Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson | Isaiah's Longing

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Isaiah's Longing

by Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson

Awesome poems influenced by Maya Angelou, Robert Frost and Rumi, with a touch of women poets from the romantic era. What a heavenly distillation! Add improvisational jazz and current topics and you have a perfect recipe for meditation.
Genre: Spoken Word: Poetry
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Trust
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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3:33 $0.99
2. Invocation I
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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1:12 $0.99
3. Halloween Poem
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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4:54 $0.99
4. The Clothesline Project
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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6:20 $0.99
5. The Road to Beijing / The Pendulum Swing
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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2:44 $0.99
6. My Lament
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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3:19 $0.99
7. Isaiah's Longing
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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2:03 $0.99
8. Peace Treaty
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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2:06 $0.99
9. You (Little Children)
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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1:01 $0.99
10. Mothlike
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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2:52 $0.99
11. Sojourner and Tahirih
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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4:34 $0.99
12. The Legend Of "El Paraíso"
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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2:53 $0.99
13. The House
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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1:21 $0.99
14. Isaiah's Longing (Bonus)
Rhea Harmsen & Lee Robinson
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Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
All poems written and
performed by Rhea Harmsen
Original music composed and
performed by Lee Robinson
Produced by
Jack Walker

Tracks 1-13 recorded at Tuff Sound Recording, Pittsburgh, PA, and engineered by Herman Pearl
(AKA Soy-Sos)

Bonus track: remix of Isaiah’s Longing by Phil Wilkerson,
Rhea Harmsen, Jack Walker and Lee Robinson. Recorded at
Track-Binders, Pittsburgh, PA and engineered by Phil Wilkerson

Cover design: Rhea and Eric Harmsen

Cover Photography: Salma Mughrabi Howard


I had the incredible honor of collaborating on this project with some exquisite artists. I want to thank Jack Walker, our producer, for bringing Lee Robinson and myself together with the seed of an idea. His was the vision that poetry and music could work together like two wings of a bird to lift our spirit upwards.

Lee Robinson I thank for a creative process so pure and selfless that it was practically effortless (for me). His degree of musical sensitivity and excellence are genius and I will always be grateful to have worked with him. His sax improvisations rock.

Phil Wilkerson – Wow! The remix turned out great. Wish we could have worked together more.

To Eric, my dear husband, my profound thanks for helping me publish, for holding my hand (spiritually and practically) in every step of my journey. I dedicate this CD to him.

Rhea

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain
of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains
and be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it."
Isaiah 2:2

 
Isaiah’s dream is coming to fruition because “a growing body of people, united by the divine precepts, collectively seeks to develop spiritual capacities to contribute to a process of societal change.” *

You gotta love the change. You gotta love the faces of that change. See all the nations coming.
 
I love you all.

Rhea
* Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 2012 Message


This album is dedicated to the realization of the vision of Isaiah




LYRICS


1. Trust

I have cast myself into the fire,
plunged into the sapphire sea...
Severed the cord to all sane desire
and said: "I trust in Thee."

To Thee alone I entrust my fate
no worldly path will I now follow.
Lead me then thru this perilous state,
free me from my weighty sorrow.

How fearful was I when I set adrift
a fisherman's boat with nary an oar.
How restless the sea on that stormy night,
how distant my craft from the balmy shore.

No compass to steer by save the sway of my heart...
No stars in the sky to lead me aright.
Only moonlight beams thru the cloudy dark,
only distant drums and the thunder light.

"Could it be," said I, "that to reach my goal
I should risk my soul in the kiss of the breeze?
Soar on the wings of a windswept gull,
sink in the crash of the trembling seas?"

"Can there be calm in the swing of the waves?
Can there be peace in the strength that's born,
is there some balm in the passing of days,
weathering the fury of the frenzied storm?"

"Is there a rhythm to be measured and found,
a symphony awaiting the ear of the sage?
Do poems and verses there abound?
Do glorious melodies crash in the spray?"

"Is there a refuge in the core of man
like the stillness found in the eye of the storm?
A quiet space where infinite grace
connects with the vortex in which we are torn?"

We seek our peace in the ordered life,
we cling to a quiet road.
But triumph is found not in holding on
but rather in letting go.

True abandon is where glory is found,
in toil, and hardship and pain.
Safety is not where Paradise lies
and heaven is not for the sane.

Only the plunge into bottomless space,
the journey on the shore less sea,
will bring to us our ultimate grace,
will take us home and set us free.


2. Invocation

Oh moon, Oh star,
Oh black night sky.
Oh trembling branch on high.

Behold me here tonight
so staid, so planted,
near to ground.

Hear my sigh.
Know that I regret my low estate,
my chained heart.

Wonder at my plight.
I was meant to soar eons
beyond your height.

Ventura, 1995


3. Halloween Poem

"When the swords flash, go forward!
When the shafts fly, press onward!"


One day I woke to find
I'd left my castles all behind.
Weary of battle, of being torn,
I struck out in search
of another view.
A land so distant,
so far and new,
I promised myself I'd be reborn.

And in this land,
this new terrain,
I expected to conquer
all manner of foe.
The peaks of freedom I sought to climb,
to subdue all the giants,
master the dragon,
and bury the ghosts of another time.

But when I arrived, alas, I found
that instead of gaining safer ground,
I had, in fact, fled in vain;
with me had travelled all the pain
(for the demons were all within).
And no journey over land or sea
could separate these foes from me.

The dragon of fear is a steady opponent.
Though daily I wrestle
he cannot be bested.
He clings like a shadow,
blows great gusts of fire,
while I tremble and cower.
Shaken, afraid
of his might and his power.

The ghosts I brought with me
are all so familiar.
They circle and enshroud me
with ancestral bad baggage.
Many intricate reasons
for the sorrows that weigh me,
the failures that trail me
thru the days and the seasons.

And the giants I battle
are the flaws of my character:
perfectionism, guilt,
and great expectations.
Like an army of swordsmen
they advance and retreat,
while the abyss of depression
gapes at my feet.

Seems I trudge through my days
in a whirlwind of battle.
Yet, I'm gaining some sight
in the hum and the rattle.
With the sword of esteem
for the self I belittle
I may yet slay these giants
that help me so little.

While the ghosts and the reasons
of my roots and my being,
I've discovered are veils
which prevent me from seeing.
Yet once pierced by perception
and confronted sincerely,
are miraculously lifted
and vanish entirely.

And the dragon of fear
can be held in abeyance,
once the swift breath of courage
is inhaled each dawn;
when the prayer of "Go forward,"
the whisper "Press onward,"
can be heard in the stillness
cheering me on.

I now travel these valleys
in the meek recognition
that the demons that plague me
are but friendly companions.
They harass and unsettle
yet are testing my mettle,
and making me braver.
Though they seem overwhelming
the Love that surrounds me,
is infinitely greater.


4. The Clothesline Project

I could not sit still after what I saw.
That trip to D.C. in the spring,
the Cherry Blossom Festival,
and the Clothesline Project
displayed on the green.

The air was warm and dry,
the sun shone on the faces of the tourists.
That mile of green which stretches from
the Lincoln Memorial
thru the Washington Monument
all the way to the Capitol
was littered with pilgrims,
masses of infinite diversity
rubbing shoulders,
happy to be there, carefree.

On that green were these rows of T-shirts
displayed on clotheslines.
And on each shirt a story;
pictures, a poem, an expletive...
Haunting by virtue of its ugliness,
its truth, and its violence.
Each was the story of a woman abused,
a child violated,
a human temple desecrated.

T-shirts now branded in my memory.
Color-coded for each crime;
pink and red for rape victims,
yellow and beige for the battered and assaulted,
green/blue for abused molested children,
and white in memoriam of the silent women
dead by the hand of a husband or lover.

A T-shirt with stick-figure woman and children
saying, "Your children's life begins
when you walk away,"
while another said: "Don't ask why
she stayed, ask why he battered."
"No more," said one bruised woman's blue shirt.
"Never again," said a red shirt rape victim.
Arabic characters I could not decipher
on a white shirt,
with a graphic depiction
of female genital mutilation,
that obscene cultural ritual
performed to insure a girl's chastity.
A flower garden and a smiling sun
on a yellow shirt
crooning to a lost inner child:
"Come out into the sunshine."

A gun, a badge, a man's face on a shirt that said,
"Upstanding citizen, pillar of the community,
police officer, dad, destroyer of my soul, rapist.
Why did you do it daddy? I was only nine years old."

A 3 by 5 card, pinned on a shirt,
said, "I was raised by white supremacist parents
who made me witness the murder and torture
of their victims, sexually abused me,
and sold me into prostitution at the age of twelve.
I have survived."

I did not know it was possible
to survive against such odds.

On the way back home,
describing to my husband
the gripping awareness,
the flood of emotion that engulfed me;
he nodded as he drove the car, silent.
I felt crass for breaking the spell
of a perfect Washington weekend,
for dwelling on the unpleasant.
I told a friend back home
about all that pain and testimony.
She said, "Wow..." over the phone,
uneasy silence followed.
Not the subject of polite conversation, I thought.
The mind recoils
at the grotesqueness of the unmentionable.
The safe don't care to know of the graphic horrors,
to hear of the pain of the violated.
They are two worlds apart, two compartments of a
fragmented social order.

But because I wandered through
those T-shirt corridors
I still hear them.
Their strangled cries echoing into eternity.
Their myriad whispers clamoring for expression.
Their shrieks and angry shouts rising,
a ghostly cyclone threatening
to engulf and sweep away
everything in its path,
till all the deeds done in the dark of night
should come to light in the blazing sun.
Cracks in a dried up riverbed.

How powerful they are,
these united voices of the powerless,
waving side by side on the clothesline,
ranked like a battalion,
poised to repel the assailant.

Each T-shirt a battle fought in darkness,
a life aching with loneliness,
a child crying out in the wilderness
in the midmost heart of creation.
But now a testament to survival,
to the triumph of the human soul.

Now a link in a chain,
pulling the weight of the ages
off the backs of the downtrodden.
Each a tiny hailstone, that will beat
upon the windowpane of our consciousness,

intrude in the paths of our notice,
tug like a child on our sleeve
'til we look at them...
and see them plain.


5. The Road to Beijing, the Pendulum Swing
.
The world of women is moving.
Like the cream to the surface,
Like a groundswell slowly rising,
Like a mighty river flood,
Soon a torrent to the sea...
First a trickle down the mountain,
Then a rivulet to the stream.
Coming from each hill and byway
Joining at each pass and glimmering
Like a spidery web of lava,
Molten lava shimmering
Down the side of a volcano.

Women the world over
Have been birthing and then giving
Babes into the arms of death.
Sacrificing sons in battle.
Women, victims of rape and beating,
Alcohol and malnutrition.
Eking out subsistence living
The world over just like cattle.

All is born upon the back
Of this illiterate beast of burden,
This ignominious chattel.
Yet the beast is slowly rising
From its knees and from its burden
To tip the scales with its yearning,
Set the pendulum to swinging.

Let the good women now step forward
Bearing ancient tender mercy
As a mark upon their brow.
Not the greedy or the froward,
Lusting, hungry just for power.
But the noble and courageous.
To be swept up in the tide
Of this great momentous hour
When the wave is gently washing
All the sorrow in its motion,
And revealing only hope
And a birth of possibilities.
An expectant dawning healing,
Loving arms and deep devotion
Nurturing, cradling, giving
To the cause of humankind.


6. My Lament

Where does it hurt?
Here? There? Where?
It hurts in the soles of my feet
for I cannot walk another mile
so tired am I
of man's inhumanity to man.

Where does it hurt?
In the roots of my hair
which stand on end
each time I stare at the tube and see
a field of mangled bodies lying there.
Babies, ladies, men,
lying in the wake of
rebel/government forces.
The joints of my limbs pain me
in this stormy weather
of foggy allegiances
and thundering shelling,
freezing famine and broken cities.

Where does it ache?
In the depth of my chest
where my labored breathing constrains
with the cries of drowning desperates
fleeing a prison island,
seeking asylum mercilessly denied.
As the world sternly admonishes:
"We will not change your fate
but will boycott your escape
You must simply wait, wait, wait."

Most of all I feel the pain
in the pounding of my head
as we count the endless dead
trickling in over the hours,
waiting for their voting power
to be instituted.
And then hope it holds together
and isn't all subverted
by the blood lust of the hateful.
And I carry the weight
in the burning of my heart
over every child that's starving
every man that's hating
every woman waiting
for the god's to hand her peace
on a sterling silver salver
when she knows it's all within her
to take in her hand the reigns,
teach her children from the cradle
feed them peace like mother's milk.

This endless hail of torments,
dwarfing Hecuba's lament
as she cried among the ashes
with head bowed and shoulders bent
that "sorrow out sorrows sorrow."

This poor body of mankind,
is riddled with its pain,
racked with sobbing,
dulled with shame,
at the wonder of our wickedness,
at the depth of our oblivion.
The atrocities of Dante's vision
come alive and here to reign.

My poor body with its woes,
racked with weeping,
feels the anguish slowly seeping
to the marrow of my soul.


7. Isaiah's Longing

Climbing up a mountain
they are coming,
all the nations coming.
Up white steps of marble
beat of drumming, water humming
spilling fountains
they are climbing,
eyes a'shining.
Sun glistening on ebony
tears streaming from blue iris
jet hair flowing,
breeze a'blowing
old on young arm leaning
all the colors of the rainbow
they are oh so slowly streaming
up the mountain of the Lord.

And the mountain stands awaiting
arms flung out, embracing,
Noah's ark receiving
the children of the world.
The gentle people flowing,
past the silent lush greening,
in the flowers peace is dreaming,
round the golden domed, gleaming
house of the Lord.

The gravel paths are crunching,
feet are kissing
ground they're touching.
Hushed emotion brimming.
They come with faces glowing,
against all odds here reaching,
out of oppression rising,
up from death to resurrection
from four corners of the earth.
Golden age of man in birth!
From the midmost heart of forest,
from the ocean floor arising,
coming home to desert blooming,
to fulfill Isaiah's longing
troops, masses all now thronging
up the mountain of the Lord.


8. Peace Treaty

I come to your border with a longing.
I come to this table with a prayer.
I have spent all my anguish in my exile
and I lay my heart before you bare.

Upon this desert rock I lay it
and dare you to embrace my broken soul.
This soil, cousin, you and I both claimed it
but peace has now become our only goal.

A trail of tears has led me to this pass
yet a thousand sorrows I will swallow.
My angry guns I will renounce at last
not knowing safely what may follow.

My hungry hands will seize this thorny rose
and plant it in this barren soil.
I give you here my solemn oath
for a tenuous hope of a tomorrow.

9. Little children

Your poetry is fashioned of gossamer wings.
Ephemeral cotton candy strings,
sweet and melting in the mouth.
Fleeting, breathing not a sound,
but whispering sweet nothings.
With cadence and rhythm swings.
I put no price on such things.
I drink and drink
to fill my soul.
And sing with both eyes closed
inhaling the perfumed rose
that is your being
to me.


10. Moth-like

These days I feel my very soul aflame...
Flame in my veins.
These days I think
I will dissolve into the light.
A moth circling the candle at night.
My life has taken on a hazy, ethereal quality
a pace defined by the urgency of these days.

All things come swirling together,
connecting like a glowing string of pearls
and I am caught in this momentum.
Increasing love, increasing astonishment.
At the truth of the promises,
at the power laden in the motions of this hour.

The Lesser Peace approaches,
the far flung Arc will sail,
the troops are knocking at my door,
and I have no time to sleep.

I am wide awake.
I am scared to make a move
but more so to stay behind,
or to take my eyes away
from the awesome crashing wave.
I reach for familiar things
as the flood engulfs.
I want to take with me those I love
but know that each of us
determines his own fate.
I watch all, pray I will keep awake.
And sometimes pray I will expire,
the ecstasy is too intense.

All things are moving,
All things are connected,
all things obey.
"Unto God, the Lord of Lords,
belong the kingdoms of earth and heaven."

All is well.
Be still my heart... Be still.


11. Sojourner and Táhirih

Oh, to live
in a radiant century
where Táhirih breathed
where Sojourner travelled.

To women
all former ages
are dark ages
to us, merely cages.
But oh, to live in a radiant century
to fill up its pages
with words of steel
steps of liberation
a purpose drawn
from the deep well,
of God's inspiration
To be earth-born daughters
of these sister stars
in a constellation
that illumines the night
that ushers in
the morn of salvation.

On a porch, on a summer, in a place
where no toil can reach them
the white silk gown flaps in the breeze
the quick step returns to impatient pacing
"Oh Truth!” says the poet, “That I were given yet another life,
that I might cast it away
before another wayward generation."

Echoes from the figure in the rocker a low chuckle
a twinkle in eyes as deep as the universe,
"Sure seems like things could use a little push."
"A push? No, Truth, they must be set ablaze!"

"What's true's gotta come to the surface,
and it's all gonna be coming to a head pretty soon."

Again, the white scarf whips in the wind
"Truth, how can you have such patience,
such resignation to the pace of things?
This is the radiant century!
When all shall come to light,
when the realities of all things shall be revealed!
And yet..."

"Go on."

"The oppression is so great they know not where to turn for truth!"

"Honey chile, you reach with one hand and I'll hold with the other
and together we'll pull this veil off the whole thing.
The truth is something that pushes thru the brown earth,
like the crocus in the spring,
and brittle snow can't hold it down.
There's been so much racket,
there's bound to be a break up pretty soon.
But you go on, honey chile,
I ain't one to hold a soul back."
Her chuckle deepens.
"Just don't know if this age could take
the ruckus you would raise!"

"Ah, you come too, Truth.
Bia!" she beckons with Persian grace.

There is no hesitation on Sojourner's face
Her heartbeat can easily match Tahirih's pace
Both breaths emanate
from the same Holy Spirit,
sweet breezes wafting from place to place.
Kindred suffering
illumined their fate.
Hearts grieve their lost children
Pain, only God can embrace --
only endured by the brave.
Courage, defiance
against the evil in the land
all the heedlessness of man.

They, who lived
in the radiant century
when the bonds were broken
and the light let in,
prophetic words spoken
to let the dawn begin.

Oh, I hear them.
I hear them yet.
I see them
in that hallowed space
at the dawn of grace
“Bia. Bia!” They beckon.
“C’mon chile,” they say.


12. The Legend of El Paraíso

I went to sit upon a giant rock
sister to a waterfall
in a place where peacocks roamed
and beauty was for free

The afternoon was mild as milk
the sky was deep and blue
the gurgling brook laughed its glee
while summer roses drooped

There was a legend to this place
this house of centuries gone by
It stood upon Colombian soil
its relics well preserved

A boy and girl were raised there;
he a son of landed wealth
she, an epileptic orphan ward
by beauty graced but sad in health

Fate decreed for them a love from childhood true
but guardians opposed to such a union
The boy was sent away across the seas;
fate was unkind in their reunion.

He studied medicine in Britain
with noble hopes to cure his gentle love
But, alas, she repined so grievously his absence
her life waned and flickered like a wounded dove

At last, the son was sent for
and took to the high seas on the first sail
but so protracted proved his voyage
his foot struck shore as her last breath exhaled

Now, centuries gone, amid antiques and lace
and outdoor kettles of colonial times
one walks these halls and grounds
hearing their lingering tears and sighs

I felt the pull of love beyond the ages
the call of longing 'cross the sea;
their heartbreak bears the wisdom of sages
their love transcends their tragedy

Its perfume lingers in the roses
Its promise hangs suspended in midair
crowds come seeking a long lost Joseph
and find love's fragrance living there.


13. The House

There is a house at the end of a road...
Not far, just a short breath away
To be reached in the twinkling of an eye.
Roses and greenery surround it
Lacy curtains billow at the open windows...
And lights are glowing at twilight beckoning home.

The air is filled with expectancy
Music flows softly thru its noble arches...
The furnishings are polished;
All is poised in readiness for a perpetual party.
Its radiance is the work of happy hands,
diligent in their tasks.

The master of the house is Bahá'u'lláh
And we are the servants of this house;
We invite in the guests
Take in our hands their burdensome cloaks
Seat them at the banquet table
And serve them a feast of love...

But to do this we must first be of the house.
Abiding in glory...
Adorned in refinement
Clothed with humility.
We must live in the house...
And leave the world outside.


14. Isaiah's Longing - Bonus

Climbing up a mountain
they are coming,
all the nations coming.
Up white steps of marble
beat of drumming, water humming
spilling fountains
they are climbing,
eyes a‘shining.
Sun glistening on ebony
tears streaming from blue iris
jet hair flowing,
breeze a'blowing
old on young arm leaning
all the colors of the rainbow
they are oh so slowly streaming
up the mountain of the Lord.

All the nations coming…
All the nations coming.

And the mountain stands awaiting
arms flung out, embracing,
Noah's ark receiving
the children of the world.
The gentle people flowing,
past the silent lush greening,
in the flowers peace is dreaming,
round the golden domed, gleaming
House of the Lord.

All the nations coming…
All the nations coming.

The gravel paths are crunching,
feet are kissing
ground they're touching.
Hushed emotion brimming.
They come with faces glowing,
against all odds here reaching,
out of oppression rising,
up from death to resurrection
from four corners of the earth.
Golden age of man in birth!
From the midmost heart of forest,
from the ocean floor arising,
coming home to desert blooming,
to fulfill Isaiah's longing
troops, masses all now thronging
up the mountain of the Lord.

All the nations coming…
All the nations coming.



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