Friday, 16 July 2010

An Aerra Lida

An Aerra Lida, a midsummer festival celebrating the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, is being held at Lichfield Cathedral and Close next Saturday, July 24th, 10am to 4pm. Expect re-enactments, arts and craft displays and, apparently, music.

I doubt, though, whether the songs will be quite as entertaining as ‘Rameses II is Dead, My Love’, a brilliant piece of anachronism by The Fugs, whose leading light, Tuli Kupferberg, died this week. The Fugs, for our younger readers, were one of the first and most controversial flowerings of the sixties counterculture. For all their more than occasional silliness, they offered the odd sublime moment. They set the poetry of Matthew Arnold and William Blake to music and created at least one extraordinary song that was a profound demonstration of historical contingency.

Imagine these lyrics sung in a Nashville twang:

Rameses the Second is dead, my love
He's left from Memphis for heaven
Ptah has taken him in the Solar Barge
And walked him to Nut's celestial shores

Ramses the Second is dead, my love
He's wandering the plains where the blessed live
Ptah and Ra and Sokaris too
Are taking him on th' Celestial Boat

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