Peter Hammill - In Camera 1974

(1974--Charisma Records CAS 1089)
  1. Ferret And Featherbird
  2. No More (The Submariner)
  3. Tapeworm
  4. Again
  5. Faint-heart And The Sermon
  6. The Comet, The Course, The Tail
  7. Gog
  8. Magog (In Bromine Chambers)


    Time has come between us:
    in the passing months I've felt you slip away
    as your words and mine came like nursery rhymes
    till there was nothing left to say.
    Distance came between us long ago,
    as our memories faded away...
    over the miles I ceased to smile
    because nothing felt the same.
    That's how it seemed a week ago,
    far off in time and space.
    Time and distance are between us now,
    they form a bond to make things sure.
    Nothing ever shatters,
    you know what happens:
    time and distance make a love secure.


    In my youth, I played at trains: now all steam is gone.
    In my dreams, brief shelter from the rain,
    I try to catch the fireglow....
    With Dinky Toys, I thought that I was Stirling,
    with cricket bat, I saw myself as Peter May;
    now, with all these images returning,
    I wonder who I am today?
    As a child, I refought the war
    with plastic planes and imagination:
    I sank Tirpitz, blew up the Mohne dam, all these and more,
    I was the saviour of the Nation!
    Oh! To be the captain of a ship of war!
    The pilot of a Tempest or a York!
    To hold my trench against the Panzer Korps
    instead of simply being one who talks
    and reminisces of his fantasies,
    as though life was nothing but to lose...
    these only antecede the knowledge that, eventually,
    he must choose.
    It's a hallmark of adulthood
    that our options diminish
    as our faculties for choice increase,
    till we choose everything and nothing,
    too late, at the finish.
    In my youth, I held belief: my faith and thought were strong.
    But now I'm stripped of every leaf, 
    and it robs me of the sight of right and wrong.
    Oh! To be the son of Che Guevara!
    One unit in the serried ranks of black!
    A Papist or an Orangeman, a eunuch...
    then doubt would never cast the dagger in my back.
    Oh! To be King John or Douglas Bader,
    Humphrey Bogart or Victor Mature!
    Which one is false and easy,
    which one harder?
    Of that,
    of this,
    of me
    I'm really not too sure.


    When I was a child they made me read
    word-daggers of quiver and squirm;
    now in the stumbling dark I see 
    I am a worm, silently fruiting your garden,
    my sister ,my child .
    Night casts ominous meanings on the purity of my soul
    I feel devilish leanings I'm beginning to lose control 
    and the vortex sucks me in.
    Steeped in sin I die 
    but am reborn.
    I want to see the cosmos slip,
    planets and moons collide,
    feel gravity lose its grip...
    it's all inside
    All the dead husks are shattered, 
    my life-blood, my world ripped apart 
    in the laughter of space
    it's all chaff blown out and lost.
    Now I am making the pace 
    although I don't know what tape I'll cross...
    maybe catastrophe.
    When I cross the line 
    I know that I will find myself 
    or maybe you.
    I am a man from the country of destruction,
    I am a man a woman and a god,
    I am my own weapon of kamikaze
    and will one day cut through the
    hidden knot
    Feed me honey and watch me rise 
    to the bait lying on the knife;
    if you let me I can hypnotise your life. 
    It's all really so simple,
    my lover, my twin. 
    Hand in hand, sprinting down the highway, 
    running over the edge, 
    on and on into our doomsday;
    there is no saving ledge 
    nor outgrown shrub.
    Is this the way?
    Out in a blaze of glory? 
    Some day I'll find the answer
    some day I'll 
    end the story.


    I stretch my hands,
    clutch vacant laughter
    in silence and sweet, sweet pain;
    without demand,
    but with a longing
    for what will never come again.
    I smell your perfume
    on the sheets in the morning:
    it lingers like the patterns
    on the window after rain,
    a past that lives,
    if only for the present,
    but which is gone and will never come again.
    To your sad eyes,
    turned away, mine say
    'Do you? Did you? How?'
    As the darkness
    slides away the day
    shows what was
    and makes what is now.
    I see your picture
    as though it were a mirror
    but there's no part of you
    outside the frame
    except the change that you gave to me:
    this will never come again.
    I am me,
    I was so before you,
    but afterwards I am not the same.
    You are gone
    and I am with you:
    this will never come again.


    With my face drained of colour
    and my brain of blood,
    like Billy Budd
    I'm lashed to the grating.
    With senses growing duller
    and with quaking heart
    I make a start
    at temperature equating
    and my lungs suck useless air.
    Like paraplegic dancers
    in formation team
    my understanding seems
    hidebound in its movements,
    contemplating answers
    that could break my bonds -
    to be half wrong
    would be, in me, improvement...
    but my comprehensive faculties are impaired.
    And it seems absurd, but now all I've heard
    fades in empty words and is worthless
    as the Human Laugh rocks the cenotaph
    but the joke is half-true, and mirthless.
    Trying to trace a reason
    from the spinning words
    but all I've heard
    seem at odds with their meanings,
    phonetically pleasing
    but delivered in such haste
    that in their place
    my mind commences screaming.
    On the verge of belief I crash onto the reef
    and a cynical thief steals my senses.
    So I cling to the pew with dimensions askew,
    and recognition refuses present tenses.
    All the lives of the saints demonstrate that my faint
    is a minor complaint, but the end is
    nowhere in sight.
    Why can't I find me a way to go?
    I don't want to die in the nave,
    but I know it may be with me some day
    so I've got to find a way I can save up
    my energies, and find a cause to pray
    to something for something
    to which I can give my creed.
    I'd gladly succumb to the wave,
    if I thought the water taught a way to light;
    I'd gladly succumb - I'm not brave,
    and it's easy to believe what the preacher says
    except for the conflict raging between my head
    and my brain.
    I don't want to die, but just the same,
    some day....
    Waiting for a moment
    that I know will come
    when I'll have to run
    and find another sermon.
    Everyman and Norman
    and the talking priest--
    still, I am at least holding all the doors open.
    Inside me all outside is shared.
    As the cracked bells peal it all seems unreal
    but the seventh seal stays unbroken
    and the Offertory plate tenders no escape -
    still I refuse to scrape up a token
    of esteem for these false
    alleyways of the course;
    I must try to divorce sense from sensing.
    Tell me again,
    tell me the way to go.
    So when I talk to myself
    although I take good care to listen
    my heart grows ever more faint,
    there's something missing?


    They say we are endowed with Free Will - 
    at least that justifies our need for indecision.
    But between our insticts and the lust to kill
    we bow our heads in submission.
    They say that no man is an island
    but then they say our castles are our homes;
    it's felt the choice is ours, between peace and violence...
    oh, yes, we choose, alone?
    While the comet spreads its tail across the sky
    it nowhere near defines the course it flies,
    nor does it find its own direction.
    Though the path of the comet be sure,
    its constitution is not
    so its meaning is possibly more
    than the tracing of a tail
    in one brief shot at glory.
    Love and peace and individuality,
    so order and society are man-made?
    War and hate and dark depravity,
    or are we slaves?
    Channeling aggressive energies,
    the Death Wish and the Will to survive,
    into finding and preserving enemies,
    is that the only way we know that we're alive?
    In the slaughterhouse all corpses smell the same,
    whether queens or pawns or innocents at the game;
    in the cemetery a uniform cloaks the graves
    except for outward pomp and circumstance.
    There is a time set in the calendar
    when all reason seems barely enough
    to sustain all the shooting stars:
    times are rough.
    I'm waiting for something to happen here,
    it feels as though it's long overdue...
    maybe a restatement of yesteryear
    or something entirely new.
    And the knowledge that we gain in part
    always leads us closer to the very start,
    and to the founding questions:
    How can I tell that the road signed to hell
    doesn't lead up to heaven?
    What can I say when, in some obscure way,
    I am my own direction?


    Some call me SATAN others have me GOD
    some name me NEMO...I am unborn.
    Some speak of me in anagrams,
    some grieve upon my wrath...
    the ones who give me service
    I grant my scorn.
    My words are
    'Too late', 'Never', 'Impossible', and 'Gone';
    my home is in the sunset and the dawn.
    My Name is locked in silence,
    sometimes it's whispered out of spite.
    All gates are locked,
    all doors are barred and bolted,
    there is no place for flight.
    Will you not come to me
    and love me for one more night?
    Some see me shining, others have me dull;
    gun-metal and cut diamond -I am ALL.
    Some swear they see me weeping
    in the poppy-fields of France...
    in the tumbling of the dice see them fall!
    Some laugh and see me laughing
    down the corridors of power:
    some see my sign on Caesar and his pall.
    My face is robed in darkness,
    sometimes you glimpse me in the shade,
    All friends have gone,
    all calls are weak and wasted,
    there is no more to say.
    Will you not crawl to me
    and love me for one more day?
    Some wish me empty, others will me full,
    some crave of me infinity - I am NONE.
    Some look for me in symbols,
    some trace my line in stars,
    some count my ways in numbers:
    I am No One.
    Some chronicle my movements,
    my colours and my clothes,
    some trace the work in progress
    - it is done.
    My soul is cast in crystal
    yet unrevealed beneath the knife.
    All wells are dry, all bread is masked in fungus
    and now disease is rife.
    Will you not run from this
    and love me for one more life?


    In Bromine Chambers
    there can be no mercy,
    no bitter flagellation for your sins;
    no forgiveness and no sackcloth
    can cease the dance
    of ashes on the wind.
    Too late now for a wish
    to change all wishing;
    too late to change, to breathe, to grow.
    Too late to smother out the tell-tale footprints
    which mark your passage through the greying snow.

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Sergey Petrushanko, 1998-2023