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2016年10月15日 星期六

Every Grain of Sand (每一粒沙)and Not Dark Yet (還未黑齊)

In the days of old, there's hardly any poetry recital without music. Poetry is often recited in front of a small circle of friends gathered around a fire, to the rhythm and the soothing melodies of the gentle lyre. Times have changed. The lyre has been replaced first by the classical guitar and now by the electric guitar. But the different paragraphs of a ballad are still arranged like the stanzas of a poem. But of course, the strict rules for meters and end rhyme have been much relaxed, giving rise to much freer meters and rhythms favored by the much larger mass audience, as high culture is replaced by pop culture. No matter how much the form and contents of poetry have changed, something of its origin may still be detected in the so-called urban ballad, if one looks for it hard enough. The words sung by the singers to the sound of the music are still called "lyrics",even today. Could that be the reason why our idol of the 1960's, the man who started a quiet revolution in the way urban ballads are written and sung to convey the joys, the sorrow, the hopes and fears, the ups and down of the petty non-descript and nameless and almost characterless individual of the contemporary urban masses, has just been declared the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature?. He is of course the inimitable  singer-performer-composer of urban bluesy ballad, Bob Dylan. I don't think that there's anyone out there who hasn't heard of his "Blowing in the Winds", a favourite of the anti-Vietnam War era.


But Bob Dylan has written many many songs since then, mixing in bluesy and jazzy rhythms in the process. One of the songs I like is his "Every Grain of Sand" about the passing of time. Here it is.


"Every Grain Of Sand"


In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There's a dying voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other time it's only me
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.






Another one of his songs I like is "Not Dark Yet", about that sinking feeling that one is doing down the drain, quietly, helplessly and with not even sufficient energy to be bothered about that slippage. . 


Shadows are falling and I been here all day
It's too hot to sleep and time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I've still got the scars that the sun didn't let me heal
There's not even room enough to be anywhere
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there
Well my sense of humanity is going down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing, there's been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writin' what was in her mind
I just don't see why I should even care
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there
Well I been to London and I been to gay Paree
I followed the river and I got to the sea
I've been down to the bottom of a whirlpool of lies
I ain't lookin' for nothin' in anyone's eyes
Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there
I was born here and I'll die here, against my will
I know it looks like I'm movin' but I'm standin' still
Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear the murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there