RAMBLING FREE VERSES INSPIRED BY THE FILM THE GLASS MOUNTAIN
| THE GLASS MOUNTAIN MELODY
I feel inspired to write a song, inspired to write a melody
Inspired by a film I've just seen again
That I first saw long ago,
I saw it when I was only young,
I could not remember the story,
But I loved the tune,
And sometimes it would come to me,
And I would sing it as I walked,
And hum it in my head.
I never knew the words,
I knew the melody.
I knew it woke my heart,
I could say it disturbed my soul,
And made me want to wander,
And made me want to go,
To leave the room, to leave the stage,
To see if I could find a place
Where I could find her,
The woman that I saw,
As I watched the film alone
Her face was even foreign to the film.
The actress smiled.
I did not know her name,
But she was the woman I could find,
If I sought for her in Switzerland
Or high in Austria or far in Italy.
Like the young English composer
Writing his wild opera hymn
On his piano, in the film,
I was on the search for her,
The woman who could be found,
But only in a strange place,
And by a chance that was rare,
And in a land beyond.
So it was in 'The Glass Mountain',
As the film was called.
It was first released in 1949,
It was famous as an English film,
For its love story and its tune.
It spoke of a love that could be found,
But not kept on planet Earth.
It would always be beyond,
It would always find a way to stray.
Richard Wilder, the composer,
Had a wife called Anne.
She had dark hair
And she was beautiful.
She lay back upon her pillow,
Stretched out in peace upon her bed,
But it was him who turned around,
Paced the floor in his dressing gown,
Lost inside his piano tune,
His own Glass Mountain melody.
He wandered round the room,
He wondered who he loved.
He knew that he loved Anne,
But there was Alida.
She saved his life in the war.
He had bailed out from his aeroplane,
As it was about to crash.
He fell with his parachute.
She came skiing down the slopes,
Rescued him from a sleep in snow,
High in the Dolomites, the alps of Italy.
He woke up in a wooden hut.
She led him to a holy shrine.
The Glass Mountain, she showed to him,
Stood alone, far off, away from them.
Of its legend of two lovers,
Maria and Antonio,
She told him in a quiet tone.
Maria, the village girl,
Antonio, the mountaineer.
Later, it inspired him
To write his opera.
Peace at last, war came to an end.
To England, he had to return.
Almost it made him want to cry.
It made him want to go.
He looked at Alida,
And wanted her to stay.
He wanted her to climb with him,
To reach the Glass Mountain peak,
To see its glacier glint.
It stood in the true land,
Against the holy sky.
And for those with eyes to see,
Heaven it revealed.
Which is why it disturbed his soul,
Made him feel the pain to be young,
And to be so alive.
But where can we be free?
He called to her, unceasingly.
Thought by chance, they might meet again,
But feared that they could never love,
As they did at the Glass Mountain foot.
Was a step they could have taken,
It was a climb they could have made,
It was a kiss they could have shared.
It happened, long ago,
But it was only in a film.
He could not find the words,
He only found the melody.
He asked a poet, Bruce McLeod
To write the words for him.
Maria sang them on the stage
From the high Glass Mountain slopes,
Down to Antonio.
Richard Wilder, the composer,
Grew furious with his tune,
His Glass Mountain melody.
Knew he was on the search for her,
The woman to make him a man,
That he was now old enough to find,
Brave enough to seek,
Free in his genius,
Troubled by a face he saw.
She came from Italy.
She came skiing down the slopes.
She stopped and smiled at him.
He wanted her to stay.
Home in the English countryside,
He confessed to his wife, Anne,
He had met someone
When he was faraway.
By chance, he saw her photograph
In Illustrated Magazine.
He left it lying there.
"Is that the woman that you met?
Is that her in the magazine?
What do you want to do?"
Asked his wife, Anne, sat on the bed,
Her face pale, turned away from him.
"She saved my life," was all he said.
He did not know what he should do.
Wanted to go away.
Could not forget his tune,
His own Glass Mountain melody.
His opera he must complete.
Wanted to stay with Anne,
Thought to her, he would return.
He knew he was confused,
Was more than torn in two.
Knew he had broken through to live,
Knew that now he could really give.
Could give it as a gift,
The love that he had found,
Mould it into his opera.
And so, to complete the final score,
He flew away from Anne,
To Alida in her village,
High in the Dolomites.
Took his opera to Venice,
And she was glad to go with him,
To see its gondolas, stone bridges
Over long canals,
And its Saint Maria Church.
The opera was loved
When first performed on stage.
The audience rose to their feet,
Smiled, as they clapped and cheered.
Bad news came to spoil his triumph.
Left his opera on the stage,
And flew into the wilderness,
To be with his wife, Anne.
She had crashed in her aeroplane
On her flight to Venice
To see his opera.
Her pilot, Charles, had lost control,
Among the clouds, when he changed course,
His plan to cross Dolomite Spur,
So she could see the Glass Mountain.
He then had to steer his old kite,
As he called his light aeroplane,
Down to land in the dark,
Through drifting sheets of snow,
Near the Glass Mountain roots.
And so her husband found her there.
There she lay on a sleigh
For a stretcher, in the snow,
By straps and blankets bound,
And he knelt down to her,
As she smiled up at him.
"It's so good to see you," she said.
"Tell me about the opera, make me see it."
"Not now," he said," not now."
"I meant to be there," she said.
"You were. You are always there," he said.
"Don't go too far away from me again, will you?"
She asked him, with a smile.
Then the reins were shaken,
Sleigh bells began to ring.
The film came to an end.
The story had to stop.
The music had to cease.
Suppose it had to end,
Wanted it to go on.
I wanted them to stay.
It was so English,
And yet it spoke of faraway.
It made me want to go,
To pack my bags with things,
Telephone for tickets,
Ask when the planes are due.
How early can I go?
What is the time that I can leave?
First I would like to go across
To Switzerland, over to Austria,
And then to Italy.
Yes, I could go tonight,
Be at the airport soon.
I will sit in my seat,
Another stranger on the plane,
Look out of my window,
Down upon the ocean,
Lamp lit cities, far below.
At last, to see the mountain peaks,
The alps of Switzerland,
The alps of Austria,
But it would not be there
That I would want to land,
Though there was my destination.
I know I'd want to journey on,
Try to find my true land,
Where the Glass Mountain stands and shines.
I know you would be waiting there,
So shall I pack my case,
And buy tickets for planes and trains,
And decide now to go away?
But what would I find there?
In one place, I would not stay long,
Would only rent a room.
Would say I was there for awhile.
Had come to write a song,
To write a melody,
Put down the words to find my soul.
And if I were to look
In a far and foreign room,
Would she at last be there for me?
And would she turn to me?
Be at her ease and would she smile,
And stop to stay to say hello?
Wherever would we meet?
Not in this murky land.
Somewhere beyond it all,
Where someone could hear my call.
I am try to put it down,
What 'The Glass Mountain' meant to me.
I saw it long ago
When I was only young.
It means more to me now,
Now I know who I am.
Shall we go and see the film?
We'll buy some sweets and we'll hold hands,
And later, you may say,
"Was'nt she lovely in the film?
I've not seen her before,
She's not a star from Hollywood.
But wasn't that a lovely tune?
I sing it and I hum it now,
As we go walking down the road.
It makes you want to go,
It makes you want to go away,
Not just for a holiday,
But to journey on,
With no certain place to stay.
It told me I was young.
It told me love was everything.
It told me we had defeated war.
It was like something you once knew,
Something you first heard long ago,
And yet it was new."
I rally round, I journey on.
I walk the streets, lit with silver lamps.
I look around at what's outside.
There were no houses for a home,
It was all a wilderness,
It was all a battlefield.
It was wild, without a friend.
It was all a broken battlefield.
Miss Katrina Marie Murry.
It was just a name I saw,
On a sign above a door,
The doorway of the Old Bank Inn
In South Road in Waterloo.
It made me turn around,
Made me stop, to stand still.
I looked up at the sign.
It rhymed with the rhythm of my tune,
My own Glass Mountain melody.
It was the name of someone who was saved,
The name of someone I had never known.
I walked on through the streets, alone.
Always there is the moment
To find to turn away,
And always there is there,
But always there is faraway.
The wren on the farthing,
Like the wren on the farthing coin,
My soul sings for England,
The one that was still there,
That was still there for you to find.
Bitter lemon flavoured lemon drops,
Read the words on a small, round tin.
I know it may seem strange
To include the words in my song.
Clipper Tea and Company Limited,
Town Wharf, Lower Square,
Old Isleworth, made in France,
The words read on the tin,
So a poem can begin.
Find poetry in everyday,
In what is ordinary in every way.
That is all I want to say,
Before I turn around,
Before I hear the bugle sound.
"There's tempest in yon horned moon,
And lightning in yon cloud,
But hark, the music, mariners,
The wind is piping loud."
Such was the verse I read,
Clear upon a mural
On a train station platform wall.
The words elated me,
Fitted the rhythm of my tune.
"I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship,
And a star to steer her by."
Such was another verse I read,
Part of the mural on the wall.
You never know your luck,
You never know how it will be,
I say upon my road.
Goodbye to parting pain.
I open up my treasure trove,
I roll a jewel across a floor,
Look down and see a shining pool.
In dreams, I took a plane.
I flew to Austria, across to Germany.
I looked for you in France,
I looked for you in Spain,
Stayed in hotels and in lonely rooms,
Was trying to compose a tune,
I was trying to write a song,
I was trying to put it all into one melody.
I was trying to live enough to cry,
To see if I was born, to see if I could love,
To see if I could wait,
If I could wait until you came,
And I would know your face,
And I would know your name.
Amaretti Virginia Rinomata E Primiata,
Specialitia Amaretti Virginia
Italy Dal 1860.
C Franger 1897.
Traditional croquants, product of Italy.
Slowly, I read the words,
For they were strange, foreign to me,
On the side of a biscuit tin
In a shop window in Wayfarer's Arcade
In a seashore town.
On some paper, I scribbled them,
Not wanting them to be forgot.
There was a photograph,
It looked old and faded,
With a soft, purplish hue,
Of a restaurant in a street
In Sassello in Italy.
Was written on its wall,
And Ristorante Del Hord,
Above its white awning.
Sassello, Piazza, degli,
Such were the words printed
At the foot of the photograph.
In 1860 Sassello
Became the birthplace of
These special biscuits
Won many medals and awards.
So the words on the tin explained.
Amaretti sounded to me
Like a foreign word for farewell,
A strange, remote word for goodbye,
One like sayonora,
The Japanese word for goodbye.
It was the mood that I was in,
That would never return again.
O, Amaretti, Amaretti,
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
O, sayonora, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
Words printed on the biscuit tin
Seemed to be trying to tell me something
In Italian, rhymed with my melody,
They said a true goodbye,
And not just a so long,
Not just a see you soon,
But goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
Only I was there,
Only I was there to see.
I looked up at the sky to say,
I call the cry of holy emergency.
Is there something I will never know,
Something I let go by to let go?
Can only write in words,
And words can only say
The root of how I feel,
To make a song, to make it real.
What mystery does this conceal,
This song that I am writing now?
I do not know, but I am pleased
With what I've written anyhow.
And more, I cannot say.
"There's danger on the Glass Mountain,
And such enchantment there," Alida warned Richard,
And so they never made the climb.
I am still there, while in my song.
Remember once again, the wren,
The wren upon the farthing coin,
The wren still sings for them,
Sings for them of England.
And when I come home to you,
I want to hear you say to me,
We will never have to go,
We will never have to go away.
Don't go too far away from me again.