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Dante’s Prayer

April 13, 2020  by RJMS  •  Art & Artists

“Music and singing do not produce in the heart that which is not in it.” — ninth century philosopher Abu Sulaiman al-Davani

Webb Chiles, who I introduced in the post entitled “Monks”, has circled the globe in various sailboats six times. Last year, on April 29, 2019, as he approached his 78th birthday, he finished circumnavigation # 6, a journey just shy of 30,000 nm by his logbooks. For many years he has authored a blog, which when not at sea, is an almost daily diary. He is a music aficionado and frequently tells us about what he has just listened to. In a recent entry he listed the music he might wish to be played at his memorial service, which he admits is likely some years from now, and possibly after one more trip round the globe, for he is most happy when at sea.

http://self-portraitinthepresentseajournal.blogspot.com/2019/04/

At the top of his list is this song by Loreena McKennitt. I like the choice, it is also one of my favorites by her, though one needs to listen to it to understand why it is so powerful.

The following is from her website. The words are from the CD liner notes for that song. It has nothing to do with being in the middle of an ocean at night.

“December 17, 1995, Trans-Siberian Railway: It is now Day 5 on this train journey across wintry Siberia. Traveling alone, it is strange not to be able to have a conversation with anyone, but one learns how much can be conveyed through actions, body language, a look in the eye… I saw some men on the platform today and one resembled my father. He had reddish hair and a long, very Celtic-looking face I would have expected to see in Ireland, not Russia… I am reminded again of the Celtic exhibition in Venice and the suggestion that the Celts may have originated in the Russian steppes. Perhaps the love of horses which began there is the very same that can be seen in County Kildare today.

December 18, 1995, Trans-Siberian Railway: Dante’s The Divine Comedy keeps running through my mind as I gaze out at the landscape passing before me, thinking of the people who inhabit it and how they share this human condition… Are we helping or hurting each other?… How has the West come to this place of transition? Honourably? What are we bringing them? What are their expectations? Are our lives really what they imagine? We always want to believe there is a place better than our own…”

Dante’s Prayer

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me

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