AG: Well, this is Northern Australia. There were about, I think I read somewhere, three-thousand different Aboriginal languages spoken. So each tribe had its own dialect, some of them completely different so that one tribe couldn't understand another. Originally (before Englishmen came to Australia), they lived in the lusher parts of (the country). It wasn't total desert. But Australia is a vast continent (larger than the U(nited) S(tates)). So that the geographical instructions would be different for every part. Where I attended a funeral ceremony was in Arnhem Land, which is Northern Australia, which is only a few hundred miles south of New Guinea.
The Creation Myth, I don't think involved New Guinea. I don't know enough about it to say so. But mostly it was (that) they had a conception of an eternal Dreamtime (otherwise known as "the Dreaming"), which is where their tribe was formed, (not necessarily according to our sense of time). Large rocks or trees or natural features of the landscape are connected with the sleepy lizard or the (witchetty) slugs, or with people north of Ayers Rock, or south of Ayers Rock (two distinct classifications of humanoids!)
There are legends about how Sleepy Lizard decided to stop there and stay there and that's why the rock looks like a lizard, but, at the same time, it's continuous.. it's a continuous present. Their eternal Dreamtime seems to be some sort of Continuous Present, which fits in with their migration cycle (in the sense that some animals mentioned in the migration songs are known to have been extinct(ed) twelve or fourteen thousand years ago). Which means that they have the oldest culture, the oldest viable human culture on the planet that we know of (because)I don't think that there are any other poetry (that) has survived that long. If you want to (as Thomas Merton once did) measure the validity or viability of a culture by its stability, its long-lasting-ness, (then) they have the most viable culture of all (or they had, until we began destroying it!)
[Ancient Petroglyphs, Ancient Rock Art at Uluru (Ayers Rock) Australia, depicting Dreamtime myths, inscription and imagery from "the Dreaming"]
Student [pointing to Aboriginal inscription]: What animals are those?
[Ancient division of the land masses - Triassic Period]
The first songs I heard were children's songs -
[Don Bradman's Cricket Bat in the National Museum of Australia]
"Jumping over the windbreak, one by one,/ Jumping over the windbreak, one by one/Jumping over the windbreak, one by one".
So I guess the migration songs involving the dead that I heard, I don't remember. I recorded a lot of them but I didn't memorize any of them. (They) would be like, I don't know what kind of birds they have there (gulls, I suppose, because of the ocean)
AG: Pardon me?
AG: Lyrebirds, ok (probably some) lyrebirds, out toward New Guinea. I mean, like - "Sunrise, cloud of lyrebirds./ Sunrise, cloud of lyrebirds./ Sunrise, cloud of lyrebirds./ Sun over horizon, silver fish./ Sun over horizon, silver fish./ Sun over horizon, silver fish."
Student: Does it include something to the effect of "don't come back!" ?
AG: I don't know, actually. I don't know the metaphysical structure. I just was astounded by the fact that it was a geographic structure, to begin with, guiding the soul, like in William Carlos Williams' physical world. I don't think they'd be able to get back fromNew Guinea once they got there (if they were flying with their souls, that is).
Student: I don't know much about this at all, but either this weekend or next weekend [here at Naropa] there's this Monkey Chant..
Student: In the United States, there are rhythmic children's songs, like (these), no?
AG: Yeah (turns to Philip Whalen) - Did you get into any of those (in the classes you taught)? Were you going to.?
Philip Whalen: No, but there are various manifestations...
AG: Yeah. That's what's sort of curious..(that) it's basically the same thing (except that they're using songsticks and there's an old formalized pattern. I tried adapting that to my own use after a while... So, in Central Australia.. in (19)72.. in the center of Australia, there's Ayers Rock, which is a large red sandstone monolith, (porous, and so it collects water over the years, and water is continually dripping through the center of it down to pools around the edge, in the shady side and the sunny side). It's become sort of a sacred place for Central Australian tribes to do ceremonies at, and to stop over at, because there's always water there. It's called "Uluru" or Ayers Rock. This is written in a plane approaching Ayers Rock - [Allen reads in its entirety "Ayers Rock/Uluru Song" - "When the red pond fills, fish appear"..."One raindrop begins the universe"..."When the raindrop dries, worlds come to their end."
[Uluru (Ayers Rock) - Aboriginal Sacred Site (Australia)]
[Allen proceeds next to perform a (highly-improvised) unique early version (with songsticks) of Hum Bom! -"Stop Your Bomb" - "Stop Your Bomb" ..."and so forth" - (And) there's one other funny stanza - "Soldier man, don't bare your arms/ for dirty dope and dirty bombs/Soldier boy, your natural charms/don't include you shooting bombs/Air-force boy, don't bare your arms/high in the sky/dumb and calm/heaven's gate/quit kicking the gong/earth quakes when you drop your bomb.."]
[Audio from the above may be heard here - starting at approximately eleven-and-three-quarter minutes in, (Children's Songs begin approximately seventeen minutes in, Uluru, begins approximately twenty-two minutes in, Hum Bom improvisation begins approximately twenty-five-and-three-quarter minutes in) audio runs through to approximately twenty-nine-and-a-half minutes in]
[Aboriginal Rock Art, Anbangbang Rock Shelter, Kakadu National Park, Australia]