A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Dust Of Stars

I've been thinking a lot about the Camino recently, its history and meaning. I've also been playing around with a Camino poem, which has ended up as a song or poem medieval pilgrims might have sung or chanted as they made their way towards Santiago, Rome or Jerusalem. They must have thought a great deal about their difficult yet rewarding journey together as pilgrim brothers and sisters through strange lands of endless plains and unfamiliar mountains - enduring harsh climates, predatory bandits and painful feet. They must have reflected long and hard on their lives - past, present and future - and on God and the universe. In my imagination this poem or song could well have been translated from medieval French or English...

Pilgrim Song

We are a mystery to ourselves
And a mystery to others.
What are we?

We are the sound of church bells ringing.
We are the smell of incense swinging.
We are the sight of kirk and shrine.
We are the taste of bread and wine.

We are the living and the life.
We are the struggle and the strife.
We are the breathing and the breath.
We are the dying and the death.

We are the hunger and the thirst.
We are the best and the very worst.
We are united in one desire.
We are the flame, we are the fire.

We are the dream of the skylark's song.
We are the right, we are the wrong.
We are the peacock's rainbow tail.
We are the ship, we are the sail.

We are the gale that blows so strong.
We are the singer and the song.
We are the tension and release:
The killing hawk and the dove of peace.

We are the mouse, we are the whale.
We are the hare, we are the snail.
We are at rest and then in motion.
We are the raindrop and the ocean.

We are the teller and the tale.
We are the quest, we are the grail.
We are the path and the destination.
We are the loss and the separation.

We are the joy, we are the sorrow.
We are today and the tomorrow.
We are what was and what will be:
The agony and the ecstasy.

We are the evil and the good.
We are the drought, we are the flood.
We are the riddle and the key.
We are the cross, we are the tree.

We are the touch of hand on hand
Joined in prayer in a foreign land
On a pilgrimage through heaven and hell
Stumbling towards Compostelle.

We are the world.
We are the sun, the moon.
The universe.
The dust of stars.

The dust of stars.

16 comments:

Gerry Snape said...

Brilliant...my grand daughter loves to tell me that we arte made of stardust! Hope that your pilgrimage is going well.

George said...

Beautiful and stirring, Robert. I'm going to make a copy of your poem and take it with me on my walk to Santiago next year. While I have yet to take a single physical step beyond St. Jean Pied de Port, the camino has already taken hold of me. With every book I read on the subject, I have myriad new questions, not only about the camino, but about life itself. Perhaps it has already begun . . .

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks so much, Gerry, for following this very special Camino of mine.

And George, I am so, so, so, so pleased.

Dominic Rivron said...

Shades of the Carmina Gadelica, with a contemporary, cosmological twist.

I always imagined medieval pilgrims singing profane, racy songs in Latin. :)

Dominic Rivron said...

Regarding stardust, I heard someone saying -Brian Cox probably- that the only place in the universe where gold can ever be made is in supernova explosions. All the gold in the universe has been made that way. A great Romantic-Scientific thought, that. The ring on my finger began life in a huger than huge explosion.

GOAT said...

Very nice. I do enjoy walking ancient paths, imagining the thousands of footsteps that have proceeded my own.

Ruth said...

Robert, if this is what the camino tells you, then sign me up this moment.

What a tremendous poem. I want to hang it up on my coat rack so I can touch it every morning.

The lyrical lilt of its rhyme and meter is a perfect home for the litany of opposing forces that we are. You have perfectly (more than perfectly, I think, something more than that) captured the truth I have come to understand, at least in my head (maybe a camino would help me understand it with my body), that whenever one thing happens, its opposite is likely to follow, and must be accepted and embraced in the whole. The other thing it brings to mind is what I also believe, that we are capable of everything, good and evil, and this is a humbling belief.

I truly love this poem and the only bad thing I’ll say is that I wish I had written it. Is that bad? Oh, and I will never forget the first time I saw stardust at 7,000 feet. Yes, we are that.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Dominic, for your fascinating comments...

Goat - Imagining the past, and the people who have walked before us - essential for an authentic and profound walking experience...

And Ruth - such kind and generous comments about my poem, and so intuitively sympathetic. I do thank you for them from the bottom of my heart. You hit on what I was wanting to achieve - I can say little more. Thanks for latching on immediately to the meaning of this poem, and understanding why I said what I wanted to say in the particular style I chose.

Friko said...

This poem impresses me as something heartfelt. You could indeed sing it on your pilgrimages.

Goat said...

I do of course mean 'PRE-ceded'. I'm so ashamed...

AB said...

This is such a beautiful poem - thank you. I felt as if I was walking when I was reading it. I was also reminded of the yin yang symbol and walking that very fine line between the two. I have visited your blog for a while now and and love and appreciate the several journeys you have taken me on, especially the poetic ones. Thank you so much for the Solitary Walker.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for your comment on this poem, Friko.

Goat - please eat a dictionary at once as penance... Goats do eat anything, don't they? Including all types of American fast food? (Recalling one of your past posts...)

That is such a lovely comment, AB. I thank you for it. And I'm glad you are following along. I hadn't thought about the yin yang symbol, but I see that it's relevant.

ksam said...

Holy cow...I'm off the computer for a day and things like this jewel arrive! Really lovely...and feel like taking snippets and posting them where I can read and enjoy/reflect. The raindrop and the ocean really hit me at the moment. Perfect reflection for a Sunday morning.

pilgrimpace said...

This is very good Robert. As others have said, the expression of the opposites within us within the meter of a song is perfect. I'm tempted to say I will sing it when I am plodding the Ingles in a week. Unfortunately I'm walking with Meenakshi and the only choir I'm allowed in is the profoundly Deaf signing one, so I'd better keep it to my thoughts.

Thanks for sharing this,

Andy

MermaidLilli said...

I have been away from blogger and came back to find this, your poem. And wham! I cannot stop reading. Thanks for reopening the way.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for reading, Mermaid, and so glad my poem helped you reignite the fire.