Away from the river
Away from the smoke of the burning
Subject of government directives
One sad guitar note
Echoes of the wall of the jungle
Seen from the air they're just targets with nowhere to run to
Children of rape
Raised on malnutrition
Men in camouflage
Filled with a sense of mission
Light through the wire mesh
Plays on the president's pistol
Like the gleam of a bead of sweat in the flow of a candle
Hear the cry in the tropic night
Should be the cry of love but it's a cry of fright
Some people never see the light
Till it shines through bullet holes
The tropic moon
Bathing a beach fringed with palms
Glitters on shells
And beach tar and coke cans
And on the night-coloured boat
And on the barrels of guns
In the rage in the hearts of these men is the seed of a wind they call
Hear the cry...
Known comments by Bruce Cockburn about this song, by date:
1990 - "A heavy dose of Ernesto Cardenal Zero Hour...another beach, this time in ?. The opening images of refugees leaving a burning village, had been waiting in my notebook since I saw it in an old Robert Mitchum movie on some hotel TV." - from "Rumours of Glory 1980-1990" (songbook), edited by Arthur McGregor, OFC Publications, Ottawa, 1990. Submitted by Rob Caldwell.
September-October 1994 - "Before long, Bruce's spiritual trek crossed new borders. His brother gave him a book of poetry written by Sandinista priest Ernesto Cardenal. He read it while on a holiday in the Canary Islands, then promptly wrote "Tropic Moon," a flaming arrow aimed at the U.S.-financed war in Nicaragua. It was Cardenal's writing, along with a report alleging persecution of the church in Nicaragua, that motivated Bruce to travel to Central America to do some investigative reporting on his own." - from "Straight to the Heart: Bruce Cockburn's songs of subversion", by David Batstone. Sojourners Magazine, September-October 1994, Anonymous submission.
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This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.