Stephen Fuller *** Poetry, Essays

“To Myself, My Arrow True, Have I Returned” a poem by S Francis and a tribute to Neil Peart

I measured my life when the way that I lived,
The gifts that I gave set fire to brush grown
In absence of a better scheme to be thrown
In ground the minutes before, at last, I arrived.

Love and respect are indeed so easily burned.

Now awaits a new plot. With shovel, rake and hoe,
This time, a garden I will grow, nurture and respect.
Time still ticks away in jest as I survey all I wrecked
So that I can know how to make love again grow,

To dwell in this moment, to make last all I learned.

In the fullness of time, I will again measure my life
With love and respect grown up through the ashes
My possible world, my bizarre tests, my day flashes
Into memory now rich enough to resist the knife.

At last to myself, my arrow true, have I returned.

Once upon a time, a young poet sought inspiration from a little band from Canada. This boy was certainly not unique in finding kinship with these three talented misfits, their intellectual drummer, and goofball spirits all with stunning talent. But, like all those others out there, he was inspired to find his unique path through the world by the example of Rush.

I wanted to write lyrics like either Bono or Neil Peart. This month we lost Mr. Peart, the brilliant drummer and intellectual heartbeat of Rush. I never did write lyrics like Peart; Bono’s outrage at the injustices of the world, spiritual passion, and from the heart lyrics would serve as a better template for me than the intellectual one painted by Rush’s lyricist. However, Rush remained a steadfast friend through all the changes in my life until they took their last bow together on stage in 2015. Like all other fans, I was shocked by the news that Peart had been suffering and finally succumbed to Brain Cancer on January 7th.

I turn to the final song on their final album for solace, a powerful piece of music that tells the final story of the band, the final bit of wisdom, the final message for all of us misfits who seek a place to fit somewhere between the sterility of suburban sprawl and the intellectual stodginess of the academic halls. It took a long time for me to find the right place to make my garden and I razed a few plots along the way, but here I am, still inspired by Rush and forever grateful for their poet-messenger-drummer Neil Peart. Farewell to one of the kings, you will always be close to my heart.

The Garden
Songwriters: Geddy Lee / Alex Lifeson / Neil Elwood Peart
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Ole Media Management Lp

In this one of many possible worlds
All for the best, or some bizarre test
It is what it is, and whatever
Time is still the infinite jest

The arrow flies when you dream;
The hours tick away
The cells tick away
The Watchmaker keeps to his schemes
The hours tick away
They tick away

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect;
So hard to earn, so easily burned
The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect;
So hard to earn, so easily burned
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect

In the rise and the set of the sun
Until the stars go spinning, spinning round the night
Oh, it is what is it is, and forever;
Each moment, a memory in flight

The arrow flies while you dream;
The hours tick away
The cells tick away
The Watchmaker has time up his sleeves
The hours tick away
They tick away

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect;
So hard to earn, so easily burned
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect
(It’s a measure of a life)
The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect:
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time
Is the only return that you expect

The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between
Forever dwells in that moment;
Hope is what remains to be seen
Forever dwells in that moment;
Hope is what remains to be seen

In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect
(It’s a measure of a life)
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect
(It’s a measure of a life)
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect
(It’s a measure of a life)
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect

It’s a measure of a life
It’s a measure of a life
It’s a measure of a life
It’s a measure of a life

To Myself, My Arrow True, I Have Returned (C) 2020 S Francis Fuller

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