Final Beachcombings from the Halling Valley River Part One

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Final pieces from "Where the Halling Valley River Lies".

Submitted: June 04, 2011

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Submitted: June 04, 2011



1. Bouzingo – The Gathering of the Poets
The boy was aged about eighteen,
Pale and pensive,
Weary and frail in appearance.
He could have been
Goethe’s Werther,
Senancour's Obermann
Or Chateaubriand's melancholy hero,
Embraced by a generation
And about whom Sainte Beuve said:
" René, c'est moi.”
Tortured by a new mal du siècle,
He sought refuge
In the Club Bouzingo.
Two young poets,
One dark, the other fair,
Drifted past. The first,
Whose black hair
Hung in ringlets over his shoulders,
Wore a small pointed beard,
Black velvet tails,
A white linen shirt
Loosely fastened at the neck
By a thin pink taffeta tie;
The second wore a tight coat
That opened onto a silk crimson waistcoat
And a lace jabot, white trousers
With blue seams,
And a wide-brimmed black hat, and
In one of his hands
He carried a long thin pink-coloured pipe.
They were soon joined
By some of their dandified companions.
The music had stopped playing, and
The poet-leader in cape and gloves,
Dark and pomaded
With a Théophile Gautier moustache,
Took to the stage,
Where he proceeded to declaim
Selections from his subversive verses
To delirious cheers,
As if sedition was imminent;
Only the boy-poet remained silent,
His pale cheeks
Soak’d by the freshest tears.
“Après nous le déluge,”
He said under his breath,
“Our leader preaches revolution
But provides no solution
As to the fate of coming generations,
Should the infant be cast out
With the bath water that is so filthy
In his sight
That, intent on doing right,
Gives no thought to the future,
Nor to what might supplant
The society he claims to despise.”
The boy was aged about eighteen
Pale and pensive
Weary and frail in appearance.
He could have been
Goethe’s Werther,
Senancour's Obermann
Or Chateaubriand's melancholy hero,
Embraced by a generation,
And about whom Sainte Beuve said:
"René, c'est moi.”
Tortured by a new mal du siècle,
He sought refuge
From the Club Bouzingo.
2. Oh My My My (Call the FBI)
Couldn’t b’lieve my peepers
When I first saw you
Couldn’t b’lieve the beauty
Of your baby blues
I knew I had to ask you if you’d
Like to dance
I knew I had to take heart and to
Take that chance
First you resisted me you said
You couldn’t leave
Your friends alone
But after our first dance you said
You thought they would be
Ok to find their own way home
Oh my my my
Call the FBI
I think I lost my pride
I think I found my bride
Couldn’t b’lieve I’d ever
Find a girl like you
Couldn’t b’lieve we’d bond
As if by superglue
I knew I had such tender feelings
In my heart
I knew that I could fix it so we’d
Never part
First you resisted me you said
You weren’t ready
To fall in love
But after our first dance you said
You thought you’d give
This crazy swain another chance
Oh my my my
Call the FBI
I think I lost my pride
I think I found my bride
3. Some Romantic Afternoon
Some Romantic Afternoon
I will hear that haunting tune
The one that I would softly croon
By a lagoon
We’d go sailing to Cadiz
For a while it seemed like bliss
Now it alls seems just a myth
Like Brigadoon
Took a boat to southern Spain
Just to see her face again
She had gone forever
Not to return there
I could not control the tears
How they burned my eyes
As I look’d back at those lost years
Some Romantic Afternoon
I will hear that haunting tune
The one that I would softly croon
By a lagoon
4. For More than a Million (Dreams)
Keep on chipping
Right away at my heart
Because you touched it
Right from the start
If you were to leave me
And then
We were to part
It would really tear me apart
Don’t stop now,
Darling you’re getting to me
Don’t quit now
That you’re ahead
Don’t stop now
You’ve made an impression on me
Now there’s no getting you out of my head.
Keep on tearing
All my defences down
Because I feel that
They’re all going to fall
Keep on keeping up with
All of your charms
Because I feel
I’m going to give you my all
Don’t stop now,
You lit such a fire in me
Don’t quit now
Because that would be cruel
Don’t stop now
Darling, don’t tire of me
I’d feel such a fool and so confused
You’re the one
I have longed for you
For more than a million dreams
You’re the one
I have been strong for you
You don’t know how hard it’s been
Don’t stop now,
Darling you’re getting to me
Don’t quit now
That you’re ahead
Don’t stop now
5. Melancholy Girl
Melancholy Girl,
With your pre-Raphaelite curls
You don't seem quite of this world
Such a strange and a sad-eyed girl

What happened to your smile
How came you to be so full of guile
Your eyes seem to stare for miles
For such a sweet and a tender child

There's someone you've got to meet
The truth can set you free
Enigmatic babe
The way you live is a shame
Life is more than a game
Freedom's found in just one name

I'd like to show you another way
Where the dark can't harm you
Night or day

Melancholy Girl,
With your pre-Raphaelite curls
You don't seem quite of this world
Such a strange and a sad-eyed girl
6. My Travels
My travels start
Right here
Deep in my mind
My travels take me just where
I please I don’t have
To leave my warm room
My travels start
Sixteen sun
Beating down
Sinatra’s crooning Jobim
And I’m just dreaming of my
Great romance to come
I don’t need a little ticket
Tells me I can take the train
I don’t even to risk it
There’s no blistering sun
Or driving rain
And it’s here that I remain
My travels end
With a sweet
And peaceful time
I’ve found such sense deep within
No more will I feel
The need to go travelling again.
7. Some Sun Drunk Day He Said

Emotions war against sense
And his mind remains
A pot pourri
And thoughts in his head
When he lies in his bed
Would make Dorian Gray
Appear pristine
He wishes to moralize
On a corrupt example
Yet from the wicked cup
He hath supped a sample.

He appears to think in extremes
He is beau-laid and realist
Whose inspiration stems from his dreams.
“Life is a beautiful strain for me”,
One sun-drunk day he said
But I pray I say what my soul needs to
Before the heavens decide me dead.
But his mind is a disorderly drawer
Full of confused categorizations
He has that Scott Fitzgerald illness
For dates, times, rhymes and quotations.
“I have a clear flowing mind
but I cannot foretell
When the clogging black clouds will arrive
For they will arrive
Live with the love, then bear the pain
Recurrent like the monsoon rain.

He is afraid of happiness
For the inevitable despair that must follow it
Afraid of happiness
For its cruel impermanence
Like Zola, the seasons in life, for him
Are inevitable.
“All artists,” he says, “are at once alike and unique
One day, it’s clear,
The next, hazy, like a beery vision
The fulfilment that they seek.
Misty dreams of sweet-smelling roses
And swaying streams
Bring him chills and pains in his soul and being.
He lives his life through a melancholy tragedy
And has an ever-yearning mind.
8. Gallant Festivities
It was my evening, that’s
For sure
“It’s your aura…”
For sure -
At last I’m good
At something
“Spot the Equity card…”
“When are you going
To be a superstar?”
Said Sara
That seemed to be
The question
On everyone’s lips.
At last, at last, at last
I’m good at something…

And so the party…Zoe
called me...I listened…
…To her problems…
To my “innocent face”…
Linda said:
“Sally seems Elusive
But is in fact,
You’re the opposite -
You give to everyone
But are incapable
Of giving in particular.”
Madeleine was comparing me
To June Miller…
Descriptions by Nin:
“She does not dare
To be herself…”
Everything I’d always
Wanted to be, I now am…
“…She lives
On the reflections
Of herself in the eyes
Of others...
There is no June
To grasp and know…”
I kept getting up to dance…
Sally said: “I’m afraid…
You’re inscrutable
You’re not just
Are you?”
I spoke
Of the spells of calm
And the hysterical
Psychic Exhaustion
Then anxious elation…
9. The Wanderer of Golders Green
I awake each morning
With fresh hope
And tranquility
I might go for a saunter
Down quiet London backstreets
Soon my aimlessness
Depresses me,
And I realise
I'd been deceiving myself
As to my ability
To relax as others do.
I decided on a Special B
Before the eve.
I bought a lager
At the Bar
And chatted to Gaye.
Then Ray
Bought me another.
I appreciated the fact
That he remembered
The time he,
His gal Chris,
And Rory Downed
An entire Bottle
Of Jack Daniels
In a Paris-bound train.

A tanned cat
Bought me a (large) half,
Then another half.
My fatal eyes
Are my downfall.
I drank yet another half...
My head was spinning
When it hit the pillow
I awoke
With a terrible headache
Around one o'clock.
I prayed it would depart.
I slowly got dressed.
I was as chatty as ever
Before the exam...
French/English translation.
Periodically I put my face
In my hands or groaned
Or sighed -
My stomach
was burning me inside.

I finished my paper
In 1 hour and a half.
As I walked out
I caught various eyes
Amanda’s, Trudy’s (quizzical) etc…
I went to bed…
Slept ‘till five…
Read O’Neill until 7ish...
Got dressed
And strolled down
To Golders Green,
In order to relive
A few memories.
I sang to myself -
A few memories
Flashed into my mind,
But not as many
as I'd have liked -
It wasn't the same.
It wasn't the same.

Singing songs brought
Voluptuous tears.
I snuck into McDonalds
Where I felt At home,
Anonymous, alone.
I bought a few things,
Toothpaste and pick,
Chocolate, yoghurts,
Sweets, cigarettes
And fruit juice.
Took a sentimental journey
Back to Powis Gardens,
And intensity,
And attractive…
Sad, suspicious and strange.
I sat up until 3am,
Reading O’Neill
Or writing (inept) poetry.
Awoke at 10,
But didn’t leave
My room till 12,
Lost my way
To Swiss Cottage,
Lost my happiness.
Oh so conscious
Of my failure
And after a fashion,
Enjoying this knowledge.
9. Final Beachcombings from the Halling Valley River
The following explanation of how “Where the Halling Valley River Lies” came to be written is going to be a lengthy and labyrinthine descent, and for one reason or another, you may be loath to undertake it. For example, you may seek to keep its mystique intact. On the other hand, you may not be remotely interested in how it came to be written, or anything else about it for that matter. In which case, I strongly urge you stop reading now.
Final Beachcombings from the Halling Valley River
We begin with the leading text from Book One, “Leitmotifs from an English Pastorale”.
For its nucleus came about some years ago when I attempted to write a piece about the pastoral tradition within English music, before realising I’d set myself a monumental task. But I rambled on regardless, only to lose what I’d written so far when my computer crashed beyond all hope of repair.
Having failed to make any kind of back-up copy, I think I then attempted a re-write featuring the singer-songwriter Nick Drake, with a few references to English pastoral pieces such as the much-loved “A Lark Ascending” by Vaughan Williams.
Ultimately it was given the title “From an English Pastorale – For Nick Drake”, but it was only intended as a makeweight. That is, until I decided to expand on it, and what you have just read – or not as the case may be – was the result.
It effectively wrote itself, and I can’t even recall why I decided to include the leitmotifs which are one of its features. Leitmotifs or recurring themes being of course originally used in music rather than in writing, although ultimately co-opted by literature. It’s a fairly “lawless” affair, which is what the French writer André Gide proposed a novel should be, although of course it’s not a novel, and Gide’s shorter works were far from lawless.
It’s based on fact, and predictably so for anyone who’s in any way familiar with what I optimistically like to call my writings. And as such, it’s partly original, and partly based on an increasingly complex network of autobiographical works I’ve been concocting since 2006, when I started writing seriously for the first time. Which is to say, with the intention of preserving them.
But it’s not a memoir as such, at least, not as I see it, but then in the end, it’s not up to me to say what it is. In fact when all’s said and done, I haven’t the first idea what it is other than something I wrote. But by naming the central figure Runacles, I’m able to distance myself a little from him, so that Runacles is a version of me as opposed to the completed article.
And so we move on to the quartet of essays that complete Book One, “A Quartet of Essays and a Stray Pastorale”.
The first of these, “The Coming of the Absaloms” was fashioned from an early section of “The Gambolling Baby Boomer”, first chapter of my memoir “Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child”. Or rather memoirs, for it exists in two versions, one a direct memoir, the other, similarly direct, but with many names changed.
And while it’s since been considerably enhanced, the similarities yet very much remain. While the second was derived from another chapter from “Rescue”, “The Triumph of Decadence”.
As to the third, it was based on a chapter from the original version of “Travails of a Contemporary Creator” called “The Riddle of the British English”, which while still available online has to all intents and purposes been shelved.
While the source of the fifth, “From Avant Garde to Global Village”, was “A Final Distant Clarion Cry”, final chapter of the aforesaid “Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child”, more of which later.
Which brings us to Book Two, “Your Lethal Life and Other Versified Leftovers” which as the name suggests consists exclusively of versified writings. And these begin with “It Wasn’t So Long Ago”, a lyric written in 2003 for a song I roughly recorded onto cassette, before being transferred onto CD. And thence onto You Tube, together with “Toilers of the Sea”, “A Song of Summer”, “Stevie B and Me”, “The Ones We Love”, “Like All the Moonstruck Do”, “I Let You Go” and “Time Was I Was”. While “Time Travel” was written and recorded in ’99; with “All Through the Ages” emerging perhaps a year later, while never making it onto CD.
As to “Your Beautiful Lethal Life”, it was written only a matter of weeks ago from an earlier lyric I’d based on a collaboration with my close friend Mark, dating from about twenty years ago.
“Wicked Cahoots” and “The Woodville Hall Soul Boys” are both based on stories written in the late 1970s, and first saw the light of day in versified form in 2006, before going on to form part of the memoir which came ultimately to be titled “Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child”.
While “Thoughts of a Forlorn Flâneur” is based partly on a story written in about 1987, and subsequently destroyed, and partly on material written specifically for what became “Rescue”. And in its present form, is relatively new.
“Spark of Youth Long Gone”, “Some Perverse Will” and “London as the Lieu” all also date from the ‘80s. Indeed “London” first existed in prose form as part of the same story that inspired parts of “Flâneur”; while “Spark” pertained to a different tale entirely, and “Some Perverse Will” existed in versified form from the outset. Although it’s since undergone some modification, like so much of what has ended up being included in “Where the Halling Valley River Lies”. In fact, it’s hard to keep track of the constant mutations.
But let’s now move on from “Your Lethal Life” to Book Three, “Seven Chapter from a Sad Sack Loser’s Life” in all its convoluted complexity. So where do its origins lie?
Well, originally in the memoir, “Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child” which still exists as its kernel, with endless layers having been subsequently added to it. For out of “Rescue” came two kindred pieces, “The Tormenting of David Cristiansen”, which was “Rescue” told in the third person with all names changed, verse removed, and dialogue added. And “The Testimony of David Cristiansen”, which was like “Tormenting”, only even more bowlderised, if that were at all possible. For “Rescue” was itself a highly sweetened version of actual events.

© Copyright 2019 Carl Halling. All rights reserved.

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