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The hallmark of the ital quality of Dub Poetry Jah Rootsman is generating, is pushing the bound...

released Aug 21, 2011

The hallmark of the ital quality of Dub Poetry Jah Rootsman is generating, is pushing the boundaries in poetry rendition by shifting the paradigms of Poetry and Dub. With his live performances, Jah Rootsman transforms poetry rendition into an aesthetically visual art.

Aug 21, 2011



Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one
who commits a wrong
as though he were not one of you

but a stranger unto you
an intruder upon your world

But I say that even as the holy and the righteous
cannot rise beyond the highest
which is in each one of you
so the weak and the wicked cannot fall
lower than the lowest which is in you also

And as a single leaf turns not yellow
but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree
so the wrongdoer cannot do wrong
without the hidden will of you all

Like a procession you walk together
towards your god-self
and when one of you falls down
he falls for those behind him

A caution against the stumbling stone

that you alone and unguarded
commit a wrong unto others
and therefore unto yourself

and for that wrong committed
must you knock and wait a while
unheeded at the gate of the blessed

The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder
and the robbed is not blameless in being robbed
the righteous is not innocent
of the deed of the wicked

and the guilty is oftentimes the victim of the injured
and still more often
the condemned is the burden bearer
for the guiltless and the un-blamed

You cannot separate the just from the unjust
and the good from the wicked
for they stand together before the face of the sun

And let him who would lash the offender
look unto the spirit of the offended

if any of you would punish in the name of righteousness
and lay the axe unto the evil tree
let him see to its roots

And you judges who would be just
what penalty lay upon him who slays in the flesh
yet is himself slain in spirit

And how persecute you him
who in action is a deceiver and oppressor
yet who is also aggrieved and outraged

and how shall you punish those whose remorse
is already greater than their misdeeds

Is not remorse the justice
which is administered by the very laws
which you would fain to serve

Yet you cannot lay remorse upon the innocent
nor lift it from the heart of the guilty

And you who would understand justice
how shall you unless you look upon all deeds
in the fullness of light

Only then shall you know that the erect and the fallen
are but one man standing in the twilight
between the night of his pigmy self
and the day of his god self

and that the cornerstone of the temple
is not higher than the lowest stone
in its foundation



You were born together
and together you shall be
for ever more

You shall be together
when the white wings of death
scatter your days
and you shall be together
even in the silent knowledge of god

You can stand together
but not too near each other
for the pillars of the temple stand apart
and the oak and the cypress tree
grow not in each other’s shadow

But let there be spaces in your togetherness
and let the wind of the heavens dance between you

Fill each other’s cup
but drink not from one cup
give one another of your bread
but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous
but let each one of you be alone
even as the strings of the lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music

Love one another
but make not a bond of love

Let it rather be a moving sea
between the shores of your souls

Give your hearts but
into each other’s keeping
for only the hand of life
can contain your hearts



truly all things move within your being
in constant half embrace

the dreaded and the desired
the cherished and the repugnant
the pursued and that which you would escape

these things move within you
as lights and shadows in pairs that cling

and when the shadows fade
and is no more
the light that lingers
becomes a shadow to another light

and how shall you rise
beyond your days and your nights
unless you break the chains
which you at the dawn of your understanding
have fastened around your noon hour

in truth that which you call freedom
is the strongest of these chains
though it’s links glitter in the sun
and dazzle your eyes

you shall be free indeed
when your days are not without a care
nor your nights
without a want and a grieve

and what is it
but fragments of your own self you would discard
that you may become free

if it is an unjust law you would abolish
that law was written with your own hand
upon your own forehead

you cannot erase it by burning your law books
nor by washing the foreheads of your judges
though you pour the sea upon them

and if it’s a despot you would dethrone
see first that, that throne erected within you
is destroyed
for how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud
but for a tyranny in their own freedom
and a shame in their own pride

and if it is a care you would cast off
that care has been chosen by you
rather than imposed upon you

and if it is a fear you would dispel
the seat of that fear is in your heart
and not in the hand of the feared

and thus
your freedom when it loses its own fetters
becomes itself a fetter of a greater freedom



When good is hungry
It seeks food even in dark caves
And when it thirsts
It drinks even of dead waters

For what is evil but good tortured
By its own hunger and thirst

You are good when you are one with yourself
Yet when you are not one with yourself
you are not evil

for a divided house is not a den of thieves
it is only a divided house
and a ship without a rudder
may wander aimlessly among perilous isles
yet sink not to the bottom

you are good when you strive to give of yourself
for when you strive for gain
you are but a root that clings to the earth
and sucks at her breast

you are good when you walk to your goal
firmly with bold steps

yet you are not evil when you go limping
for even those who limp
go not backwards

but you who are strong and swift
see that you do not limp before the lame
deeming it kindness

you are good when you are fully awake in your speech
yet you are not evil when you sleep
while your tongue staggers without purpose

and even stumbling speech
may strengthen a weak tongue

you are good in countless ways
and you are not evil when you are not good

you are only loitering and a sluggard

But in some of you that loitering is a torrent
rushing with might to the sea
carrying the secrets of the hillsides
and the songs of the forest

And in others it is a flat stream
that loses itself in angles and bends
and lingers before it reaches the shore



When love beckons to you - follow him
though his ways are hard and steep
when his wings enfold you
yield to him though the sword hidden
among his pinions may wound you

And when he speaks to you – believe in him
though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden

For even as love crowns you
so shall he crucify you
even as he is for your growth
so is he for your pruning

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself
he thrashes you to make you naked
sifts you to free you from your husks
he grinds you to whiteness
he kneads you until you are pliant

And then he assigns you to his sacred fire
that you may become sacred bread
for god’s sacred feast

But if in your fear you would seek
only love’s peace and love’s pleasure
then it is better for you to cover your nakedness
and pass out of love’s threshing floor

Into the season less world where
you shall laugh but not all of your laughter
and weep but not all of your tears

Love gives not but itself
and takes not but from itself
love possesses not nor would it be possessed
for love is sufficient unto love

But if you love and must needs have desires
let these be your needs and your desires

To melt and be like a running brook
that sings it’s melody to the night
to know the pain of too much tenderness
to be wounded by your own understanding of love
and to bleed willingly and joyfully

To wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving
to rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy
to return home at eventide with gratitude
and then to sleep with a prayer
for the beloved in your heart
and a song of praise upon your lips

All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your heart
and in that knowledge become
a fragment of life’s heart



Your friend is your needs answered

He is your field in which you sow with love
And reap with thanksgiving

He is your board and your fireside
For you to come to him with your hunger
And you seek him for peace

When your friend speaks his mind
You fear not the nay in your own mind
Nor do you withhold the ay
And when he is silent
Your hearts ceases not to listen
to his heart

for without words in friendship
all desires all expectations
are born and shared with joy
that is unacclaimed

when you part from your friend
you grieve not
for that which you love most in him
may be clearer in his absence
as the mountain to the climber
is clearer from the plain

and let there be no purpose in friendship
save the deepening of the spirit

for love that seeks aught
but the disclosure of its own mystery
is not love but a net cast forth
and only the unprofitable is caught


If he must know the ebb of your tide
Let him know its flood also
For what is your friend that you should
Seek him with hours to kill


For it is his to fill your need
but not your emptiness
and in the sweetness of friendship
let there be laughter
and sharing of pleasures

for in the smallest of dew drops
the heart finds its morning
and is refreshed



For what is it to die
But to stand naked in the wind
And to melt into the sun

And what is it to cease breathing
But to free the breath from
it’s restless tides
that it may rise and expand
and seek god unencumbered

your fear of death
is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands in front of the king
whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling
that he shall wear the mark of the king

yet is he not more mindful of his own trembling

If you would behold the spirit of death
open your heart wide into the body of life
If you would indeed know the secret of death
how shall you find it
unless you look in the heart of life

For life and death are one
even as the river and the sea are one

In the depths of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond
and like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring

Trust these dreams
for in them is hidden the gate of eternity

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing
and when you have reached the mountain top
then shall you begin to climb

And when the earth shall claim your limbs
then shall you truly dance



Pleasure is a freedom song
But it is not freedom
It is the blossoming of desires
But it is not their fruit

It is a depth calling unto a high
But it is not the deep, nor the high
It is the caged taking wing
But it is not space encompassed

In truth – pleasure is a song of freedom

And I fain would have you sing it
With fullness of heart
Yet I would not have you lose
Your hearts in the singing

Some of your youth
seek pleasure as if it were all
And they are judged and rebuked
I would not judge nor rebuke them

I would have them seek
For they shall find pleasure
But not her alone

Seven are her sisters
And the least of them
is more beautiful
than pleasure herself

some of your elders
remember pleasure with regret
like wrongs committed in drunkenness
but regret is the beclouding of the mind
and not it’s chastisement

they should remember their pleasures with gratitude
as they would the harvesting of a summer

yet if it comforts them to regret
let them be comforted in their regret

and there are those among you
who are neither old to remember
nor young to seek

and in their fear of seeking and remembering
they shun all pleasures
lest they neglect the spirit
or offend against it

but even in their foregoing
is their pleasure

it is also the pleasure of the flower
to yield it’s honey to the bee
for to the bee
a flower is a fountain of life
and to the flower
a bee is a messenger of love
as to both the bee and the flower
the giving and receiving of pleasure
is a need and an ecstasy

shall the nightingale offend
the stillness of the night
or the firefly the stars

and shall your flame or your smoke
burden the wind

oftentimes in denying yourself pleasure
you do but store the desire
in the recess of your being

and your body is the harp of your soul
it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it
or confused sounds




Brief were my days with you
and briefer still the words I have spoken

Should my voice fade in your ears
and my love from your memory
then I shall come again
with a richer heart and lips more
yielding to the spirit will I speak

we wanders ever seeking the lonelier way
begin no day where we have ended another day
and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us

even while the earth sleeps we travel

It was but yesterday we met in a dream
while you sang to me in my aloneness
I of your longings have built a tower in the sky

I knew your joy and your pain
and in your sleep your dreams were my dreams

But now our sleep is over
and our dreams have fled
and it is no longer dawn

If in the twilight of memory
we should meet once more
we shall speak again together
and you shall sing to me a deeper song
and if our hands should meet in another dream
we shall built another tower in the sky

Wise men have come to you
to give you of their wisdom
but I have found that
which is greater than wisdom

Less than a promise have I given
yet more generous have you been to me

You have been told that even like a chain
you are as weak as your weakest link
that is but half the truth for you are
also as strong as your strongest link

To measure you by your smallest deed
is to reckon the power of the ocean
by the frailty of its foam

To judge you by your failures
is to cast blame upon the seasons
for their inconsistencies

Man’s needs change
but not his love nor his desire
that his love should satisfy his needs

Forget not that I shall come back to you
a little while and my longing shall gather
dust and foam for another body
a little while - a moment of rest upon the wind
and another woman shall bear me

If aught I have said is truth
that truth shall reveal itself in a clearer voice
and in words more kin to your thoughts

for often have I put my finger in my own wound
that I might have the greater belief in you

We are seeds of the tenacious plant
and it is in our ripeness and fullness of heart
that we are given to the wind
and are scattered


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