1970s Rock Anthems With Surprising Ties To 15th-Century Morality Plays -The Toast

Skip to the article, or search this site

Home: The Toast

Fortune’s Wheel

“I turn the whirling wheel and my circle spins. I am glad to change the lowest to the highest, and the highest to the lowest. Mount up if you will, provided you do so under this condition: that you will not maintain that I do you wrong though you descend down when the rules of my game require it.”

– Boethius, The Consolations of Philosophy, 523 AD

“No mortal power may stay her spinning wheel.
The nations rise and fall by her decree.
None may foresee where she will set her heel:
She passes, and things pass.
Man’s mortal reason cannot encompass her
She rules her sphere as the other gods rule theirs.
Season by season her changes change her changes endlessly,
and those whose turn has come press on her so,
she must be swift by hard necessity.”

– Dante, Inferno, VII 82-90

“Wheel in the sky keeps on turning
I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow
Wheel in the sky keeps on turning”

– Journey, “Wheel In The Sky,” 1977

Meaninglessness And The Treachery Of Women 

Slave, listen to me! Here I am, master, here I am!
I want to make love to a woman! Make love, master, make love!
The man who makes love forgets sorrow and fear!
O well, slave, I do not want to make love to a woman.
Do not make love, master, do not make love.
Woman is a real pitfall, a hole, a ditch,
Woman is a sharp iron dagger that cuts a man’s throat.

Dialogue of Pessimism, Stanza VII, lines 46–52, 10th century BC

“Eager for action and hot for the game
The coming attraction, the drop of a name
They knew all the right people, they took
all the right pills
They threw outrageous parties, they paid heavenly bills
There were lines on the mirror, lines on her face
She pretended not to notice, she was caught up
in the race

Out every evening, until it was light
He was too tired to make it, she was too tired
to fight about it

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane, everything all the time
Life in the fast lane,
Blowin’ and burnin’, blinded by thirst
They didn’t see the stop sign,
took a turn for the worse”

– The Eagles, “Life In The Fast Lane,” 1973

The Inevitability Of Death And The Futility Of Pleasure

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”
What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

– Ecclesiastes, 1:2-9

All our times have come
Here, but now they’re gone
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
(We can be like they are)

– Blue Oyster Cult, “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” 1976

On The Necessity Of Facing Death Alone

“If Death were the messenger,
For no man that is living to-day
I will not go that loath journey…
yet if thou wilt eat, and drink, and make good cheer,
Or haunt to women, the lusty companion,
I would not forsake you, while the day is clear…
Ah, sir; what, ye be a merry man!
Take good heart to you, and make no moan.
But as one thing I warn you, by Saint Anne,
As for me, ye shall go alone.”
For verily I will not go with you;
Also of mine an unready reckoning
I have to account; therefore I make tarrying.
Now, God keep thee, for now I go.”

Everyman, c. 1450

“I don’t know where I’m going
But I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
Here I go again, here I go again

Though I keep searching for an answer
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on
‘Cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams

Here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone”

– Whitesnake, “Here I Go Again,” 1982

On Impermanence And Despair

“How long does a building stand before it falls?
How long does a contract last? How long will brothers

share the inheritance before they quarrel?
How long does hatred, for that matter, last?

Time after time the river has risen and flooded.
The insect leaves the cocoon to live but a minute.

How long is the eye able to look at the sun?
From the very beginning nothing at all has lasted.”

The Epic Of Gilgamesh, trans. David Ferry, c. 2100 BC

“I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind

Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy”

– Kansas, “Dust In The Wind,” 1977

Add a comment

Skip to the top of the page, search this site, or read the article again