Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Queen of Love

Poetry is one of my loves, whether it's just written to be read aloud, or as lyrics to be sung. It is the poetry of the Bible that I read most regularly, the Psalms, and the Prophets, but from time to time I pick up a book of poetry and just read for awhile. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, is my all time favorite. But apart from the scriptures, it is actually the poetry of my favorite songs that follows next after the Psalms in my daily devotions. By devotions I mean, the remembrance of God. I am retired now, but when I was still in the labor force, I used to listen to these songs as I drove to and from work, and while I was at work, I used to sing them. I was a machinist in my last five years, so I could get away with that, even when I sang hymns. In fact, if someone walked past my station and didn't hear me singing away in Greek or French or German or, yes, even in English, they'd ask me, ‘Something wrong today, Romanos?’

The song I am quoting below is from a Scottish folk ensemble from the late 1960's, my college days. It is titled ‘Queen of Love.’ It is one of the songs I hold most deeply in my spiritual core. It is full of biblical allusions, but it also makes reference to pre-Christian mythology (as Pan with the unsane eyes, or with the wild horns) and folk customs (or when I am crowned with the paper crown, an allusion to an April Fools Day tradition). It speaks of things using few words that I can only express in paragraphs, if at all.

One of my dearest friends told me years ago that he thought this particular song was the point at which its author, Robin Williamson, finally and openly rejected Christianity. I didn't contradict him, but I entirely disagree with him. To me, this song, taken together with others by the same author, displays a grass-roots familiarity with both the Bible and the Western Tradition, and uses this to express the meeting of earth and heaven in human experience, leaving it to us to find the key to unlock the meaning of this experience, but pointing us in the direction of Christ, the Word of God.

Yes, but who exactly is this ‘Queen of Love’?

Well, it's very hard to say, precisely. Personally, I think she is the third Person of the Holy Triad, the Spirit, who can be described in feminine terms, shown in ikons as ‘Holy Wisdom,’ and of whom it can be said, ‘You have unwove my eyes, and my heart will not sleep.’ The person of the Queen of Love in this song provides a container for the other words in the song, many of which point to Christ. This, too, is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit. He doesn't draw attention to Himself, but always points us to Jesus.

If anything in this song offends you, dear reader, please accept my humble apology. I am a mere human and therefore subject to error and sin, and that may be why I love this song. On the other hand, if these lyrics please you, dear reader, and you would like to actually hear the song, you can click HERE and listen to it.

This song is my gift to myself and to you, and may it draw us closer together, as we approach the fiftieth day of our salvation, Pentecost, when we shall prepare ourselves for the awesome and everlasting anointing of that Holy Spirit who is celebrated in its lyrics, as the Queen of Love.

A strong power calls from the left hand
across the waters deep
A strong power calls from the left hand
let all things sleep or weep

Oh, the Queen of Love,
you have unwove my eyes
and my heart will not sleep

The eye would sleep but the mind would rise
I must needs walk down God's eyebrows
and along the street of his eyes

Look for me,
and you will see me in my red cloak,
swimming determined as God's blood flies

Creatures of grief,
you beg from the thief
I will not carry home your sacks of sorrow

But I will pay the fiddler
good silver if he smiles,
pray God he see tomorrow

And the fine, fine girls that are into it
and my eyes with salt water swim,
and we disputing with a brittle gaiety
upon the world's rim

If I sought to love you with my body,
it would be with a bent back
unto the day of doom

Oh, the Queen of Love,
I am in her heart,
she is in my room,
and together alone we clasp hands
and in each other's eyes
walk the endless shore

And below I have my duty
to perform in the song
and that that I was
you will see it no more

The snow is on the hills of my heart
and to speak is to die
The men at arms do seek to mark me
and the monks raise hue and cry

Seek me in vain on Golgotha
or in fear's hollow
for the way I take today
only the true may follow

The ancestors in stone armour
calling for loyalty untrue
seek to make a zigzag of the arrow's flight

It is so swaddled in the bands of form
but I am girdled with the storm
and cloaked with the night

I am not to be seen or found
save only in what I cause,
standing outside on the inside outside,
perfectingness and flaws

How will I say where I end
or where you begin?
How will I say, what shall I play?
Shall it be you or the wild wind?

As Pan with the unsane eyes
or with the wild horns
or when I am crowned with the paper crown
or with the crown of thorns

A strong power compels distortion
from the right hand
Fleece to the grey wolves,
fangs to the grey sheep

But the Queen of Love she strokes
my body alive, that I do not sleep

The doctor brews potions and pills
to open his own front door
and the locksmith makes strong bolts to bar his gates
to every new breeze that blows

Shall I now put lion's ears upon my ears,
hear every sound as a roar?
Shall I now put mouse's eyes upon my eyes,
gauge the moon for size against my paw?

While the Queen of Love,
she sings to me from above
and beyond the world

And I observe my mind,
it is playing ignorant boy
while at her feet I am curled

And I remember all female movements so well,
of such a form to bring much joy
and ease much care
to perfume and let fall the coloured gown
and to let down the curling hair

But now I play seed thrower,
and I will play three-legged man
I will play dream weaver and day bringer
and catch as catch can

While the Queen of Love,
she swims like a silver dove
in my mind's room
and my body sleepwalks down the road
in a warm dark swoon

Queen of Love, by Robin Williamson

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