“Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence, the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies. And they became accursed and were still. And the moon ceased to totter in its pathway up the heaven –and the thunder died away –and the lightning did not flash –and the clouds hung motionless –and the waters sunk to their level and remained –and the trees ceased to rock –and the water-lilies sighed no more –and the murmur was heard no longer from among them, nor any shadow of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert. And I looked upon the characters of the rock, and they were changed –and the characters were SILENCE.”
Publisher John Boosey selected tactfully from Tennyson’s lengthy monodrama Maud (1855) and sent the verses to Michael Balfe, who composed this song for the celebrated tenor Sims Reeves. Those familiar with the poem will notice that, in order to create a refrain, Balfe repeats words from the first stanza of what is described in the context of Tennyson’s larger poem as “A Night-Song of Love.” Furthermore, he added a few words of his own (“my own, my sweet”) to provide a more decorous conclusion for the drawing room than do the closing lines of the original.
You move your eyes, there are spiders in the bedroom – dead. Do not let the silk stars in your eyes. This will cause great disrepair of the heart. You pick up the small stone, put it in your pocket, then turn and leave the room.
The song lyric comes back, like bitter tea,… “You’re nobody till somebody loves you” – “Do not let the Rock Stars in your eyes”, they told you. It is too late now for that. The dead spiders in the bedroom weave a web of tears and yesterdays. Just walk away now. The echoes walk behind you pleading, mocking, tearing your soul into pieces of tattered antique paper, full of drama, remnants of damaged dreams,…..
Oh Yahweh, your eyes tell it to the judge.
Give him that cast shadows on kisses
the first smooth stone of a Kisseh
– where the lichen embraces –
then he too shall weep bloody words of remorse.
You think that if you try to just damage the antique paper,….. things could be different somehow –
There was a blue spider bedroom – dead wallpaper,
Orchids climb the silver webbed trellis,
Weaving in and out of rips and holes,
Like a boxer dancing with their long ago success .
Do not let the rocky cold stars in your eyes.
“You’re nobody till somebody loves you” –
Letting their hair down, though the birds marvel at the reach of their fingertips, they stretch to the horizon . Clouds caress the pillows on the bed, as the sighs, intertwined with bird songs, crawl across the rug desperately seeking amber kisses.
Star shine penetration throws up a quagmire of emotions.
Someone to love you, do you have anyone ? – please do not leave – the rock stares in your eyes.
Please do not let the star of your eyes
Beguile you with antique patterns,
A memory stolen from others.
She gives her first looks only to be kissed like a stone – oh what a chic puppy – now old, tired, but resolved to turn left and……….
to love you until the next signal, but not tonight.
The heart beats, a basket of wasted moments chopped up into second thoughts. The bare feet wiggle their toes in regrets and random rhapsodies of halfhearted apologies. A Tear becomes a tear in the journal page, stained when cracked laughter pours out empty freedom.
Now, she can say it – moss coloured memories compressed on pages of antique paper: This is my summer day, like a noisy crow, and there are his lips to remember – that laugh, a serenade.
The railway signal-man of the title dreads a ghost that has been haunting him. Each spectral appearance precedes a tragic event on the railway on which the signalman works. The signalman’s work is at a signal-box in a deep cutting near a tunnel entrance on a lonely stretch of the railway line where he controls the movements of passing trains. His fellow signalmen alert him by telegraph and alarms to coming danger and conditions. Three times, he receives phantom warnings when a bell rings that only he can hear. Each time he hears this warning, it is followed by the appearance of a spectre. Soon after there is a terrible accident involving his section of the train track.
Clayton Tunnel. Photograph taken January 2006 and now in the public domain.
The first accident, which involved a terrible collision between two trains in the tunnel, was likely based on the Clayton Tunnel crash that occurred in 1861( five years before Dickens composed the story). Readers in 1866 would have been familiar with this major disaster.