- chapter index -
pg. 1 - Introduction | pg. 2 - Eight | pg. 3 - Eight | pg. 4 - Eight | pg. 5 - Eight | pg. 6 - Eight
pg. 7 - The Dharma Wheel | pg. 8 - Still | pg. 9 - Envelopes of Yesterday | pg. 10 - A Tumbling Kite
pg. 11 - An Empty Town | pg. 12 - The Piper | pg. 13 - A House of Hopes and Dreams
pg. 14 - The Night People | pg. 15 - River of Life | pg. 16 - Photos of Ghosts
pg. 17 - Promenade the Puzzle

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A Rusty Key | The Ice Man

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Envelopes of Yesterday

Neil Ingram:

…and I led the masquerade…

A masquerade is a ‘masked ball’, where the partygoers hide their identities behind masks.

It is intended to be ‘pretentious’, and creates illusions. This is, I think a characteristic of many of PJS’ lyrics, the creation of emotionally charged illusions. In everyday speech, the word pretentious is derogatory – it implies that a person is trying to create an inflated impression by pretending to be something else.

Jon Green:

I agree but I take this line to be, primarily, another reference to Maya or the illusory nature of life. "Life is a masquerade and we are but the actors", to paraphrase Leon Russell and Shakespeare. Of course, when we put on an act, when we pretend to be something we are not (which is most of the time) we are being pretentious.

Neil Ingram:

Here I think the illusions are a pretense designed to create a special emotional resonance as the ‘right word sits on the right note’. (This is a paraphrase of something that Peter wrote somewhere – but I can’t remember where).

How does Peter construct his lyrical masks? Using:

metaphors and similes to create textures of sound and rhythm (‘see the slinky seal cirkus policemen’). puns and plays on words (‘I’m overhung and highly strung’) oxymorons

Peter uses oxymorons quite a lot and in this sense he resembles Bob Dylan. Remember Dylan’s lyric ‘there’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all’. By bringing together two apparently contradictory clichés he creates a powerful new idea that exposes the paradoxical nature of our educational system.

Jon Green:

You seem to be quite fond of Dylan. Peter once wrote, re: the song In the Court of the Crimson King :

"It may amuse /confuse you to know that I wrote the whole song words and v. dodgy "Dylanesque" tune many months before I became with involved GG&F..."

Neil Ingram:

Often Peter’s album liners and articles (eg Question of Balance) are very revealing. I suspect that Peter writes instinctively without quite knowing what or how he does it.

Jon Green:

I suspect that you are right and what you describe is the essence of intuition. After outlining the various themes of album one, I wonderd how Peter and the group came up with THIS? It seemed to me that it would have taken several committees many months to conceive a work of such staggering depth. Of course, I was not there - so I don't know how it was done, but I suspect that Peter's work is indeed instinctual but also the product of a a very well read mind. It is a distillation of what he knows intrinsically and what he has read. Call it the sufi Heartmind: "A man who has successfully combined the functions of both the head and the heart, thought and feeling, inseparably into one new expression of consciousness." "A marvelous coincidence in whom Eros and Logos are one."

Neil Ingram:

In his prose, he uses the same language in revealing ways:

From Stillusion

“throw the runes in a pot…” (magic symbols used as a metaphor for songs)

“…sold kites and lamps” (These are used symbolically by Peter in his lyrics. Peter is big on kites and lamps)

“a conversation between “Me and I”

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‘I feel like a rusty key…’

Peter, holed up in Somerset, hurt, tired, regretful, wounded, angry, bitter and confused. Writing himself out of his depression. (at least so it seems to me – read 'Hanging Fire').

Verse one is a 'Me' and 'I' conversation in his head. The child-like visionary – seer of cloudy castles, hurtfully railing at the professional writer (at five o clock you could never get the printer’s stain away). The visionary ‘me’ telling the professional ‘I’ ‘ you stole my cloudy castles (metaphor) and didn’t say what for. The resolution of the verse is to walk away from the past with its successes and failures (I count you lost – your words I’ve tossed in the weary envelopes of yesterday). This is a deeply personal statement.

Jon Green:

What you are saying seems to relate to the aural version of this song (the written lyrics are different) where Peter sings . . .

"Still I've explored a plague of dreams"

He could be saying here "These were my dreams. I took them on. I am responsible for whatever hurt comes out of them." I also can't help but compare this line to Peter Hamill's A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers (from the Van Der Graff Generator album Pawn Hearts ) Too many lighthouse keepers. Too many dreams. Too many dreams can become a plague, a curse.

However, several of the lines in verse one seem to be directed at Robert Fripp. It could be argued that Robert Fripp stole Peter's "cloudy castles but didn't say what for" and Robert Fripp said Peter . . .

"didn't have the eyes to paint out in the street
Without a standard martyr's hat and neon sloganned feet."

"On New Year's Day 1972, the New Musical Express reported that Sinfield had left King Crimson, and a week later Fripp explained his view on the matter: "I suppose that the thing to say is that I felt the creative relationship between us had finished. I'd ceased to believe in Pete ... It got to the point where I didn't feel that by working together we'd improve on anything we'd already done."

- - Robert Fripp - From King Crimson to Crafty Master
by Eric Tamm

"To eat, it seems, I needed you for crumbs your need was me."

A self-deprecating remark ("it seems"). Music can stand alone without lyrics and lyrics are not even lyrics(!) unless they are set to music. However, music without substantive lyrics can be quite pointless (see Giles, Giles and Fripp).

"We cheered and passed the sanguine flask"

"Sanguine" means "cheerfully optimistic". It is also another word for "crimson". They drank with optimism from the same crimson cup...

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"till the ice man made me see"

Though it was Robert Fripp who "made him see" that they could no longer work together . . .

"It was just that he terrified me because he had such very strong ideas and views. He was quite a cold, detached person, but always smiling... not laughing, but always smiling. He somehow frightened me."

- Judy Dyble on Bob Fripp & leaving King Crimson

. . . the "ice man" also signifies the coming of a cold dark season in one's life, disillusionment and the death of dreams.

"These pipe dreams are the subject of the Eugene O'Neill play, The Iceman Cometh . If you were to ask why the inmates of Harry’s bar don’t shoot themselves, the answer is that each of them is fooling himself with the comforting illusion about his past and future. There are two scarred relics of the Boer War who dream of going back to England and Africa respectively. An ex-policeman, discharged for graft, dreams of returning to the “force.” One character is actually nicknamed Jimmy Tomorrow. The landlord is called Harry Hope. His hope is to return to Tammany; but he has not left the Last Harbor for twenty years."

- The Return of Eugene O'Neill
The Atlantic Monthly
November 1946

" The Iceman Cometh is ...dependent ...on an intricate interweaving of themes, each motif ...focused on a central melodic configuration in the ensemble of the dreamers' reiterations, which is balanced by the contrapuntal assertions of the trio of betrayers, Larry, Don Parritt, and Hickey. Hickey's great monologue is interrupted at key points by Parritt's echoing of the same theme of the betrayal of a woman, the two narratives forming a duet of guilt and loss. The self-deceiving dream of each of the bums is circular, repeated continually as O'Neill develops the theme of the "hopeless hope." The constant recapitulation has a similarity to musical motifs, and the final choric explosion when the dreamers commence to dream again is a remarkably expressive, specifically musical achievement."

- The Eugene O'Neill Songbook -
Afterword: The Play as Symphony

"At five o'clock you could never wash your printer's stain
So I count you lost and your words I've tossed
In the bleary envelopes of yesterday."

Many reviewers accused Peter Sinfield of being pretentious. It was the journalists of the music business who "could never wash away their printer's stain away".

Yet we now know that Peter really did have something very big and important to tell us. "Peter Sinfield, the serious artist", as it turns out, was no more (or less) an act than any other appearance on this beautiful sphere.

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Still II~ A Tumbling Kite

Sign the Dreambook Dreambook Read the Dreambook

Chapter One The Metaphysical Record In The Court Of the Crimson King In The Wake Of Poseidon Lizard The King In Yellow The Sun King Eight
The Lake Which Mirrors the Sky In the Beginning Was the Word In the Beginning was the Word...side two Eros and Strife Dark Night of the Soul...Cirkus Dark Night of the Soul...Wilderness Big Top Islands
Islands Two Footnotes in the Sand Still Still 2
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