Friday, January 20, 2017

Saturday's Poem: Henry Lawson- Scots of the Riverina

Oh my ways are
strange ways and
new ways and old 
ways. And deep
ways and steep
ways and high
ways and low. I'm
at home and at ease
on a track that I
know not. And
restless and lost
on a road that I
know.
Henry Lawson
So we must fly a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We’ll make the tyrants feel the sting
O’ those that they would throttle;
They needn’t say the fault is ours,
If blood should stain the wattle.

Henry Lawson (Freedom on the Wallaby)


"That he managed to dredge out of disadvantage, adversity and often appalling hardship so many magnificent stories is testimony to a toughness and determination that he is perhaps not often enough given credit for."
Brian Matthews on Henry Lawson


Scots of the Riverina
by Henry Lawson

The boy cleared out to the city from his home at harvest time --
They were Scots of the Riverina, and to run from home was a crime.
The old man burned his letters, the first and last he burned,
And he scratched his name from the Bible when the old wife's back was turned.

A year went past and another. There were calls from the firing-line;
They heard the boy had enlisted, but the old man made no sign.
His name must never be mentioned on the farm by Gundagai --
They were Scots of the Riverina with ever the kirk hard by.

The boy came home on his "final", and the township's bonfire burned.
His mother's arms were about him; but the old man's back was turned.
The daughters begged for pardon till the old man raised his hand --
A Scot of the Riverina who was hard to understand.
The boy was killed in Flanders, where the best and bravest die.
There were tears at the Grahame homestead and grief in Gundagai;
But the old man ploughed at daybreak and the old man ploughed till the mirk --
There were furrows of pain in the orchard while his housefolk went to the kirk.

The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned;
And the old man died at the table when the old wife's back was turned.

Face down on his bare arms folded he sank with his wild grey hair
Outspread o'er the open Bible and a name re-written there.





Henry Lawson's poem tells the story of a young man who leaves the family farm in the Riverina country in outback Australia and moves to the city, with the result that his father disowns him. The young man enlists in the Australian army during WW1 and goes off to France, where he he is killed at Flanders.

Henry Lawson (1867-1922) is one of the best known Australian poets, bush balladeers and writers of the late 19th  and early 20th century. Lawson's first poem was published in 1887 and his first book in 1894.

Lawson was just 21 when his poem "Faces in the Street", was published in 1888. The poem was  a bitter denunciation of the injustices and poverty imposed on the poor and those made marginal. The poem exposed the lie that Australia is the land of plenty and a classless society. It became a revolutionary anthem and almost overnight Lawson became famous.

Many of his poems are bush ballads which have achieved the status of Australian folklore. In the late 19th and early 20th century Lawson was the most popular writer in Australia and considered the voice of ordinary Australians.

Lawson wrote about the hardships of Australian bush life, the social and political events of the times, the plight of the poor, the cause of an Australian republic, the strength of women and the larrikinism and humor of Australians.

Lawson's radicalism and his struggle with alcohol were factors that limited his employment opportunities. His career as a freelance writer was highly precarious and he eked out a marginal existence for much of his life. In 1890 he traveled to Albany in Western Australia (my home town) to pursue a career as a journalist, where he wrote for the Albany Observer and worked as laborer. He visited Albany again in 1896 on his honeymoon.

Of Albany Lawson wrote;

"It will never change much - it is a pretty town but vague. I like it all the better for that."

After he separated from his wife and children in 1903, Lawson struggled with alcohol and depression and lack of money. He lived his final years in poverty. He was frequently gaoled for failure to pay maintenance for his children and often wandered the streets of Sydney, frail and drunk. His final years were spent in and out of mental hospitals and prison. 

Despite his troubles, Lawson continued to write. He died in 1922 as a result of a brain hemorrhage. He was honored with a State funeral, the first Australian writer to receive the honor.

Lawson now features on the Australian $10 note.



















The Australian singer-songwriter John Schuman and the Vagabond Crew have put Lawson's poem to music.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Anna Swir: A Polish poetry giant

"You will not tame this sea
either by humility or rapture.
But you can laugh
in its face."

Anna Swir

I Carried Bedpans
by Anna Swir

I worked as an orderly at the hospital
without medicine and water.
I carried bedpans
filled with pus, blood and feces.

I loved pus, blood and feces-
they were alive like life,
and there was less and less
life around.

When the world was dying
I was only two hands, handing
the wounded a bedpan.

He Was Lucky
by Anna Swir

An old man
leaves the house, carrying books.
A German soldier snatches the books
and throws them in the mud.

The old man picks up the books,
the soldier hits him in the face.
The old man falls,
the soldier kicks him and walks away.

The old man
lies in mud and blood.
Underneath he feels
the books.


I Talk to My Body
by Anna Swir

My body, you are an animal
whose appropriate behavior
is concentration and discipline.
An effort
of an athlete, of a saint and of a yogi

Well trained
you may become for me
a gate
through which I will leave myself
and a gate
through which I will enter myself
A plump line to the centre of the earth
and a cosmic ship to Jupiter.

My body you are an animal
from whom ambition
is right.
Splendid possibilities
are open to us.

Anna Swir (1909-1984) was a Polish poet whose works deal with experiences during Word War II, motherhood, the female body, and sensuality. 

Swir  was born in Warsaw  to an artistic, though impoverished family and studied medieval Polish literature at University. During the 1930's worked for a teachers association, as an editor and published poetry.

Swir joined the Polish resistance during WW2 and worked as a military nurse. She was arrested and faced a Nazi firing squad during the war, waiting 60 minutes to be executed. As well as writing poetry for Polish resistance underground publications, Swir cared for the wounded during the Warsaw Uprising and many of her poems are based on her experience.

Swir's poetry is sophisticated and powerful without the rhetorical embellishment that characterizes so much of what passes as poetry. Her poetry is purposeful, direct, simple and with a profound reverence for life.

Many of her poems record the experiences and ravages of war, although it was 30 years after the war before Swir would write and publish the poems about her wartime experience. As one reviewer notes those wartime experiences changed her poetry profoundly, bringing a concern for the value of the simplicity and immediacy of life.

Swir wrote candidly and passionately about the female body, sensuality and erotic love. Her poetry views the body with both intimacy and detachment.

After the war Swir lived in Krakow and wrote poetry, plays and stories for children and directed a children's theatre. Anna Swir died of cancer in 1984.

Other blog pieces featuring Anna Swir's poetry are here.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday's poem: Stanley Kunitiz and 'Living in the layers'

"That pack of scoundrels
stumbling through the gate
emerges
as the order of the state"
Stanley Kunitz


"Evil has become a product of manufacture, it is built into our whole industrial and political system, it is being manufactured every day, it is rolling off the assembly lines, it is being sold in the stores, it pollutes the air. And it's not a person!"
Stanley Kunitz

"A poem has secrets that the poet knows nothing of. It takes on a life and a will of its own" 
Stanley Kunitz

The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz


I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.


Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) is  one of my favorite poets and is considered among the US's most acclaimed poets, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry.

Kunitz wrote poetry for over 80 years and until his death, aged 100, he was active as a poet, writer, activist and mentor to young poets. He was 95 when his Collected Poems was published.

Kunitz was largely unknown as a poet until well into his sixties. He was appointed official poet of the US Government and the State of New York, but saw his role in clear terms:

"The poet is not in the service of the state. On the contrary he defends the solitary conscience as opposed to the great power structure of the superstate."

Kunitz was a lifelong political progressive and pacifist. He was a conscientious objector during WW2 and opposed both the Vietnam and the US-led invasion of Iraq. He declined to write a poem in honor of the inauguration of George Bush.  He reminded people:

"A poet is also a citizen, and I try not to forget that"

Kunitz wrote poetry slowly, often at night, on an old manual typewriter. The secret of a long life, he claimed, was curiosity (he lived to over 100).

An interview with Stanley Kunitz is here and a long evocative article about Stanley Kunitz from the New Yorker magazine is here.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The political genesis of the work of Arvo Pärt

“One line is like freedom, and the triad line is like discipline. It must work together" Arvo Pärt

"I apologize but I cannot help you with words. I am a composer and express myself with sounds'. Arvo Pärt

The Estonian born composer Arvo Pärt is one of the most influential contemporary classical composers in the world. His simplified compositional technique, known as tintinnabuli, has defined his musical style since the late 1970's and appears in compositions such as Fur Alina, Fratres, Spiegel im SpiegelCantus  in Memoriam Benjamin Britten and Tabula Rasa.

Tintinnabuli (the latin word for bell) is a particular style of composition that weaves together melodic lines in which one voice or instrument outlines a chord, while the other circulates around it. The music moves slowly in patterns and waves, creating austere, hypnotic and achingly beautiful musical patterns. The sparse and repetitive arrangements give the listener space to experience and interpret the music.

While Arvo Pärt is one of the most performed classical composers in the world, the political significance and genesis of his work is generally overlooked. Pärt's work is usually discussed primarily in terms of his faith and religiosity, not surprising given his Eastern orthodox Christianity.

Pärt makes no claim to be a political composer and dismisses any political interpretation of his work claiming that:
"I have never participated in political art. My compositions have never been political, even the ‘Khodorkovsky’ Symphony has really nothing to do with politics".

However, Pärt's work has powerful political resonances and emerged out of a matrix of political forces- his courage in refusing to compose music to satisfy Soviet authorities; his banning by the Russian authorities and subsequent internal exile' within Estonia; his subsequent external exile from Estonia to the west; the cultural tradition in Estonia whereby music and song are a means to give voice to political motivations and aspirations, and his willingness to speak out and take a stand against injustice and suffering.

Pärt was born born in 1935 in Paide in Estonia, then part of the communist Soviet Union. After completing military service he attended and graduated from the Tallinan Conservatory in 1963. From 1958-1967 he worked as a recording engineer with Estonian Radio. 

Pärt never produced the strictly political music expected of Soviet composers and his early music was censored by the Soviet authorities in the 1960s as its religious message was considered an act of political dissidence. He fell quiet for half a decade and emerged in 1976 with "Fur Alina", the first of his distinctive tintinnabuli style compositions.

His work was promptly banned in the USSR and Pärt was permitted to emigrate in January 1980, first to Vienna and then to Berlin, where he settled. He now divides his time between Berlin and Tallinn. 

When he left the Soviet Union with his wife and 2 sons, Pärt was stopped by border police for a luggage search. He told the New York Times:
“We had only seven suitcases, full of my scores, records and tapes. They said, ‘Let’s listen.’ It was a big station. No one else was there. We took my record player and played ‘Cantus.’ It was like liturgy. Then they played another record, ‘Missa Syllabica.’ They were so friendly to us. I think it is the first time in the history of the Soviet Union that the police are friendly.”

Commenting on that incident Pärt's wife noted“I saw the power of music to transform people.”

Pärt was influenced by the Estonian cultural milieu where music has always been a key political force. In the 1980's music and song was the mechanism used to drive the movement for Estonian independence from the Soviet Union. 

Estonia made its revolution by song. During what is referred to as 'the Singing Revolution', Estonians gathered to organise for independence under the guise of singing. In June 1988, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for five successive nights to sing protest songs. Within 3 years Estonia had achieved independence from Soviet rule.

Arvo Pärt also uses his work to express solidarity with those who suffer and resist injustice.

He created a musical piece Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fatima in response to a painting based on photography taken at Auschwitz. His prayer of peace Da pacem Domine was a personal tribute to the victims of the Madrid Terrorist attack. He also composed Fur Lennart in memorian for the funeral service of Lennart Meri, the second elected President of the Estonian Republic after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Pärt dedicated every performance of his works in 2006 and 2007 to the memory of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was murdered in Moscow in 2006. Pärt wrote:

"Anna Politkovskaya staked her entire talent, energy and—in the end—even her life on saving people who had become victims of the abuses prevailing in Russia."

Arvo Pärt's own life has political significance - his courage in refusing to bow to state authoritarianism, his fortitude in the face of attacks and criticism from powerful interests, his unflinching persistence and perseverance and his belief in the power of artistic expression to break down the walls of prejudice, force and political power.

In a profile of  Arvo Pärt in the Guardian, Gunter Atteln describes Pärt as a man of courage, humility and authenticity who sees the injustices of the world and takes a political stand against them. Atteln describes Pärt's work as as deeply human, rather than political, although the distinction is somewhat semantic.

Pärt has spoken out politically about events in Russia and criticized Vladimir Putin. He said Putin has:

'.... spread around him massive amounts of hostility and aggression, which has its own dynamics and can only grow. You cannot take it back anymore. There is no control over it today. It cannot be called anything else but a crime. It is more than a crime".

Pärt's work also has political resonance in the way it evokes and resonates an ethos of deep simplicity and peacefulness- silence, stillness, contemplation, humility, a lack of rhetorical grandiosity- that acts as a counterbalance to the consumerism of capitalist societies.

Pärt's music is described by one commentator as evoking 'the radical disruptiveness of the profoundly peaceful'.

James Soemijantoro Wilson refers to  Pärt's music as part of the 'rebel yell of classic music' and cites Alex Ross from his book the Rest is Noise:

"It is not hard to guess why Pärt and several like-minded composers—notably Henryk Górecki and John Tavener—achieved a degree of mass appeal during the global economic booms of the eighties and nineties; they provided oases of repose in a technologically oversaturated culture. For some, Pärt’s strange spiritual purity filled a more desperate need; a nurse in a hospital ward in New York regularly played Tabula Rasa for young men who were dying of AIDS, and in their last days they asked to hear it again and again.”
This piece by Frederic Kiernan in The Conversation provides detailed background on Pärt's history and compositions.

A detailed biography of Pärt is hereA link to a documentary about Arvo Pärt titled The Lost Paradise by Robert Wilson is here. A link to another documentary about Pärt, Even if I Lose Everything  by Dorian Supin is here.

More stories about Arvo Pärt are here, here and here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The continuing silence about links between extreme weather events and climate change

Many parts of Australia are recovering from the devastating effects of extreme weather events over recent days, including storms that produced unprecedented levels of rainfall, massive ocean waves and king tide surges that caused coastal erosion, and extensive destruction and devastation from massive localized flooding, however, it is interesting to see climate scientists and commentators being cautious and circumspect about linking the severity of the storms to climate change (see articles here, here and here).

A valuable article by social scientists Paul Hoggett and Rosemary Randall, based on interviews with leading UK climate scientists, provides insight into the dynamics of the social and political silencing that makes many climate change scientists unwilling to speak out publicly about the seriousness of the threat posed by climate change.
Hoggett and Randall argue that a 'socially constructed silence' between climate scientists and policy makers is one reason why policy making about climate change has become a form of 'symbolic policy making’—a set of practices designed to make it look as though political elites are doing something about climate change while actually doing nothing.
Hoggett and Randall quote one scientist who said that although many scientists believe that the world is heading for a rise in temperatures of 6 degrees, rather than the two degrees claimed, they still remain silent.
A number of reasons for this silence are identified by Hoggett and Randall. They found many scientists identify with an idealized picture of scientific rationality and are uncomfortable with the political controversy surrounding climate change.  Scientists prefer to get on with their research quietly and dispassionately, burying themselves in the excitement and rewards of research, but denying they have any responsibility beyond developing models or crunching the numbers.
Hoggett and Randall quote one researcher:

"so many scientists just want to do their research and as soon as it has some relevance, or policy implications, or a journalist is interested in their research, they are uncomfortable.
Fear of being seen as a whistle blower and damaging their career are also reasons why scientists are unwilling to speak out.

Some scientists are unwilling to challenge political analysis of the scientific evidence. One scientist quoted by Hoggett and Randall was critical of scientists:
“... repeatedly I’ve heard from researchers, academics, senior policy makers, government chief scientists, [that] they can’t say these things publicly, I’m sort of deafened, deafened by the silence of most people who work in the area that we work in, in that they will not criticise when there are often evidently very political assumptions that underpin some of the analysis that comes out."

Hoggett and Randall urge the scientific community to abandon their social and political silence and speak out as a whole, rather than leaving the task to a beleaguered and much-criticized minority.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday's poem: Wendell Berry and 'the tyranny of things we do not need"

"The term “radical” has the same meaning in politics as it does in mathematics or in the word “radish.” It simply means “root.” So a radical would be a person who wants to address the root causes of a particular problem. In the proper sense of the term, I think I’ve probably become more radical."
Wendell Berry

“To live and work attentively in a diverse landscape such as this one—made up of native woodlands, pastures, croplands, ponds, and streams—is to live from one revelation to another, things unexpected, always of interest, often wonderful. After a while, you understand that there can be no end to this. The place is essentially interesting, inexhaustibly beautiful and wonderful. To know this is a defense against the incessant sales talk that is always telling you that what you have is not good enough; your life is not good enough. There aren’t many right answers to that. One of them, one of the best, comes from living watchfully and carefully the life uniquely granted to you by your place"
Wendell Berry

We who prayed and wept
Wendell Berry

We who prayed and wept
for liberty from kings
and the yoke of liberty
accept the tyranny of things
we do not need
In plenitude too free,
we have become adept beneath the yoke of greed

those who will not learn
in plenty to keep their place
must learn it by their need
when they have had their way
and the fields spurn their seed.
We have failed thy Grace. 
Lord, I flinch and pray,
send Thy necessity.

from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

XII

If we have become a people incapable
of thought, then the brute- thought
of mere power and greed
will think for us

If we have become incapable
of denying ourselves anything,
then all we have
will be taken from us.

If we have no compassion,
we will suffer alone, we will suffer
alone the destruction of ourselves.

These are merely the laws of this world
as known to Shakespeare, as known to Milton:

When we cease from human thought
a low and effective cunning
stirs in the most inhuman minds.

from Leavings by Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic and farmer. He has lived and worked on the same Kentucky farm for nearly 50 years, as his ancestors did before him. His farming family have been active in the farmer cooperative movement for generations.

He is one of the US's most distinguished and prolific authors and has written novels, short stories, poems, essays and political treatises.

Berry has raged against the injustice of industrial capitalist exploitation and been a political and social activist and campaigner for 50 years. He has protested against the Vietnam war, nuclear power, American foreign policy, big coal, mining companies, mountaintop removal, corporate agriculture, the death penalty, environmental destruction and political corruption.

Berry is Kentucky's most famous author and is the first living author to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

Berry's poetry display a reverence for life and moral and intellectual clarity. His poems are profound reflections on life, death, family and our connectedness to history, place and the environment. He also writes provocative political poems. Berry is a passionate critic of contemporary capitalism and a defender of the environment and local economies.

His first book of poetry was published in 1964 and consisted of a single poem titled November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three, commemorating the death of John F. Kennedy.

A recent speech by Wendell Berry is here and some essays and interviews with Wendell Berry are here, here, here and here.

Someone once wrote of Wendell Berry:

"Wendell Berry continues as a great contrary example to the compromises others take in stride. Instead of being at odds with his conscience, he is at odds with his times. Cheerful in dissent, he writes to document and defend what is being lost to the forces of modernization, and to explain how he lives and what he thinks.

He is the sum of his beliefs. And those beliefs arise from a longstanding tradition most fully expressed in the American family farm, a self-sustaining economic enterprise that reinforced familial bonds and human obligations to the natural environment."

His poetry and essays feature regularly on this blog.

Monday, May 30, 2016

"When the final line unfolds it don't always rhyme": The eloquence of Guy Clark (1941-2016)

"Songs are like Japanese painting. Less is more. One brushstroke takes the place of many if you put it in the right place. I’m trying to get whoever is listening to think, ‘Oh, man, I was there. I did that. I know what that’s about.’ Too many details take away.Guy Clark

"You know life ain't easy it takes work/it takes healing cause you're gonna get hurt/You can lose your faith, you can lose your shirt, lose your way sometimes/Ah you never really have control, sometimes you just gotta let it go/When the final line unfolds, it don't always rhyme.Guy Clark, Homeless

Very sad to hear of the death of Texan singer songwriter Guy Clark who passed away in Nashville Tennessee on the morning of Tuesday May 17th. Clark, who battled cancer and health problems, was aged 74.

I have been a huge fan of his music for over 3 decades, since I first heard LA Freeway and Desperadoes Waiting for a Train, songs that appeared on Guy Clark's first album Old No. 1 and made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker.

Guy Clark wrote songs that were vignettes of daily life that he formed into four to five minute songs. Clark was a storyteller whose songs have the feel of poetry, short stories and in his ability to create visual images, cinema put to music. 
I’d play the “Red River Valley”
And he’d sit in the kitchen and cry
And run his fingers through 70 years of living
And wonder, Lord, has every well I drilled gone dry?
We was friends, me and this old man
Like desperadoes waiting for a train.


In his songs Clark had a way of seeing the world in the pretext of the simple things- what he refers to in one song as 'stuff that works'- 'the kind stuff you reach for when you fall'. Like homegrown tomatoes, cooking, a guitar, a photo, memories of places and people, an object, a cap, an old pair of boots, a knife.

In Randall Knife, one of his most loved songs, Clark writes about his father's death and the significance of a family heirloom passed from father to son.

Although Clark did not write strident political or 'message' songs as such, many of his songs are told from the vantage point of those who find themselves forced to the margins of society- the homeless, drifters, hitchhikers, hustlers, losers, loners, people living precarious lives and those struggling to make a decent living.

In Homeless Clark sings:
"Cardboard sign old and bent says 'friend for life 25 cents
When did this start making sense? Man it's really getting cold
Sometimes I forget things and I get confused
I could still be working, but they refuse
Now I'm living with the bums and the whores and the abused, man I hate getting old
Homeless, get away from here dont give them no money they'll just spend it
on beer
Homeless, will work for food, you'll do anything that you gotta do, when you're homeless.
Betty sings a song that no one hears, as the wind begins to freeze her tears
She says 'God it's been so many years', she's way past complainin
She sings a heartelt melody, one that begs for harmony
No it's not what she thought it would be, but hey it could be raining"


In Heroes he sings about suicide among US soldiers returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The song “Coyote” describes the toll taken by the scourge of human trafficking, using true events in which 18 immigrants trapped in a scorching trailer died at a Texas truck stop.

Clark's work is a reminder that creative expression almost always emerges from, and is intertwined with everyday lived experience. Clark has the ability to embed poignant stories, lessons and observations about the struggles, suffering and wonder of daily life into his songs. He does this with eloquence, pathos and humanity, but without sentimentality.

Guy Clark was 34 before he released his influential first album. Most of the songs on that album Old No 1 become staples in country and folk music. Two notable songs ”L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for A Train,” were hit songs for Jerry Jeff Walker and have been recorded by many other singers. Guy Clark recorded 14 albums. His final album, My Favorite Picture of You, released in 2013 won a Grammy for best folk album.

Bob Dylan cited Guy Clark as one of his favorite songwriters. An article discussing Guy Clark's best songs is here.

Reflection and obituaries for Guy Clark are herehereherehere, here, herehere and here

A tribute CD This Ones for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark is a reminder of the powerful body of the work he produced over a 50 year career. On the CD you will find a stunning version by Patti Griffin of the Guy Clark's song The Cape:

The Cape
Guy Clark

Eight years old with a floursack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
Figurin' what the heck
He screwed his courage up so tight
The whole thing came unwound
He got a runnin' start and bless his heart
He headed for the ground

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape

All grown up with a floursack cape
Tied around his dreams
He was full of spit and vinegar
He was bustin' at the seams
He licked his finger and he checked the wind
It was gonna be do or die
He wasn't scared of nothin' boys
And he was pretty sure he could fly

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape

Old and grey with a floursack cape
Tied all around his head
He's still jumpin' off the garage
Will be till he's dead
All these years the people said
He's actin' like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape