Sunday, November 18, 2012


The Lord of the Dance



I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon and the Stars and the Sun
I came down from Heaven and I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:
Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)
I danced for the scribe and the pharisee
But they would not dance and they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James and John
They came with me and the Dance went on:
I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!
I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body and they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance and I still go on!
They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me ––
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

~ Sydney Carter (1915-2004)



48 comments:

  1. Didn't somebody set these words to music? I seem to recall that I heard these words in a choral concert a few years ago.

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  2. We sing it at mass. I think it is a Quaker hymn.

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  3. You are both correct.

    But what of the MESSAGE?

    What does it SAY?

    What does it MEAN?

    What does "The Dance" symbolize -- or do you think the poet means the term to be taken LITERALLY?

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  4. Does no one question why I would juxtapose a picture of Mikhail Baryshnikov in mid-flight with a Renaissance painting of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ ascending unto Heaven?

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  5. FYI:

    SIMPLE GIFTS

    'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
    
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

    Refrain:
     
    When true simplicity is gained,

    To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.

    To turn, turn will be our delight,
    
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.



    'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,

    'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
    
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

    Refrain:
     
    When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.


    'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",

    And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
    
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.
     
    Refrain:
     
    When true simplicity is gained,

    To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.

    To turn, turn will be our delight,
    
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.


    ~ Joseph Brackett, 1848


    [NOTE: Simple Gifts was written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848. It was first published in The Gift to be Simple: Shaker Rituals and Songs. 

    Simple Gifts was sung by the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing. More commonly known as “The Shakers,” the society began in England under the leadership of Mother Ann Lee as an offshoot of Quakerism. The Shakers incorporated both song and dance in their worship rituals. Their motto was “Hand to work, hearts to God.”

    They regarded sex as a great evil. Men and women were housed communally but separately in beautiful, solidly built dwelling places that later became known for a unique brand of elegance blended with Spartan simplicity.

    Their worship services involved much spontaneity and provided what-was-probaby-their-soul-outlet for the human need to play.]


    ~ FT

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  6. Emerson, "Conduct of Life" (Beauty)

    I am warned by the ill fate of many philosophers not to attempt a definition of Beauty. I will rather enumerate a few of its qualities. We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end; which stands related to all things; which is the mean of many extremes. It is the most enduring quality, and the most ascending quality.

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  7. On the uses of one's "surplus energy".

    When we've met all of our own survival needs, and those of our neighbors, it is THEN when we have finally the right/opportune moment to dance.

    Dance.... a toast to Kairos!

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  8. DON'T aspire to becoming a helpless dancer. Aspire to become one of the productive...

    “Thus one section of humanity, comparatively rich, hardworking, and creating considerable surpluses, has known how to, and still does know how to, exchange things of great value, under different forms and for reasons different from those with which we are familiar.”

    ...and DANCE YOUR OWN DANCE (not to be taken literally).

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  9. Too many dance the Masturbation Mambo and are happy to let it go at that.

    Not very productive, is it?

    Dick Wilde

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  10. Thank you again, Thersites, for helping expand an already overloaded vocabulary. Always interesting these tidbits to which you give access.

    HOWEVER, there are some things it is not strictly necessary to taste in order to understand wha their effec might be on you.

    In the immortal words of Bitch Cassidy, late of FPM:

    "Yew don't need to each a pound of sheeyutt to know it don't taste good, and ain't gonna be good fer yer digestion, hunny!"

    Not to make light of the essential wisdom of your post, but Ol' Bitch really does have a point there -- or don't you agree?

    ~ FT

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  11. The truth of a matter is best remembered if one extracts it ones-self, not when another hands it to him on a silver platter.

    I subscribe to the Platonic method of exposition, not the Aristotelean.

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  12. Mr ducky hates "conservatism" because he see's so much of America's wealth "wasted" on private luxuries for the productive classes. He would rather see it wasted upon private luxuries for the unproductive classes, or better, PUBLIC luxuries for the unproductive classes. He calls it "social justice". I call it slavery.

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  13. "[T} ruth ... is best remembered if one extracts it oneself ..."

    Absolutely, but one must have considerable intelligence -- a great capacity for insight -- for that to happen.

    One also must have passion, the courage of his convictions and a healthy measure of self-confidence that avoids lapsing into hubris.

    A tall order for the average bloke, what?

    ~ Ft

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  14. The productive classes need to see their personal luxury as an embarrassment and VOLUNTARILY give them up and seek to better their less fortunate planet riders lives, NOT have it forcibly TAKEN from them and "redistributed" by an undeserving hubristic bureaucrat that pockets a percentage to apply to increasing his own stock of personal/private luxury.

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  15. It is for THEM that I craft my message, NOT the "common bloke".

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  16. ...it is MY surplus energy, after all. You distribute your own as YOU see fit.

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  17. I danced for the scribe and the pharisee

    But they would not dance and they wouldn't follow me


    They think I lie when I dance YOUR dance. They must be shown the "path" to true belief.

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  18. The words the dance are not to be taken literally, of course.

    The dance is life itself! Furthermore, the dance is eternal life and the life on this earth that is lived for something other than feathering one's own nest with wealth and power to the exclusion of loving others.

    The dance is salvation: redemption and justification.

    There. That's my interpretation.

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  19. Forgot to say....

    We learn to dance (to live life as it should be lived) by following the Lord Jesus Christ and living by His teachings.

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  20. ...and the scribes and pharisees HAVE the intelligence. They just don't APPLY it properly. They're too used to being SPOON FED.

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  21. Your reference to "helpless dancers" is what-I-think Dick Wilde might have meant by referring to the Masturbation Mambo. (Clever term! I like it. Thanks, Dick!)

    The Sick-sties, when satanically destructive, neo-primitive crap music took over and dancers separated and started to do "their own thing" on the dance floor, was The Beginning of the End of Grace, Style, Wit, Charm and Romance. It also marked the beginning the ruthless, ruthless pursuit of anarchic, ephemeral, meretricious, purely selfish, short-term ams and objectives.

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  22. They need to learn to recognize the eternal symmetrical pattern present in all aspects of everyday life. Art helps in this regard. Church helps in this regard. But scribes and pharisees won't ENTER the church.

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  23. The extreme individualism of the sixties was essential to the manufacturing of consent, a reaction to the "socialist" excesses of WWI and WWII.

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  24. Thanks for weighing in again, AOW! What you said may seem "obvious" to some, but it's something that needs to be said and said again and again in a thousand different ways.

    ~ FT

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  25. Where societal surpluses were expended "militarily".

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  26. Thersites, at last we may have developed a thread containing genuine seeds wisdom of enlightenment at this oft-neglected blog.

    It seems we mothlike seekers may be flying perilously close the The Flame of Truth.

    Watch your wings, now. ;-)

    And thanks again. Genuinely reflective, non-reflexive, not merely reactive thought is a rare treat -- lie those rare thin threads of pure gold that lie hidden or barely discernible embedded in sullen, unyielding rock.

    ~ FT

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  27. I'll also watch the horns, and like Europa, willingly climb upon Zeus' back, if "necessary." ;)

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  28. after all...

    It's hard to dance with the devil on your back

    ;)

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  29. The waste of societies excess energies in war:

    I now believe we were manipulated into those two great conflicts AND the Great Depression by evil geniuses who discovered their own interpretation of KAIROS and seized The Reigns of Power at a time when the world was still sufficiently innocent and ignorant to permit such a thing to happen.

    I see it all as having been The Inevitable Result of LINCOLN'S WAR, the blessings and abuses INDUSTRIALIZATION and REACTION by the CAPTAINS of INDUSTRY to attempts at REFORM on BEHALF of LABOR.

    This gave the International Bankers their longed for opportunity to seize worldwide DOMINANCE in a megalomaniacal, lurid unholy alliance with INDUSTRIAL TITANS and the OWNERS and SUPPLIERS of the RAW MATERIALS for which there was an ever-burgeoning demand.

    In short a "perfect storm" of circumstances that led to deadly consequences the likes of which the world has seen many times, but never before on so GRAND a SCALE.

    ~ FreeThinke

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  30. All the more reason to combat "corporatism" in all of its' "excessive" forms (incl'g. government and unions).

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  31. Yes, indeed! The question is HOW?

    So few even begin to understand the forces brought to bear on them.

    ~ FT

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  32. Telegraph (Civil War), then telephone, radio television.

    Thanks Salvadore. ;)

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  33. The Enigma of Hitler... no longer so "enigmatic."

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  34. The rich and powerful had a veritable monopoly on both one-way AND two-way communication.

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  35. Or as Aristophanes would have said...

    There is nothing more useful nor more pleasant than to have wings. To begin with, just let us suppose a spectator to be dying with hunger and to be weary of the choruses of the tragic poets; if he were winged, he would fly off, go home to dine and come back with his stomach filled. Some Patroclides in urgent need would not have to soil his cloak, but could fly off, satisfy his requirements, and, having recovered his breath, return. If one of you, it matters not who, had adulterous relations and saw the husband of his mistress in the seats of the senators, he might stretch his wings, fly thither, and, having appeased his craving, resume his place. Is it not the most priceless gift of all, to be winged?

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  36. Of course, the common man is rapidly learning how to dance for MORE than his supper, as his access to systems of mass communication have increased.

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  37. For no "good" deeds go unpunished.

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  38. Order to Chaos. Be it merely "vortical" order. ;)

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  39. Perhaps, once upon a time in the ancient and even the merely antique worlds, but not since the grubby little gremlins invented ANTI-AIR CRAFT GUNS. ;-)

    ~ FT

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  40. Thanks for that intresting stuff on the Shakers. There furniture is very beautiful. I saw the round stone barn at their settlement in Hancock, CT once. It was awesome. They just let themselves die off didn't they? Kinda sad wasn't it?

    Your blog is very nice. I like it. Thanks.

    Anise

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  41. FT! I'm surprised at you. An entire post devoted to Simple Gifts and nary a plug for Copeland?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiLTwtuBi-o

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  42. Hi, Viburnum.

    What a surprise to see you here!

    The focus of the post was on Sydney Carter's poem The Lord of the Dance which was set to the tune first used for Simple Gifts.

    Others mention Simple Gifts, so naturally I added material about that in the comments section.

    Someday, I'll do a post on Aaron Copland and uniquely American character he captured in his music -- an amazing thing for a Jewish Communist from Brooklyn -- but genius transcends most personal limitations in Music and Art.

    The works, themselves, are so much greater than the individuals who created them. Great artists in most instances were as human as anyone else.

    Please stop by again.

    ~ FT

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  43. Ah, dance, yes, grace, beauty, strength and the human form in motion. The wonders of the human potential and ability to achieve almost super human feats. Mankind (humankind for you liberals) in all its glory.

    How I miss the exhilarating and exciting artistic expression and emotion that only dance and music can provide.

    Sigh... to be young again! But there is always tomorrow, and one can recall the past most vividly.a

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  44. "Great artists in most instances were as human as anyone else."

    Bingo. They however pushed the limit of human potential to the maximum capacity their individual ability allowed. The difference between the average athlete and the elite or gifted athlete. Dancers are after all athletes. Poetry in motion.

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  45. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  46. Viburnum,
    What a wonderful video!

    I'm going to use it in my Thanksgiving post.

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