- CHAPTER TWENTY -



Two




- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Introduction | pg. 2 - Eight | pg. 3 - Eight | pg. 4 - Eight | pg. 5 - Eight | pg. 6 - Eight
pg. 7 - The Dharma Wheel | pg. 8 - Still | pg. 9 - Envelopes of Yesterday | pg. 10 - A Tumbling Kite
pg. 11 - An Empty Town | pg. 12 - The Piper | pg. 13 - A House of Hopes and Dreams
pg. 14 - The Night People | pg. 15 - River of Life | pg. 16 - Photos of Ghosts
pg. 17 - Promenade the Puzzle

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"Still I wonder how it is to be a stream,
From a dark well constant flowing,
Winding seawards over ancient mossy wheels
Yet feel no need of knowing?
Still I wonder how it is to be a tree,
Circled servant to the seasons,
Only drink on sky and rake the winter wind
And need no seal of reasons?"


The subjects explored in verse one are the same "stream and tree" that returned to the sea at the end of Islands . The identification with nature expressed at the end of the previous album continues.

"Still I wonder why I wonder why I'm here
All my words just the shaft of my flail
As I race o'er this beautiful sphere
Like a dog who his chasing his . . .
Tailors and tinkers, princes and Incas,
Sailors and sinkers, before me and like me . . ."

Unlike the stream and the tree, we humans do tend to wonder why we are here. And Peter expresses more doubt about the validity of his chosen profession. He minimizes his work ("all" of his words) with the word "just" and questions its very reason for being by raising the images of flailing about and "a dog chasing his . . .". But there is an interesting ambiguity here. A flail is used to harvest wheat, the same "gold waterfalls of autumn wheat" that "slip through a pointing hand" in The Song of the Sea Goat . His words may be "just the shaft of his flail" but without a shaft a flail is non-functional. Without his words there is no golden harvest. Without contemplating the "pearls and gourds" (words) strewn on the shore of his consciousness there is no harvest. So we see here that the gift (from the unconscious) is wasted when it is downplayed, minimized as something less than a gift. And it is when we are "pointing" outward (projecting outside of ourselves instead of looking inward) that we fail to recognize the gifts from within, the Kingdom of God. What distinguishes the "Sailor" (the spiritual traveler) from the "sinker" is recognition of this kingdom.





"Still I wonder how it is to be a bird,
Singing each dawns sweet effusions;
Flying far away when all the world has stirred
Yet seek no vain conclusions . . . . . ."


And here the subject is a bird. In Prelude: Song of the Gulls he heard the language of the birds. In Islands , his deeper understanding of nature and, therefore, himself is expressed by the gulls mournfully crying and the owls that "know" his eyes. The stream the tree and the bird are all portrayed as pure and true. They feel no need of knowing and need no seal of reasons. In Under the Sky we were told "there's no reason do not wonder why" yet man is plagued by doubts and he cannot "fly far away when all the world (civilization) has stirred". We are in and out of unity with nature and ourselves, back and forth between the inner and outer worlds.

"The term dervish literally means "threshold," and that picturesque description itself provides the crucial clue: the dervish calling has something to do with the meeting of two worlds. For the hermit, reclusion is the bottom line: he or she leaves the world and lives apart as a sign of renunciation and poverty of spirit. The dervish is drawn, almost in spite of himself, back and forth across that threshold. He or she lives at the boundary between pure solitude and the need to spill back into the world, still pointing like a weathervane in the direction of that other. Try as one might, the tension won't collapse. The solitude drives one back into the world to communicate (not necessarily in words but in the quality of one's aliveness) some vestige of that divine intensity that aches for human expression."

- Sounding Solitude
by Rev. Cynthia Bourjeault
Raven's Bread
Vol: 2 No: 3 August 1998






And in the song's anthemic chorus, Peter Sinfield and Greg Lake recite a timeless panoply of archetypes.

"Still I wonder if I passed some time ago
As a bird, or a stream, or a tree?
To mount up high you first must sink down low
Like the changeable tides of the
Caesars and Pharoahs, prophets and heroes,
Poets and hobos, before me and after me all the
Painters and dancers, mountainside chancers,
Merchants and gamblers, bankers and ramblers,
Winners and losers, angels and boozers,
Beatles and Bolans, raindrops and oceans,
Kings, pawns and deacons, fainthearts and beacons,
Caesars and Pharoahs . . . . . .




It is certainly significant that Peter Sinfield chose to place this song in the center of the album. I see the album's thematic structure and Still's place in it as follows.

Side One: The General Side Two: The Specific
The Song of the Sea Goat Envelopes of Yesterday
Still The Night People

The most significant songs on the album are those that begin and end each side. Aside from Wholefood Boogie (which is in a category all its own!), the other songs on the album, the middle songs, were all written either before Peter formed King Crimson or before he left the group. Think of Still (the album) as a city block with the larger important establishments at the corners and quaint older shops in between. It is only the four corner songs that represent the post-King Crimson Peter Sinfield. The Song of The Sea Goat is about Peter's life in general while Envelopes of Yesterday discusses some very specific antagonists/grievances. Still recites many archetypes. So we can say that it is about archetypes and the human condition in general. The Night People , on the other hand, is about a very specific archetypal situation and some of the very specific ways in which people try to cope with their spiritual emptiness (the human condition). In this respect, I see the two sides as mirroring one another.

The Song of the Sea Goat and Envelopes of Yesterday are also tied together by the bird sounds that introduce each song. The Song of the Sea Goat is introduced by the cry of the gulls, tying the song to the past ( Prelude: Song of the Gulls ) while Envelopes of Yesterday is introduced by the sound of an owl representing Peter Sinfield in the present: older, wiser and chastened by circumstances.




Still Two ~ Eight return to
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Still II~ Envelopes of Yesterday



Sign the Dreambook Dreambook Read the Dreambook

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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