Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Lullaby of Love

The Lullaby of Love
I heard the music from the dawn of time,
The lullaby of tenderness and love.
How soothing was the singing, with the beat
The one we heard within our mothers’ wombs.  \1

And so were children put to sleep and calmed,
With gentle taps of rhythm and refrains
That mothers sang that they had learned in turn
From those that nursed them in their infancies.

How different was that music from the clang,
Unease, unrest that marks the violent songs
That now are belted as the singers prance
Or jerk like marionettes as spotlights dance.

The pounding of the mills is what we’re fed,
Which isn’t music to the human heart,
The thunder of our tanks and planes and guns,
The screech of cars, the rush to work and back.

The loudness violates.  It deafens, is
A venting of the built-up rage within.
It drowns the torment that our demons give,
The hell that rages that’s the price of sin.

Oh take away this music born of fear,
The music of the rage of impotence,
The scream, the tantrum, that which celebrates
The race that pits us each against the other.

And give us more of music of the heart,
That whispers soft – the babbles of the brook,
The sounds of wind that moves the trees, the grass,
The lilts of children playing in the fields.

Our children grow to adulthood and yet
Remain within as infants immature,
Who only see the self and not the rest,
And so are locked within their private hells.

They need no more of that – the sounds of war,
Of great machines and weapons, lunacy,
Nor more of rhythms making people jerk,
Who swarm in herds and lose their somber grace.

They need that music from the dawn of time,
That soothes the infant, so she sleeps and wakes,
At peace within.  She’s touched by tenderness
And so matures, in wisdom and in heart.

How much we suffered, in that dawn of time,
And yet remained a fully human race…
How much we suffer, in our present age,
Because we’ve fallen from our state of grace…

2014 April 27th, Sun. 2:59 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

1.  See, for instance, the Odaya piece at the link sent to me by friend Rana Bose. You can also access the piece directly on YouTube.

This (Odaya) is a song performed in a setting far from the place of origin, by three urbanized young women. And it forms only the background for a a talk by one of the members of a singing group.  But the essence of the original seems to come through, despite all of this.  Typically, there is no hurry or drama in this lullaby-like song.

No doubt, many other such songs, as well as other kinds of music, from tribal people in their native setting, can be found on the Internet. 

My father, Sunil Janah, referred briefly to the plaintive songs of the tribal peoples of India in a book he wrote, illustrated with his photographs, The Tribals of India (Oxford University Press, India, 1993 and 2003).  Please see also the books of Verrier Elwin, Shamrao Hivale and others, which contain translations of the lyrics of many tribal songs. 

My father wrote a short review of a biography on Elwin (by Ramachandra Guha).  And Hivale's son-in-law, Thomas Carter, wrote a short article on Hivale.  These are both at my father's website.

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