A Sweet Fragrance on the Air and the Sound of Singing

tumblr_lu50e6BIqS1r5tlwvo1_r1_1280  C) Tim Kirk, 1975

“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.” J. R. R. Tolkien, THE RETURN OF THE KING

On the road of life many encounter the twists and turns of divergent paths and the cruel songs of fate. From dead trees dark shadows encompass the traveller as they journey to the Western Shore of what lies beyond the confines of human existence.

Life on this planet traversing the cosmos has never been idyllic for the masses. The daily struggle for survival amidst the torrential rains of poverty and injustice has plagued their lives from conception to the finality of death.

Daily, men, women and children suffer the indignities which fellow humans thrust upon them or the ravages of natural cycles out of control, whirling destruction and heartache in their wake. In many ways the world is becoming a hostile place for humans.

For millennia humans left their places of origin and traveled by land or sea to find a better place, a Safe Haven, where their lives could flourish and thrive. The great sea adventures of the past are fading memories of a time lost in the shadows of yesterday.

Land migration is limited by borders, artificial barriers and hostilities toward the migrators. The aridness of limitations has settled over the globe like a shroud floating in the night winds.

For many the life they know is all that they can hope for on this orb hanging in infinite majesty. The stars of night seem so far away from their feeble touch.

Yet, they are on a journey to the cosmic ocean. Many hope that in their final good-byes on the shores of eternity that they will find a sweet fragrance on the air and the sound of singing.

For in this brief interlude of their existence they never smelled a sweet fragrance or heard the sound of singing. Their experience was that the smells of life were repugnant and the singing was the laments of the dying.

One person who knew the dark shadows of life was Gerry Rafferty, Scottish songwriter and singer. In 1978 he released an album called City To City.

The first song on the album was THE ARK. Perhaps it’s more biographical from his impoverished childhood and his fight as he raged against his demons, especially alcohol.

It speaks on being on a ship and seeking the truth and the light for guidance to that distant shore on the horizon. In the final analysis we all meet on the shore of eternity as we say good-bye—be it in the comfort of a penthouse or the squalor of a hut.

“And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise…”

 

G. D. Williams © 2014

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Gerry Rafferty – The Ark

See the dark night has come down on us
The world is livin’ in its dream
But now we know that we can wake up from this sleep
And set out on the journey
Find a ship to take us on the way

The time has come to trust that guiding light
And leavin’ all the rest behind
We’ll take the road that leads down to the waterside
And set out on the journey
Find a ship to take us on the way.

And we’ll sail out on the water
Yes, we’ll feel the sea grow
Yes, we’ll meet out on the water
Where all strangers are known.
If you travel blindly, if you fall
The truth is there to set you free
And when your heart can see just one thing in this life
We’ll set out on the journey
Find a ship to take us on the way.
And we’ll sail out on the water
Yes, we’ll feel the sea grow
Yes, we’ll meet out on the water
Where all strangers are known.

See the dark night has come down on us
The world is livin’ in its dream
But now we know that we can wake up from this sleep
And set out on the journey
Find a ship to take us on the way.

And we’ll sail out on the water
Yes, we’ll feel the sea grow
Yes, we’ll meet out on the water
Where all strangers are known.

Intro: The Bushwhackers
Drums: Henry Spinetti
Bass Guitar: Gary Taylor
Piano: Tommy Eyre
Acoustic Guitar: Gerry Rafferty
Electric Guitars: Jerry Donahue
Tambourine: Glen Le Fleur
Fiddles/Mandolin: Graham Preskett
Lead Vocals: Gerry Rafferty
Backing Vocals: Gerry Rafferty / Barbara Dickson