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Friday, March 12, 2010

The Cave as a Grave

        The thought of being buried alive is truly terrifying.  Recent earthquakes probably have made some of us think about this as we have heard news accounts of rescuers trying to retrieve those trapped in collapsed buildings--sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  The fear of being trapped with limited air to breathe and an inability to move, see, or even hear can make one squirm uneasily.

      This theme of burial alive has been used often in literature and movies.  Anything from mine cave-ins, torture by confinement, or accidental entombment can present stories of suspense, drama, and horror.  Magicians like Houdini and Criss Angel have performed buried alive stunts that have enthralled audiences because of our common dread of this fate.  We are intrigued and yet we are scared.

       In my post of last Friday I talked about my experiences with cave exploring and a fear that I began to develop as I began to think about the possibility of being trapped in a cave. I started thinking of a cave as a metaphor for a grave or death.  I began to have nightmares and discomforting thoughts about being in a cave and I stopped my spelunking hobby.

       A few months after my last caving experience, I began my nearly two decade career working in traveling shows.  The show I began on was a stage magic show with stage magician Ken Griffin and his wife Roberta.  This was the first time that I had been away from my family and friends for an extended period and there were occasions when I would get somewhat down and lonely feeling.

        I had been writing songs and poems since before high school.  Often these were inspired by darker periods of my life and while on the road, I would sometimes write in my motel room when I was feeling dejected.  Today I offer you an untitled song that I wrote probably in late 1975.  It is a very slow song with dark lyrics.  To get the feel for what it could be compared to you might think of one of the more depressing songs by Neil Young or a song like All the Little Things  by Crazy Horse, which you can listen to by following the link to Lala which I've provided (it's cut number 17 and it may only give you a sample, but you can sign up for free to hear more music).

        In any case whether you think of it as a song or read it as a poem, here is my untitled lament:

Mountains of madness--
I'm lost in your beauty.
You are the sadness of my life.
I see a cavern
Recessed in your valley;
I want to be inside.


Sweet Mother Earth,
Take me into you
Though I really don't want to die.
Oh, but it looks like
That's where I'm going,
So why put up a fight?


Jesus was right.
Pain has no glory
And glory leads to shame.
The phoenix is rising,
But so are its ashes.
They trail across the sky.


           So now how about putting your skills of interpretation to work:  Poetically speaking, what do you think this poem is about?  From a psychoanalytical standpoint, where do you think I was coming from in this song?  
           Does this poem speak to you, and if so, what is it saying?  I'll wait for some answers and later tonight or tomorrow I'll post some additional thoughts in the comments.

23 comments:

  1. It's telling me it's WAY too early in the morning to interpret anything!

    And thanks, the more I read your cave stories and such, the less I want to ever go in one again. You've got me nervous now!

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  2. Hi, Lee,
    Yes, my friend, that is one gloomy perspective, but quite well expressed. I think people don't dwell on thoughts of death very much. It seems that teenagers have a lot of angst, though, and express such feelings through poetry. It really is a universal language, and says what we can't say in prose so well. I liked the poem,btw. Thanks for the award, and I will pass it on. Best regards to you, and thank you so very much for the mention. Grammy Ruby

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  3. Someone who is afraid but ready to face dying and go to Heaven? My best guess.

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  4. I loved the words Lee, from where I sit I see that being trapped underground must be a terrifying ordeal, but at the end of the day none of us can escape the inevitable whether being buried or cremated.

    I had a friend who has of fear of being buried alive, like being prounounced dead but is still alive. morbid I know, now let's think about living.lol/
    Have a grand week-end.
    Yvonne.

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  5. I get it...the verses. I feel the hippy coming out in me. :) You and I were *like* thinking-I think. I wrote poetry and songs in high school-still do.

    My interpretation: The song says to me that someone is suffering loss- a break up, a mistake made or death. It tells me that the person :) thinks it would easier to give up. But, in their soul is the hope of God and acceptance of pain and shame. Although weak there is revival...a tiny flicker of hope.

    I am sure I am not even close to your meaning. But that was fun. I have to go now and write a song. :)

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  6. To me the lyrics express sadness - a need for healing, for being held. Loneliness.

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  7. I just stumbled upon your blog maybe via Jo or Philip...sorry I don't remember. Anyway, just read this post and my thoughts are.... that you wrote this after the fear of the cave exploring hit you, and you were on the outside looking in...unable to go back because of anxiety. There is a real sadness within us when fear takes over and prevents us from doing something we may really want to do.
    I will start following you, so that I come back here to see what you thought about my interpretation.

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  8. Mountains of madness--
    I'm lost in your beauty.
    You are the sadness of my life.
    I see a cavern
    Recessed in your valley;
    I want to be inside.


    You may think this is ridiculous, but this verse could be expressing a desire for love, or lust.

    'Mountains of madness' the breasts, maddeningly untouchable.. yet so desirable.

    'A cavern, recessed in your valley' and 'I want to be inside' ..

    Surely needs no explanation...

    I'll not make further comment as I've probably said too much already!

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  9. Hmmm...
    I'm just wondering what you meant by these lines:

    Jesus was right.
    Pain has no glory

    How did you arrive at the idea that "pain has no glory" and that this is something Jesus believed? Because I think now you would agree that there was something "glorious" in the pain that Jesus experienced on behalf of humanity.

    And even beyond the work of Jesus, isn't there at times a kind of glory in pain? For example, let's say a fireman dies after saving someone who has been trapped in a building after an earthquake (to borrow your cave imagery). Wouldn't we ascribe a kind of glory to that self-sacrifice?

    I'm wondering how much of this song you can relate to now, all of these years later.

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

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  10. I am witholding one comment to be published later. Philip Harfleet from the UK, you've nailed it pretty much. I will publish you comment after I given some others a chance to try theirs. You were very perceptive, but then again I thought it was more obvious.

    I will wait to comment on any of the other interpretations other than to say thank you and they are good thoughts so far that to ring true in many ways.

    Teresa --you're getting in touch when you mentioned "hippy" -- I was about 24 at the time I wrote this and I considered myself a "hippy" in a way. Post your song when you finish so we can interpret yours.

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  11. Please note: Let me preface by saying that the following is not an interpretation of the song lyrics at all. It is only in regard to the questions raised by the final stanza.

    Stephen: Actually I can still relate to much of the song meaning.

    I don't see the pain being glorious, but sometimes the intentions of a painful act results in a glory. I don't believe that Jesus suffered on the cross for the glory, just as I don't believe a rescuer risks their life and possibly suffers pain to achieve glory -- the intent is to save someone and sometimes pain may be necessary to do that.

    If I were to equivocate pain with glory then I could fully understand self-flagellants or others who inflict pain upon themselves in the name of what they believe. Do they infict that pain to achieve glory and if so would this be Biblically correct?

    Pain has no glory in and of itself. The glory comes from the victory over all that is wrong, including sin and pain.

    If we seek glory for ourselves and bask in that glory, like we have seen with so many names in the news, our downfall will be much greater and shameful than if we had not risen to that height. If we are to boast then we should boast of our weakness and pass the glory to God.

    At the time I wrote this, I had recently left college and was studying a great deal about the history of the Christian church and thinking about many of the wrongs that had been done by some of the leaders in the church. I was thinking in terms of how with the ascension of Christianity and the good it has done, there is also a tainted history due to the unsavory glory seeking individuals who have been a part of the church.

    I think there is so much more that could be said about this topic and I have probably not explained myself to the greatest adequacy. As I am so fond of saying, I could write a book about it.

    Does this adequately explain my position on this?
    Lee

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  12. It sounds like a fearful soul, not willing to embrace God or life. A dreary existence of uncertainity.

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  13. Pass me the knife! I didn't find it uplifing or please put me down.

    On a lighter note please pick up an award, Arlee Bird.

    best wishes always
    J

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  14. This is a hard one Lee...as you said it is very dark, but I appreciate your skill in the writing.

    I feel your thoughts linger on the suicidal if only briefly, and as the phoenix rises you are given hope.

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  15. Rather you than me exploring the caves.

    What was that fascinating Dutch movie about being buried alive?

    I'll have to think about the poem.

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  16. I think there was a struggle to live coexisting with the need to survive this life just as the Lord would want you to. By you being here, it looks like you made the right choice.

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  17. Wolynski -- You had me curious about the Dutch film so I looked it up. It was released in the U.S. as THE VANISHING and remade under the same title. I know I've seen it, but I don't remember it now. Thanks for checking in.

    I will post Philip's correct interpretation tomorrow. However, I will say on certain levels, and perhaps from the mental and spiritual standpoint, all of the above interpretations are probably correct.

    I will provide one more clue. I was an English major in college. On one level I was thinking of William Shakespeare and other poets and authors who used a similary related metaphor. And I hope noone will think poorly of me when they see the interpretation, which when I publish it will probably appear as about the 7th or 8th comment I believe.

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  18. >>[And even beyond the work of Jesus, isn't there at times a kind of glory in pain?]<<

    rLEE-b ~
    I'm not sure we were on the same page. Note that I wrote: "at times" a kind of glory in pain.

    Neither would I ascribe any kind of glory to self-flagellation, etc. I'm speaking of rare and specific situations, not pain in general.

    You said: "I don't see the pain being glorious, but sometimes the intentions of a painful act results in a glory." And I agree with that. But doesn't that mean the pain leads to the glory? Isn't the glory then found IN the pain? If there would be no glory without the pain aren't they one?

    My dictionary defines "glory" as "very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent; something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration."

    Would Jesus be honored today had He not voluntarily experienced the pain that freed us from the bondage of sin? In other words, isn't His enduring reputation a direct result of the pain and death He experienced? Aren't they bound together?

    Maybe we're just not in sync linguistically.

    Now, to shift gears: How were you able to post italics in this comment forum? And I've seen where some people in the past have been able to post actual links to other web pages in these comment sections. Do you know how this is done? I've tried several times before but I've been unable to make a web address an actual live link in comment sections. Help me, Mr. Wizard!

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

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  19. Stephen -- the thing with italics and links is so cool. Here is where I found out how to do it: basic html This is some of the cool info I find on other blogs and I've been using it a lot lately so I don't forget how to do it.


    Now for the nuances of poetic interpretation. I think we are on the same page as far as pain=glory. I say in the lyrics "pain has no glory" in the sense I have described in the aforementioned comment. I don't think any witnesses to the crucifixion watched while Jesus suffered and thought how glorious was his suffering. It was the result of overcoming pain and conquering sin and death that brought the glory. If Jesus had not arouse from the dead, and merely suffered pain I don't see where we would see it as a glorious achievement. Many horrible people have ended up suffering painful deaths and yet we don't see any glory in their pain.
    Pain is often part of the process that leads to glory. Transcending suffering on this earth brings us to that higher place where we will bask in God's glory, but we don't achieve that glory because of any pain we have suffered.

    >>[ But doesn't that mean the pain leads to the glory? Isn't the glory then found IN the pain? ]

    I would say the pain is found in the process of achieving glory. Jesus had to suffer and die in order to achieve the glory of resurrection and atonement of man's sins.

    Maybe it's all just semantics, but I don't think we're too far apart on our thinking on this. It makes for interesting discussion though. Like being back in college.

    By the way, did you get my comment on your recent FFFF post?

    Lee

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  20. Stephen -- If the "link" doesn't work here is the full address:

    http://blog.marketingtipsforauthors.com/2010/03/non-techies-guide-to-basic-html.html

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  21. The eighth post down by PhilipH is correct from the standpoint of outright literal interpretation. Remember, when this was written I was single, 24 years old, and on the road, which can be rather lonely. I was longing for love and female companionship. The other interpretations about suicide, longing, separation, etc. are also correct on a deeper level as it relates to my mental and emotional state at the time.

    Mountains of Madness is a novella by H.P. Lovecraft. I have never read any of his works, but I had liked the psychedelic rock group call H.P. Lovecraft who did a song called "Mountains of Madness". I was influenced by that line and immediately related to my experiences in the mountains and with caving and began making associations from there.
    The last stanza about pain relates to my personal disgust with my thoughts of death or suffering and a need to rise above the temporary depression I was feeling though I might on occasion be burdened by my personal baggage.

    There you have it. A poem (a song) that I wrote over 30 years ago.

    Kudos to PhilipH for his comprehension of what I was trying to say at that time.
    Lee

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  22. `
    >>[By the way, did you get my comment on your recent FFFF post?]<<

    All of the comment submissions I've received from you have been published.

    Did you compose and submit a comment that isn't appearing at Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends ?

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

    P.S. - Thanks a lot, Brother, for the computer lesson!

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  23. **When I tried submitting this earlier, I got an "Error" message. Delete this if it is a duplicate.**

    >>[By the way, did you get my comment on your recent FFFF post?]<<

    All of the comment submissions I've received from you have been published.

    Did you compose and submit a comment that isn't appearing at Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends ?

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

    P.S. - Thanks a lot, Brother, for the computer lesson!

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Lee