Thursday, May 10, 2007

Your Rocky Spine

I've been listening to this Great Lake Swimmers' song constantly for a while now and think it's incredibly beautiful. It's basically an extended metaphor, either comparing a lover's body to the land or the land to a lover's body. It's hardly a new concept, but it's one that wears well, I think. Lyrics:
I was lost in the lakes
And the shape that your body makes
That your body makes

And the mountains said I could find you here
They whisper the snow and the leaves in my ear
I traced my finger along your trails
Your body was the map
I was lost in there

Floating over your rocky spine
The glaciers made you and now you're mine

I was moving across your frozen veneer
The sky was dark
But you were clear
Could you feel my footsteps?
And would you shatter, would you shatter?
Would you?

Your soft fingers between my claws
Like purity against resolve
I could tell then there that we were formed from the clay
And came from the rocks for earth to display

They told me to be careful up there
Where the wind rages through your hair
It seems to me that the landscape they describe is also distinctly North American. Not only because their Canadians but because the specific images of a glacier carved landscape, exposed rock, frozen veneer, seem particularly new world to me. There's a sense of discovery and the elemental that feels as though it couldn't come from a more thoroughly settled European background. The myth/reality of wide, unsettled spaces.

It reminded me, momentarily at least, of John Donne's To His Mistress Going to Bed. This part:
License my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America, my new found land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned,
My mine of precious stones, my empery,
How blessed am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Now, the Donne poem and the song have fairly little in common. Basically just the comparison between the lover's body and the American continent(s). But still, I always like to reminded of things I love by other things I love.

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