Letters of Life

Days Are Numbers

I’ve got Alan Parsons Project playing in my ears because I have to admit, that after writing a marathon of posts with last month’s 23 and 15 this month when I used to average 9 on a good month, I am finally hitting a wall. And APP’s sound is nostalgic and somehow inspiring enough to perhaps get me going.

Listen to this.

The traveler awaits the morning tide
He doesn’t know what’s on the other side
But something deep inside of him
Keeps telling him to go
He hasn’t found a reason to say no

The traveler is only passing through
He cannot understand your point of view
Abandoning reality, unsure of what he’ll find
The traveler in me is close behind

Days are numbers, watch the stars
We can only see so far
Someday you’ll know where you are

— Days Are Numbers, Alan Parsons Project

It reminds me of this:

So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NASV)

As I searched for a suitable image to go with this post, I came across one which is a manuscript of Whispers of Time (1988), a composition scored for 23 strings, by American composer Roger Reynolds. Reynolds had come upon the extended (meaning ultra-long) poem by award-winning American poet John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1976), and it proved the inspiration for his composition.

Excerpts from Mr Ashbery’s beautiful poem below:

All we know
Is that we are a little early, that
Today has that special, lapidary
Todayness that the sunlight reproduces
Faithfully in casting twig-shadows on blithe
Sidewalks. No previous day would have been like this.
I used to think they were all alike,
That the present always looked the same to everybody
But this confusion drains away as one
Is always cresting into one’s present.

And the finale:

We have seen the city; it is the gibbous
Mirrored eye of an insect. All things happen
On its balcony and are resumed within,
But the action is the cold, syrupy flow
Of a pageant. One feels too confined,
Sifting the April sunlight for clues,
In the mere stillness of the ease of its
Parameter. The hand holds no chalk
And each part of the whole falls off
And cannot know it knew, except
Here and there, in cold pockets
Of remembrance, whispers out of time.

There’s another APP song that echoes this, a little darkly perhaps, but that’s what the word haunting means.

Listen to Old and Wise.

And oh when I’m old and wise
BItter words mean little to me
Autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time
When they asked me if I knew you
I’d smile and say you were a friend of mine
And the sadness would be lifted from my eyes

Honestly, I didn’t mean to feature two Alan Parson Project songs, I’m not even a big fan. But poetry and music go hand in hand. When the music is unabashedly pop, and the poetry unashamedly surreal, the fusion here, though temporary and extemporaneous, can be lovely in its evanescence.

Related posts:

The Instruction Manual: How to Read John Ashbery (Slate) 

One Day to Fly 


1 Response »


  1. Alan Parsons Project « This Day – One Day

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