The Canyon Black: The Meaning Behind the Music

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The Canyon black

Vocals and Lyrics by Maria Hathaway

Music by Chas Hathaway

The Canyon Black is an abridgment of the poem, “The Valley of the Canyon Black,” by Maria Hathaway.  The poem is a parable of the Cain and Abel story.

The song is abridged, but the words to the original poem are written out in full here.


The Valley of the Canyon Black

by Maria Hathaway

Where the road follows the path of the stream

dividing the valley with one great seem

there cottonwoods in sunlight gleam

a morning wakes from twilight’s dream

in the Valley of the Canyon Black
Follow this road of dusty cloud

with rocks and boulders well endowed

to find a path in scub oak shrowed

that leads to the Canyon Black

The wind that ripples an ocean of sage

and bends the trees that moan with age

holds a secret within it’s rage

like a story that’s lost in a torn up page

of the Valley of the Canyon Black

Keep the wind strong behind

for thus the tail will soon unwind

the path becomes a twisting vine

of quaking aspens and emerald pine

climbing the Canyon Black
A cougar track now marks the sight

velvet grass and daisies white

sparkling brooks on either side

of the meadow of the Canyon Black

In years gone by two houses stood

built of trees from nearby wood

by men who shared their mother’s blood

her only sons, a gift from God

to the valley of the Canyon Black

One was fair with eyes as blue

as morning glory’s silken hue

touched with first light’s chrystal dew

in the meadow of the Canyon Black

His cedar hair with cheerfull ease

curled and danced on slightest breeze

his honest heart with aim to please

resonated purest peace

through the valley of the Canyon Black

A flute he carved from ancient willow

it’s haunting song was low and mellow

penetrating to the marrow

the soul of the Canyon Black

The elder brother, lean and tall

with hair like leaves in crimson fall

and eyes that glinted green and small

always watching, seeing all

that moved in the Canyon Black
All his thought he freely gave

to that which held his heart a slave

for it was greatness he did crave

over all in the Canyon Black

And so his mind began to long

to overpower his brother’s song

his flute was straight, his fingers strong

but everything he played was wrong

for the Valley of the Canyon Black
In envy’s senseless rage he dwelt

watching as his brother knelt

drawing from his leather belt

his flute in the Canyon Black

Through glinting eyes and anger’s tears

the elder watched the forest near

tremble with pleasure, a silent cheer

for what it knew it soon would hear

soothing the Canyon Black

And then the younger unaware

raised his flute without a care

and from his lips blew purest air

breathed in the Canyon Black
Like smoke that curls on mountain breeze

music wrapped around the trees

shivering though the aspin leaves

the melody of river reeds

the song of the Canyon Black

The elder brother’s eyes grew narrow

from his quiver he drew an arrow

he fitted it gently into his bow

and aimed in the Canyon Black

With a coldness born of unbound hate

he loosed the arrow and sealed the fate

he couldn’t stop, it was too late

silence fell in mighty quake

on the Valley of the Canyon Black

The flute fell from the young man’s grasp

his blood soaked shirt he gently clasped

he tried to breath but only gasped

and coughed in the Canyon Black

He turned his head and in a daze

met his brother’s awfull gaze

thus his spirit passed away

leaving only bones to lay

in the shadows of the Canyon Black

The silence of the broken song

screamed to all of hidden wrong

so ere the breaking of the dawn

the murderer fled the Canyon Black
And so he left this bitter land

of weeping willows old and grand

of thistles waving in golden sand

to indian paintbrush with violet hand

hushed in the Canyon Black

Through the years the trees have grown

their ancient trunks as hard as stone

watching o’er their mountain home

guardians of the Canyon Black

Now when you enter this silent wood

you feel as though you’re understood

by souls who’ve seen both bad and good

watching all who ever should

visit the Canyon Black
And sometimes when the air is clear

when morning glories blossom near

a touch of music you can hear

in the Valley of the Canyon Black

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