I Come and Stand At Your Door

Lyrics

(1)

I come and stand at every door
But no-one hears my silent plea
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead for I am dead
I need no fruit nor even rice
I need no meat nor even bread
And I need nothing for myself
When children die they do not grow
I woke one day to ash in light
My eyes grew dim my eyes grew bright
Death came and turned my bones to dust
And scattered swirling in the wind
I need no fruit nor even spice
I need no sweet or even bread
And I need nothing for myself

Notes

1. This is not exactly an original, but not exactly a cover either, hence its inclusion here. Credited to Nagle/Anon on Levitate, its origin is a poem by the Turkish writer Nâzım Hikmet Ran (1902-1963) called "The Little Girl," told from the perspective of a dead child who perished in the atomic cataclysm at Hiroshima. The poem was adapted into a song by Pete Seeger, who reportedly stole a melody from an MIT student for the occasion, and it was recorded by the Byrds on their 1966 album Fifth Dimension. The Fall version is melodically very similar to the Seeger/Byrds song, although not identical. Its instrumental counterpart, with the (amusing or callously racist, depending on your perspective--I'll go for both)  title "Jap Kid," appears earlier on the album. The Fall version, for my money, is superior to its sources, which, although doubtlessly affecting, are a bit maudlin. Here is a translation of Ran's poem:

It is me knocking at your door
- at how many doors i've been
But no one can see me
Since the dead are invisible. 

I died at Hiroshima
that was ten years ago
I am a girl of seven
Dead children do not grow. 

First my hair caught fire
then my eyes burnt out
I became a handful of ashes
blown away by the wind. 

I don't wish anything for myself
for a child who is burnt to cinders
cannot even eat sweets.

 

I'm knocking at your doors
aunts and uncles, to get your signatures
so that never again children will burn
and so they can eat sweets.

Here is Seeger's loose rendering:

I come and stand at every door
But none can hear my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead, for I am dead.

I'm only seven, although I died
In Hiroshima long ago.
I'm seven now, as I was then – 
When children die, they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by swirling flame;
My eyes grew dim, my eyes grew blind.
Death came and turned my bones to dust,
And that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit, I need no rice.
I need no sweets, or even bread;
I ask for nothing for myself,
For I am dead, for I am dead.

All that I ask is that for peace
You fight today, you fight today.
So that the children of this world
May live and grow and laugh and play!

^

Comments (1)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 26/02/2017
The Byrds are referred to in one of MES's letters to Tony Friel, as published briefly on Friel's website.

From the letter date-stamped 5 November 1976:


I would also like to make a B-side of Byrds '5th Dimension' really manic, that sort of disintegrates in the middle. Your thoughts please.

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