Under the Gripping Beast & Into the Fire

from by Michael Kelly

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A long awaited duet, combining the haunting original
by Cat Faber, and its answering song by Michelle Dockrey.
I had known and loved both of these songs already, but when
I first heard Michelle and her band, Escape Key, perform,
I knew that this collaboration with her was something
that I definitely wanted to see happen. As one who often
finds finding inspiration to be a challenge, I found these
songs about musicians that risk their souls for love and
inspiration particularly evocative.


For a journal bound in leather fine, as soft as human skin,
A gripping beast embossed thereon and all the world therein,
I bargained with a Power; I need scarcely mention who,
And should I keep it till my death, the standard fee falls due.

Under the gripping beast is all the price I'll pay,
For I'm quits of all my bargain, if I throw the book away.
But for that pain of parting, there can be no balm, nor salve;
For just an hour longer, I will hold to what I have.

I sat there, that first evening, the book upon my knee.
I opened it, and held my breath, for fear of what I'd see.
The stuff of creativity, from Hell and Heaven wrung;
The ghosts of tales untested and of stories yet unsung.


As I read, my breathing raced to meet my heart's demand,
For scraps of songs and stories there were written in my hand.
I turned to seize a pencil and my eyes were fever-bright;
I slept but half an hour, but I wrote three songs that night.


My songs and stories brought me joy, honor they did win.
Without the book, I still would be an orphan looking in.
The thought that I must lose it is the sum of all my fears.
"For just an hour longer" I have held it fifty years.


I've tasted of creation and the time draws near to rest,
But I haven't finished writing, and the last must be the best.
I battle death by inches and too soon will know defeat
But I won't discard the book before my swansong is complete.


Beloved of the singer, I, and harper to her song
Yet time to time I sensed in her some strange and silent wrong
Though long our life together, and her songs we played with pride
She kept her secret pain from me until the day she died

Into the fire lies the path that I must tread
For I swear I'll pull her from the flames or burn there in her stead
Her gentle rest I could have borne, but now the price I know
Into the beast's eternal grip I cannot let her go

The price she paid was shown me as I stood beside the bier
For I bent to give a farewell kiss and grief turned into fear
Two things clutched tightly to her breast that froze me where I stood
A journal bound in leather and a parchment signed in blood


I closed my eyes and laid my torch to the timbers of the pyre
Stood summoning my courage as I faced the blazing fire
With all the force of rage and grief I called Him in my mind
Then felt the flames engulf me and in blood-red strike me blind


There in His court I met His gaze, my blood a pounding drum
No words we spoke, He knew my mind, He knew why I had come
I flexed my aging fingers as I touched them to the strings
I held her face within my mind and then began to sing

A song of love so pure that it could reach through darkest pain
For tears shone on His face as we were freed from His domain
I marveled even through my joy as we left the fiery keep
Waterfalls could run uphill; Lucifer could weep


We said our last farewell and she stepped through the shining gate
I found myself at home again, the hour growing late
There on her empty pillow lay, and God knows what within,
A journal bound in leather fine, as soft as human skin.


from Fields of the North, released February 1, 2003
Guitar, Musical Arrangement - Michael Kelly
Cello - Christina Zaenker
Vocals - Michelle Dockrey, Michael Kelly
Melody - Catherine Faber, used with permission
Lyrics - Catherine Faber, Michelle Dockrey, used with permission



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Michael Kelly Vancouver, British Columbia

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