Monday, 15 February 2010

Harmonicas make everything sound sad.

What with all the excitement of the Winter Olympics (which have been fantastic so far) and the Six Nations (which...hasn't, at least from an English perspective), I forgot to make an update which I really shouldn't have missed, even in these days of very sparse additions to this blog. That update is the annual anti-Valentine's entry.

OK, so it's a little cynical to always make sarcastic comments about love at this time of year, but on the other hand, there is such a field of mawkish sentimentality to choose from when selecting something to methodically deflate, it seems churlish not to do something.

Fortunately, I've gone the classy route this time, by doing something creative for a change. That would be recording a song, on the theme of love. Have a listen to "So We'll Go No More A-Roving".

The music may be mine, but the words certainly aren't — they're taken from a poem by Lord Byron (original text here). It's a sad song, telling of a love that used to be bright, but has faded; love itself must have rest, as old age takes over.

Byron wasn't exactly in any position to know about old age, being only 29 when he wrote this, but the note of weariness that pervades the poem is very powerful. It's always a bit surprising to see someone who was a notorious hellraiser — he was the first man to be described as "mad, bad and dangerous to know" — coming up with something as tender as this. Maybe it indicates that the what he thought was love to start with wasn't actually what he was after.

This poem feels like it's nothing but sadness, leaving the reader with no love and nothing to replace it. But maybe that's the point. If the first rush of love — wild, passionate, roving late into the night — doesn't last, then we have to find something with which to replace it before that happens. Whether Byron ever managed this is unknown, but it's unlikely; he died only seven years after writing these verses. Maybe our challenge, then, is to see whether we can do better.

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