ditch,

the poetry that matters

Donato Mancini

Donato Mancini is the author two books of procedural and visual poetry, Ligatures (2005) and Æthel (2007), both from New Star books, both nominated for the ReLit Award. He also co-directed the world's first genuine in-world avatar documentary AVATARA (2003). Long time member of the Kootenay School of Writing in Vancouver BC, he was a principal organiser of the N 49 15.832 - W 123 05.921 Positions Colloquium in August 2008. He is now finishing a third collection of visual and textworks for New Star and beginning to prepare for publication his book-length study of the ideology and ideolects of poetry reviewing in Canada.

Candles in the Wind

CANDLES IN THE WIND
deceased at the age of 36 years

Candle in the Wind 1231 for Saint Anthony of Padua
Candle in the Wind 1536 for Anne Boleyn
Candle in the Wind 1548 for Catherine Parr
Candle in the Wind 1695 for Henry Purcell
Candle in the Wind 1721 for Antoine Watteau
Candle in the Wind 1794 for Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre
Candle in the Wind 1824 for Lord Byron
Candle in the Wind 1852 for Lady Lovelace, Ada Byron
Candle in the Wind 1860
for General William Walker
Candle in the Wind 1875 for George Bizet
Candle in the Wind 1877 for Crazy Horse
Candle in the Wind 1901 for Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Candle in the Wind 1916 for Franz Marc
Candle in the Wind 1920 for Amadeo Modigliani
Candle in the Wind 1922 for Velimir Khlebnikov
Candle in the Wind 1930 for Vladimir Mayakovsky
Candle in the Wind 1944 for Rene Daumal
Candle in the Wind 1962 for Marilyn Monroe
Candle in the Wind 1964 for Eric Dolphy
Candle in the Wind 1981 for Bob Marley
Candle in the Wind 1982 for Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Candle in the Wind 1987 for Jaco Pastorius
Candle in the Wind 1993 for GG Allin
Candle in the Wind 1997 for Lady Diana Frances Spencer
Candle in the Wind 1997 #2 for Gul Mohammed
Candle in the Wind 1997 #3
for the polar bears of Stanley Park, Vancouver BC
Candle in the Wind 2000 for Sandra Schmirler
Candle in the Wind 2002 for Mary Hansen
Candle in the Wind 2003
for Qusay Hussein
Candle in the Wind 2007
for Pedro Zamora




Candle in the Wind 1231
for St Anthony of Padua

Goodbye Ferdinand Bouillon
Lily, violet, rose: florilegium
Virtues to serve corruption
The hammer of your blessed tongue
Born into highest privilege
Consumed by another flame    
You climbed down from the lofty seat
And erased your noble name

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Keeping your flocks dry
When the rain set in
If the Devil broke a wineglass
On your touch it could refill
Your candle burned out long before
Your prayers ever will

Orthodoxy was tough
Among the suffering your home
Your dream of all equality
The conclusion was forgone
If you were born today
Who knows who you’d have been
But with your rebellious heart
I can forgive your religion

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
As one long act of sacrifice
For those who never win
Your sermons poured down like honey
Passion for justice never hid
Your body rotted long before
Your pink tongue ever did

Goodbye Antonio
With its treasures the heart dwells
As you spoke on the usurer’s plot
The rich man lies in hell




Candle in the Wind 1695
for Henry Purcell

Fare thee well Master Purcell
Brethren of lyre and tuneful voice
Your lays alone do please the gods
And they cannot mend their choice
A crackle of your warbling throat
Like the lark and linnet sing
Raised you to His Majesty's
Composer in Ordinary for the Violin

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
As arch-especial
As pelted plumage under wings
O with your air of angels lift me
As Hopkins never could
Your candle faded long before
Your quaint moonmarks ever would

So ceas'd the rival crew
when Henry Purcell came
Sang they no more of welcome Spring
Sang only to your fame
Struck dumb they all admir'd
You toad-like music man
Alas too soon retir'd
As you too late began

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Giving soulful utt'rance
To the moods of man's mind
Not mood in you nor meaning
Proud fire nor sacred fear
Candles burn out long before
Your throngs quiet on the ear

Anon, my friend Hank
Wherever you walked your mile
Your wuthering snow-pinions
Scatter a colossal smile




Candle in the Wind 1721
for Jean-Antoine Watteau

Goodbye Fêtes galantes
In the moonlight cool and lone
A prick of joy may touché a life 
That all too soon is gone
Your testament is not needlepoint
You gave those moments certain form
When the spark of desire
Turns sweet summer into storm

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Fading like the sunshine
Of so many twilight dreams
You could have spent 10 million
As many francs or days
Your candle burned out long before
You gave it all away

Mortality is tough
A soul depends upon a star
With the illnesses that shadowed you
You knew life is light as air
O how it rains in my heart
As it softly rains upon the town
So soon each one must follow
Where all vain dreams have flown

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Scattered on the breezes
Like the songs we sing
Though we try to quench our hopes
We really never could
Your candle burned out long before
Your wisdom ever would

Goodbye Jean-Antoine
Who painted earthly lives of ghosts 
Your name flows as your brush once did
The names of all those loved and lost




Candle in the Wind 1824
for Lord Byron

Goodbye Gordon Noel
Who wrung eloquence from woe
You made magic of your passion
Gave your stumbling Heaven’s glow
Born in twisted poverty
You stepped up to troubled fame
Promised a life of infamy
With Lord Byron’s tainted name

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Caught out in the rains
Of blood and ink that did you in
Why go on if you regret a youth
Burned at both ends?
Your candle burned out long before
Your redemption began

Deformity was tough
Shame a chain that held your soul
Exiled to the perfect freedom
Only those in bondage know
But as the sword wears out its sheath
The soul outwears its day
You marched the Grecian battlefield
To shake off your bonds of clay

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Shivering on the shores
Where weeping angels dry their wings
And if Time tempers Love
The scars of Hope never fled
What are a thousand living loves
To that which cannot quit the dead?

And goodbye Son of Fire
If that means ‘flamer’ we’ll never know
England doused your scandals
Only centuries too slow




Candle in the Wind 1877
for Crazy Horse

Goodbye Our Strange Man
Though no one ever knew you at all
Your charity and your fire
Have made you monumental
Still just a fair-skinned boy
When you defeated the Araphos
You grew into your father’s name
Crazy Horse: Ta' Shunke Witko

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never quite knowing the danger
Your life was in
And your spirit rides on here
From Dakota’s blackest hills
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever will

Winters grew tough
As the buffalo were killed away
Circle of your lives so lightly drawn
Wiped out by the trains
You were the one they thought
White man’s bullets could not harm
So they stabbed you with a bayonet
As Little Big Man held your arms

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never quite knowing the danger
Your life was in
Your form begins to rise here
From Dakota’s blackest hills
All heroes burn out long before
Their legends ever will

And goodbye Curly Hair
A ghost dance to raise your soul
The wanton greed you fought
Still ravages our world




Candle in the Wind 1922
for Velimir Khlebnikov

Goodbye Viktor Vladimirovich
Priest of Flowers, King of Time
You brought to us the Word as Such
While world warlords waged their crimes
Cubo-Futurism’s golden child
They gave you so many names
Though they crowned you with the great
You could barely hold on to fame

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Bullied by army Philistines
In camps outside Tsaritsyn
But your spirit travels on here
As the Volga turns the mills
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever will

Homelessness was tough
Walking across the Motherland
It’s hard to live on bread and tea
No matter how genius the man
Those legs that carried you so far
Paralysed in your last days
O Chairman of the Terrestrial Globe
Your names, too, died away

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never thinking to change your diet
When malnutrition set in
But your words will always bloom here
In Astrakhan’s bitter chill
A candle burns down long before
The legend ever will

Goodbye Viktor Vladimirovich
Searching history for cosmic clues
To think of you without even boots
Sure gives us the blues




Candle in the Wind 1962
for Marilyn Monroe, by Bernie Taupin

Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

Loneliness was tough
The toughest role you ever played
Hollywood created a superstar
And pain was the price you paid
Even when you died
Oh the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Marilyn was found in the nude

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

Goodbye Norma Jean
From the young man in the 22nd row
Who sees you as something more than sexual
More than just our Marilyn Monroe





Candle in the Wind 1981
for Bob Marley

Goodbye Robert Nesta
Hungry son of a Bellyfull
Your song flared up into a wail:
Where on Earth can our people go?
When the locks began to bloom
In Trench Town’s blighted lanes
They marked you as their prophet
And you grew your dreaded mane

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Preferring to lie with cancer
Than commit a Rasta sin
I would’ve liked to smoke one with you
But I was just a kid
Your ganja burned out long before
Your legend ever did

Keepin’ it real was tough
In the music market reality
If in Kingston you mean politics
On Wreck Beach you’re just wacky weed
Even though you died
Wearing Sellasie’s lion ring
You couldn’t rebut Eric Clapton
Jar-Jar Binks-ing what you sing

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Preferring to die of cancer
Than commit a Rasta sin
I should of been jammin’ with you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Sales of Legend ever did

Goodbye King of Reggy
You leave a mighty legacy:
Reggae’s worth as much as bananas
To the Jamaican economy




Candle in the Wind 1997
for Lady Diana Frances Spencer, by Bernie Taupin


Goodbye England's rose
May you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
And you whispered to those in pain.
Now you belong to heaven,
And the stars spell out your name.

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall here,
Among England's greenest hills
Your candle's burned out long before
Your legend ever will.

Loveliness we've lost
These empty days without your smile. 
This torch we'll always carry
For our nation's golden child.
And even though we try,
The truth brings us to tears;
All our words cannot express
The joy you brought us through the years.

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in.
And your footsteps will always fall here,
Among England's greenest hills
Your candle's burned out long before
Your legend ever will.

Goodbye England's rose,
From a country lost without your soul,
Who'll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you'll ever know.




Candle in the Wind 1997 #3  
for the polar bears of Stanley Park, Vancouver

Goodbye Vancouver’s pets
Forever in the zoo of our hearts
You were the North pacing back and forth
In a corner of Stanley Park
You never saw our city
And lived out lives too plain
Now you belong to memory
We decorate your empty caves

And it seems to me you lived your lives
Like candles in the wind
Yellowed with the seasons
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to feed you
But we never could
Your candles burned out long before
Your legend ever would

Boredom was tough
The North pole so far away
You were local celebrities
Yawning in your lairs
And although we’ll never know
The rumours bring us to tears
You went mad and killed yourselves
Having suffered through those years

And it seems to me you lived your lives
Like candles in the wind
Snuffed out in the season
When the rains set in
Your footsteps will always fall here
Near Vancouver’s sulphur hills
Your candles burned out long before
Your legend ever will

And goodbye our friend Tuk
You were 36 years old
It hurts to read “Don’t Feed the Bears”
More than you’ll ever know

A note on Candles in the Wind

I was in Paris, France when Lady Diana Frances Spencer died in a high-speed car accident, on August 31 1997. Elton John and Bernie Taupin, as you know, in memoriam revised the lyrics of their 1973 song for Marilyn Monroe. The new version "Candle in the Wind 1997 / Goodbye England's Rose" sold quite a few copies. In 2003, I decided to participate in their tradition and wrote a version of Candle in the Wind for the 2 polar bears of Stanley Park. Their story is as touching as any landmine victim's. Polar bears, who wander 1000s of miles in a season, go mad in zoos, and their shrieking misery sparked a Vancouver plebiscite in 1993. It took me some time to realise that Marilyn Monroe, Lady Di, and Tuk, the last polar bear, were all 36 years old at the time of their deaths. Obviously, I had found a perfect basis for a series of poems. 6 years later, I would be further along with the series (aiming for 36 Candles, of course) except for the severe difficulty of the form, and the other strict constraints including, crucially, that I have sincere feelings for the subject of the tribute. As you can see from the list I have only identified 30 suitable subjects, but the collecting goes on. All of the Candles above were composed before 2006. If you would like to collaborate with me on finishing the series and publishing the eventual songbook, please get in touch: donatoma AT gmail DOT com


[These poems first appeared in FRONT magazine]
[author photo by Matthew Brown]

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