VdGG - Godbluff 1975

  1. The Undercover Man
  2. Scorched Earth
  3. Arrow
  4. The Sleepwalkers

    The Undercover Man

    Here at the glass - 
    all the usual problems, all the habitual farce.
    You ask, in uncertain voice, 
    what you should do,
    as if there were a choice but to carry on 
    miming the song
    and hope that it all works out right.
    Tonight it all seems so strange -
     my spirit feels rigid, my body deranged;
    still that's only from one point of view
    and we can't have illusion between me and you,
    my constant friend, ever close at hand -
    you and the undercover man.
    I reflect: 
    'It's very strange to be going through this change
    with no idea of what it's all been about
    except in the context of time....'
    Oh, but I shirk it, I've half a mind not to work it all out.
    Is this madness just the recurring wave of total emotion,
    or a hide for the undercover man,
    or a litany - all the signs are there of fervent devotion -
    or the cracking of the dam?
    It's cracked; smashed and bursting over you,
    there was no reason to expect such disaster.
    Now, panicking, you burst for air,
    drowning, you know you care
    for nothing and no-one but yourself
    and would deny even this hand 
    which stretches out towards you to help.
    But would I leave you in this moment of your trial?
    Is it my fault that I'm here to see you crying?
    These phantom figures all around you should have told you,
    you should have found out by now,
    if you hadn't gone and tried to do it all by yourself.
    Even now we are not lost: 
    if you look out at the night
    you'll see the colours and the lights 
    seem to say people are not far away, 
    at least in distance,
    and it's only our own dumb resistance
    that's making us stay.
    When the madness comes 
    let it flood on down and over me sweetly,
    let it drown the parts of me weak and blessed and damned,
    let it slake my life, let it take my soul and living completely,
    let it be who I am.
    There may not be time for us all to run in tandem together -
    the horizon calls with its parallel lines.
    It may not be right for you to have and hold in one way forever
    and yet you still have time,
    you still have time.

    Scorched Earth

    Just one crazy moment while the dice are cast,
    he looks into the future and remembers what is past,
    wonders what he's doing on this battlefield,
    shrugs to his shadow, impatient, too proud yet to kneel.
    In his wake he leaves scorched earth and work in vain;
    smoke drifts up behind him - he is free again,
    free to run before the onslaught of a deadly foe,
    leaving nothing fit for pillage, hardly leaving home.
    It's far too late to turn, unless it's to stone.
    Charging madly forward, tracks across the snow;
    wind screams madness to him, ever on he goes,
    leaving spoor to mark his passage, trace his weary climb.
    Cross the moor and make the headland -
    stumbling, wayward, blind.
    In the end his footprints extend as one single line.
    This latest exponent of heresy is goaded into an attack,
    persuaded to charge at his enemy.
    Too late, he knows it is,
     too late now to turn back, too soon by far to falter.
    The past sits uneasily at his rear,
    he's walking right into the trap,
    surrounded, but striving through will and fear.
    Ahead of him he knows there waits an ambuscade
    but the dice slip through his fingers
    and he's living from day to day,
    carrying his world around upon his back,
    leaving nothing behind but the tell-tale of his track.
    He will not be hostage, he will not be slave,
    no snare of past can trap him, though the future may.
    Still he runs and burns behind him in advanced retreat;
    still his life remains unfettered - he denies defeat.
    It's far too late to turn, unless it's to stone.
    Leave the past to burn - at least that's been his own.
    Scorched earth, that's all that's left when he's done;
    holding nothing but beholden to no-one,
    claiming nothing, out of no false pride, he survives.
    Snow tracks are all that's left to be seen
    of a man who entered the course of a dream,
    claiming nothing but the life he's known
    - this, at least, has been his own.


    Stub towers in the distance,
    riders cross the blasted moor
    against the horizon.
    Fickle promises of treaty, 
    fatal harbingers of war, futile orisons
    swirl as one in this flight, this mad chase,
    this surge across the marshy mud landscape
    until the meaning is forgotten.
    Hood masks the eager face, skin stretched and sallow,
    headlong into the chilling night, as swift as any arrow.
    Feet against the flagstones, 
    fingers scrabbling at the lock,
    craving protection.
    'Sanctuary!' croaks a voice, 
    half-strangled by the shock of its rejection.
    Shot the bolt in the wall, rusted the key;
    now the echoes of all frightful memory
    intrude in the silence.
    What a crawl against the slope - dark loom the gallows.
    One touch to the chapel door, how swiftly comes the arrow.
    "Compassion" you plead, 
    as though they kept it in a box -
    that's long since been empty.
    I'd like to help you somehow, 
    but I'm in the self-same spot:
    my condition exempts me.
    We are all on the run, on our knees;
    the sundial draws a line upon eternity
    across every number.
    How long the time seems, how dark the shadow,
    how straight the eagle flies, how straight towards his arrow.
    How long the night is - why is this passage so narrow?
    How strange my body feels, impaled upon the arrow.

    The Sleepwalkers

    At night, this mindless army, ranks unbroken by dissent,
    is moved into action and their pace does not relent.
    In step, with great precision, these dancers of the night
    advance against the darkness - how implacable their might!
    Eyes undulled by moon, their arms and legs akimbo,
    they walk and live, hoping soon to surface from this limbo.
    Their minds, anticipating the dawn of the day,
    shall never know what's waiting mere insight away
    - too far, too soon.
    Senses dimmed in semi-sentience, only wheeling through this plane,
    only seeing fragmented images, prematurely curtailed by the brain,
    but breathing, living, knowing in some measure at least
    the soul which roots the matter of both Beauty and the Beast.
    From what tooth or claw does murder spring,
    from what flesh and blood does passion?
    Both cut through the air with the pendulum's swing
    in deadly but delicate fashion.
    And every range of feeling is there in the dream
    and every logic's reeling in the force of the scream;
    the senses sting.
    And though I may be dreaming and reality stalls
    I only know the meaning of sight and that's all
    and that's nothing.
    The columns of the night advance,
    infectiously, their cryptic dance
    gathers converts to the fold -
    in time the whole raw world will pace these same steps
    on into the same bitter end.
    Somnolent muster - now the dancing dead
    forsake the shelter of their secure beds,
    awaken to a slumber whose depths they dread,
    as if the ground they tread would give way
    beneath the solemn weight of their conception.
    I'd search the hidden corners of all this world,
    make reason of the sensory whorl
    if I only had time,
    but soon the dream is ended.
    Tonight, before you lay down to the sweetness of your sleep
    do you question your surrender to the drop from Lover's Leap
    or does the anaesthetic darkness take hold on its very own?
    Does your body rise in service with not one dissenting groan?
    These waking dreams of life and death
    in the mirror are twisted and buckled;
    lashes flicker, a catch of breath,
    skin whitening at the knuckles.
    The army of sleepwalkers shake their limbs and are loose
    and though I am a talker, I can phrase no excuse
    not to rise again.
    In the chorus of the night-time I belong
    and I, like you, must dance to that moonlight song
    and in the end I, too, must pay the cost of this life.
    If all is lost none is known
    and how could we lose what we've never owned?
    Oh, I'd search out every knowledge that I could find,
    unravel all the mysteries of mind,
    if I only had time,
    if I only had time,
    but soon my time is ended.

Russian Peter Hammill / Van der Graaf Generator Page
Sergey Petrushanko hammillru@mail.ru, 1998-2024