Christmas At Sea

Inspired by the song Christmas At Sea  from Sting's 2009 album If On A Winter's Night... , which the beautiful lyric was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1888, I did this painting of a sea scene. First time I heard this song was when watching a documentary about the making of this album, winter is not my favourite season ,specially in London as it's always depressing and wet. However this song ( the whole album)  changed my feeling, it made winter tough but magical, it make me able to feel the power of belief not only in the religious sense but also in the spiritual way, that could bring up hope though the darkness.

It absolutely became one of my favourite album of all time and surly the best songs to listen to during winter.


All day we fought the tides between the North Head and the South
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, to 'scape the storm's wet mouth
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

Thograinn Thograinn
Thograinn thograinn bhith dol dhachaidh
(I wish we were going home)
E ho ro e ho ro
Gu Sgoirebreac a chruidh chaisfhinn
(To Scorrybreck of the white-footed cattle)
E ho hi ri ill iu o
Ill iu o thograinn falbh
Gu Sgoirebreac a' chruidh chais-fhionn
(To Scorrybreck of the white-footed cattle)
E ho ro e ho ro
Ceud soraidh bhuam mar bu dual dhomh
(The first blessing from me, as is my right)

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
We saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every 'longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard's was the house where I was born.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

Song of Seikilos

Few years ago, I read this amazing article about the song of Seikilos. It's the oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world. The find has been dated variously from around 200 BC to around AD 100. The song, the melody of which is recorded, alongside its lyrics, in the ancient Greek musical notation, was found engraved on a tombstone, which says

" I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as an everlasting sign of deathless remembrance "

Once I heard the music after restoration on youtube, I had this weird sensation of familiarity as if I heard it before. Different from the morden day ancient Greek film BGM, the melody, is so pure clam and simply beautiful, moved me deeply inside. With drum, flute and harp accompaniment , I can almost imaging an warm summer evening, the folks of ancient Greek gathered together at one small square in the city with marble stairs, not far way, the food market was just closing down, People took fish, vegetables and bread back into the basket prepared for tomorrow. In the corner of square sat a small group of people with music instruments, wind gently lift up their sleeves as they were arranging  the position to sit or stand and carefully turning the strings. Then the nightfall, the sound of flute and harp raised, music started. And I was the strange listener stood on a distance hill, so far way that it took the music note 2000 years to reach me. But it did, eventually, without knowing a single world of ancient Greece somehow I feel that I can understand it.

Hoson zēs, phainou
Mēden holōs sy lypou;
Pros oligon esti to zēn
To telos ho chronos apaitei 
While you live, shine
Don't suffer anything at all
Life exists only a short while
And time demands its toll. 

Later on I found the translation of the lyric ( above, with English translation ) 
and that's exactly what I feel about this song. Sun rise sun set, moon rise moon set, earth spinning day and night. Days, months, years and decade pass, we come and go, nothing changes.

So I did a little drawing according to ancient Greek vase design while listen to this song.
Also you can click the audio track below to hear the beautiful Song of Seikilos.