Now, this bell tolling for another, says to me, thou must die
...No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe;
every man is a peece of the Continent,
a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea,
Europe is the lesse,
as well as if a Promontorie were,
as well as if a Mannor of thy friends
or of thine owne were;
any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee...
But wait. First - how did I find out about these pieces of writing? I'm poorly educated in literature, after all school taught me literature is boring, there's no plot, and quite frankly honest I have the attention span best suited to children's books. The answer is of course, Metallica. I knew nothing about Bells or tolling until I heard their song and in fact I dare say most people my age or younger would be the same.
So here I am, about to be subversive. I've heard that poets are. Let's say that Metallica not only write poetry, but they are bloody good at it. Almost undoubtedly the "real" Metallica fans would run screaming from the idea of poetry. And to be fair, poets would run screaming from the idea of Metallica. So now that I've annoyed pretty much everyone, and you're the only person reading, hopefully nobody will mind if I post a wee section of the lyrics up --
"...all is gone
except the will to be
Now they see what will be,
Now they see what will be,
blinded eyes to see
For whom the Bell Tolls..."
Burton, Clifford Lee; Hetfield, James Alan; Ulrich, Lars
If you want more, then google is your friend - although non metal-heads beware there's about two and a half minutes of guitar before the lyrics actually kick in. Which is ok if you like that sort of thing. And I do. Enough to go to their concert last year and be blown away by everybody from grannies to children exposed to lyrics that had a good deal of literary input. In fact why don't I annoy a few more people and say Metallica are a bit like Shakespeare in terms of coalescing well known fragments of literature into a new whole designed entirely for the masses.
So all these people are being exposed to fragments of literature including a religious devotion whose essence was that when one person dies, we are the lesser; the importance of trust and following one's heart in "Nothing Else Matters," the complex lullabye "Enter Sandman" (I particularly love the Never Never Land reference, but the lyrics also encompass an old fashioned prayer, and use it in a delightfully sinister way.) Magical is it not? And these fragments are bound together by someone who has the ability to play with language at a level that is far more than skin deep. This is the essence of poetry, is it not? Albeit poetry produced with a sense of drama I as a writer have not even aspired to -- the music, the special effects, the sense of occasion, millions of fans pouring over the words to gather meaning, to find solace in their lives, deal with addiction, and identify with the emotions. In fact I decided I should follow their example, and so for my next poetry reading there will be...
lasers and jets of fire...
It'll be great.