notes on “Search”

A radio station in Hong Kong is putting together a music project based on David Eagleman’s Forty Tales from the Afterlives. Being Kwannon fans, they asked me to contribute a track. (Yay!)

I struggled for a while with the project. Eagleman’s book is intriguing, but many of the tales are tragic; the book’s theme seems to be the loss of control. After months of dickering and computer problems, I settled on the penultimate chapter, “Search.” It deals with death as the scattering of our atoms, which retain their own identity. We become all parts of nature, and then periodically reunite in human flesh. In the song “Search,” my idea was to combine a certain earthiness with a feeling of transcendence and vastness, reflecting the central image of the story. We are both earthly and vast — an individual, but also flocks of birds, pine sap, entire forests.

The instruments are an udu, which is an African clay pot drum; a large frame drum; a kalimba, an African instrument of tuned metal prongs; and a five-string kantele, a type of Finnish zither. 

I can’t figure out how to append a music track to this entry, alas. But here are the lyrics:

Know yourself to be limitless.
Seek your innumerable parts:
a birch leaf, newly minted in the dawn
a flock of birds unfolding a black ribbon in the sky
the whisper of water over rock
the groan of stone under the mountain
Know yourself to be limitless.
Seek your innumerable parts:
the creep of moss on decaying roots
the tusk of a rooting boar
a pigeon feather, a starfish
the mud at the lake bottom
Know yourself to be limitless.
Seek your innumerable parts:
the spiral of a snail’s shell
a red salamander under the leaves
a fungus stepping up the dead tree
a thousand shimmering facets of life and half-life and death and life anew


About whitecatgrove

The musings of a Druid priestess, singer, poet and musician in Upstate New York.
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