Show me that I’m Everywhere, and get me home for tea….

April is National Poetry Month here in the USA. Check out this fabulous  page (linked below) of paired poems found over at the blogsite of Brett Vogelsinger, ninth grade English teacher in Doylestown, Bucks County, PA.

I once stayed in Doylestown while participating in a months-long State-wide educational team project teaching Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhis Program throughout Pennsylvania. My hosting teammates assured me “Bucks County PA is God’s country!” Only years later did I learn that a couple of my 17th century Scottish Quaker ancestral grandparents were among the first white settlers to live in peace among the Native Americans of what is now Bucks County.  I’ve since grown used to such serendipitous connections. Anyway, Brett’s page is really great. Check it out.

I hope to post some of my personal favorite poems every day in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. I’d already been thinking about posting paired poems each day this month when I stumbled upon Brett’s page this morning. Poetic minds oft think alike (?) ! Or not!  Here is my paired offering for April 1st:  “Dining-Room Tea” by Rupert Brooke (1911), and “It’s All Too Much” by George Harrison (1967).

Dining-Room Tea

When you were there, and you, and you,
Happiness crowned the night; I too,
Laughing and looking, one of all,
I watched the quivering lamplight fall
On plate and flowers and pouring tea
And cup and cloth; and they and we
Flung all the dancing moments by
With jest and glitter. Lip and eye
Flashed on the glory, shone and cried,
Improvident, unmemoried;
And fitfully and like a flame
The light of laughter went and came.
Proud in their careless transience moved
The changing faces that I loved.

Till suddenly, and otherwhence,
I looked upon your innocence.
For lifted clear and still and strange
From the dark woven flow of change
Under a vast and starless sky
I saw the immortal moment lie.
One Instant I, an instant, knew
As God knows all. And it and you
I, above Time, oh, blind! could see
In witless immortality.

I saw the marble cup; the tea,
Hung on the air, an amber stream;
I saw the fire’s unglittering gleam,
The painted flame, the frozen smoke.
No more the flooding lamplight broke
On flying eyes and lips and hair;
But lay, but slept unbroken there,
On stiller flesh, and body breathless,
And lips and laughter stayed and deathless,
And words on which no silence grew.
Light was more alive than you.

For suddenly, and otherwhence,
I looked on your magnificence.
I saw the stillness and the light,
And you, august, immortal, white,
Holy and strange; and every glint
Posture and jest and thought and tint
Freed from the mask of transiency,
Triumphant in eternity,
Immote, immortal.

Dazed at length
Human eyes grew, mortal strength
Wearied; and Time began to creep.
Change closed about me like a sleep.
Light glinted on the eyes I loved.
The cup was filled. The bodies moved.
The drifting petal came to ground.
The laughter chimed its perfect round.
The broken syllable was ended.
And I, so certain and so friended,
How could I cloud, or how distress,
The heaven of your unconsciousness?
Or shake at Time’s sufficient spell,
Stammering of lights unutterable?
The eternal holiness of you,
The timeless end, you never knew,
The peace that lay, the light that shone.
You never knew that I had gone
A million miles away, and stayed
A million years. The laughter played
Unbroken round me; and the jest
Flashed on. And we that knew the best
Down wonderful hours grew happier yet.
I sang at heart, and talked, and eat, *
And lived from laugh to laugh, I too,
When you were there, and you, and you.

~~Rupert Brooke  (3 August 1887 – 23 April 1915)

[from wiki: Rupert Chawner Brooke (middle name sometimes given as “Chaucer”) …was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War, especially “The Soldier” [he would die in that war]. He was also known for his boyish good looks, which were said to have prompted the Irish poet W. B. Yeats to describe him as “the handsomest young man in England”.]

* eat –  here pronounced “et” (rhymes with yet), is proper high-toned British English usage for “ate”, past tense of “(to) eat” – pronounced “eet” (rhymes with heat).

The unspeakably awful recitation (below) with utterly miscomprehending tone and phrasing and timing, and one misread word (mark for mask!!) is the least terrible I’ve found. An immeasurably superior recitation could have been/should have been or be recorded by (a younger!) Rupert Everett, or (a younger) Hugh Grant, or — perhaps best of all — Daniel Day-Lewis.  Alas.

It’s All Too Much 

It’s all too much!
All too much!

When I look into your eyes
Your love is there for me
And the more I go inside
The more there is to see.

It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you.
Everywhere it’s what you make, for us to take it’s all too much.

Floating down the stream of time
From life to life with me
Makes no difference where you are, or where you’d like to be.

It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around here.
All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece but not too much.

Sail me on a silver sun
Where I know that I’m free
Show me that I’m everywhere and get me home for tea.

It’s all too much for me to see
The love that’s shining all around here.
The more I learn, the less I know
And what I do is all too much

It’s all too much for me to take,

The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere it’s what you make, for us to take it’s all too much.
It’s too much, it’s too much.

…With your long blond hair and your eyes of blue, with your long blond hair and your eyes of blue,

You’re Too much, (unintelligible words) , Ahh, too much

~~George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001)

There are two main recorded versions of this poem, written as a song-lyric. The earliest version was recorded during multiple sessions in May and June of 1967, but not released until January 1969. The second, considerably truncated version, nevertheless containing lines that had been cut from the earlier version, was edited down and for contractual reasons included in the animated film, Yellow Submarine, released in July 1968.  The extra lines in that film version are:

“Nice to have the time to take this opportunity / Time for me to look at you, and you to look at me.”

Between the recording sessions of May and June 1967 and the full song’s release in January 1969, Harrison and the other Beatles had met His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (c1917-2008). This occurred following their attendance at an August 1967 public lecture in London during the Himalayan master’s tenth annual world teaching tour.  They had been invited to the lecture by George’s wife, Patti Boyd Harrison, who some months before had been initiated into Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation program. Following the lecture, the Beatles and their wives / girlfriends attended a retreat in Wales where they were initiated by His Holiness into the ancient Vedic practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM).

In January 1968, the four musicians and their women partners attended part of a TM teacher training course in India conducted by Maharishi. While at the retreat course at Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh, the Beatles wrote most of the songs later recorded on the “White” album. They also entertained Maharishi and the other retreatants by singing and playing other new and old songs along with Donovan, members of the Beach Boys, and other musicians in attendance, sometimes improvising lyrics to suit the occasion. Some of these impromptu sessions included “It’s All Too Much”. The lines “with your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue”, originally written for Patti Boyd Harrison, were improvised as “with your long dark hair and your eyes so deep” (alternate: “…and your  eyes so true”, etc. ) in tribute to His Holiness. The refrain “Too much, too much!” was sometimes altered to “TM, TM!” The unintelligible line toward the end of the original recording of the song was altered to “Jai Guru Deva!”, a traditional phrase of gratitude to one’s guru which Maharishi so often invoked & evoked, referring to his own late beloved Master, known as (Shri) Guru Dev(a).

The first thing I thought of when I first heard George’s song/poem almost 50 years ago was the Rupert Brooke poem, “Dining-Room Tea.” The key was the Harrison couplet, “Show me that I’m everywhere/ And get me home for tea.” It perfectly apostrophes/ encapsulates the entire domestic-mystical Brooke poem in all it’s lovely length in just those two direct, simple, cosmic lines. I’m not certain that when Harrison composed his own poetic mystical love lyric in 1967, he was consciously remembering Brooke’s poem describing a mystical “Eternal-Now moment” experienced while taking tea with his beloved and their friends in 1911; but George was a devoted and knowledgeable fan of Rupert’s love poetry, so it seems very likely to have been reveberant in his  awareness, though quite possibly only subconsciously at the time of compositional inspiration.

Brooke wrote his (featured) poem when he was 24. Harrison was also 24 when he wrote his own (featured) poem and when, a few weeks later, he met and was initiated by his beloved meditation teacher Maharishi.

I can’t find a good complete online version of George’s song-poem recorded by himself and the other Beatles, but here he is enjoying a musical picnic tea with Maharishi and friends on the banks of the Ganges, Shankaracharya Nagar, Rishikesh, Himalayan foothills, India, March, 1968.

In the following video, you can hear (somewhat muffled) the original (complete) studio version of the song, sung by George in May-June 1967. This video was made so that the person shown loudly overplaying the guitar part can demonstrate how the instrument was played by George.

A large number of other artists have recorded covers of this mystical cosmic love poem-song, including the Grateful Dead, who also received initiation and instruction in  Transcendental Meditation from Maharishi in 1967.  Perhaps one of the best cover versions (depending on personal taste!) was recorded by Steve Hillage. Below is his live performance from 1977, ten years after George first recorded his song with the other Beatles.


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