Before me there were none
and after me there shall be no more!
Sail into the dream of new worlds!
~ The Ancient Librarian
The eternal vox of Ireland’s Lisa Gerrard and composer Patrick Cassidy, merging as if every instrument in the ethers integrated into one enormous celestial storm of orchestral myth. The composition, Sailing to Byzantium was inspired by the poet William Butler Yeats’ poem by the same title.
Yeats wrote the poem in 1926, at the age of around 60. It is definitive of the agony of lost youth, an abyss of pain and inevitability of old age, societal insignificance, and the spiritual and imaginative inner work necessary to remain vital.
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city that later become Constantinople. It was the center of European civilization and the source of its spiritual philosophy. Therefore, Yeats symbolized a metaphorical journey for the spiritual life by a man pursuing his visual quest of eternal life, and the conception of paradise by sailing to the Holy City of Byzantium. Byzantium is now Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey.
Astral Voyage ~ Art Image by Josephine Wall ~ http://www.josephinewall.co.uk
Sailing to Byzantium
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
— Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enameling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
Sailing to Byzantium ~ Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy (Album: Immortal Memory)