29 thoughts on “Gulf of Araby

  1. Natalie Merchant used the Maniacs to ride to fame then left them at their height for own career.

    I dislike her intensely. She’s selfish and a sell out.

  2. …whoa.

    I hadn’t heard that song before, and…well, I’m in a similar situation to what you described, but for the third time in a row.

    Thank you.

  3. I’m very fond of Natalie Merchant, but mostly I’m commenting because I read your linked post. I did not know of that loss (or you actually) when it was written, and I won’t offer up what are, as you say, far distant condolences, but I will tell you that the post touched me and brought memories of a similar loss and the image you gave of the child on the train made it seem far less bitter.

    Now I’m going to listen to the song.

  4. Spending my life crossing a bridge spanning part of the Gulf of Araby (yes, there is one) , and having lately gone through the same “this” as Krissy and you, this post has very weird resonances right now.
    And now your image of the child and the train will serve for me the purpose of the song. Thank you.

  5. I’ve loved that song so much for so long now. Every time I hear it it reminds me of my sister, and I smile a bit.

    And then I start bawling.

  6. Wow, I read the linked post and it really hit home. My wife and I lost 2 sets of twins (20 wks and 16 wks) and it changes a person. However, you can’t let it define you. It’s tough to describe the grief of what will never be, but you did it very well.

    Thanks,

  7. That linked post reminds me of a moment when I asked a similarly ham-handed question, except I had the misfortune of asking the presumptive mother-to-be how she could be so skinny when she was supposed to be six months along. I felt lower than dirt when my friend told me his wife had miscarried.

  8. John,

    As always, your generosity and willingness to share with your readers touch me. I hope the Natalie’s song brings you the comfort you were seeking today.

  9. Thanks, Gennita. Although it happened a long time ago, actually, and today I feel fine. I just wanted to share the song.

  10. Oh, how interesting, for lack of a better word, I mean. I remember hearing this song in 2002 at Craig Hospital in Denver where I was holed up while my partner faced a serious, very long drawn out illness. Me, at the laptop, sqeezed between minifridge and an IV infusion pump. And it may have been weeks later (or months) I don’t remember now. But I remember sitting at a laptop in said hospital room, squeezed between a minifridge and an IV infusion pump, when I did the described cheerily unaware “How’s the pregnancy?” thing and you told me about the miscarriage. And I thought when I heard, man– too much pain everywhere, and went out with my dog and took a walk in a park, and tried to find the happy.

    Glad we both found it eventually.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    While we turned to adoption as our way to build a family, hearing this song again always reminds me of the fear we had when both the US and Cambodia shut down adoption between the two countries. Our paperwork was caught and our son, who’s picture we had been holding for so long, was caught too. We were lucky, he came home to us eventually and is a healthy 9 year old now, but to this day I remember my constant fear not only of loss, but of knowing that most of the world would not understand it as a loss and so we would have to both grieve and justify our grief over and over.

    I’m sorry for your loss those years ago and hope you need never repeat it.

  12. Thanks. My wife and I are going through our second miscarriage in 5 months at the moment. Our solace is in the fact that we have a healthy happy 3 year old boy. Without that we’d be drowning in sorrow.

    Another friend is currently reading (and loving) the OMW series that I lent him while his wife recovers from surgery in the hopes of eventually being able to get pregnant at all.

    Small world. Thanks for making it smaller.

  13. Hearing the lyrics is a bit hard in that live performance, and since I’d never heard the song I dug them up. Hope this helps others. Apologies to copyright.

    NATALIE MERCHANT
    Gulf Of Araby

    If you could fill a veil with shells from Killiney’s shore
    and sweet talk in a tongue that is no more
    If wishful thought could bridge
    The Gulf Of Araby
    Between what is, what is, what is
    And what can never be

    If you could hold the frozen flow of New Hope Creek
    And hide out from the one they said you might meet
    If you could unlearn all the words
    That you never wanted heard
    If you could stall the southern wind
    That’s whistling in your ear
    You could take what is, what is, what is
    To what can never be

    One man of seventy whispers free at last
    Two neighbors who are proud of their massacres
    Three tyrants torn away in a winter’s month
    Four prisoners framed by a dirty judge
    Five burned with tyres
    Six men still alive
    And seven more days to shake at the great divide

    We would plough and part the earth to bring you home
    We would harvest every miracle ever known
    If they laid out all the things
    That these ten years want to bring
    We would gladly give them up
    To bring you back to us
    O, there is nothing we would not give
    To kiss you and believe we can take what is, what is, what is
    To what can never be

    One man of seventy whispers not free yet
    Two neighbors who make up knee-deep in their dead
    Three tyrants torn away in the summer’s heat
    Four prisoners lost in the fallacy
    Five, on my life
    Six, I’m dead inside
    And seven more days to shake at the great divide
    The Gulf Of Araby

  14. After trying for many a year (almost two decades, actually), my wife and I had a child in 1998.

    A few years later the unexpected happened again, so we told Laura that she was going to have a brother or sister.

    Then we went through a situation similar to what you describe. No heartbeat, etc.

    I still mourn for my lost child. As does my wife. As does my daughter, for her sibling that never was.

  15. Thank you for posting this song. A friend had forwarded your blog and Amazon book links. So timely, since we were discussing dreams and life and “what can never be.”

    Be well.

  16. I’m sorry to hear of your loss. My spouse and I went through a miscarriage soon after being married; you express the feelings so well.

  17. Yes a wonderful song. It has a profound poetic lyricalness to it. A deep keen that touches the soul.

    HOWEVER>>> It is a Katell Keineg song. Written & most profoundly sung by this Welsh born daughter of a Breton playwright / Poet who now reside in Dublin.

    The correct lyric:

    Words and music by Katell Keineg

    If you could fill a veil with shells from Killiney’s shore
    And sweet talk in a tongue that is no more
    If wishful thought could bridge
    The Gulf of Araby
    Between what is
    What is
    What is
    And what can never be

    If you could hold the frozen flow of New Hope Creek
    And hide out from the one they said you might meet
    If you could unlearn all the words
    That you never wanted heard
    If you could stall the southern wind
    That’s whistling in your ears
    You could take what is
    What is
    What is
    What is
    To what can never be

    One man of seventy whispers free at last
    Two neighbors who are proud of their massacres
    Three tyrants torn away in a winter’s month
    Four prisoners framed by a dirty judge
    Five burned with tyres
    Six men still inside
    And seven more days to shake at the great divide

    The Gulf, the Gulf of Araby
    The Gulf, the Gulf of Araby

    Well, we would plough and part the earth to bring you home
    And harvest every miracle ever known
    If they laid out all the things
    That these ten years want to bring
    We would gladly give them up
    To bring you back to us
    O, there is nothing we would not give
    To kiss you and believe you can take what is
    What is
    What is
    To what can never be

    One man of seventy whispers not free yet
    Two neighbors who make up knee-deep in their dead
    Three tyrants torn away in the summer’s heat
    Four prisoners lost in the fallacy
    Five, on my life
    And six, I’m dead inside
    And seven more days to shake at the great divide

    The Gulf, the Gulf of Araby
    The Gulf, the Gulf of Araby

  18. Note… Katell Keineg’s mother is Welsh & her father was a Breton Poet. Katell was born in Brittany & raised in Cardiff. She travels widely, singing & sharing her unique voice as she goes from place to place. Most often seen in NYC area & Dublin.

  19. Still a sucker for sad lyrics and passionate mellod, Natalie pushes one my way on occasion. Katell’s tune floored me. It came at the right time so I’m happy, saddened, confused and delighted. Thanks in Atlanta.

  20. Natalie Merchant is a great artist,a woderfull and thoughtfull person,a accomplished composer and a clear and powerfull voice.Her music and life are very inspiring.You have good taste and you have chosen wisely.

  21. Natalie Merchant WAS the Maniacs. She was the principal songwriter for them and became the Manaics sound. As evidenced since her departure, they have had a couple of cd’s to no success.

    RE: # Chrison 27 Apr 2008 at 1:03 pm
    Natalie Merchant used the Maniacs to ride to fame then left them at their height for own career.

    I dislike her intensely. She’s selfish and a sell out.

  22. Although Natalie Merchant did cover this song, it was actually written and (I believe) performed much better by the original artist, Katell Keineg. The entire CD is amazing “O Seasons O Castles” 1994. There is a very good video on YouTube of her performing ‘Gulf of Araby’ just her and her guitar. When Katell sings this song, it is gut-wrenching. If you like Natalie Merchants’ version, I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to the original. Bare, naked, raw, heartbreaking.

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