(Poem #743) Conquistador
Conquistador -- your stallion stands in need of company And like some angel's haloed brow you reek of purity. I see your armor-plated breast Has long since lost its sheen And in your death mask face There are no signs which can be seen. Though I hoped for something to find I could see no place to unwind. Conquistador -- a vulture sits upon your silver sheath And in your rusty scabbard now the sand has taken seed. And though your jewel-encrusted blade Has not been plundered still The sea has washed across your face And taken of its fill. Though I hoped for something to find I could see no place to unwind. Conquistador -- there is no time, I must pay my respect And though I came to jeer at you, I leave now with regret. And as the gloom begins to fall I see there is no, only all [?] And though you came with sword held high You did not conquer, only die. Though I hoped for something to find I could see no place to unwind.
[Comments] A late 20th century rock music take on Ozymandias -- well okay, not quite Ozymandias but that's the most glorious I can make this sound. :) Yes, these lyrics have their warts -- a couple of prominent ones at that -- but hey, Keith Reid wasn't writing serious poetry; he was writing artful rock lyrics. Keep that in mind and you'll see that the above represents a fairly high standard of lyric writing. The content is fairly straighforward: a mocking look at heroism and vanity that has come to nought. There are no strained efforts at rhyming, which in my opinion is a good thing. [About the song] This is a Procol Harum song, from their first 1967 album "Procol Harum" which I think got retitled "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at some point. The group had a full-time lyricist Keith Reid who didn't sing and didn't play any instruments. This makes Reid a truly unique member of the rock megafamily. Reid's job was simply to come up with interesting, fantastic lyrics that would get with the Art Rock sensibilities of the group. Art Rock (aka Progressive Rock, aka Prog Rock) was a movement in Rock that treated the music as an art form; almost always through complex instrumentation, flashy rapid-fire virtuosic playing and pretentious sci-fi or fantasy influenced lyrics. But Procol Harum were rather atypical, never getting flashy or vitruosic in instrumentation or displaying any sci-fi influence. And unlike almost all other Art Rock groups, they knew how to treat Classical Music with respect when they did deal with it; for instance "A Whiter Shade of Pale" makes truly tasteful use of Bach's famous Air from his Orchestral Suite #3. The song "Conquistador" is given a melody that is noticably Spanish in feel but is otherwise regular, if somewhat complex, rock. The music breaks each stanza up neatly into a long couplet and a quatrain and I've made the line breaks reflect this pattern above. [Warts] I must admit to being mystified by the chorus lines "Though I hoped for.../I could see no..."; could anyone explain? It sounds great on the song, but what do these lines mean? Even more mysterious is the line "I see no, only all" from the last stanza! What could this possibly mean? I do believe this is what is being sung but if someone could supply a reasonable alternative please do so. Amit.