Dreams of Colombus


Mary Black is a singer of Celtic songs. I was driving home listening on her compact disc “Looking Back.” To her rendition of “Colombus.”

I had discovered Mary Black sometime after I was out of college. It was when I was young, and I never had wanted the burden of having a couch. Moving around. Encumbered. It was and is a good clue about my life.

In the New World there is little thought of the travels of the modern Colombuses. Immigrants. Who seek shelter night and day. Led with the maps and the beautiful charts. As if they would work in the real world.

Distance. Mary Black is a singer about things far away which can get twisted. By the distance. “With your traveling heart…Every time your panic starts. When your partner is traveling hard…With your maps and your beautiful charts….And you dream of Columbus.”

About those charts. Charting the joys and fears. The ups and downs. That rendition of “Colombus” was a love song. About a relationship. “With your maps and your beautiful charts.” It only took me two decades to make the discovery about the song. That it was a love song.

In ten days I would be in Ennis where, if I stayed a few weeks, I could hear Thomas Moore speak. As the author of The Soul of Sex, he writes that sex is the most penetrating mystery of the soul. He quotes William Blake as saying that the 5 senses are the inlets of the soul, somehow reproducing our images. In the process of the pleasure of sex, there is always sex with strings, and all the pain of human life. It is not purely physical, no matter how much someone might think. “The soul,” he writes, “will not submit to our manipulations.”

Sex is full of meaning so much that attempts to deny meaning have a way to come back to haunt. Poets, musical artists, and theologians try, Thomas Moore writes, from east to west, to reconcile expressions of love to sex and morality, in every layer of human expression; and to pass on that morality to the next generation. Sex ultimately is the expression of human emotion and a measurement of both the physical body and the imagination to the human spirit beyond myself in the gravity ridden world which determines that my image and likeness survives, despite my own mortality. Ordinary life meets the divine to complete my humanity. “When I first saw you, I knew that you were divine,” Anchises said to Aphrodite. That, in Greek mythology, was his motivation for sex.  Because the sex spirits come from another world.

Led with the maps and the beautiful charts. As if they would work in the real world. The quest for the divine. Charting your loves. With your maps and your beautiful charts.

Genealogy. To the best of my knowledge, of my 4 grandparents, the ancestors of three had come from what is now the Republic of Ireland. The fourth came from Ulster, which is on the same island in the days when Ireland was one nation, without it own sovereignty. With maps and beautiful charts, there used to be intense passions and emotions associated with the issue.

Unencumbered, in the gravity ridden world. I always loved Celtic songs about things far away. I was in a Irish pub in Warsaw in September 2001, surrounded by Orangemen following the Irish football team that Leon Uris wrote about in Trinity. They were singing different Irish songs, traveling hard — a lot different songs than the ones I had learned, when I had been in Derry in 1977. Things can get twisted. And crazy and crowded. By the distance. With your traveling heart. Since 1977, St. Patrick’s Day was not for me a festival any more.

“Every time your panic starts.” In the immediate aftermath of September 11th, a group of Polish skinheads arrived that night in the midst of one Guinness. As the War on Terror, essentially a war about religion, began. And somehow, based purely on language and with the no affinity for the cause, I was identified to be one of them. With my face serving as the map and the beautiful chart, with a row was about to start, for which I did not know the reason, to one Polish skinhead with his baseball bat, when all I knew how to say in Polish was “Kiss me,” and “Thank you.” And all this transpired after the Irish Peace Accord. Except that the pub owner summoned the police, and order was restored.

The 5 senses are the inlets of the soul, somehow reproducing our images. In the process of the pleasure. Of love songs. And encumbered passions.


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1 comment so far

  1. paperlessworld on

    As mostly this blog has leaned toward story of Abrahamic religion, I substitute the feelings of Abraham when it comes to the song of Christopher Colombus:

    “Haunted. Tested and can’t ever feel right….
    And you dream of Abraham, every time the panic starts.
    The need for distance from this sway,
    To keep your boat from going astray.
    Try to give them shelter night and day,
    Far away from the fireside.

    With my maps and beautiful charts.
    Far from the fireside.
    See how the ___ swoops and dives.
    Down to the basement of this life.

    Haunted … Tested … and can’t even feel right.
    Dragged down under. In the land that dives,
    With the thrill to go that deep
    In the basement of this life,
    Where the mermaids gently sleeps.

    With an ache in your traveling heart.
    …and crowded, and twisted …the end of my hunger.”

    And you dream of Colombus?



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