Jack Howard – A Song For Longing


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Studio 4:00 Jack Howard Songs For Longing – The Poems Of Dawson Hann EP. Moderately common. Available new in digital form.

Recommended Version.






It’s with us always, this longing,
A renewable mystery, clinging,
Stretching like a sinew across the years,
Attaching us, as a muscle binds,
To whatever in the past we thought we were;
Before the onset of the usual fears.
It’s lived pain, make no mistake,
As real as the throb of bruised tissue;
No imagined anguish this, for some severance
From what was thought complete, once.
Just the dull sadness of the body’s ache.

And for what? To discover, perhaps,
In the hollow of the self, a sense
Of what connects in us, how strands of time
Can help explain the metaphysics of tense;
(I was, and now I am).
Nor is it, like desire, so easily fed;
It’s past the flesh of appetite, more exquisite;
The intense remembrance of something done,
Or said.
You’ll find it in the smell of things,
Feel it in the tautness of the throat;
In a shiver of light once seen which wings
Across a lifetime to settle in the head.

Impossible to explain, it’s the sound
Of familiar voices in a foreign place;
And vanishing shadows, where we search
For images of the past; or vagrant thoughts
Collecting as a half-remembered face.
It’s stronger than love, this yearning, and lasts
Much longer. We can’t assuage it,
Or shrink the distance between us and it;
It’s the rickety link to a thousand pasts.

Across a dark sound, at the end of a dock,
It might be the wink of a green light;
Or more unreachable even than that,
Traversing time, to deliver you past
The outposts of memory’s usual flight.

“I long for…”
Say it, and a melancholy strikes
Too deep for words; and then you know
What Gibrain’s Prophet knew; that
Our children are not our own,
But simply life longing for itself;
And by this truth are we thought to grow.


Melbourne, September 2002

[Dawson Hann]