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24 February, 2009

The following lyrics are completely magical. There are a few idea’s as to the interpretation, but I’m not much on attempting to interpret beautiful verse. I find it totally pointless, in fact. However, it seems apparent to me that the entire album is a mémoire poétique ad astra (which is my fancy way of saying a “poetic note about the stars”). Usala (Ursula) is from the latin Ursa (Ursae Majoris) meaning “The Great Bear”. Ursa Major contains the seven bright stars which form the asterism The Big Dipper. This along with the song “Emily” by Joanna Newsom I sing to my daughter when putting her to sleep. … From the album “Y’s”.

Joanna Newsom

Joanna Newsom

Monkey & Bear
(by Joanna Newsom)

Down in the green hay
Where monkey and bear usually lay
They awoke from a stable-boy’s cry

He said; someone come quick!
The horses got loose, got grass-sick!
They’ll founder! Fain, they’ll die

What is now known by the sorrel and the roan?
By the chestnut, and the bay, and the gelding grey?

It is: stay by the gate you are given
And remain in your place, for your season
And had the overfed dead but listened
To that high-fence, horse-sense, wisdom…

Did you hear that, Bear? Said monkey
We’ll get out of here, fair and square
They’ve left the gate open wide!

My bride
Here is my hand, where is your paw?
Try and understand my plan, Ursala
My heart is a furnace
Full of love that’s just, and earnest
Now; you know that we must unlearn this
Allegiance to a life of service
And no longer answer to that heartless
Hay-monger, nor be his accomplice
(that charlatan, with artless hustling!)
But; Ursala, we’ve got to eat something
And earn our keep, while still within
The borders of the land that man has girded
(all double-bolted and tight-fisted!)
Until we reach the open country
A-steeped in milk and honey

Will you keep your fancy clothes on, for me?
Can you bear a little longer to wear that leash?
My love, I swear by the air I breathe:
Sooner or later, you’ll bare your teeth

But for now, just dance, darling
C’mon, will you dance, my darling?
Darling, there’s a place for us
Can we go, before I turn to dust?
Oh my darling, there’s a place for us
Oh darling
C’mon will you dance, my darling?
Oh, the hills are groaning with excess
Like a table ceaselessly being set
Oh my darling, we will get there yet

Ursae Majoris

Ursae Majoris

They trooped past the guards,
Past the coops, and the fields, and the farmyards
All night, till finally:

The space they gained grew
Much farther than the stone that bear threw
To mark where they’d stop for tea

But walk a little faster
And don’t look backwards
Your feast is to the East, which lies a little past the pasture

When the blackbirds hear tea whistling, they rise and clap
And their applause caws the kettle black
And we can’t have none of that!

Move along, Bear; there, there; that’s that
Though cast in plaster
Our Ursala’s heart beat faster
Than monkey’s ever will

But still;
They have got to pay the bills
Hadn’t they?
That is what the monkey’d say

So, with the courage of a clown, or a cur
Or a kite, jerking tight at its tether
In her dun-brown gown of fur
And her jerkin’ of swansdown and leather

Bear would sway on her hind legs;
The organ would grind dregs of song, for the pleasure
Of the children, who’d shriek
Throwing coins at her feet
Then recoiling in terror

Sing, dance, darling
C’mon, will you dance, my darling?
Oh darling, there’s a place for us
Can we go, before I turn to dust?
Oh my darling, there’s a place for us

Oh darling
C’mon, will you dance, my darling?
You keep your eyes fixed on the highest hill
Where you’ll ever-after eat your fill
Oh my darling, dear, mine
If you dance
Dance, darling, and I love you still

Deep in the night
Shone a weak and miserly light
Where the monkey shouldered his lamp

Someone had told him
The bear had been wandering
A fair piece away from where they were camped

Someone had told him
The bear’d been sneaking away
To the seaside caverns, to bathe

And the thought troubled the monkey
For he was afraid of spelunking down in those caves

Also afraid what the village people would say
If they saw the bear in that state;

Lolling and splashing obscenely
Well, it seemed irrational, really; washing that face

Washing that matted and flea-bit pelt
In some sea-spit-shine, old kelp dripping with brine

But monkey just laughed, and he muttered;
When she comes back, Ursala will be bursting with pride
Till I jump up!
Saying: you’ve been rolling in muck!
Saying: you smell of garbage and grime!

But far out
Far out
By now
By now
Far out, by now, Bear ploughed
‘Cause she would not drown:

First the outside-legs of the bear
Up and fell down, in the water, like knobby garters

Then the outside-arms of the bear
Fell off, as easy as if sloughed from boiled tomatoes

Low’red in a genteel curtsy
Bear shed the mantle of her diluvian shoulders;

And, with a sigh,
She allowed the burden of belly to drop like an apron full of boulders

If you could hold up her threadbare
Coat to the light where it’s worn translucent in places

You’d see spots where
Almost every night of the year Bear had been mending suspending that baseness

Now her coat drags through the water
Bagging, with a life’s-worth of hunger, limitless minnows;

In the magnetic embrace
Balletic and glacial of Bear’s insatiable shadow;

Left there!
Left there!
When Bear left Bear
Left there!
Left there!
When Bear stepped clear of Bear

Sooner or later you’ll bury your teeth

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