From The Hazel Tree

by Echo's Children

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When I was young I used to look for hazels after church Long in seeking, hard to gain but better for the search Crack the shell to find the meat, rich and pale and wild and sweet Poet, mage and madman eat -- nuts from the hazel tree. Wisdom's pride hazels hide; Hazel graces sacred places, Wind and tide, scatter them wide; Nuts from the hazel tree. Seedlings stretch to see the sun from secret roots below From a single nut a spreading hazel grove may grow For story is by story fanned; poets, singers, authors stand Scattering from either hand, nuts from the hazel tree. I come to hear you sing for me the restful hazel shade The rising dust of time and sorrow in my soul has laid A thirst that only magic slakes, answered when the zephyr wakes Where its careless footstep shakes -- nuts from the hazel tree. Journeying consider well how life and story link Anyone may hunger for the poet's meat and drink Always take a satchel strong, stuffed with story and with song When you journey take along -- nuts from the hazel tree.
I thank ye for the flower but I fear I cannot stay Come get off my cloak my girl, and let me go my way, I had your firstest kiss, you say, why honored, that I be (But) I'm a bold adventurer; you cannot go with me. You fling your arms about my neck; you say you love me so When your eyes are full of tears, it's hard to tell you no. But hush your silly crying girl; how can I make you see? I'm a bold adventurer; you cannot go with me. I think you wouldn't like the moldy bread I sometimes eat The rocks would leave such bruises on your dainty little feet The first we met a nasty dog, I'm sure you'd turn and flee I'm a bold adventurer; you cannot go with me. Your Da would sure call out the guard to take me any day That such as I should think to steal his darling girl away. Your Ma would want my head for that, for sure and right she'd be... I'm a bold adventurer; you cannot go with me. In the end we wouldn't suit; the reason I will state: I am twenty seven, lass, and you--are only eight. So come and dry those crystal tears it breaks my heart to see. I'm a bold adventurer; you cannot go with me. You asked my help to cross the ford, but that was just a ruse-- When I went to set you down, I found you'd stole my shoes. You've had your story, and your song; take pity on my plea-- I'm a bold adventurer--you cannot go with me!
At a nexus deep in Quaddie space I tumbled off my ship, My first time out on station on an interstellar trip. I had orders to find culture, so I went to find a way, And this weird old guy suggested I should see their ballet. I was staring right and leftward, I was gawking up and down, Like those dumb Dendarii hillfolk on their first trip to town. I had only thought to visit here, but now I want to stay. I lost my heart forever at the Quaddie ballet. Now these folks are pretty different; they've got hands instead of feet. It's "handy" in free fall, but it's startling to meet. But they're poetry in motion, if you ever have a chance You owe it to yourself to come and see how they dance. That was how I saw her, like the dancer of the dawn, Shining like a comet's tail and soaring like a swan. My heart broke into pieces at the sight of her soul, And miracles were granted when her love made me whole. My captain didn't like it and my messmates made it stick. They said mutants made on purpose were just spooky and sick. When they dragged me from her arms, the bastards put her in a cast. I just don't understand how things went crazy so fast. She is strength and grace and power; she is beauty given life. And I'll have to leave my home if I would have her for my wife. For Barrayar hates mutants and that's all that they would see. I'll stay with her I love, because she can't come with me.
Goodbye you Willamette; your daylights and darks Are graced with a garland of bridges and parks. Mother of pearl, are the clouds in the sky, While langorous water goes murmuring by. Of all of the faces my home has to show I see but the fairest the hour I must go. Rocky and steep at the end of the day Is the road homeward when taken away. Hard by the highway the hills I have seen Draped in a velvet of golden and green, Fields of the finest of foodstuff that grows Fashioned by farmers in corduroy rows. Mount Hood rises royal, with snow in her hair Veiled in blue linen as light as the air Dignity's dresses are certainly hers-- The throne of her foothills all covered in firs. Eastward of Portland Columbia spills Blue as a gem between forested hills; Cliffs cup the valley, and down the rock stair Waterfalls braid like a maid's flowing hair.
It is the fragrant eve of June and all the world is green, Buried in the highway's roar, so much flies past unseen, Even through the windshield glass, I mark the dancing crows And how the freeway fences shelter buds of wild rose. The radish and the redwood tree a dozen cycles link, Plants that make our food and clean the water that we drink. The sun sustains us all through these, like pearls upon a string, A thread, a web, a tapestry, through every living thing. I bike to work and walk to church and hang my clothes to dry, But who has seen the salmon run, or watched the condor fly? Let us make ourselves a place that will not leave a scar, And let our passing leave the threads no weaker than they are. For oilfields or superstores, we tear the trees away Jostling the balance binding predator and prey Depending on the web of life for every breath we draw On the heap of injury we toss another straw. The strings we pull for power's sake, to run our own affairs Are raveling the tapestry till even weather tears. Concrete breaks as dandelions stretch toward the light. There never was a living thing would yield without a fight Let's leave the streams their flooding room, where spring's wild rhythms run Build to take advantage of the gifts of wind and sun, Opt for fewer children, while we teach the ones we've borne To weave our life lines back into the tapestry we've torn Frogs and crickets sing of love, and ask nobody's leave, The blackbird wears his hopeful heart upon his feathered sleeve, Flowers don their dresses now, to lure the passing bee; In June, to love the living earth, comes easily to me.
Mortal Clay 05:49
The mandolin was flirting and the bodhran stamped and danced The women's skirts were swirling and the menfolk smiled and glanced Laughter in the shadows kissed the magic in the air, When I glanced around the circle and my husband wasn't there. When I turned to seek him in the dark, among the sheaves The earth gave way beneath me in a storm of flying leaves I fell and heard the music change, unearthly pure and chill, And knew myself an idiot who'd blundered Underhill. I scrambled to my stinging knees, trembling with fright And scarcely dared look up to see a Lady crowned in light. The music shattered in my ears; I found I couldn't rise, For in the crowd about her throne I met my husband's eyes. I heard the smile in her voice, malice chiming fair, "So mortal, have you come to play the dancing of the air?" She offered me a challenge any bard well understands. A flute of mist and magic in the moonlight of her hands. My hands were coarse and dirty, next to hers so fine and fair; I hid them in my pockets, and I found an ally there. Hope rose up and whispered I might fashion if I tried The key to win my husband from the blindness of her pride. "Surely, noble lady, though your magic flute may sing True skill can pull enchantment from the coarsest mortal thing. Who owns the finest instrument can't show our music's worth, But who can play that instrument that's closest to the earth." I didn't quite take fire from the smolder of her glare Too much earth about me and too little fire and air; She flung the moonlit flute away; how terrible she stood Brandishing a whistle made of simple mortal wood. She raised it to her blood red lip and sighed its voice awake Her every breath enchantment, and her skill without mistake My blood and passion quickened as her melody advanced. Till if I could have risen I am sure I would have danced. I'm not the best musician in the mortal lands around Even in my village better players can be found. But reaching in my pocket I drew trembling breath to play Rough as any stone, an ocarina made of clay. Her hold undone I rose and wiped my hands upon my skirt. For she had played on mortal wood, but I had played the dirt. "Go free and take your man" she said, "but bear my words in mind. You've tricked me once, a second time's not given to your kind."
Capable hands on a tabletop fold Girt with such power to give or withhold Desire was written in blood on my face Aflame at this chance to crawl back into grace. My pacing is bounded here, tied up in knots Driven, constrained, like my circling thoughts Like thread winding tighter the harder I flee I wrestle temptation two falls out of three. He sees me too well; we are two of a tribe, From weasel to weasel, an elegant bribe. The price is to finish, as quick as I can This Audit, condemning an innocent man. But why? All his passion is given, I'd say To Simon's old job, he has taken--away. I bounce off the walls as I grapple his plan Finding the motive, uncovers the man! Security's chief will not lightly be caught Accusing Haroche, I'll get only one shot. I wonder what "accidents" he might approve; Pounding the carpet I ponder my move But wait just a second; suppose I accept And turn him in later with evidence kept? Of course, I'd be witness he couldn't afford... But hey, while it lasted, we wouldn't be bored. But facing the moment, the questions recede. If I knew he'd play straight--I still wouldn't concede The webs fall away, I am steadied and warmed Shedding my tangle, emerging transformed The power of ImpSec he wears like a cloak Leaving a trail made of mirrors and smoke But I'll be the one who finds proof of his crimes Who wrestled temptation and pinned it two times! The answer I reach for I cannot evoke... How shall I catch him in mirrors and smoke, mirrors and smoke, mirrors and...AIR FILTERS!
O, Sumer! 04:42
How, O Sumer! Thy mighty are felled, Thy bright wealth is looted, by others enjoyed Thy princes are captives, to labor compelled Thy city demolished, thy temple destroyed. What has become of the tablets of law Broken to shards that no whisk will reveal Clay that our scholars once studied with awe Dust ground to dust by a plundering heel! From teacher to student the mystery runs: The humblest clay holds our words after death. We struggled to writing through pictures and puns And history first became more than a breath. Bright as new bronze was the warriors' wrath The streets where they passed painted crimson with blood Poetry, law and religion and math Where writing is gone are but leaves on the flood Who can be silent, oh who can find rest? The souls of the scribes have been shaken and dashed Jackals and owls in our libraries nest Our wellspring and heritage stolen and smashed. Our works have all faded, our kings but a list The faintest of ghosts, we won't even be mourned. It was by creation we hoped to persist Yet all we created is shattered and scorned. What has become of the tablets of law Broken to shards that no whisk will reveal Clay that our scholars once handled with awe Dust ground to dust by a plundering heel!
United 93 03:46
From pocket, purse and seatback, the telephones arise Victims of a hijack, calling home to say goodbyes Learn it's no coincidence; the networks all have shown Lives and buildings pulverized in fire and falling stone. Exactly what took place in there, there's none alive can say We only know the outcomes of decisions made that day We bow our heads in silence, honoring the free, Remembering the heroes of United 93. Someone must have realized; they haven't got a qualm To kill our friends and neighbors, they'll make this plane a bomb We've got to take the cabin back; if that much can't be nailed God knows how many people will be dead because we failed. The bastards are outnumbered, and all they've got are knives. We haven't much alternative; surrender won't save lives Our families, our children; their grief we cannot spare The fields ahead are empty; let us end the struggle there. The rest of us are thinking how best to manage strife A blanket makes a blindfold, a pillow slows a knife; The next poor chumps who try it, will find we've paid the fee For lessons from the heroes of United 93.
Jack Frost 02:30
I garb the mourners for summer's demise, I am the least of the faery I am the trickster more clever than wise; Untutored, unfettered, unwary. I am the leaf-painter, sometimes I deign To make lace that will melt in the morning. I herald a harvest of blessing and bane, A promise I bring, and a warning-- Life is a carousel, laden with mirth; Reach for the ring as it passes! Harvest time's bounty turns swiftly to dearth; Fill up your bowls and your glasses. The leaves they are burning in colors so rare; The wind picks the brighest for wearing, But winter she dances with stars in her hair, Turned-away, cold, and uncaring. Summer was hot, it was golden and bright, But death there can be no denying. Make your own warmth now, and make your own light, For the cold of the winter comes crying. The dead who forsook us are gathering near, As Hallow's eve opens the portal; The wind walks beside you to breathe in your ear, "Remember, O man, you are mortal."
The spotted goat was spite with hooves, and I know what she did She struck a bargain with Old Nick, when she was just a kid They chewed the whole agreement o'er in yonder barren field Whose state affirms the contract's terms in jimson weed were sealed No field, no fold, no fence would hold, no chain would keep her still, No rope would be her tether, she would wander at her will. I bet Old Nick just looked at her, and scratched his scorching hair, And asked her flat "why ask for that? You're more than halfway there." The kid she matched him stare for stare and said "The world is tough" "There will be a time," said she "that half is not enough." The spotted goat did many dark deeds and wandered where she would Till she ate my pies before my eyes, and I shot her where she stood. The devil he took her soul to hell, for all her life of crime, But if you ask me, I'll wager she was gone by milking time!
Columbia 05:08
She was first among our shuttles, and we watched her from afar: Liftoff's soaring angel-plume, re-entry's falling star. She carried hope and knowledge on that flying fortnight run Crewed by warriors and healers, and sometimes both in one. Sixteen minutes out from home she faltered in her flight, Lost communication, and broke up in beads of light And my heart is soaked in sorrow as it slowly understands That Columbia, sky-strider, is fallen... with all hands. As a people and a nation we have paid a price to learn That in any exploration, there are some who don't return. We are neither fools nor cowards, to be shaken now to know What our founders could have told us, twice a hundred years ago. Pictures stark before us, spelled out the flyers' fates. A hundred miles of wreckage lay strewn across two states: Scraps of twisted metal, a helmet grey with char, Across the fields of mem'ry, a black and smoking scar. Across a waking nation the shock and sorrow ran From sunny Amarillo to the forests of Spokane. From India to Israel the mourners claim their own; A nation grieves its heroes, but we do not grieve alone. Columbia is fallen, yet her journey isn't done; The secrets of the universe are dear--and dearly won. In every generation we find some dreamers rise And set their lives at hazard to give us all the skies.
Over the mountains like the break of dawn, Spring'll come a ramblin' but I'll be gone. Gonna find my fortune and it won't be here; Gonna ride a rocket to the high frontier. Look for me on an April night I'll be in Taurus if my charts are right... If the wind ain't blowin' and the sky is clear You'll see me goin' to the high frontier I'll be workin' where the starlight's found, Meantime moseyin' the whole world round. Savin' up for better things than beer; To build a station on the high frontier. Hope and hardship and a worthy task Is all I offer and it's all I ask It'd be perfect if you were here-- Won't you follow to the high frontier? All I ever needed was a silver flute, Freeze dried coffee and an air-tight suit, A star to follow and a ship to steer, And you beside me on the high frontier!
I stagger and struggle and stutter and strive; the music I fancy my friend Dances unwilling just out of my reach and slips at my fingertips' end Sometimes it whispers behind my ear like a soul shining out of its shell But I never can master the mandolin till I master myself as well Out of the music's way, my friend, letting the melody play I wish I could figure out how to let go and get out of the music's way! I dreamt that I studied a song last night; it fought like a demon from hell My fingers like feet as I wrestled the tune, I stumbled and fumbled and fell Locked in the struggle he flung me down, to lift me aloft again Till fingers like feathers, I followed him fairly to dance with an angel then. Practice is over and lessons are done; the mandolin's sitting alone, My fingers are itching to try it again; I know in my breath and my bone If I could just figure out how to let go and follow the melody in We'd frolic together, the angel and me, on the strings of the mandolin!
My joy and my solace, come sit by my side. I've bread and I've milk and I've plums for my bride And when we are wedded, why what shall we do? But travel away and be somebody new. My love you look weary, come sit in my chair; I'll rub out your shoulders; I'll comb out your hair. You've tied it with twine but a promise I lay, You'll tie up your hair with silk ribbon some day. The silent road waits, with the lore that it guards, For heirs to the kingdom of scholars and bards. It's ours to be claimed, yet wherever we roam Your arms are my shelter, your presence, my home. Though autumn be fleeting and winter be cold, And all of our wealth be two rings of pure gold, Through all the adventures tomorrow may send, With you at my shoulder the future's my friend.
You were drawn toward each other, and heart discovered heart Through the years you've grown together, now you're making a new start As you turn to face the future, and your wedding party nears Through the times of music, laughter, joy and tears... You'll be there for each other just to talk to You'll be there, to show how much you care Through life's joys and its burdens you will shelter side by side To celebrate each other, you'll be there. As you face the task before you of creating all your dreams And you look to the horizon and how far away it seems Just remember friends are near and help is never out of reach As you cope with all the lessons life will teach. If you seek the truth inside you and you find the still, small voice You can learn to trust yourselves and bravely tackle each new choice And whatever gloom might come, your love will chase the fog away As the bond you share grows stronger day by day. You have summoned friends and family, today we've gathered 'round To witness and to celebrate the partnership you've found As you speak your wedding promises, we add this wish for you May the love you share be always strong and true.
Rainsong 02:44
The oak and the apple, the cherry and pine, In wind and wet weather, do wildly entwine Till I asking after them, finally found Petals like garments flung thick on the ground. High on the hill in a skystruck romance Iris and snowdrop to wind-music dance, Fancy and fragile, ephemeral-fair Raindrops like diamonds festooned through their hair. The rain will encourage each stream in his course To prattle and laugh with exuberant force Braiding a river where rapids appear Combining in thunder too constant to hear. To love grown too quiet, the rainstorm may bring Passion and play with the tempests of spring You are my joy's inspiration made plain As every good thing is the child of the rain.
I sit in the sunshine and spin, And I wait for the song to begin. Winter was bitter; ah, winter was hard, With snow like a mountain piled up in the yard-- But the wildflowers bloom, there is grain in the bin, And I sit in the sunshine and spin. I sit in the sunshine and spin With the wool and the wheel and the wind. The sun is returning and gracing the lands, Warm on my shoulders and warm on my hands. I let the cat out, and I let the cat in, And I sit in the sunshine and spin. I sit in the sunshine and spin, And I don't ask the cat where he's been. Summer will come and the flowers will fade; Too soon I'll be seeking the cottonwood shade, But the moment is precious, and waste is a sin, So I sit in the sunshine and spin. I sit in the sunshine and spin, And that sleepy old cat seems to grin. He dozes and drowses through morning's delights; I think I can guess what he does with his nights. He's sleeping them off now with milk on his chin As I sit in the sunshine and spin.
The Carousel 03:42
The children come crowding to look at the ride, They laugh and they chatter, small hands on my side They climb to the saddle so joyful they came-- But the music and scenery's always the same. I dream of sweet meadows, the grass growing high Of clear running water, a great starry sky Of carrots and apples and hot mash as well Of clover to roll in and flowers to smell. The people, the popcorn stand pass to the sound The litter and ice-cream cones keep going round; I'm making a living in show business but There's just no denying I'm stuck in a rut. But evening's coming, an end to the strife I smell the dew falling and seek out my life The lights will go out, I'll be done with my part Deep into dreamland I'll follow my heart. I wake from my dreaming, the night nearly gone The stars, like a carousel, wheel toward the dawn. The children will squeal and the music will play And all my tomorrows will be like today.
Tribute 04:12
With one foot in the spirit world, where dreamtime veils the day He spoke the tongue of angels and he bore their songs away. Like dewdrops on a spiderweb they cling to common themes, Like pearls from the darkness of an ocean that he charted in his dreams. Must joy be sorrow-bounded then, must glory travel fast, As a flower lives a summer, as a sunset cannot last? Yet music is eternal as the river and the reeds, While the dandelion bloomed it flung away upon the wind a thousand seeds. As gently as a waterbug whose shadow's ringed in light He'd stroke the skin of language till it bore him up in flight. Like a falcon he could drop to pierce the hearts within us all, So we mourn the tongue of angels that was struck untimely silent by his fall. As endless spring was ending, as his heart began to fail, It seems so very typical he'd stop to tell the tale, And pause at dying's border with a wonder in his eye, In an end as out of season, as a sudden silent snowfall in July. When grief was dark and bitter, over still and silent strings A bird came to the window, with the lamplight on its wings; And hovered like a message, till it fell away in flight-- Where the road is long and rocky wear the memory like a mantle made of light.
In the rhythm of a heartbeat music is begun In the rhythm that we travel when we saunter, when we run. The thrill that lifts our hackles when the wind begins to moan We learned to recreate with just a length of hollow bone I look at all the pieces and I really want to know How far back does music go? How far back (I say) how far back does music go? How far back--how far back does music go. When the rhythm of a mama's heart'll make a baby grow. Through the mesh of our perceptions music seems to reach To the nerves we grow to notice how emotion colors speech. Speed and pitch and volume held relaxed or urgent vibes In the wordless cries and chatter of pre-neolithic tribes. If the stimulus is missing, the pathways never grow How far back does music go? Dolphin calves learn music in the waters off the coast Fledglings study music where the sparrows curse and boast Wolves will sing together; it's a guess, but I'll be bound Words grew out of music, not the other way around Listen to the world, then come and say it isn't so: How far back does music go?


released January 1, 2004


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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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