Saturday, 19 March 2016

I Am A Rock, I Am An Island

Island - okay, this feels like deja vu (all over again)! I've posted a Dead Good Blog on the topic before, albeit under a different heading:
   John Donne said "No man is an island", but from a physiological perspective we are all separate entities even          though we may occasionally rub up against each other (that from Valentine's Day, 2015).

So I pondered what to do differently this time - and while I was considering, an old Simon & Garfunkel song ("I am a rock, I am an island") leaked into my thoughts. I hadn't listened to it in years but today I've spun it a few times (on the road to Crewe and back). It's really rather good, quite uplifting in fact: jangly Byrdsian guitars, bubbling Hammond organ, peerless choirboy vocals, and sounding both prettier and steelier than I remembered it, less sorry for itself - by virtue of the arrangement and execution - than it ought to have done given Paul Simon's lyric. I've reproduced I Am A Rock below as one of today's two poems.

The other poem, I Am An Island, is a little something I've just conjured up, Surtsey-like, out of the sour milk sea of the poetic unconscious. It's not exactly a riposte to Mr Simon, more to balance the record.

I remember Surtsey being born, if I can put it like that. Back in November 1963 it burst up in most dramatic fashion, spewing out of the Atlantic ocean just south of Iceland, part of the Vestmannaevjar archipelago of volcanic islands. Named after Surtr, a fire-giant of Norse myth, Surtsey became the newest island on planet Earth, an event to grip the imagination of any ten-year old. Since then, wave erosion has diminished its size by half.

Much as I was intrigued by Surtsey, my preference is for islands of a warmer and more luxurious clime. They could still be volcanic in origin, or made of coral, but they need to be balmy, located in tropical seas with breath-taking vistas and lush vegetation, offering the possibility of adventure, maybe a hint of romance - and friendly natives who can cook a decent meal for the passing visitor. See the image below for reference...

Okay... two contrasting takes on the island in isolation -

I Am A Rock
A winter's day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am A Rock,
I am an island.

I've built walls,
A fortress steep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship;
  friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am A Rock,
I am an island.

Don't talk of love,
Well I've heard the words before;
It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings
  that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am A Rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armour,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb,
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am A Rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

                                    Paul Simon (1965)

I Am An Island
Never forget this,
fellows of my archipelago:
that however singularly insular
we may appear to be,
unique even in aspect and ratio,
below the waterline
of our individuality
we are similar in substrate,
conjoined indeed
by the bedrock of a common humanity.

Thanks for reading. Love one another. Have a good week, S ;-)


Anonymous said...

I've stumbled across your blog in quite random fashion from a keyword link on the internet. I'm a big Paul Simon fan. I just want to say I love what you've done here, putting the two poems side by side.