sibyllin poemes a syd barrett - poems to syd barrett
The collection of poems presented here, Guitars and Dust Dancing,
is a tribute to the musician and painter Syd Barrett (Roger Keith Barrett),
who passed away in Cambridge on the 7th of July 2006.

The poems highlight the life of the young artist as a nonconformist who preferred
– or was forced – to withdraw from the music world for a more humble existence.
From 1973 to 2006, Roger Keith Barrett lived in obscurity
in London and then in Cambridge.

The poems were originally written in French by Mr. Denis Combet in July 2006,
with the English translation by Ms. Constance Cartmill (University of Manitoba).
The art work accompanying the poetry is by Lou Visentin.
The music is by Mr. Pascal Mascheroni.
The cover page illustration and the web site concept are by Jean Vouillon.

You may read additional poems to Syd Barrett
which we hope to publish in book form in 2008 on the following web site:

We would like to thank the following people for their corrections, advice, help and encouragement: Reinhold Kramer, Barbara Rose, Steve Robinson, Dale Lakevold, Tomson Highway, Di Brandt, Paul Madryga, Glen Carruthers, Hélène Cazes, Emmanuel Hérique, Lise Gaboury-Diallo, Anne Séchin, Thomas Bres, Catherine Steine, and Allison Star.

For any comment or information about this publication, please click here to send us an e-mail, or send an email to


Download "Guitar and Dust Dancing" [mp3]



The snow spreads its radiant veils over the city.
The wind blows in his mind, gently swayed by an angelic winter.

At night, in the dimension of dreams,
Great bridges come to take him,
And in the vast spaces, he leads them with confidence,
Like speedy frigates, towards South Kensington.

He travels somewhere else, towards warmer continents,
Where he recovers memories of the Riverside Jazz Club,
And the Camberwell School of Arts of London.

Viaducts burn with an indigo fire, corroding his body,
But Syd feels nothing, and only the rediscovered world
Of painting awakens in him the dreaming artist.


Night Dreams

On the roof of his Earlham Street home,
The musician sighs as he gazes upon Covent Garden.
His madcap laughs reverberate sharply in long echoes.

In the middle of the night, in the strange spaces of dreams,
The bewitching sounds of his diaphanous and pearly guitar are resurrected:
They invite you to live and travel in multiple dimensions.
In a fraction of a second, an eternity is laid bare in your eye.
The flute player is your guide; the troubadour haunts you.
The music intoxicates and subverts minds.
And when the crystal strings stop vibrating,
The puffs of wind are lost to infinity.

Gold and silver awakenings.
Lindsey Korner stretches.
Emerald love.


Nefertiti (To Lindsey Korner)

The thousand and one nights of the Richmond Hill Studio.

Nefertiti or Kiya? He no longer recalls her name.
Isis, goddess of light, blows upon his frozen memory.

It was in Thebes, in the morning, when the glow was spreading,
At first over the desert, then over the temples along the banks of the sacred river.
They made love upon rugs covered with scarlet water lilies.

The priest of Osiris crept up on them, so entwined; the young Pharaoh was informed.
Slave whose hair resembles Amun Ra burning the pyramids,
He was thrown to the sacred crocodiles, in the silvery waters of the realm of Anubis.

The next day, she who was known as The Beauty That Has Come took her own life


Download "Dawn of Silky Orange" [mp3]


London Oracle

Dizzying ecstasy on signing with EMI.
Rage and rebellion the day the BBC banned Arnold Lane.
Syd often has that dream about a frenzied Pythia.

For having penetrated the temple at Ephesus,
He is condemned to death in the sacred forest of Artemis.
The goddess, who hunts there, wants to skewer him with her deadly strokes.
So he disguises himself as a woman and assuages her savage anger.
Diana tells him to undress under the profuse brightness.
She admires his feminine beauty, and then prolongs his life.

Whenever there is a full moon,
Hecate reveals to him her mother-of-pearl breasts:
The deity loves him passionately under the watchful eye of the other gods.



London Spleen
At the UFO Club and the Roundhouse
Where oriental palaces shine.

Drunken boats on the river Thames
The gardens of Dave Gale are burning
Perched atop Mount Alamut.
The dreaded gaze of Hassan Sabbah
Like two dark caves on the crazy river,
Contemplating his two hashshashin friends
Nigel Gordon; Storm Thorgerson.

Orgies of musical visions
Colours and sounds of Aladdin.
Suddenly, he frees himself from the embrace
Of the veiled goddesses who entwine him.
His large scimitar of pure shiny silver
Splits the heavy air of the immaculate deserts.
He searches for the Jerusalem of the sultan Saladin.

In the heart of the night, Omar Khayam shrieks like a djinn:
“Syd Barrett, heaven and hell are within you.”


Fluorescent Jousts

Paul McCartney as a sheik,
Marianne Faithfull as a nun,
The great tournament at the Alexandra Palace.

Long colourful banners flapping
Reveal serpents of cosmic light:
The bloody jousts of the 14 Hour Technicolor Dream.
A word magician, whose white guitar, in glissando,
Weakens a transfixed crowd with its phantasmagoric sounds.
The pink flemings take flight, smashing the stained glass of the diaphanous nave,
Creating large luminous bundles of diamonds which pierce
The minds and bodies transfigured by their slender golden spears.
His eyes, two dark globes engulfing the splendid dawn,
Are permeated with past lives revealed at last.

A green fluorescent knight upon a black incandescent stallion
Hands him the double-edged steel, which he grabs with rage:
The axe follows a swift curb, and the head falls.
Blood springs forth: a magical fountain showering the ground.
Impatient, he lifts the visor and recognizes his face:
His screams crack the walls of time.
Sucked into a giant vortex,
He hears the demented laughter of Merlin.

On stage, he is weary with fatigue.
It is the last great battle.


Download "Aqua Bella Reflections" [mp3]



The last concert at the Middle Earth
The rebel poet ensconces himself before the polychromatic stage,
Like the Sphinx, impassive before asking the enigma.
He gazes at his twin friend, the young god guitarist,
And the three musicians, the High Priests of Amun-Ra.

Shining from his widened eyes, like two onyx suns,
The light of the great books of the Dead and of Life.
Self-assured as he asks the same question over and over,
Accompanied by the holy, lamenting, sibylline chorus:
“Aren’t you getting it yet?”
Syd sees himself on earth, where he was the pharaoh.
Inexorable, precious time accelerates.

And those false gods facing the emerald pyramids:
Horus, Osiris, Anubis and Seth, whom he leaves
In order to rejoin, amid golden lotuses,
The blinding light of Aten.


Musical Bacchanals

Before the mirrors of memory
Oozing and shining all at once,
He sees himself again, more beautiful than Apollo.

Upon his long curly locks
Sparkling with electrum
He places the shiny gel,
Coating them with stellar dust
The colour of the Milky Way :
Black and silver.

The sun sets his head ablaze,
It liquefies into golden droplets:
His disfigured face is beaded with them.
His dark purple eyes explode.

A torn platinum mask
Hides his feminine features:
The metal vibrates at length
And when he removes it with one gesture,
Syd contemplates his lumpy skull
And his shaven eyebrows, a maenade in a trance.
His youth burns in the abyss of time,
And like a vengeful Dionysus, singing, he moves towards
The mysterious studios of Abbey Road.

There, he leads his old friends
Into the dreaded space
Of the oracle god.


Pilgrimages (To Nick Mason)

Scorching sun: reflections of the flat at Earl’s Court.

The orange and violet hues of the aurora borealis blind him violently,
Projecting him into the euphoric dimension of a waking dream.
A spaceship descends in a straight line onto a rocky terrain.
The contours of a cathedral in ruins come into view,
At first majestic, then more disturbing in the frozen night.
A group of men rush in, seeking refuge.

Too late, the moonlight exposes the giant gargoyles
That have replaced the original sculptures destroyed by time.
At the bewitching sounds of the organs, the guards abandon their prisoners.
The stone blocks are transformed into glistening, foaming monsters.
Mouths dripping with acid reveal huge razors
Which strike the victims’ bodies with their silver blades.
Their frightful cries commingle with the ghostly songs
And the humming of the vessel whose flames rend the atmosphere.

Rude awakening: the hollow sounds of the cymbals and bells hammer his tattered mind.


Celestial Nemo (To Rick Wright)

Engulfed in flames,
High in the sky,
Glimmering in the light
That reverberates in the distance,
Fuse with ships
Pulverized by great white flames.

Horses pitching above the sky
Blend into coal blue clouds.
Towering above the cirrus minor, the new Nemo
Tames them to the rhythm of celestial and oriental organs
He leads them to the frontiers of truth,
To the threshold of a defiant wisdom.

His shattered dark eyes staring feverishly
At the exquisite cup of tea,
Syd no longer has the will to do battle at his sides.
Dolphins draw long creases
Upon the slack water surface of an imaginary sea.


Duel (To Roger Waters)

Dream or Nightmare? Settling a score!

Rice fields of luminous jade, pale moon mirrors.
A wide bridge made of sharpened rushes, suspended over quiet ponds.
Two men for a duel: the high plain drifter,
Mournful eyes shimmering; the emaciated face of the killer.
Dazzling ebony boots, blood silver Colts.

Facing him, staring him down,
A samurai in a vermillion kimono,
Two katanas wrapped in a large obi of fire.
Rings of rhodite, the young magicians move forward.
They exchange lightening-like glances.

The sound of the six-gun and the whistling of sabres
Resonate at length in the silent space.
The dualists disappear, enveloped in mist
Two old friends in search of their fathers.
Their fates so close and yet so far apart.

An impression, a mixture of hatred and respect.


Download "Sound of the Katana" [mp3]



The sublime film by Herzog
The music of the Popol Vuh
Sails in a soft space.

Aztec pyramids and Mayas
Covered in emeralds and feathers,
Jaguar slaves and serpentine women.
Uncertain journeys toward the world of Eldorado:
The demented and glorious path of Aguirre
Touches off the anger of the crazy gods.

Syd, too, remains alone, dreaming,
Devoured by mosquitoes and fevers,
As he drifts down the lazy meanders of his Amazon
Burning with platinum hair,
In the throes of hellish visions
Of an impossible conquest.

Like the proud conquistadors,
With gleaming swords and shiny helmets
He seeks the cursèd gold of the Inca,
The glory of John Lennon
And the love of America
But he does not find them.


From Quetesh to Bastet


Iggy the Eskimo,
Girl of space.

Often very alone,
But always a friend.

Star fallen from the black sky:
Solar, solitary, solstice, soloist.

Pale blue crystal dawn, pearl wine dusk.
A mauve Venus, disrobed on the silk orange milky way.

Magical music, medieval Median, magnetic:
Even in worlds where love is impossible.

Transcended, transparent, translucent, transitory:
Life together unconditionally and forever.

And that black cat caressing him with a glance, the night.
The malefic vision of Lucifer Sam.


Imaginary Resistance

Life of perpetual wandering.
Even the galactic pirates
Are ubiquitous in luminous worlds.
Their ships are huge sinister motorcycle carapaces,
Covered with laser katanas and poisoned crossbows,
Which they straddle like a great black Pegasus.

First these barbarians chart a course in space,
Heading for the peaceful and soothing metropolises.
And then, unexpectedly, on their astral engines,
They invade those docile peoples and brand them
With their violence, copying onto their skins
Their tattoos of hate, hell and unhappiness.

Trafficking in gold dust, opal psychedelic liquids,
Hallucinogenic smoke and the illusion of a beautiful personality.
With their steel laws they force both the strong and the weak to bow down.
But Syd knows this world, and from London and Cambridge,
He is organizing the resistance movement against his eternal enemies.
The sedentary life of a recluse.


Astronomical Paintings

The Queen Elizabeth Hall is flickering with a thousand lights
Like the wonderstruck crowd from the Road House.

The poet admires the solar system and its multiple planets
But he turns his attention to the unknown stars
To bring them alive with radiant paintings.

Ceres, Xena, Persephone, Titanium, Saturn.

On the boundless canvasses of the night skies,
His brush strokes, like shootings stars
Multi-coloured meteors, liquid asteroids
Break up the infinite space with their reflections

Pluto, Oberon, Miranda, Uranus, Jupiter.

The friction of the colours against the night
Produce splendid musical offerings

Syd sees himself again at the U.F.O Club, his guitar exuding
Sideral sounds and cosmic lights
Towards a floating crowd, in whose midst
John Lennon raises his arm to a blazing sky


Download "New Astronomy" [mp3]


The Shadow of Messalina (To Gala Pinion)

Sacred nights.
Messalina in Rome,
Magnificent and vulgar.

Dream and vision of Gala?
Pools exuding milky voices.
In the harsh light, a girl stands over him.
She is laughing and making fun of him.

On the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter,
He loves her, detached.

Near the craters of Venus, the mountains of Mars,
They go for a walk, united.

But on earth, they walk together
Without really understanding each other.
Barbaric betrothal.


Night Vessel

Hell-bent on impossible adventures.
Painful trips to Fulbourn,
Treatments of largactyl that calm him down.

A vessel appears, gigantic and majestic,
Black and shiny, like a sparkling diamond.
She crisscrosses space searching for planets
And new worlds to destroy or assimilate.

Her great anthracitic sails rustle in the wind,
Covered with astral magnetic dust.
Sometimes, on her sides bristling with menacing spikes,
Her long cannons emerging from the portholes inspire admiration.

The ship soon reaches the limits of the constellation Aquarius.
When the suns shower the planet in their multicoloured arrays,
The vessel spews from its monstrous cannons salvos of devastating rays.
But Syd adapts and through mind-power resists the deadly waves.

Then, relaxed, he leaves the Arthur Max Barrett room,
Walks out of the Cambridge Adenbrooks Hospital
And goes home, quiet and at peace.


Bellum Spartaculum

At night, tormented spirits come
To steal his paintings in the garden,
And grab his magic brushes.
He sees their shadows and imagines
Games for the Roman gods.

Creatures brought back from an unknown galaxy
Were sent to the Circus Maximus in Rome.
Vestal priestesses threw the petals of artificial flowers.
Bronze doors opened to the sound of trumpets.
A man stepped forward in the traditional attire of the Thracian gladiators.

In a dance of death, the curved sword lacerated and sliced
The monsters, who collapsed on the hot sands of the arena,
Dying as they emitted a bellowing sound that commingled
With the mad cries of the spectators bolted to their benches.

Finally, android slaves, wearing
Hideous masks, came to finish off
The dreadful creatures by smashing in
Their skulls with bronze hammers.

The shells of the heads were shattered,
Discharging blood-red liquids onto the ground.
The crowd chanted the name of the victor:



Sketches of a Katana

The house in Cambridge,
Encircled by thick mists,
Through which appear
The geometric forms of radiant Zen gardens,
Resembles the Nagoya castle at night.

From time to time, a journalist or a passer-by
Knocks on the door, always for several minutes.

Suddenly the door opens and a samurai in black armour
Appears on the doorstep, menacing and magnificent, arrogant.

Like the brush on the canvas, the blade of the katana follows
A short horizontal curve with a whistling sound:
The crimson stripe of the celestial dragon’s breath.

The head falls, bouncing off the stairs,
Followed by long trickles of gushing blood,
Which spatter the walls with bright red.

The kiai of the crazed Daimio resounds in long echoes,
Accompanied by demented, heart-rending laughter.

In his room, the poet paints a cherry tree in bloom,
Near a jade river and a weeping willow tree.

The heavy branches bend under the silver moon,
And discharge clouds of snowy powder.

For Miyamoto Musashi and Syd Barrett
The art of painting and swordsmanship
Are the same reality.


Madcap I Ching (To Rosemary)

Ikebana scenes
At the Botanic Garden
Or at Anglesey Abbey?

A geisha comes forward in a kimono
Stitched with radiant red flowers,
Fine silk and silver dahlias
Whose folds tremble in the breeze.

In the great aquatic gardens of the Mikado
Where quaint, white marble lions sleep,
There crisscrosses a jasmine junk with emerald sails.

Jadeite-reflected scenery

In the harsh morning light,
To the cadence of floral arrangements,
The painter bows to the gracious lady,
Before she initiates him in the tea ceremony.
Illumination and serenity on the misty Cam.


To Winifred Barrett

When the painter stares at the stars, thinking of his mother goddess,
Long golden tresses come into his view, sweeping over the blue sky.
And the moon shines upon the face of the woman to whom he longs to speak.
She smiles tenderly at him, says nothing, and a soft gentle breeze drifts into the night.

Suddenly two meteors of incandescent diamonds
Rip the welkin, lifting up cosmic dust.
He sees again the happy colour of that celestial entity’s eyes.
And memories of his childhood resonate in him once more.

A silver blazing vessel sails through the purple clouds.
He longs to return to her and find the brilliant musician that he once was.
But from the depths of the universe over which Winifred leans,
The vertiginous space is unreachable.

Then, in one last gesture of disarray, Syd burns his writings and his paintings
Keeping the large white canvas and his half-circle of sacred light
Into which he will one day disappear forever.


Crystal Cathedrals

When unbearable fits of rage grabbed hold of him,
He would take refuge in the translucent cathedrals.

His mind sailed with those stone giants
Over unfathomable depths, veritable mirrors,
Where his elusive thoughts would alight momentarily.
He guided that fleet of demented and damned pirates
Grabbing onto gargoyles like they were ropes,
Far from the worlds that haunted him.
From time to time, the oceans of fire, raging,
Immobilized them amidst boiling waves of lava.
Syd let the dreadful storm pass, he sat down in the middle of the nave,
Captivated by the stained glass illuminated by flashes of iridescent sapphire.

When all had ended, his heart found peace.
At the Cathedral of Ely, he saw the barbarian Etheldreda.


Gog Magog Hills

In his room covered
In the strangest still lifes,
Syd quietly plays classical guitar.
The sounds of new or familiar melodies
Illuminate with a bright and shimmering light
The paintings on the wall which, too blinding,
Gradually become invisible to his eyes.

He turns on the stereo that Rosemary gave him,
Drifts to the velvety rhythm of fluid jazz
And the stabilizing calm of classical music.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, by the Beatles,
2000 Light Years from Home, by the Rolling Stones
Regularly awaken in him heart-rending nostalgia.

A guitar is set ablaze with aquatic fire,
Softly playing Emily Play for Omnibus.
And then comes the silence of the porphyry and smaragdine canvas,
Upon which he has the sensation of painting his final masterpiece.


Thank You (To Dave Gilmour)

And yet, near the end of his life,
Again he saw those magical, wondrous moments,
When, in their dreams, they would play, as children,
Naked and bathed in gold, on the snow-covered mountains of the earth.
His friend was teaching him to play guitar, just as his father had taught him music.
Then would the dawn sweep over the planet, covering the dead seas,
The sun would appear, piercing them with its fiery platinum darts.
They would sing and dance, then slowly ascend into the wet heavens.
They would travel, encircled by lightening, towards the bloody star,
Lifted by spirits of light springing from manifold ships,
Accompanied by great dusky red birds that passed through the lightening.
Then, holding the sacred book of Arthur C. Clarke, Syd began to laugh,
Thanking his friend, one last time, like in the old days.


Download "Syd Barrett Blues " [mp3]


The City Wakes is the official Syd Barrett tribute. Supported by Syd's sister, Rosemary Breen, it will be performed in Cambridge from October 22nd 2008-November 2nd 2008. The proceeds from this tribute will go to arts and mental health charity, Escape Artists.
For more information go to:

For unique photographs from the first Pink Floyd album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, go to:


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