Friday, April 10, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

The Music of Bone
By Donall Dempsey

GONG ride the shellac waves
of nineteen hundred & 71.
I gaze into the black pool
that the record spins
as an Youtube video
that has lain dormant
all those seconds ago
suddenly awakens & so
a Neanderthal flute from
80,000 years ago
suddenly decides to
join in as
eerily the ages dissolve.
Slovenian Neanderthal & GONG
now as one
making mocking
animal noises.
The cave bear's femur
the giver of music.
Fragments of music
scattered across time
shards of men's minds.
Divje Babe & Camembert Electrique 
journey through thought
like starlight that has
finally arrived.

Link to the recording referred to in the poem:

Click this link for pronunciation of Divje babe

You have met Donall Dempsey here before. It was only after Daevid Allen, founder of GONG (whom you also met here recently) died, that Donall and I, who live in different countries but have been online friends for years, discovered we both knew Daevid. Donall wrote two poems for Daevid after learning of his death. This was one of them.

GONG never went commercial, in favour of staying true to their art. Many people have never heard of them. Donall is surrounded by people who hadn't. He thought he was writing the poems just for himself.

Then I saw them on facebook, loved them, and asked if I could read them at a poetry reading held to celebrate Daevid. Donall said yes, and the audience loved them too. The next thing I did was make an online tribute to Daevid, using poems from that event by those of the poets willing to share their work that way. There you will find Donall's other poem, and also a couple of poems by Daevid himself, shared by Turiya Bruce, the mother of his youngest son. Click here.

And do please click on the link above to hear the recording Donall refers to. It's pretty amazing.

For the fascinating story of the bone flute itself, see Wikipedia, and for a recording of it being played without additions by GONG, click here.

And, after all that, do we absolutely need to know the back story of this poem, or hear the music it's based on, in order to appreciate it? Perhaps enough information for the reader's understanding is right there in the poem; and the beautiful last lines are as haunting as any music.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Yes, amazing what now can be brought together from time, though time--as if starlight has finally arrived. I didn't get it at first, went through all your links and came back to be transported. Bone. Human, ancient, new. Thank you for your love which made me look more closely. Excellent.

  2. I didn't go through all the links except the music. It's amazing. And the poem can definitely stand alone. Thank you Rosemary for the richness you provide.

  3. Yes. Those closing lines go straight to the heart. A wonderful post, Rosemary. I love the whole group, who were wise enough to not go commercial and enjoy where the music took them. Their music is very cool, I really like it. The poem, the artists, the community of links.....all wonderful to read and enjoy. Thanks so much.

  4. I enjoyed this, Rosemary. I had really enjoyed Daevid's work, so this was a nice follow-up. I skipped around a bit in that 39 minute GONG recording, but it seemed a bit dissonant to me. I admire them staying true to their art and not going commercial. Art for the sake of art rather than commercialism is rare for artists of this caliber.

  5. Never knew about this song.. and I was surprised to read about Slovenian Neanderthal :) If you wanna know more about divje babe flute:


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