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Pete Atkin >> Words >> "Swung out the holy gold..."
(Message started by: hannibalmcnee on Today at 21:07)

Title: "Swung out the holy gold..."
Post by hannibalmcnee on Today at 21:07
"We hit the secret trails towards thin air
Aware we'd never live to tell the story
And at the last deep lake before the snow
We rigged the slings, chipped out the water-stair
Swung out the holy gold and let it go
It sank so far it didn't even glow
And if the priest died too to share our glory
I just don't know."

So the other night I happened to be listening to 'No Dice' for perhaps the thousandth time and this verse finally got the better of me. I've had the rest of them figured out for years (or so I like to think) but this one means nothing. What's it about? Anyone?

I had a brief rummage around the old threads to see if there had been much discussion of the song but couldn't find an explanation of these lyrics.

Title: Re: "Swung out the holy gold..."
Post by dr_john on Today at 23:15
I've always assumed that this was a reference to the legend that when the conquistadors reached Cuzco in 1533 the Inca priests took the gold chain of Inca Huascar from the temple at Koricancha and threw it into Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world, fed by the snows of the Andes) to keep it out of their hands. Since the holy gold supposedly weighed two tons, they would probably have needed some form of lifting mechanism (a water stair?) and slings to swing it out into the depths.

Title: Re: "Swung out the holy gold..."
Post by S J Birkill on 27.05.11 at 00:25
In MV386 (Nov '97), Pete Smith comments on Edmund Chattoe's reply to John Ramsey's query:

".....a fleeing band of ragged conquistadors,
pursued by the enraged indians and heading into the mountains, finally
giving up their gold to lighten their load...."

Surely the other way about. The guys with the gold were the indians, taking
it up into the mountains to dump it in a lake so the invaders couldn't have
it, then making sure nobody lived to tell the tale.

In MV1714 (Oct '98), John Harris quotes the Sunday Times:

Copyright 1992 Times Newspapers Limited Sunday Times July 5, 1992
HEADLINE: Hunters go hi-tech to track Inca gold
BYLINE: James Adams
   Like all the best stories of buried treasure, this one has its share of
legends. In 1530, the Spaniards, led by Francisco Pizarro, captured the Inca
king and demanded a room full of gold as ransom.

   The Incas gathered all their treasure, including gold plates, silver
jewellery and precious stones. The 60,000-strong Inca army was marching on the
Spanish when they learnt their king had been executed. They hid the gold and
marched to defeat in battle.

   The treasure is supposed to be hidden in a high and remote spot in the
Andes accessible only after a three-day climb over the mountains.
   At Chury Ucto, the expedition discovered a cave that it believes may be
the entrance to an Inca gold depository.

   After climbing down a 100ft vertical tunnel, the team found a scene
straight from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: hand-chiselled tunnels,
a water trap that was later pumped out, and an entrance blocked by stones
that had been shipped into the area. Further exploration of the cave has
already begun.

PS - the 60,000 army marching subsequently to defeat doesn't appear in
other accounts - they tend to mention 11,000 llamas. Come to that, they
also suggest that the roomful of gold was paid, and this stuff was extra,
but I'm sure they all make it up as they go along, reporters too.

- which seems to support Dr John's version. I'm not sure whether Clive subsequently revealed to us the exact source which inspired the verse.

The first and second year MV text archives are here (http://www.peteatkin.com/mv/mvdigyr1.php) and here (http://www.peteatkin.com/mv/mvdigyr2.php) respectively. The first of these is also available in HTML (browsable) format, indexed here (http://www.peteatkin.com/mvindex.htm).

Title: Re: "Swung out the holy gold..."
Post by hannibalmcnee on 27.05.11 at 20:08
Well that makes sense. I think the line "secret trail towards thin air" always knocked me off course. I always immediately pictured airplane rather than mountain.

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