Chapter Seventeen

ISLANDS
- side two -







- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Ladies of the Road | pg. 2 - A Flower Lady's Daughter | pg. 3 - Taming the Ox
pg. 4 - Prelude : Song of the Gulls | pg. 5 - Returning Home | pg. 6 - Islands
pg. 7 - Earth, Stream and Tree | pg. 8 - Beneath the Wind Turned Wave | pg. 9 - Dark Harbor Quays
pg. 10 - The Ego and the Self | pg. 11 - Magnum Opus

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Like Marron Glaced Fishbone | Like Apples You Stole In Your Youth


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Ladies of the Road is certainly Blake inspired in it's embrace of, what Blake called, "two contraries". The song begins with a union of the sacred and profane:

"A flower lady's daughter
As sweet as holy water"






And as debauched as the verses may be, in the chorus we see a looking back to a more innocent time as well as the seemingly paradoxical notion that down this road may lead to truth and wisdom:

"All of you know that the girls of the road
Are like apples you stole in your youth.
All of you know that the girls of the road
Been around but are versed in the truth."

This is our first indication of a turning away from worldly pursuits, a return to the island, innocence and psychological wholeness.
The music of Ladies of the Road also reflects Blake's "two contraries". The better portion of the song is similar in style to the work of Boz Burrell's future group, Bad Company, but the chorus is something completely different. In the midst of this apparently testosterone driven blues rock workout, resides the decidedly gentle (and non-blues) British folk chorus quoted above. In true Blakean fashion, the song harbors the two extremes of innocence and experience.

Considering what transpired between Fripp and Sinfield after Islands , the album appears to harbor evidence of the musical differences between the two. As he would return to these motifs again with Still and Photos of Ghosts , the primary influence of Peter Sinfield is evident in the gentle melodies and pastoral themes of Formentera Lady and Islands . The hand of Robert Fripp is easily distinguishable in the loud discordant passages of The Letters , Ladies of the Road and, especially, Sailor's Tale , which is a preview of the next version of King Crimson. Whereas all of these elements were present in the earlier albums, on those albums their presentation was a seamless part of the whole. On the album, Islands, they appear as incongruities, as if Fripp and Sinfield had said to one another; "You do your thing and I will do mine."

"I hadn't written anything with Robert for six months and I didn't like the music he was composing to the point where I wouldn't write any words."

- Peter Sinfield, discussing the split with Robert Fripp
Sounds, June 2, 1973

It is also worth noting that there are no musical extremes in either Formentera Lady or Islands . This is because the psyche of the album's protagonist is "whole" only during the first and last tracks. Between the beginning and the end of the album (between the fall and the return), the elements of light and dark, good and evil, heaven and hell, etc. appear in sharp contrast to one another. Sailor's Tale and Prelude: Song of the Gulls are each extremes. One is very loud and the other very quiet. One is a purely jazz rock performance, the other purely classical. It is in The Letters and Ladies of the Road that we see the musical incongruities (extremes, contraries) within the compositions themselves. As mentioned above, Ladies of the Road is an odd marriage of rock and folk wherein the two genres are spliced together. Within The Letters a similar phenomenon is taking place, a bizarre juxtaposition of gentle vocals and minimal instrumentation with jarring horns and discordant electric guitar. These incongruities are very likely musical manifestations of Blake's "contraries" and of our protagonist's psychological state (his adolescent ego).





The song begins in a very relaxed manner, describing various sexual adventures, but, as it progresses, the performance becomes increasingly strident, expressing the sailor/wanderer's growing discomfort with himself and his way of life. By the end, he makes a double entendre regarding food and sex:


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"Stone-headed Frisco spacer
Ate all the meat I gave her
Said would I like to taste hers
And even craved the flavour.

Like marron-glaced fishbone..."

It is at this point in the archetypal drama that Odysseus awakens from Circe's spell and the sailor discovers he has sailed dangerously close to the island of man-eating Sirens. Indeed, our protagonist, in Ladies of the Road , is particularly horrified to learn that his latest paramour, like the Sirens, "craves the flavor" of human flesh. On the island of the Sirens, sailors were the seafood and their bones the fishbones. His double entendre is also meant to describe his lifestyle. It appears to be a gourmet dish but it is only sweet on the surface and totally lacking in spiritual nourishment. Realizing that, on a steady diet of fishbones, he will starve to death, he announces:

"Oh lady hit the road!"

At this juncture our protagonist makes another "about face" and turns away from his debauched lifestyle.

"In the individuation process it is always a matter of something obsolete that must be left behind to die in order that the new may be born."

- Jolande Jacobi

"Enantiadromia (Jekyll-Hyde): wherein a person can become his opposite (for good or ill) in a moment's time. We all know someone who has lived an exemplary life for forty years, and then suddenly, overnight, and for no apparent reason, becomes a profligate. Just as frequently a profligate becomes exemplary, and for the same reason."

- Occult Psychology
by Alta J. LaDage


"The keynotes of Capricorn all relate to the crystallisation process. Capricorn is an earth sign, reflecting the most dense point of human experience; ... Capricorn holds the seeds of death and finality which are a feature of life on earth.

When crystallisation has reached a certain degree of density it is easily shattered. The individual born in Capricorn brings about his own destruction owing to his fundamentally materialistic nature (plus the blows of fate which enact karma). Again and again, a certain concreteness is achieved only to be destroyed."

- D. K. Foundation

"As Blake put it in 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,' it is not until we leave the 'paths of ease' and walk upon the 'perilous paths' of our own uniqueness that 'the sneaking serpent walks in mild humility.' The way of our own uniqueness, the 'perilous path,' is not a straight line. Straight lines and short cuts take us away from ourselves. Indeed, it is by trying to be too straight--which is to say, too rational, too decisive, too uniform, too collectively correct--that we become neurotically divided against ourselves. Our own way is an individual way, a road less travelled. It leads, writes Jung, 'in directions that seem absolutely wrong. One doesn't realize when one swings to the left that left exhausts itself and swings to the right again.' When asked by a young woman what route led most directly to her destiny Jung answered, with the speed of a striking serpent, 'the detour!' Blake would have given a similar reply: 'Improvement makes strait roads; but crooked roads without improvement are the roads of Genius."

- The Serpent's Prayer:
The Psychology of an Image
By Greg Mogenson



- Plan of the road from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City -
(from: Williams' edition of 'The Pilgrim's Progress', 19th century)


"Symbolism abounds in literary descriptions of pilgrimages. Christian's spiral trek to the Celestial City in Pilgrim's Progress, complete with its seven points of temptation along the way, and Dante's spiral descent into Hell and ascent up Mount Purgatory in the Divine Comedy are two obvious examples. Such symbols are by no means unique to literary accounts of pilgrimages. For instance, the climax of the Muslim's ritual pilgrimage to Mecca is his seven circumambulations around a cubical stone called the Ka'aba."

- The Spiral of Sevenfold Dynamic Systemization
by Dr. Stephen Palmquist



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The pilgrimage of Hercules entailed twelve labors. As noted earlier, the "dragon fig tree" of Formentera Lady alludes to the Eleventh Labor of Hercules, wherein he stole the apples from The Garden of the Hesperides.

The Nymphs of the Evening

"Ordinarily the Hesperides number three, like the other Greek triads (the Three Graces and the Moirae). "Since the Hesperides themselves are mere symbols of the gifts the apples embody,"

"All of you know that the girls of the road
Are like apples you stole in your youth."


"...they cannot be actors in a human drama. Their abstract, interchangeable names are a symptom of their impersonality. They are sometimes called the Western Maidens, the Daughters of Evening, or Erythrai, the "Sunset Goddesses", designations all apparently tied to their imagined location in the distant west. Hesperis is appropriately the personification of the evening (as Eos is of the dawn) and the Evening Star is Hesperus. In addition to their tending of the garden, they were said to have taken great pleasure in singing.

They are sometimes portrayed as the evening daughters of Night (Nyx) and Darkness (Erebus),"

- Hesperides

Recall that the previous album, Lizard, involved night and darkness, the dark night of the soul.

As part of his Eleventh Labor, stealing the golden apples, Hercules had to complete several preliminary tasks.

"The most difficult part of this task was to find the location of the garden. Heracles set off toward the west. While crossing Thessaly in northern Greece, Heracles came across Cycnus, who was the son of Ares, the god of war. Cycnus killed travelers and passers-by, then offered their flesh as sacrifice to his father. Heracles fought and killed him."

This is strangely similar to Sceiron from the second album, In the Wake of Poseidon. Sceiron ("Hand of Sceiron"), like Cycnus, robbed travellers and kicked them into the sea where they were eaten by a tortoise that lived there. Cycnus was killed by Hercules. Sceiron was killed by Theseus. Cycnus was the son of Ares (Mars). Sceiron appeared in The Devil's Triangle, King Crimson's re-working of Holst's Mars.

The Promethean implulse was fully explored in album one, In the Court of the Crimson King...

"On his way Heracles liberated the titan Prometheus, who Zeus had chained to a rock as punishment for his ills against the great god. Each day his liver was torn out and eaten by an eagle (in some legends it was vultures), then every night the liver would grow back, to be torn out again the next day. Heracles released Prometheus from his daily torture. In gratitude he told Heracles not to take the apples himself, but to seek the help of Atlas, who was brother of Prometheus.

On his return to the court of king Eurystheus, the hero presented the three golden apples to him. With bewilderment Eurystheus appreciated their beauty but did not know what to do with them, and handed them back to Heracles. Unsure himself as what should be done, Heracles asked for guidance from his constant supporter Athena. She took them back to the garden of the Hesperides, as the law of the gods commanded that they should remain in the garden."

- Apples of the Hesperides
by Ron Leabetter



Islands : side two ~ Ladies of the Road
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Islands : side two ~ Taming the Ox



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Chapter One The Metaphysical Record In The Court Of the Crimson King In The Wake Of Poseidon Lizard The King In Yellow The Sun King Eight
The Lake Which Mirrors the Sky In the Beginning Was the Word In the Beginning was the Word...side two Eros and Strife Dark Night of the Soul...Cirkus Dark Night of the Soul...Wilderness Big Top Islands
Islands Two Footnotes in the Sand Still Still 2
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