Date: 12/12/2017
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The Orient

poemsong, in memory of Leonard Cohen

by David Solway

 

I travelled to the orient                                          Am, Em

Where the earnest seekers went                           C, Em

To search for wisdom, search for truth—                Am, Em  

The illusions of our youth                                      C, Em

          Between desire and regret,                         Am, F6 or Dm7/A       

          The tower and the oubliette                         Em, Am                                                      

           

High up on the mountain peak

Between the straight and the oblique

Between the summit and the cloud

Between the hermit and the crowd

          I found the wise man sitting there

          Who played a hand of solitaire

 

I asked the sage what he would do

If he were caught between the two

Between the music of the spheres

And the music no one hears

          Between the silence and the word

          The seahorse and the hummingbird

 

The wise man did not say a thing

He merely cast in the I Ching

His fingers moving canzicrans

Lost between the hexagrams

          Lost between the waning moon

          And the darkness of the rune

           

Between the free man and the slave

Between the sunlight and the cave

The leaden bar, the golden mean,

There’s only what lies in between

          Between what rises and what falls

          Between the night and the crystal balls

 

Between the heavens and the dust

Between the oil and the rust

Between the creature and the wheel

Between the angel and the seal

          That’s all that our wisdom knows

          Between the nettle and the rose

 

 

Going to and coming from

Riding on the pendulum

Between intention and result

Between the sweetness and the salt

          Between the field mouse and the hawk

          Between forever and the clock

 

I’ve come back from the orient

Back into my element

It’s not the game we used to play

When we were fools back in the day

          Between the shroud and the swaddling cloth

          Between the candle and the moth

 

The wise man, well, he made no sense

And that produced the consequence

Between the flower and the fire

Between the dungeon and the spire

          Between the winding corridors

          Between the prayers and the wars

 

O many went to Kathmandu

Betrayed the Christian and the Jew

Betrayed the world that gave them life

Sought for peace and brought back strife

          And did not keep the proper time

          Between the rhythm and the rhyme



 

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