A Dancing World

by Echo's Children

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I was born on a dancing world, where day and darkness run Do-si-do with the dusty moon, around a distant sun. Which shyly skirts a wider waltz, by gravity's request Around a swirling galaxy that knows no point of rest. Oh, I come by it honestly if I am star-beguiled, For if I am a rover, well, I am my planet's child. The very iron in my blood has wandered wide and far-- Forged and flung from the fire's heart that fueled a foreign star. Mars hangs low in the winter sky, a faint red spark to see, That might yet hold some scrap of life; a wanderer like me; A fractured portrait hinting how the solar system spawned; And more than that--a stepping stone to all the worlds beyond. Pink and pearl the summer skies on Martian planetside, Where clouds of ice and iron help to swing the seasons wide. And in the winter morning with the sky all blue with night, A freezing fog comes furling in to veil the valleys white. Soon enough I'll soar away to sail the sunlit black, Thirty months as earthlings count to travel out and back. The calendar is counting down; the zero hour nears, To add my own small circle to the clockwork of the spheres.
Call the piper, call the drummer, fetch the fiddle and the fife. It's the beating heart of summer and the night is full of life. In the morn we cannot tarry but must go our separate ways; Come dance and be merry! The dance music plays. Cast off anger, care, and sadness, let your feckless feet take flight. As the music speaks of gladness you will find your heart is light. Your troubles will be patient, they have time enough to stay; If they don't, so much the better! They are free to go away. There are maids in ribbons going where the dancing fires burn, With their hair all loose and flowing, flying wide at every turn. Their eyes are bright with mischief, you can hear the laughter spill, And if you won't be their partner, why another dancer will. While the dancing drums are sounding, come the lads from east and west Like the stag in autumn bounding, so they seem to need no rest While the music runs before them, every head will turn their way And if I can't be their partner, then another dancer may. Like a flock of eager swallows playing tag around our feet So the music flirts and follows here where Bard and dancer meet. His glance is bright and merry and I meet it more and more; Someone else should play a tune so I can ask him to the floor!
Where you have to turn the corner, between the entry and the hall, There the flame that crowns your candle, throws your shadow on the wall... When I close my eyes I picture, and my heart begins to race If I were standing in the corner, would your shadow brush my face? All these common things surround you, and my heart has no defense. Am I mad that I might envy things with neither thought nor sense? Even though they never know it, yet your passing lends them grace; I would trade and count it fortune, to be standing in their place. You come striding down the staircase, where the morning sunlight woke The gleam of maple, polished under the hem of your descending cloak, And in dreams so sweet and heady my straining will begins to fray I feel your cloak brush all around me; I hear your footsteps fade away. The winter mantle on your shoulder, fashioned of the finest wool Free of shame or shyness twines you, soft and yielding, warm and full. Did I dare to so embrace you, wind would not dislodge my hold; It's your warmth would make me tremble, not the bitter winter cold. A simple cup of sturdy stoneware, by your plate at dinner stands, Waiting through the winter evening, warmed and warming in your hands And like cats that know no boundaries, dreams approach the mouth that sips Till the leap of longing wakes me, lifted lightly to your lips.
The caller we answer has summoned the dancers; Our hands touch; I ask myself why Parting's repeating must shadow each meeting; The fruits of hello bear the seeds of good-bye. Passing through, changing places, we smile on new faces; Our joy lies in saying hello. Balance and swing, promenade 'round the ring, It's a joy to embrace and a grief to let go. Yet the same steps that part us will bring us New partners to honor and guide. Hand clasping hand weaving right and left grand, I will meet you again on the circle's far side. Our histories braid as the steps are replayed With each partner, cycling through We part and we meet in the pattern's repeat And the pattern I follow leads right back to you For the same steps that part us will bring us New partners to honor and guide. Hand clasping hand weaving right and left grand, I will meet you again on the circle's far side. Parting's seeds grow, till they blossom "hello" In their own time; the question is when? I see at a glance that our lives are a dance And the pattern's a promise I'll meet you again. The same steps that part us will bring us New partners to honor and guide. Hand clasping hand weaving right and left grand, I will meet you again on the circle's far side.
In Ryoval's darkened basement, Naismith paced and laid his plans; Survive, escape, do damage, great; with what? Our empty hands? But when I voiced the doubts I had, the Admiral, he cried" It isn't how much force you use; it's how it is applied!" We broke into the cloning labs with careful, hasty, stealth, And found, in tissue freezers there, the bulk of Ryoval's wealth. A touch turned up the temperature, and every sample fried. It isn't how much force you use; it's how it is applied! The folk who thought they owned me, every one had cost me dear Trying to control me using hunger, pain or fear In hours he'd won the loyalty that others were denied-- It isn't how much force you use; it's how it is applied. I figured sure he'd ditch me, but he didn't, in the chase And now I've joined his mercs, I have a purpose and a place. This principle I've kept in mind in all that I have tried: It isn't how much force you use; it's how it is applied!
Play It Slow 02:10
Play it slow, play it slow. It's like sunlight in December, And I need to learn the music; play it slow, please Joe, For it speaks to me of something that my heart can't quite remember But I know that I can get it if you'll only play it slow. Now you play a lively tune and while I'm trying to absorb it I can see you're up to something, 'cause your face gets very calm, Then the tune picks up its paws and goes cavorting off to orbit Like a science fiction rocket powered by a fusion bomb! So I pry my melted sneakers up and stagger from the crater-- Now I know your showman's instincts tell your fingers "go to town" But I really would prefer you left the fireworks for later When it burns up on re-entry, I can never get it down.
Up to her elbows sweet Harmony stood In silver and rawhide and wire and wood Till all of the voices that music commands Sang for sheer joy at the touch of her hands, Warm as the sunlight and fair as the moon And each to the others precisely in tune Till Discord drew near, with a moment to kill To beg for her fav'rite the gift of free will. Cousin, your creatures are fitting to serve, Approaching the honor you plainly deserve Said Discord as Harmony's trickster she played For only the maker could mar what was made-- Yet one might more poignantly speak to the ears More surely to move you to laughter or tears That chose to do good when it might have done ill, That instrument given the gift of free will Harmony, trusting, too slow to know fear, Smiled, and said to the fiddle, "come here." "Don't give me this burden!", the fiddle did plead, But Discord insisted; at last it agreed. T'was laid on the fiddle and all of its kin, The bass and the cello, the proud violin Sharp the betrayal and bitter the pill, That laid on the fiddle the gift of free will. And this is the reason the fiddle, we find Has been ever after of contrary mind And laden with Discord's and Harmony's boon More easy than any to play out of tune You pick it up not knowing how it will speak If it likes not the weather it won't even squeak Too windy, too sunny, too rainy, too chill The fiddle is rich in the gift of free will. Rebellion has spread to infect other things, The horns and the woodwinds, the rest of the strings, Even the drums as they thunder and dance Will play out of tune if you give them a chance So why do we listen, while mourning the fall Why do we care for the fiddle at all? It seems that a player of passion and skill Can turn to a blessing the gift of free will.
Will sang sweet as a courting dove Shy as a doe was Mhari's love She never dared her heart to show Low among the roses oh, Low among the roses Low among the roses She never dared her heart to show* Low among the roses oh. When Will would sing a courting song Mhari used to sing along Their voices danced where the willows grow Low among the roses oh, Willie said as spring drew near "Friendship cannot keep me here To seek my fortune I mean to go" Low among the roses oh. There they said their brief goodbyes; Her heart spoke only from her eyes He left her there with her head bowed low Low among the roses oh. Love that will not speak its name Only has itself to blame. I'll not end like Mhari, no Low among the roses oh.
Warrior Maid 05:15
Brown Bird 02:12
I showed him my insects, he thought they were pests So I redesigned them with Vorkosigan crests He finds them appalling, and the queen's gotten loose, I've got the "Wait! Don't exterminate my bioengineered butterbug!" blues. I never expected to be in this place Caught up in a web of obligation and grace Now I'm in a bind, and Fortune's tightened the screws I've got the cunning plan gone awry, kiss all your hopes goodbye butterbug blues! I've come back from Beta, the prodigal son A year's worth of college and of therapy done So I'm short of cash flow? It's a big-money scheme But the chaos that's brewing my hopes are undoing; it threatens my dream. I liked it on Beta, my scholarship year I only came back because my family's here They learned I'm no maiden and my folks blew a fuse, I've got the "You can't go back, daughter!" cultural backwater righteousness blues. I thought I could woo her, a civil campaign, Conducted my courtship with a tactical brain: Concealed the intentions that would cause her dismay, But the secret's exposed and my strategy's hosed and she's getting away! I'm drawn to his insight, his warmth and his wit, The hieroglyph scars that show he never would quit He asked for a garden and admired my skill Then I learned it's not plants that he wants - it's romance, and the thought made me ill. I've dallied with lovers of every degree And why ever not? The women lined up for me... Now I want to marry but they've found other mates And the ones that remain my affections disdain and I can't get a date!
Your memory chip's damaged, it cannot be quelled. It's dumping at random the data it held And only the peers you've trusted for years Can stop you responding to threats long-dispelled. Men will war and women will weep Midnight flows sullenly, chilly and deep* I'll sing you a song when you stir in your sleep And wait by your side till the dawn. I speak reassurance, while under my eye Reacting to crises three decades gone by Your face shows again the man you were then Breaking my heart with the pain you deny. Love I that I reach for I can't seem to keep* Bleary and hoarse, two cold hands gripping tight, Strength I'd forgotten recalled for this fight Secrets we keep we now have to reap Old fears and old sorrows squirm out to the light. All that I buried I now have to reap* In the span of a night I have known you for years In the heights of your triumphs, the depths of your fears Each lesson and scar that shaped who you are And shy as a blossom new insight appears. Though men will war and women will weep Yet spring and the sunrise still stubbornly creep* I'll sing you a song when you stir in your sleep And wait by your side till the dawn.
No matter when it happens, it's always a surprise To look to you for love and see old shadows in your eyes. I never tried to hurt you, but that matters not a damn If you cannot see the who of me behind the thing I am. The pattern of the injury is written in the scar All that we were raised to be is part of who we are. In your willing arms I thought my heart-safe harbor lay Till a stranger stepped between us from a hundred miles away When you most need a shoulder, when I most need you near I can't even comfort you when I am what you fear. I thought what lay between us no one else could reach to mar All that we were raised to be is part of who we are. I took the space within your heart that you'd so dearly wrought And never knew your courage by the weight of what you fought. In blood and pain and fire as we struggle to be true If I tried to fight your demons might I end by fighting you? We reach toward each other, but some gaps are just too far All that we were raised to be is part of who we are. The pattern of the injury is written in the scar All that we were raised to be is part of who we are.
The People's Republic of Haven, is it all that you hoped to attain? The glories that shone in your daydreams, are they dimmed by the blood of the slain? While yesterday's shining successes get harder and harder to top. Rob, you are riding a tiger. How are you going to stop? The Proles only follow a leader who will keep them well feted and fed, With trial and war for your circus, you'd better not run out of bread! The curs that have fawned at your fingers will tear out your throat if you drop. Rob, you are riding a tiger. How are you going to stop? The fields you have sown with betrayal, and watered with innocent's tears That falsehood has fenced and defended, by the ruin of lives and careers Are choked with the fruits of your labors. How will you harvest your crop? Rob, you are riding a tiger. How are you going to stop? For the sake of our dying Republic, and an end to an honorless war, For the sake of my childhood friend Robbin, though I fear he will greet me no more, In the chill of the guillotine's shadow, as the heavy blade's drawn to the top, I say "Rob, you are riding a tiger. How are you going to stop?"
No Quarter 03:28
Grayson's lost its champion; to God she has returned, To stand before the Tester, in the state her rank has earned. Our Lady needs an honor guard, an escort, and a crew, And if you're the best available, I guess you'll have to do. No Quarter, NO QUARTER! You damn well earned your fate. Give Harrington our compliments; we're sorry you are late. Ancient legends say the rank a fallen warrior held Depended on an Honor Guard of foes that one had felled. And so in tardy tribute to the one we couldn't save, We'll lay your fiery deaths like crimson flowers on her grave. We know what Honor's ending was, by all the tapes we viewed. And now we reach the battle; we are in no gentle mood. Hear that thunder rolling till it seems to split the sky? That's every ship in Grayson's Navy taking up the cry-- The Steadholder's recruiting, so pray don't surrender, sir. Dame Harrington surrendered--once--and look what that got her! We owe a debt of honor we have finally come to pay And as we look you in the eye, we find one thing to say-- Put your arms in order, shine your boots and get them laced You just might make the muster, but you don't have time to waste, For if you pass inspection and she deems you fit to serve, You might yet meet an honor that you bastards don't deserve.
The guarded, the hidden, the sweetly forbidden, Holds fascination for me. The apple of sin that I know I can't win Always looks like the best on the tree. And just when I had no doubt more than friendship was out, David leaves me a kiss to peruse. I've got the listen to reason, the boy's only teasin', David drive me crazy blues. The advances I made only left him afraid He faces life strictly alone. I'd have got more response to my wishes and wants If I'd poured 'em out over a stone. But now he changes his mind on the kiss he declined; Whose heart does he mean to confuse? I've got the listen to reason, the boy's only teasin, David drive me crazy blues. Our hands only brush and I tremble and flush And my silly heart starting to climb, Fear of the fire sharpens desire But it's only a matter of time. Because when willpower yields and he gets under my shields He'll skedaddle right out of his shoes I've got the listen to reason, the boy's only teasin', David drive me crazy blues. He's only caught 'cause he thinks I am not. He'll drop me flat as a plate. I don't want to get hurt, see my heart in the dirt, But I think it's a little too late, And if I'm going to pay with my tears anyway Tell me, what do I get for my dues? I've got the listen to reason, the boy's only teasin', David drive me crazy blues.
Where the air is barely real on our feathertips of steel Spreading wings of wind and fire in another kind of flight The earth that bred and bore us like a jewel hangs before us As we challenge more than fifty million miles of sunlit night. There are wings of flesh and feather, there are wings of bone and leather There are wings of painted paper pinned to polished wooden spars But wings of force and fire never falter, never tire And the wings of human knowledge span the void between the stars. For Mars is rising high; our closest cousin in the sky Where for half a billion years the restless wind has walked alone. Where mountains rise entire past a climber's mad desire And the canyons fracture farther than our world has ever known. Only drifts are growing where the endless wind is blowing Hid like gold beneath the gravel, how much ice may yet be found, Where water that once ran it carved its name into the planet And the banks of fossil rivers braid across the rusted ground? When we take its measure, won't the bulk of all our treasure Be the tools we build to get there, long before the ship arrives? If the old Apollo marks the patterns we will follow We will change the face of commerce and the structures of our lives.
Brown Gal 03:08
My brown gal's always by me, however far I roam And in a hundred harbors she's held my heart to home Her bed is hard and narrow, but gladly there I've gone To wake to see my brown gal smiling in the dawn. When the west wind pipes a lively tune and makes the spray to fly We sometimes go out dancing, just my sweet brown gal and I And at my touch she trembles, as wild and sweet as wine; She answers to no other hand the way she does to mine. She's blonder than she used to be, for if the truth be told Sun and salt have silvered her to ash and dusty gold, But as long as brass needs polishing or lines to be restrung, She'll always be the brown gal she was when we were young. My wife comes down to meet me as the sun to embers fails To catch the line and make her fast and help me fold her sails. What fool says I'm not wealthy, with my heart's desire and more, One true love upon the sea and another on the shore! Sailing with my brown gal, I find my heart has fled To wish my wife were in my arms, and both of us in bed, Yet with my wife and daughter, at Sunday church I find My bold and bonny brown gal is always on my mind....
You can tell it on the mountain, in the valley far below, But you needn't tell the craftsmen what they already know, From the author at her keyboard, to the woodwright at his lathe Every act of creation is an act of faith! From the rancher mending fences with the wire she has found, To the farmer on his tractor putting seed-corn in the ground, In this world of hate and anger, when it's easy to destroy, Every act of creation is an act of joy! So we work on art and music, though we know it will be flawed. Yet in striving to do better, we are reaching out to God. We are reaching for perfection, and it's not beyond our scope: Every act of creation is an act of hope. Though you work with words or music, living things, or stone or glass, If you don't love what you're making, it will never come to pass. From the paintings of a child, to the works of God above, Every act of creation is an act of love.
My kitty chases shadows, as her instincts demand And sometimes the excitement gets a bit out of hand She'll ramble and she'll scramble and she'll fly through the air To pile on the tile at the foot of the stair. (She says) I meant to do that, I'll have it be known I did it on purpose, for plans of my own, Since you're just a human and I am a cat, I thought I ought to mention that I meant to do that. My kitty jumps the ravens, just to give them a scare; She'll leap a dozen feet or so straight up in the air; If the ravens see her heading up, they don't hang around And both her paws are empty when she touches the ground. When cats do something foolish, they don't run and hide Some cynical souls say they're salving their pride; They pull themselves together and they flourish their tails They fluff their ruffs, or casually polish their nails. From a kitten's book of etiquette, this lesson I take You don't have to be embarrassed when you make a mistake You pull yourself together, and you brush off your hat, And tell the watching crowd, "you know, I meant to do that!"


released May 1, 2001


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Echo's Children Portland, Oregon

In 1995 Cat Faber and Callie Hills teamed up to form Echo's Children, a duo known for well crafted harmonies and interesting lyrics about science fiction and fantasy subjects. They worked together until 2003, when Cat Faber moved to Tennessee and the group broke up. ... more

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