- 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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Photos of Ghosts

Released on the same day as Still , Peter's work in the PFM album Photos of Ghosts continues and expands the themes found in his solo album.

River of Life

"The Self is the sun shining in the sky,
The wind blowing in space; he is the fire
At the altar and in the home the guest;
He dwells in human beings, in gods, in truth,
And in the vast firmament; he is the fish
Born in water, the plant growing in earth,
The river flowing down the mountain.
For this Self is supreme!"

- Katha Upanishad II.2.2

The first track on the album, River of Life , explores a question asked in Still :

"Still I wonder how it is to be a stream,
From a dark well constant flowing,
Winding seawards over ancient mossy wheels
Yet feel no need of knowing?"

In the pastoral tradition, nature is explored as a means of exploring the self. River of Life is a profound expression of the inner world of Peter Sinfield.

"River of life
Rain was your birth
Gathered deep
Beneath the earth.
Search and seep,
Hollow stone
Issue and flow.
Virgin stream
Meander free
It's a long way to the sea."

"Hollow stone" is reminiscent of Islands "fingers of stone" and suggests that the individual ego (stone) should ideally be an open (hollow) container allowing for the presence/action of Feeling or unconscious content. Phrases such as "gathered deep", "search and seep" and "virgin stream" are suggestive of the High Priestess, "the virgin daughter of the Moon, the eternal feminine".

"The activity of the High Priestess is symbolized by the abyssal water - impenetrably dark, infinitely deep, always mixing, flowing, seeking its own level; by yielding she is as forceful as the mighty river Ocean. Her tears are the healing dew, always striving to restore wholeness when division has gone too far."

- The Pythagorean Tarot by John Opsopaus

So here we get a good idea of the healing nature of Peter's poetry. Verses such as these enabled him to heal the split; to return to the center, the source; to remind himself that . . .

"Rain was your birth"

Due to recent events, the division in Peter's life had "gone too far". Only a "hollow stone" unencumbered by pre-conceived notions (messages from the outside world) can allow the inner voice of the unconscious, the Self, to be his guide. Only a person such as this can, despite apparent setbacks, "meander free". The last line of the verse, "it's a long way to the sea", suggests "it's not over".

"Caves and canyons
Stark prison walls
Swirl and hurl you
From white cascading falls.
Across the plain
Sweep your course
River roll
Follow your star."

The "stark prison walls" of "caves and canyons" again conveys the idea that "stone" (dogma, "the wall on which the prophet wrote") can be a problem. By interfering with the flow of water (the flow of unconcious content), the stone walls of pre-conceived ideas cause him to "swirl and hurl" in the turbulent waters of inner conflict. In this state, he eventually "falls". "White" suggests that, though the "fall" is painful, it is a cleansing process, a sweeping away ("sweep your course") of false notions, a necessary disillusionment. And once he has cascaded over the the falls, the chaos, he finds himself again on level ground, the inevitable leveling-off period following a personal crisis. On "the plain" the view is unobstructed by large objects - as is the flow of water. The river "rolls" smoothly. Unhindered by the "caves and canyons" of custom and belief, he is able to see further, to more clearly plot his "course", to "follow his star", his inner guide.
The connotations of stone in this verse seem to be invariably negative but the message here, as in verse one, is also that "stone" (dogma) serves as a necessary vessel for water, Feeling.

"There's a city
There's a bridge.
Ships and barges
Dark rusty hearts
Feed cranes along your banks."

The tone of verse three suggests a shamanic journey has taken place. The "plain" was an open empty space where he gathered himself after having "gone too far" into the world. Now he is back in the world, the "city" of objects ("ships and barges"). Able to see clearly (without prejudice), he notes their presence without qualification. He seems to be saying "Oh, look at that", as though he were on a sightseeing tour, simply enjoying life as it comes. The "bridge" is not just a way back to the world. The "bridge" is a place where nature and civilization merge. The inanimate creations of man ("ships and barges") are given "hearts" (though "dark" and "rusty") and a place in nature. The ships are living things, that "feed cranes" along the banks of the river. Of course, these are cargo cranes that empty ships of their contents but the important message here is that, within Peter Sinfield, man and nature, inner and outer, conscious and unconscious are, for the moment, one.

"Waste and poison"

A necessary component of this inner acceptance is an acknowledgement of the "waste and poison" of negative thoughts and feelings.

"Cloy where once men drank."

1. To fill or choke up; to stop up; to clog.

The duke's purpose was to have cloyed the harbor by sinking ships, laden with stones. --Speed.

- Dicitionary.com

"After the middle of life . . . permanent loss of the anima means a diminution of vitality, of flexibility, and of human kindness. The result, as a rule, is... resignation, weariness, sloppiness, irresponsibility, and finally a childish ramollissement [softening of personality] with a tendency to alcohol."

- Jung 1954, par. 147

"Forget the pain
From rain to rain
Journey's end
Is surely not far . . . . "

Until the next crisis (rain), he can "forget the pain". Life is a series of journeys and it is hoped that this journey, which has been particularly difficult, will soon be over.

"The moon and sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey and the journey itself is home. From the earliest times there have always been some who perished along the road. Still I have been drawn by windswept clouds into dreams of a lifetime of wandering."

- Basho


" You've spent a long time waiting
For the perfect yesterday,
Now fill your heart with celebration
For that's love's way."

Celebration , suggests the "perfect yesterday" of Under the Sky (a new beginning reaching back to a more innocent time). It would seem that the difficult journey is indeed over.

Still II ~ The Night People return to
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Still II~ Photos of Ghosts

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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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