Monday, February 17, 2014

The Ripe and Ruin

Ripe and Ruin

She only ever walks to count her steps
Eighteen strides and she stops to abide
By the law that she herself has set
That eighteen steps is one complete set

And before the next
Nine right and nine left
She looks up at the blue
And whispers to all of the above

Don't let me drown, don't breath alone
No kicks no pangs no broken bones
Never let me sink, always feel at home
No sticks, no shanks and no stones

Never leave it too late, always enjoy the taste
Of the great gray world of hearts
As all dogs everywhere bark, it's worth knowing
Like all good fruit the balance of life is in the ripe and ruin

-Alt-J. Interlude I/ “Ripe and Ruin”

Poetry has been sung to music for centuries, even millennia. Greek bards would recite epic poetry to tunes accompanied by instruments and the earliest forms of poetic plays were musicals. The ways words are spoken are often integral to a poem. Performed poetry sounds different when recited than written poetry when read. There's a delicate balance in a poem, each word precious in the way it's chosen, written, and spoken. The way it is performed is sometimes as important as the words that are written.
In Alt-J’s “Interlude I/ Ripe and Ruin” the lyrics, when stripped down, become a poem, even a story. The narrative follows a woman balancing carefully, counting her steps, and begging the blue in whispers not to let her sink. It’s a poem about balance, like all good fruit- which always teeter between ripe and ruin.
The short piece is accompanied by the haunting voices of Alt-J’s vocals. The repetition in the lyrics when the piece is sung remind me of stepping and of falling in a way that can’t be understood in the same manner through reading the poem plain on a page. There’s something to the idea of a poem to music, something the Greeks (and Alt-J) got right. 
 ~Rebecca Najjar

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Exactly. I love this song and have often thought of it as a poem. It is beautiful, and I agree the repetition of certain words and syllables kind of helps bring to mind the back and forth of walking and taking steps.