see Note at bottom of page).
The first was the song ‘Chapter 24’ on Piper at the Gates of Dawn, released in 1967. This song by Syd Barrett quotes the Chinese Book of Changes (Yi Jing), a very trendy thing to do at the time and still apparently quite trendy, judging by the number of hits for this term on the Internet. But this is pretty boring stuff. Anyone with a passing interest in Oriental mysticism is apt to quote the Yi Jing as proof of his/her hipness. It’s on a par with attributing anything vaguely Oriental to ‘Zen influences’.
Hey Poets— I know some of you have time to burn. Why not listen to these echoes from the Roman ruins for a while until, set free from earthly moorings, ready or not, you are launched into eternity to meet your righteous maker.
Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves in labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant tide comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine…
And no one showed us to the land and no one knows the where’s or why’s
But something stirs and something tries
and starts to climb towards the light…
Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me…
And do I take you by the hand, and lead you through the land
And help me understand the best I can…
And no one calls us to move on, and no one forces down our eyes
And no one speaks and no one tries
And no one flies around the sun…
Cloudless every day you fall upon my waking eyes
Inviting and inciting me to rise…
And through the window in the wall come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning…
And no one sings me lullabies and no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide and call to you across the skies…
Echoes (Waters, Wright, Mason, Gilmour) 1971
A detour from Nietzsche –
but fear not, ye Higher Men (and Women),
Zarathustra’s noontide shall flood us with pure light again soon.
In the meantime, enjoy this prose-as-poetry
from that great psychedelic master Kenneth Grahame
to the sounds of Pink Floyd’s 1st album:
The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they began to see surfaces—meadows wide-spread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted them again in other raiment, as if they had slipped away and put on this pure new apparel and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly waited to see if they would be recognised again under it.
Fastening their boat to a willow, the friends landed in this silent, silver kingdom, and patiently explored the hedges, the hollow trees, the runnels and their little culverts, the ditches and dry water-ways. Embarking again and crossing over, they worked their way up the stream in this manner, while the moon, serene and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she could, though so far off, to help them in their quest; till her hour came and she sank earthwards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery once more held field and river.
Then a change began slowly to declare itself. The horizon became clearer, field and tree came more into sight, and somehow with a different look; the mystery began to drop away from them. A bird piped suddenly, and was still; and a light breeze sprang up and set the reeds and bulrushes rustling. Rat, who was in the stern of the boat, while Mole sculled, sat up suddenly and listened with a passionate intentness. Mole, who with gentle strokes was just keeping the boat moving while he scanned the banks with care, looked at him with curiosity.
‘It’s gone!’ sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. ‘So beautiful and strange and new. Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!’ he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound.
‘Now it passes on and I begin to lose it,’ he said presently. ‘O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us.’
Behold the terrible glory HERE