Saturday, April 03, 2004

Poet of the Week: Sarah Harmer

Most poetry these days, of course, comes in the form of music lyrics. One wordsmith I am particularly fond of as of late is the lovely and talented Sarah Harmer. What I love about her lyrics is that they are deceptively simple. It's only with repeated listens that deeper insight and meaning is revealed.

Here's a sample, from Pendulums [real audio from Universal], the first track off her new album All of Our Names, which was released last week:
We are like pendulums
our arms swinging at our sides
and I am a good little clock
walking along power lines

I'm thinking like a swinging door
hinging on these changing thoughts
between the pull up to the shore
and the push off.
So, on first listen, I was all like: "Yeah. We're like pendulums. Cute."

Further consideration on my way to work yesterday, however, set me off on a mini thought-explosion:

"Yes! Time isn't really measured by clocks. It's measured by humans. And if we cease to exist, so does the concept of time. We are clocks. The only clocks. And time is measured in the tick-tock of our daily activities. Of course it sometimes feels as if time is passing by slowly or fast: it is. It moves at different speeds for different people, depending on their moods and how fast the swinging doors in their minds are hinging back and forth, how fast their hearts are beating..."

And then I started thinking about all the pendulums in my body: my pumping heart, my lungs breathing in and out, my teeth chewing gum in my mouth, my arms swinging at my side. My morning cup of coffee is a water clock, dripping towards my stomach and lunchtime. Days aren't set by the rise and set of sun, but by the schedule by which I turn on and off my lights at home. We are clocks. Our arms swing like pendulums, but we are clocks!!! It's not simile, then metaphor. It's simile, then truth. Zammo!

Anyway, basically, Ms. Harmer has set Einstein's Theory of Relativity to music. And described it beautifully, I think.

Post-script

Universal Music's site about Harmer's album doesn't really do it justice. It descibes Pendulums as being about "a wintry walk in the countryside." Yeah... And so is Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

[Actually, if I was looking for a poet to compare Harmer to, it would be Frost.]

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