Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Maritime Metaphors: Song to the Siren

(by Lisbit Bailey, Archivist and Pop Music Aficionado)

Song to the Siren is a beautiful song written by Tim Buckley (1947- 1975) and Larry Beckett. It was originally released on Buckley's 1970 album Starsailor. The song refers to the Sirens that tempt sailors to their fate from the Greek myth of Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece. A palpably sad song, it speaks to blind and doomed love that is heartbreakingly bittersweet. An incredibly moving version of this song was performed by Tim Buckley in the last moments of the last episode of The Monkees television series in 1968. (Watch and listen on YouTube.)

Song to the Siren

Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
'Til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle

And you sang
Sail to me, sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am, here I am
Waiting to hold you

Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?

Now my foolish boat is leaning

Broken lovelorn on your rocks

For you sing
Touch me not, touch me not
Come back tomorrow
Oh, my heart, oh, my heart
Shies from the sorrow

I am as puzzled as the oyster
I am as troubled at the tide
Should I stand amid the breakers?
Or should I lie with death my bride?

Hear me sing
Swim to me, swim to me
Let me enfold you
Oh, my heart, oh, my heart
Is waiting to hold you

To get you into the swim of things, I’ve selected two books from the Collections at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Enjoy!

The Jason Voyage: the Quest for the Golden Fleece by Timothy Severin

The Odyssey of Homer by Homer; Lattimore, Richmond Alexander, 1906-1984

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