Eleven years ago, Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson lost her mother due to complications arising from dementia. Shirley and her mother, Muriel Flora Manson, were very close, and Shirley’s interest and skills in music seem to have come from her mom, who was a big band singer. Today, in remembrance of her mother’s passing, Shirley shared a poem – or song lyrics? – dedicated to Muriel. The piece, written by Shirley, is titled “Stag.”
Read “Stag” in full below:
A stag stands his ground on a lothian field
Caught between Morta and Artemis
Locked in bitter combat
Who shall be queen of this wasteland?
Sod wet and heavy as he waits
Head cocked on high alert
Watching rain pelt dirt
And the birds pecking
God is nowhere to be seen
Late for his shift
In an unsurprising no show
He goes unmissed
We curve inward against the wind
And wrestle our rage into points
Sharp as glass
That could rip the wrist
Faster than you can blink
Red granite etched in gold
Nestled there alone amongst
Row upon row of cold grey stone
You stand out a mile in death
As you did whilst you were alive
Bright as a penny and a little rude
In this most somber of settings
We stand together
Say our prayers and
Whisper our goodbyes
We brace ourselves and walk away
to set upon the old road
Headed home to get the kettle on
Cups of tea and shortbread biscuits
Everything is in its right place
But you’re still missing
The stag snorts and lets leash
A plume of steam
From each wide nostril
Mystical cryptic beast
Stamps his feet
And holds his ground
Who shall be queen of this wasteland now?
At the end of the Facebook post, Shirley also shared some notes about the references in “Stag”:
ARTEMIS in Ancient Greek Mythology is the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals and the Moon.
MORTA in Roman Mythology was the goddess of death. She is responsible for the pain and/or death that occur in a half-wake, half-sleep time frame. Her father is the god of darkness and her mother is the goddess of night. She visits and warns in advance of the pain and/or death about to be endured.
Muriel Flora Manson, was born December 31, 1935 and passed away on November 26, 2008.
View this post on Instagram
The Orange didn’t fall very far from the tree. This is a favourite photograph taken with my mother who died 11 years ago today. As you can see, we looked very much alike. We felt alike. We thought alike. The difference being, I’m half the woman my mum ever was. I miss you my queen. More than ever. Still I sing for you. #theoriginalsongbird
A Potential Song?
Although we suspect “Stag” may be a poem, as opposed to a song, it could also end up being set to music. After briefly quitting music in 2008 – due to her mother’s dementia and death – Shirley began working on a solo album in 2009. She shared a few demos at the time – including “In The Snow,” “Pretty Horses,” and “Lighten Up” – and we’ve since heard “To Be King.” 13 additional songs were registered but remain unheard. By 2012, Shirley Manson confirmed the solo album was dead. It’s possible that “Stag” – if it is a song – may have been written around this time.
Alternately, “Stag” could be a new composition set to appear on the next Garbage album. The band is currently writing and recording their 7th album, expected in 2020. They recently teased a handful of song titles; should we add “Stag” to the list?
We’re sending love Shirley Manson’s way during the sad anniversary of her mother’s passing. “Stag” is a moving composition, and we’re grateful to have been allowed to read it.
Keep checking back here for all the latest Garbage and Shirley Manson news.