Firegazing

by Brian Boothby

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1.
06:00
Poplars Tangle in the heart at the rustling of the leaves, Sinister sibilants cackle in the breeze, Restless home by the breathless road Beneath a dappled poplar canopy. Big mighty river, bursting at the banks, Oasis, reservoir, kingfisher tanks, Roadside rivulets, love's lingerland, With a muffled poplar symphony. Parked under poplars with their tittle-tattle rattle, Not quite anywhere, not quite home. Parked under poplars in a restless dream, in a travellers' tale ......... Till the cows come home. Once a proud vessel in the ways of the world, It's now many moons since this flag was unfurled. Hotfoot kilometres and secrets revealed Now hang in the poplar gallery. Motionless, derelict, failing at the seams, Repository of anecdote, memory and dream, Echoes of our journeys whisper in the wheels, Beneath a gossiping poplar canopy. Passionate wanderlust, seekers' retreat, Spellcharmed bubble, with itchy feet. But autumn is coming now, we're harvesting the wheat In this raggle-taggle journal of a song. Cold winds are blowing, birds flying south, Smoky breath blowing from the storyteller's mouth, Mountains and rivers now just names in a game And the poplars are tumbled to the ground. Is this rambling over, restlessness stilled, Homeland regained, curiosity filled? There are hollows in the ground where there used to be wheels And silence in the sky where there used to be a tree. Sitting by the embers with their crickle-crackle shuffle, Making maps in the ashes as the wood burns to thistledown. Spinetingle shiver at the rustle in the apple, it's the ghost ........ Of the travellers' canopy. Passionate wanderlust, seekers’ retreat, Spellcharmed bubble, with itchy feet. But autumn is coming now, we’re harvesting the wheat In this raggle-taggle journal of a song.
2.
Dreams and Omens I dreamt I met a scorpion who lived under the wall, with yellow jointed lobster legs and body black as gall. Afraid I was I'd step on him barefoot in the night but then I see he's a part of me, that sting's to help me fight. I found a silent kingfisher, flotsam on the stones. No darting ray of bright blue flight but crystal salt and bones. Sad I was for brilliance tarnished and vital spark cut cold, but then I see a gift for me of feathers blue and gold. I dreamt a pair of golden snakes just outside my door. They held my spine between their teeth but not to make me sore. Confused I was between their tugging, one earthward, one to sky, but then I see they're stretching me so I can grow, and fly. The world becomes a richer place when these things appear. The sky becomes much bigger, the Otherworld draws near. There's a clarity in these moments in a surreal sort of way, and coincidence abounding seems the nature of the day.
3.
07:04
Firegazing All shapes and colours, all creeds and beliefs; A hundred thousand languages Singing out their love, truth and grief; A million different fingers, on a million different tunes, All following the minstrel, Like the tides chase the moon. And we all follow, follow every line, Till the last, long after midnight, In Firegazing Time. Don't know why we do this, not really sure what it's for, But when a song takes flight up from the firelight, It leaves us richer than before. It frames our hunters' celebration, It grants our lovers some relief, Yet that song is never finished, like the coral on a reef, And we all follow, follow every line, Till the last long after midnight, In firegazing time, Firegazing Time. Many came before us, There are many yet to come, Holding true to this vision, Holding the heartbeat for a drum And we all follow, follow every line, follow every chime, Till the last , long after midnight, In firegazing time, Firegazing Time.
4.
02:38
Swallow Song These days, I search the sky the clean light upon the water and the deep space under the trees ........... But nothing will be right, till they come Already buds line the twigs, hedges twitch with life, and winter flies north, but winter won't be gone, till they come And there's so much to do clearing out the old, channeling the new ....... old engines started and oiled, none of it worthwhile, if they don't come These days I search ........ Look there .......in the clean light over the water through that deep space under the trees, those flickering perfect arrows of blue suddenly unlock summer's flood ............ Swallows are here These days I watch the sky the clean light over the water the deep space under the trees Swallows are here.
5.
The Common Lands of England The common lands of England are gone beneath the plough Where once a thousand flowers grew, only one grows now. No place for the nightjar, in miles of shimmering corn That give no way to the ancient lay of this land where we were born, And we do our bit for Nature, in the name of all that's green, Publicise the planet, and try to keep it clean, But with nowhere for our wilderness, our common ground's near gone, We're losing that old connection, to this land where we born. The common lands of England sustained ten thousand years Of hunters, farms and gardeners, ancestor and heir, With countless sacred places for countless holy dawns, All ploughed beneath the furrows of this land where we were born. And wouldn't it be good ………… wouldn't it be grand ……….. wouldn't it be just fine If they gave it all back? And what would they say ………. what would they do ……… what would they say if they knew We want it all back? The common lands of England were once a common wealth With all beholden to the land for harvest home and health, But now the owners' fences say our ancient paths are turned, We've nothing left in common, in this land where were born. So do your bit for Nature, in the name of all that's green, Shout about, sing about, write about the planet, and try to keep it clean, But with nowhere for our wilderness, our common ground's near gone, Are we lost ……… in this land where we were born? And wouldn’t it be good ……… wouldn’t it be fine ………… wouldn’t it be just grand If they gave it all back? And what would they say …….. what would they do ………. what would they say if they knew We could take it all back?
6.
05:09
E.P.N.S. Wind roars sou’westerly, thinning out the woods, Dancing air warms the soil, rattling the buds, Spring tide stampedes silver horses over the flotsam shore, It’s a salty blow, a wind of change, tumbling all before. E.P.N.S., trying to be someone, Silver, trying to be me, E.P.N.S., keeping up appearances, Silver, keep the vision free, E.P.N.S., covering up the alloy, Silver precious through and through, E.P.N.S., keep the aspidistra flying, Silver ……….. keep whatever’s true. This grand old man was once a boy, came by a silver ring, Risked his life at age fifteen to soldier for the king. Now passed away, his worldly goods have come at length to me And the ring that could have killed him, sits tarnished on my knee E.P.N.S. …… This ring will shine with elbow-grease, but much that won’t is here: Generations’ hand-me-downs, a century of fear Of shortage and conscription, losing battle, losing face, Of letting down the standards that the Empire put in place. Mourning father’s passing leaves so much left to say, We honour his bequest and what it gives us day to day, But the rest is out to charity, to auction or for free, The E.P.N.S. is up for grabs, the silver stays with me. E.P.N.S. ……. And as the winter’s wild geese thread home through the swallows’ flock, At this cusp of the seasons, at this changing of the clock, E.P.N.S. overboard, true silver strapped tight to the mast We go hurtling into the future, and leave behind the past. E.P.N.S. ……..
7.
06:20
The Hollow Hills There's a legend....................throughout this land, running deep throughout this land, when the iron awoke, the old ones entered the hollow hills. Centuries passed like flowers and the springs still bear the names of the sleeping ones who dream the world within. Now the people sit and picnic where the gods once made love, and the waterfalls sound an echo around the hollow hills, and some hear those voices, and others say they must be mad, for listening to the dreaming from within. So some will fill the world with action, Some will dream the ancient dream. Some will make their mark on the landscape, some walk hollow hills. There's a storm in the making, there's a path in the sun, at the crossroads there's a voice, at the crossroads there's a choice, at the crossroads there’s a voice ............ from within.
8.
06:01
Songhunter Walking the hilltops, Roaming the lanes, Hunting for words, Drinking in the rain ...... Smell of the woodland, Smell of the fox, Croak of the raven High above the rocks that jut into the sky: Here it comes again, The welcome old familiar Comfort of a truth about a rumour of a gem; Here it comes again, Nurture that quick shadow of the soul of the world, Before it's gone again. Looking up info, checking the dates, Talking to folk who recreate all the treasures of a life .... From near and far and deep within, stories gather, Memories swim across the surface of the page: Spirit is willing but the flesh is weaker As the years go by and youth retreats But as the things of youth fade and fall away So the spirit listens in a deeper way And though this learning listening can leave us lonely Where a few farsighted are the only To be who we are that’s the price to pay To hook a flying diamond from the ocean spray. Call of the wild, call of the home, migration mystery Calling feet to roam ........ till the Piper hears the tune, Then miracle meltdown in crucible field, crystallisation, Patterns revealed ............. and the song begins to form: Here it comes again, The welcome old familiar Comfort of a truth about a rumour of a gem; Here it comes again, Nurture that quick shadow of the soul of the world ................ before it's gone again. And though this learning listening can leave us lonely Where a few farsighted are the only To be who we are that’s the price to pay To hook a flying diamond from the ocean spray
9.
Fire in your snows In my dreaming I've been to Tibet, Journeys I'll never forget, Woman in firelight silhouette And a spirit guarding the pass. In my reading I have heard the words, Spoken bravely in spite of the hurting, Of the monks and the nomads with their herds, Saying 'How could all this come to pass?' And it's none of my business, I'm not one of you, My life’s been so different from what you have been through, It's a centuries-old tangle, so what can I do? But still my heart sees a flame in your snow. How long can the torture go on? Imprisonment of innocents, destruction of livelihood? How much degradation must one nation take Before the world admits that it knows? How many more deaths does it take? How many more faces staring out through the bars? How many more crippled and maimed refugees Before the world sees the fire in your snows? Too late for 'if only' and 'why?' Too late for all those who have died. No need for a violent reply. Just enough for the world to say 'no'. And it may be sense will prevail To bring a happier end to this tale. It will if the world doesn't fail To feel the fire burning deep in your snow. And there may have been treaties, acts and accords, When Tibetans survived with Chinese overlords, But my pen goes its own way, despite all these words, Because my heart sees the flame in your snow. And it could be our business, there are things we could do That maybe would help all that you have been through, Other such tangles have been worked through, We can honour the flame in your snow.
10.
05:31
The Calling. Just when I think I’ve kicked it, and the way is clear, When the contract has been broken and freedom’s near, When the bright lights fall behind and the dark fields gather round, When peace fills my head, and it’s over, The music rushes in that turns me upside down, Fingers sleep-walk to catch the thread And the rush of intuition brings the knowledge home, You’ll never leave me, nor I can’t leave you, Because there’s more than music to this. It’s the magic of the moment, it’s the thrill of the thrust, It’s the hurtle of the heartbeat as time turns to dust, It’s the mingling of the madness, the catching of the breath, It’s the passion linking every moment between life and death When the music rushes in ……… You take me from my family, you put me on the road, You fill my life with obstacles and say that’s what you chose, I walk the burning coals for you, you lead me on thin ice, I get tickets into everywhere, but seldom get my price, When the music rushes in ………..
11.
05:46
The Leaving And so the old stories have taken new hold and new songs have flowered, brought in from the cold. The fire's burnt high as the night has grown old and now I must away to my kindred. But though the road's long, may you follow your heart, be true to your own skills, whatever your art, May you treasure our meeting, when we're long apart and may your own music bring you content. Later at starset, we'll all be elsewhere, Deep in our dreaming, having set aside care. Or maybe awake in a morning so rare That a new song will rise with the dawn. So though the road's long, may you follow your heart. Be true to your own skills whatever your art. May you treasure our meeting, when we're long apart, And may your own music bring you content.
12.
(free) 07:40
TRANSLUCENCE. For many summers, many moons, many years and a day, you walk the path apart, Opening gates to other worlds, juggling ambition and truth, Climbing a spiral around, midwifing love unborn, for the coin of a yawning crowd, But now you're eagle-owled and nine-heroned, Five-ravened, five-swanned and triple white-horsed, Golden-arrow-plovered and sheila-na-gigged And the sea ........... the sea has given the sword. Soul archaeology is coming to light, Needing nothing, Needing nothing else but itself, The waiting-to-happen burns from within Translucent eyes. Too soft to be dazzling, too bright to be missed, lights now dance in your dark, firefly evening glow, Too hot to blow out, too cool to hurt, gentle northern lights, play of colour on snow, Firelight glint through water, gifts of spirit bestowed And now you’re eagle-owled ……………… Constant guiding stars - map of life, Diamond fire in stone - spark of life, Light from sky to earth - beam of life Translucent eyes With his swallows departed, and chill in his days, he finds your lantern soothing, your charm changes his ways. When his heart is a burden, meshed in steel, you paint him a dream in colour, put spice in the sound of his soul, In the sacred space of an open mind, the glistening crackles to life, to light the listening. Now, he's eagle-owled ……………. Constant guiding stars - map of life, Diamond fire in stone - spark of life, Light from sky to earth - beam of life Translucent eyes

about

The latest release, five years in the making, of songs brought by the many personalities who might be gathered round the fire: 12 lyrical songs of omen, observation, loss, inspiration, travel and valediction, brought vividly to life in the singing of Brian Boothby and the superb playing of Chris Ellis, Adam Summerhayes and Dave Sturt.

Album download includes pdf 56-page booklet with photographs, lyrics, poems and prose

Track 12 - Translucence available as a download-only bonus track from 22nd November 2017.

credits

released September 17, 2017

Brian Boothby: acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, low whistles, brass-strung harp, percussion and samples
Chris Ellis: acoustic and electric guitars, piano
Adam Summerhayes: fiddle
Dave Sturt: fretless bass

All songs written by bb. with creative input from Chris, Adam and Dave.

Tracks 1 - 11 recorded at Eccles Cake studio, engineered by Chris Ellis, and Windmill Lane, (Dave Sturt), mixed by bb, mastered by bb and Chris Ellis, track 12 engineered by Coral Rose Kindred Boothby. All copied and printed by Alpha Duplication. Natural sounds recorded by bb except swallows courtesy of david m and xeno-canto

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Brian Boothby Derbyshire, UK

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