For those that don’t know, in addition to being a sailor, I’m also a musician. I arranged and recorded “Live like the wind” in 2010. The lyrics are from an obscure poem by a man named Countee Cullen, written in the late 1800′s, but the music is mine.
I originally found the poem published in “Loving and Leaving the Good Life” by Helen Nearing, a woman who moved from NYC to Vermont with her husband Scott in the 1920′s to establish a homestead. She and Scott are often described as “the original back-to-the-landers”. She wrote about a dozen books describing their lifestyle in detail, and she was a lover and collector of quotes.
From the moment I first read it, the sentiment of this poem resonated for me. It speaks of two people in love, each firmly independent, but joined together by the invisible bonds of mutual respect and freedom.
Six years later I re-discovered it, and just as easily as reading it, it fell into a song. I remember walking down the streets of Worcester humming the melody to myself, reworking the words in slight ways, and refining the harmony. I have no idea if descendents of Countee Cullen exist, but I give credit to him and thank him for producing such a simple and poignant tribute to partnership without ownership.
“Live like the wind,” he said, “unfettered
And love me while you can,
And when you will and can be bettered,
Go to the better man.
“For you may grow weary sleeping
So long a time with me
Like this, there’ll be no cause for weeping.
The wind is always free.”
“Go when you please” he would be saying,
His mouth hard on her own.
That’s why she stayed and loved the staying
Contented to the bone.