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*9.15-PEREGRINE (Donovan)

Donovan

LISTEN

        Peregrine falcon
        hooded and flying,
        Whither you go blindly
        over the mountain?

Oh your boats upon the sea
Are very beautiful to view
By me, by me, by me, by me,
I hope by you.
(2x)

Once I tried to be your friend,
But I was undergoing change
The same as you, the same as me, the same as you, the same as me
The same as you.

And from what I've heard you say
You feel quite certain of the way
The world will go, the world will go, The world will go, the world will go
And so am I.

[Break]

Oh and there will come a time
When to each other we'll be kinder
Than we were, than we were
And there will come, and there will come

A peace of mind, a peace of mind, a peace of mind.


The Hurdy Gurdy ManThis study will stop following Donovan with his album The Hurdy Gurdy Man. Though he continued to enjoy some success, with the two following albums reaching the Top 20 in the U.S., and had yet another Top 40 single in Atlantis (reaching #7 in April 1969), for my purposes he had abandoned the making of psychedelic music in order to pursue “Celtic Rock” and further folk music developments. More and more, his music would become (at least in the majority of songs that I’ve listened to) focused on magical childhood songs made for adults, as if remembering Eden—showing that his previous album For Little Ones provided indication of his future direction. The Hurdy Gurdy Man contains some such childlike songs (The Sun is a Very Magic Fellow, for example): but also includes songs which were composed while under the spiritual influence of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (like Peregrine). Already, Donovan knew the hippie movement, for which he’d made himself the Pied Piper, was slipping into history and another era had dawned. One of the songs on The Hurdy Gurdy Man album was Hi! It’s Been a Long Time, which recounts meeting a former hippie who had changed her ways (along with Donovan): Hi, it's been a few years, you're looking down / Dragged as any hippie should be in old hippie town.

Peregrine holds the same droning tone throughout played on a harmonium, making it a close cousin to the raga, though the melody sounds Scottish, as if it could have been adapted from a song played on bagpipes. I was surprised, due to the continuity of tone, that upon closer inspection, Peregrine is formally two songs, its first verse quite separate from all the rest in structure. The song begins by addressing the peregrine falcon, but the rest of the song is between the poet and “you”. The second verse (repeated once) makes a bit of a conceptual bridge, since the sight of fishing boats could be seen by the flying bird, but afterward, it’s difficult to hold onto the notion that the poet continues to address the falcon; he seems to be either talking to the listening audience or to some companion. If the listener is meant to reference the peregrine image throughout the song as the “you”, then we perhaps have an inversion of the despair that W.B. Yeats had expressed (Things fall apart; the center cannot hold) after World War I when he wrote of the falcon in the poem Second Coming. Here the peregrine would be expressing the hope that humanity has learned to be kinder and will enjoy the peace of mind that comes from no further wars (“Surely some revelation is at hand” wrote Yeats in Second Coming), a hope that Yeats had exiled, performing his own inversion of a redemptive Jesus by replacing Him with a rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem.

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