Walking through the woods at night with increasing fear,
you'd better be scared because the silent watcher, Slenderman, is here.
You stop in a clearing, mouth ajar in fear.
Before you, is a man with no face nor any hair.
His skin as pale as flour, donning a fancy suit.
You take off into the woods in fear but it's too late, he's already in pursuit.
Fleeing through the woods at night in overwhelming fear, you try and try to hide in the darkness of the night.
But even still, you can see his featureless face as a dimly glowing light.
You cry out for help in the darkness of the night.
But, you're too deep in the woods for anyone to assist in your plight.
It's too late now to ever escape, you sit and cry with your mouth agape.
He silently approaches and waits, you stare back and decide to put up a fight.
It's no use, no help at all.
When you entered these woods at night, you were doomed to fall.
I'm looking down watching what you do
As if i'm Uatu the Watcher
Or maybe I'm controlling you
Like the evil Puppet Master
See you have no control in life
This is my world and I'm just allowin you to live in it
It's like I'm eating up planets with Galactus
And creating chaos with Apocalypse
I'm in control of my actions
Choosing to do wrong
Only to wait until my redemption by the hands of the worthy
You're inside my head like Charles Xavier
Trying to find out my secrets
Only to discover that I keep my mental barriers on lock
With no key or code to unlock
Said passageway into my subconsious
Because I can block you without a helmet
Unlike Juggernaut or Magneto
I'm free to swing around with the good wall crawler known as
And write up my own unique flows with no worries
I don't need the X-men or Avengers
Or my friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
To know that I have some great repsonsibilities on my shoulders
Weighing me down like a ton of bricks
And I don't need someone like Doom
Telling me how to be a leader
When we all know his leadership skills could use some attention
I'm an enigma
Close to what Deadpool would say is
Before muttering towards the wall
As if it were his faithful audience
I know who I am
I know what I do
So simply put
I'm freaking awesome
It is full winter now: the trees are bare,
Save where the cattle huddle from the cold
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear
The autumn’s gaudy livery whose gold
Her jealous brother pilfers, but is true
To the green doublet; bitter is the wind, as though it blew
From Saturn’s cave; a few thin wisps of hay
Lie on the sharp black hedges, where the wain
Dragged the sweet pillage of a summer’s day
From the low meadows up the narrow lane;
Upon the half-thawed snow the bleating sheep
Press close against the hurdles, and the shivering house-dogs creep
From the shut stable to the frozen stream
And back again disconsolate, and miss
The bawling shepherds and the noisy team;
And overhead in circling listlessness
The cawing rooks whirl round the frosted stack,
Or crowd the dripping boughs; and in the fen the ice-pools crack
Where the gaunt bittern stalks among the reeds
And flaps his wings, and stretches back his neck,
And hoots to see the moon; across the meads
Limps the poor frightened hare, a little speck;
And a stray seamew with its fretful cry
Flits like a sudden drift of snow against the dull grey sky.
Full winter: and the lusty goodman brings
His load of faggots from the chilly byre,
And stamps his feet upon the hearth, and flings
The sappy billets on the waning fire,
And laughs to see the sudden lightening scare
His children at their play, and yet,—the spring is in the air;
Already the slim crocus stirs the snow,
And soon yon blanched fields will bloom again
With nodding cowslips for some lad to mow,
For with the first warm kisses of the rain
The winter’s icy sorrow breaks to tears,
And the brown thrushes mate, and with bright eyes the rabbit peers
From the dark warren where the fir-cones lie,
And treads one snowdrop under foot, and runs
Over the mossy knoll, and blackbirds fly
Across our path at evening, and the suns
Stay longer with us; ah! how good to see
Grass-girdled spring in all her joy of laughing greenery
Dance through the hedges till the early rose,
(That sweet repentance of the thorny briar!)
Burst from its sheathed emerald and disclose
The little quivering disk of golden fire
Which the bees know so well, for with it come
Pale boy’s-love, sops-in-wine, and daffadillies all in bloom.
Then up and down the field the sower goes,
While close behind the laughing younker scares
With shrilly whoop the black and thievish crows,
And then the chestnut-tree its glory wears,
And on the grass the creamy blossom falls
In odorous excess, and faint half-whispered madrigals
Steal from the bluebells’ nodding carillons
Each breezy morn, and then white jessamine,
That star of its own heaven, snap-dragons
With lolling crimson tongues, and eglantine
In dusty velvets clad usurp the bed
And woodland empery, and when the lingering rose hath shed
Red leaf by leaf its folded panoply,
And pansies closed their purple-lidded eyes,
Chrysanthemums from gilded argosy
Unload their gaudy scentless merchandise,
And violets getting overbold withdraw
From their shy nooks, and scarlet berries dot the leafless haw.
O happy field! and O thrice happy tree!
Soon will your queen in daisy-flowered smock
And crown of flower-de-luce trip down the lea,
Soon will the lazy shepherds drive their flock
Back to the pasture by the pool, and soon
Through the green leaves will float the hum of murmuring bees at noon.
Soon will the glade be bright with bellamour,
The flower which wantons love, and those sweet nuns
Vale-lilies in their snowy vestiture
Will tell their beaded pearls, and carnations
With mitred dusky leaves will scent the wind,
And straggling traveller’s-joy each hedge with yellow stars will bind.
Dear bride of Nature and most bounteous spring,
That canst give increase to the sweet-breath’d kine,
And to the kid its little horns, and bring
The soft and silky blossoms to the vine,
Where is that old nepenthe which of yore
Man got from poppy root and glossy-berried mandragore!
There was a time when any common bird
Could make me sing in unison, a time
When all the strings of boyish life were stirred
To quick response or more melodious rhyme
By every forest idyll;—do I change?
Or rather doth some evil thing through thy fair pleasaunce range?
Nay, nay, thou art the same: ’tis I who seek
To vex with sighs thy simple solitude,
And because fruitless tears bedew my cheek
Would have thee weep with me in brotherhood;
Fool! shall each wronged and restless spirit dare
To taint such wine with the salt poison of own despair!
Thou art the same: ’tis I whose wretched soul
Takes discontent to be its paramour,
And gives its kingdom to the rude control
Of what should be its servitor,—for sure
Wisdom is somewhere, though the stormy sea
Contain it not, and the huge deep answer ‘’Tis not in me.’
To burn with one clear flame, to stand erect
In natural honour, not to bend the knee
In profitless prostrations whose effect
Is by itself condemned, what alchemy
Can teach me this? what herb Medea brewed
Will bring the unexultant peace of essence not subdued?
The minor chord which ends the harmony,
And for its answering brother waits in vain
Sobbing for incompleted melody,
Dies a swan’s death; but I the heir of pain,
A silent Memnon with blank lidless eyes,
Wait for the light and music of those suns which never rise.
The quenched-out torch, the lonely cypress-gloom,
The little dust stored in the narrow urn,
The gentle XAIPE of the Attic tomb,—
Were not these better far than to return
To my old fitful restless malady,
Or spend my days within the voiceless cave of misery?
Nay! for perchance that poppy-crowned god
Is like the watcher by a sick man’s bed
Who talks of sleep but gives it not; his rod
Hath lost its virtue, and, when all is said,
Death is too rude, too obvious a key
To solve one single secret in a life’s philosophy.
And Love! that noble madness, whose august
And inextinguishable might can slay
The soul with honeyed drugs,—alas! I must
From such sweet ruin play the runaway,
Although too constant memory never can
Forget the arched splendour of those brows Olympian
Which for a little season made my youth
So soft a swoon of exquisite indolence
That all the chiding of more prudent Truth
Seemed the thin voice of jealousy,—O hence
Thou huntress deadlier than Artemis!
Go seek some other quarry! for of thy too perilous bliss.
My lips have drunk enough,—no more, no more,—
Though Love himself should turn his gilded prow
Back to the troubled waters of this shore
Where I am wrecked and stranded, even now
The chariot wheels of passion sweep too near,
Hence! Hence! I pass unto a life more barren, more austere.
More barren—ay, those arms will never lean
Down through the trellised vines and draw my soul
In sweet reluctance through the tangled green;
Some other head must wear that aureole,
For I am hers who loves not any man
Whose white and stainless bosom bears the sign Gorgonian.
Let Venus go and chuck her dainty page,
And kiss his mouth, and toss his curly hair,
With net and spear and hunting equipage
Let young Adonis to his tryst repair,
But me her fond and subtle-fashioned spell
Delights no more, though I could win her dearest citadel.
Ay, though I were that laughing shepherd boy
Who from Mount Ida saw the little cloud
Pass over Tenedos and lofty Troy
And knew the coming of the Queen, and bowed
In wonder at her feet, not for the sake
Of a new Helen would I bid her hand the apple take.
Then rise supreme Athena argent-limbed!
And, if my lips be musicless, inspire
At least my life: was not thy glory hymned
By One who gave to thee his sword and lyre
Like AEschylos at well-fought Marathon,
And died to show that Milton’s England still could bear a son!
And yet I cannot tread the Portico
And live without desire, fear and pain,
Or nurture that wise calm which long ago
The grave Athenian master taught to men,
Self-poised, self-centred, and self-comforted,
To watch the world’s vain phantasies go by with unbowed head.
Alas! that serene brow, those eloquent lips,
Those eyes that mirrored all eternity,
Rest in their own Colonos, an eclipse
Hath come on Wisdom, and Mnemosyne
Is childless; in the night which she had made
For lofty secure flight Athena’s owl itself hath strayed.
Nor much with Science do I care to climb,
Although by strange and subtle witchery
She drew the moon from heaven: the Muse Time
Unrolls her gorgeous-coloured tapestry
To no less eager eyes; often indeed
In the great epic of Polymnia’s scroll I love to read
How Asia sent her myriad hosts to war
Against a little town, and panoplied
In gilded mail with jewelled scimitar,
White-shielded, purple-crested, rode the Mede
Between the waving poplars and the sea
Which men call Artemisium, till he saw Thermopylae
Its steep ravine spanned by a narrow wall,
And on the nearer side a little brood
Of careless lions holding festival!
And stood amazed at such hardihood,
And pitched his tent upon the reedy shore,
And stayed two days to wonder, and then crept at midnight o’er
Some unfrequented height, and coming down
The autumn forests treacherously slew
What Sparta held most dear and was the crown
Of far Eurotas, and passed on, nor knew
How God had staked an evil net for him
In the small bay at Salamis,—and yet, the page grows dim,
Its cadenced Greek delights me not, I feel
With such a goodly time too out of tune
To love it much: for like the Dial’s wheel
That from its blinded darkness strikes the noon
Yet never sees the sun, so do my eyes
Restlessly follow that which from my cheated vision flies.
O for one grand unselfish simple life
To teach us what is Wisdom! speak ye hills
Of lone Helvellyn, for this note of strife
Shunned your untroubled crags and crystal rills,
Where is that Spirit which living blamelessly
Yet dared to kiss the smitten mouth of his own century!
Speak ye Rydalian laurels! where is he
Whose gentle head ye sheltered, that pure soul
Whose gracious days of uncrowned majesty
Through lowliest conduct touched the lofty goal
Where love and duty mingle! Him at least
The most high Laws were glad of, he had sat at Wisdom’s feast;
But we are Learning’s changelings, know by rote
The clarion watchword of each Grecian school
And follow none, the flawless sword which smote
The pagan Hydra is an effete tool
Which we ourselves have blunted, what man now
Shall scale the august ancient heights and to old Reverence bow?
One such indeed I saw, but, Ichabod!
Gone is that last dear son of Italy,
Who being man died for the sake of God,
And whose unrisen bones sleep peacefully,
O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto’s tower,
Thou marble lily of the lily town! let not the lour
Of the rude tempest vex his slumber, or
The Arno with its tawny troubled gold
O’er-leap its marge, no mightier conqueror
Clomb the high Capitol in the days of old
When Rome was indeed Rome, for Liberty
Walked like a bride beside him, at which sight pale Mystery
Fled shrieking to her farthest sombrest cell
With an old man who grabbled rusty keys,
Fled shuddering, for that immemorial knell
With which oblivion buries dynasties
Swept like a wounded eagle on the blast,
As to the holy heart of Rome the great triumvir passed.
He knew the holiest heart and heights of Rome,
He drave the base wolf from the lion’s lair,
And now lies dead by that empyreal dome
Which overtops Valdarno hung in air
By Brunelleschi—O Melpomene
Breathe through thy melancholy pipe thy sweetest threnody!
Breathe through the tragic stops such melodies
That Joy’s self may grow jealous, and the Nine
Forget awhile their discreet emperies,
Mourning for him who on Rome’s lordliest shrine
Lit for men’s lives the light of Marathon,
And bare to sun-forgotten fields the fire of the sun!
O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto’s tower!
Let some young Florentine each eventide
Bring coronals of that enchanted flower
Which the dim woods of Vallombrosa hide,
And deck the marble tomb wherein he lies
Whose soul is as some mighty orb unseen of mortal eyes;
Some mighty orb whose cycled wanderings,
Being tempest-driven to the farthest rim
Where Chaos meets Creation and the wings
Of the eternal chanting Cherubim
Are pavilioned on Nothing, passed away
Into a moonless void,—and yet, though he is dust and clay,
He is not dead, the immemorial Fates
Forbid it, and the closing shears refrain.
Lift up your heads ye everlasting gates!
Ye argent clarions, sound a loftier strain
For the vile thing he hated lurks within
Its sombre house, alone with God and memories of sin.
Still what avails it that she sought her cave
That murderous mother of red harlotries?
At Munich on the marble architrave
The Grecian boys die smiling, but the seas
Which wash AEgina fret in loneliness
Not mirroring their beauty; so our lives grow colourless
For lack of our ideals, if one star
Flame torch-like in the heavens the unjust
Swift daylight kills it, and no trump of war
Can wake to passionate voice the silent dust
Which was Mazzini once! rich Niobe
For all her stony sorrows hath her sons; but Italy,
What Easter Day shall make her children rise,
Who were not Gods yet suffered? what sure feet
Shall find their grave-clothes folded? what clear eyes
Shall see them bodily? O it were meet
To roll the stone from off the sepulchre
And kiss the bleeding roses of their wounds, in love of her,
Our Italy! our mother visible!
Most blessed among nations and most sad,
For whose dear sake the young Calabrian fell
That day at Aspromonte and was glad
That in an age when God was bought and sold
One man could die for Liberty! but we, burnt out and cold,
See Honour smitten on the cheek and gyves
Bind the sweet feet of Mercy: Poverty
Creeps through our sunless lanes and with sharp knives
Cuts the warm throats of children stealthily,
And no word said:- O we are wretched men
Unworthy of our great inheritance! where is the pen
Of austere Milton? where the mighty sword
Which slew its master righteously? the years
Have lost their ancient leader, and no word
Breaks from the voiceless tripod on our ears:
While as a ruined mother in some spasm
Bears a base child and loathes it, so our best enthusiasm
Genders unlawful children, Anarchy
Freedom’s own Judas, the vile prodigal
Licence who steals the gold of Liberty
And yet has nothing, Ignorance the real
One Fraticide since Cain, Envy the asp
That stings itself to anguish, Avarice whose palsied grasp
Is in its extent stiffened, moneyed Greed
For whose dull appetite men waste away
Amid the whirr of wheels and are the seed
Of things which slay their sower, these each day
Sees rife in England, and the gentle feet
Of Beauty tread no more the stones of each unlovely street.
What even Cromwell spared is desecrated
By weed and worm, left to the stormy play
Of wind and beating snow, or renovated
By more destructful hands: Time’s worst decay
Will wreathe its ruins with some loveliness,
But these new Vandals can but make a rain-proof barrenness.
Where is that Art which bade the Angels sing
Through Lincoln’s lofty choir, till the air
Seems from such marble harmonies to ring
With sweeter song than common lips can dare
To draw from actual reed? ah! where is now
The cunning hand which made the flowering hawthorn branches bow
For Southwell’s arch, and carved the House of One
Who loved the lilies of the field with all
Our dearest English flowers? the same sun
Rises for us: the seasons natural
Weave the same tapestry of green and grey:
The unchanged hills are with us: but that Spirit hath passed away.
And yet perchance it may be better so,
For Tyranny is an incestuous Queen,
Murder her brother is her bedfellow,
And the Plague chambers with her: in obscene
And bloody paths her treacherous feet are set;
Better the empty desert and a soul inviolate!
For gentle brotherhood, the harmony
Of living in the healthful air, the swift
Clean beauty of strong limbs when men are free
And women chaste, these are the things which lift
Our souls up more than even Agnolo’s
Gaunt blinded Sibyl poring o’er the scroll of human woes,
Or Titian’s little maiden on the stair
White as her own sweet lily and as tall,
Or Mona Lisa smiling through her hair,—
Ah! somehow life is bigger after all
Than any painted angel, could we see
The God that is within us! The old Greek serenity
Which curbs the passion of that level line
Of marble youths, who with untroubled eyes
And chastened limbs ride round Athena’s shrine
And mirror her divine economies,
And balanced symmetry of what in man
Would else wage ceaseless warfare,—this at least within the span
Between our mother’s kisses and the grave
Might so inform our lives, that we could win
Such mighty empires that from her cave
Temptation would grow hoarse, and pallid Sin
Would walk ashamed of his adulteries,
And Passion creep from out the House of Lust with startled eyes.
To make the body and the spirit one
With all right things, till no thing live in vain
From morn to noon, but in sweet unison
With every pulse of flesh and throb of brain
The soul in flawless essence high enthroned,
Against all outer vain attack invincibly bastioned,
Mark with serene impartiality
The strife of things, and yet be comforted,
Knowing that by the chain causality
All separate existences are wed
Into one supreme whole, whose utterance
Is joy, or holier praise! ah! surely this were governance
Of Life in most august omnipresence,
Through which the rational intellect would find
In passion its expression, and mere sense,
Ignoble else, lend fire to the mind,
And being joined with it in harmony
More mystical than that which binds the stars planetary,
Strike from their several tones one octave chord
Whose cadence being measureless would fly
Through all the circling spheres, then to its Lord
Return refreshed with its new empery
And more exultant power,—this indeed
Could we but reach it were to find the last, the perfect creed.
Ah! it was easy when the world was young
To keep one’s life free and inviolate,
From our sad lips another song is rung,
By our own hands our heads are desecrate,
Wanderers in drear exile, and dispossessed
Of what should be our own, we can but feed on wild unrest.
Somehow the grace, the bloom of things has flown,
And of all men we are most wretched who
Must live each other’s lives and not our own
For very pity’s sake and then undo
All that we lived for—it was otherwise
When soul and body seemed to blend in mystic symphonies.
But we have left those gentle haunts to pass
With weary feet to the new Calvary,
Where we behold, as one who in a glass
Sees his own face, self-slain Humanity,
And in the dumb reproach of that sad gaze
Learn what an awful phantom the red hand of man can raise.
O smitten mouth! O forehead crowned with thorn!
O chalice of all common miseries!
Thou for our sakes that loved thee not hast borne
An agony of endless centuries,
And we were vain and ignorant nor knew
That when we stabbed thy heart it was our own real hearts we slew.
Being ourselves the sowers and the seeds,
The night that covers and the lights that fade,
The spear that pierces and the side that bleeds,
The lips betraying and the life betrayed;
The deep hath calm: the moon hath rest: but we
Lords of the natural world are yet our own dread enemy.
Is this the end of all that primal force
Which, in its changes being still the same,
From eyeless Chaos cleft its upward course,
Through ravenous seas and whirling rocks and flame,
Till the suns met in heaven and began
Their cycles, and the morning stars sang, and the Word was Man!
Nay, nay, we are but crucified, and though
The bloody sweat falls from our brows like rain
Loosen the nails—we shall come down I know,
Staunch the red wounds—we shall be whole again,
No need have we of hyssop-laden rod,
That which is purely human, that is godlike, that is God.
I watch myself
watching their dance,
my action is actioned
by panel and plan
to trivial task,
I find myself missing
that which I've hatched
Impromptu I can do,
in scrutinies stare,
replayed ad infinitum
pretend I don't care
When waiting has waited
and I dare to break free,
will the watcher be waiting
or will I be free?
IV. TO HERMES (582 lines)
(ll. 1-29) Muse, sing of Hermes, the son of Zeus and Maia, lord
of Cyllene and Arcadia rich in flocks, the luck-bringing
messenger of the immortals whom Maia bare, the rich-tressed
nymph, when she was joined in love with Zeus, -- a shy goddess,
for she avoided the company of the blessed gods, and lived within
a deep, shady cave. There the son of Cronos used to lie with the
rich-tressed nymph, unseen by deathless gods and mortal men, at
dead of night while sweet sleep should hold white-armed Hera
fast. And when the purpose of great Zeus was fixed in heaven,
she was delivered and a notable thing was come to pass. For then
she bare a son, of many shifts, blandly cunning, a robber, a
cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief
at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds
among the deathless gods. Born with the dawning, at mid-day he
played on the lyre, and in the evening he stole the cattle of
far-shooting Apollo on the fourth day of the month; for on that
day queenly Maia bare him. So soon as he had leaped from his
mother's heavenly womb, he lay not long waiting in his holy
cradle, but he sprang up and sought the oxen of Apollo. But as
he stepped over the threshold of the high-roofed cave, he found a
tortoise there and gained endless delight. For it was Hermes who
first made the tortoise a singer. The creature fell in his way
at the courtyard gate, where it was feeding on the rich grass
before the dwelling, waddling along. When be saw it, the luck-
bringing son of Zeus laughed and said:
(ll. 30-38) 'An omen of great luck for me so soon! I do not
slight it. Hail, comrade of the feast, lovely in shape, sounding
at the dance! With joy I meet you! Where got you that rich gaud
for covering, that spangled shell -- a tortoise living in the
mountains? But I will take and carry you within: you shall help
me and I will do you no disgrace, though first of all you must
profit me. It is better to be at home: harm may come out of
doors. Living, you shall be a spell against mischievous
witchcraft (13); but if you die, then you shall make sweetest
(ll. 39-61) Thus speaking, he took up the tortoise in both hands
and went back into the house carrying his charming toy. Then he
cut off its limbs and scooped out the marrow of the mountain-
tortoise with a scoop of grey iron. As a swift thought darts
through the heart of a man when thronging cares haunt him, or as
bright glances flash from the eye, so glorious Hermes planned
both thought and deed at once. He cut stalks of reed to measure
and fixed them, fastening their ends across the back and through
the shell of the tortoise, and then stretched ox hide all over it
by his skill. Also he put in the horns and fitted a cross-piece
upon the two of them, and stretched seven strings of sheep-gut.
But when he had made it he proved each string in turn with the
key, as he held the lovely thing. At the touch of his hand it
sounded marvellously; and, as he tried it, the god sang sweet
random snatches, even as youths bandy taunts at festivals. He
sang of Zeus the son of Cronos and neat-shod Maia, the converse
which they had before in the comradeship of love, telling all the
glorious tale of his own begetting. He celebrated, too, the
handmaids of the nymph, and her bright home, and the tripods all
about the house, and the abundant cauldrons.
(ll. 62-67) But while he was singing of all these, his heart was
bent on other matters. And he took the hollow lyre and laid it
in his sacred cradle, and sprang from the sweet-smelling hall to
a watch-place, pondering sheet trickery in his heart -- deeds
such as knavish folk pursue in the dark night-time; for he longed
to taste flesh.
(ll. 68-86) The Sun was going down beneath the earth towards
Ocean with his horses and chariot when Hermes came hurrying to
the shadowy mountains of Pieria, where the divine cattle of the
blessed gods had their steads and grazed the pleasant, unmown
meadows. Of these the Son of Maia, the sharp-eyed slayer of
Argus then cut off from the herd fifty loud-lowing kine, and
drove them straggling-wise across a sandy place, turning their
hoof-prints aside. Also, he bethought him of a crafty ruse and
reversed the marks of their hoofs, making the front behind and
the hind before, while he himself walked the other way (14).
Then he wove sandals with wicker-work by the sand of the sea,
wonderful things, unthought of, unimagined; for he mixed together
tamarisk and myrtle-twigs, fastening together an armful of their
fresh, young wood, and tied them, leaves and all securely under
his feet as light sandals. The brushwood the glorious Slayer of
Argus plucked in Pieria as he was preparing for his journey,
making shift (15) as one making haste for a long journey.
(ll. 87-89) But an old man tilling his flowering vineyard saw him
as he was hurrying down the plain through grassy Onchestus. So
the Son of Maia began and said to him:
(ll. 90-93) 'Old man, digging about your vines with bowed
shoulders, surely you shall have much wine when all these bear
fruit, if you obey me and strictly remember not to have seen what
you have seen, and not to have heard what you have heard, and to
keep silent when nothing of your own is harmed.'
(ll. 94-114) When he had said this much, he hurried the strong
cattle on together: through many shadowy mountains and echoing
gorges and flowery plains glorious Hermes drove them. And now
the divine night, his dark ally, was mostly passed, and dawn that
sets folk to work was quickly coming on, while bright Selene,
daughter of the lord Pallas, Megamedes' son, had just climbed her
watch-post, when the strong Son of Zeus drove the wide-browed
cattle of Phoebus Apollo to the river Alpheus. And they came
unwearied to the high-roofed byres and the drinking-troughs that
were before the noble meadow. Then, after he had well-fed the
loud-bellowing cattle with fodder and driven them into the byre,
close-packed and chewing lotus and began to seek the art of fire.
He chose a stout laurel branch and trimmed it with the knife....
....held firmly in his hand: and the hot smoke rose up. For it
was Hermes who first invented fire-sticks and fire. Next he took
many dried sticks and piled them thick and plenty in a sunken
trench: and flame began to glow, spreading afar the blast of
(ll. 115-137) And while the strength of glorious Hephaestus was
beginning to kindle the fire, he dragged out two lowing, horned
cows close to the fire; for great strength was with him. He
threw them both panting upon their backs on the ground, and
rolled them on their sides, bending their necks over (17), and
pierced their vital chord. Then he went on from task to task:
first he cut up the rich, fatted meat, and pierced it with wooden
spits, and roasted flesh and the honourable chine and the paunch
full of dark blood all together. He laid them there upon the
ground, and spread out the hides on a rugged rock: and so they
are still there many ages afterwards, a long, long time after all
this, and are continually (18). Next glad-hearted Hermes dragged
the rich meats he had prepared and put them on a smooth, flat
stone, and divided them into twelve portions distributed by lot,
making each portion wholly honourable. Then glorious Hermes
longed for the sacrificial meat, for the sweet savour wearied
him, god though he was; nevertheless his proud heart was not
prevailed upon to devour the flesh, although he greatly desired
(19). But he put away the fat and all the flesh in the high-
roofed byre, placing them high up to be a token of his youthful
theft. And after that he gathered dry sticks and utterly
destroyed with fire all the hoofs and all the heads.
(ll. 138-154) And when the god had duly finished all, he threw
his sandals into deep-eddying Alpheus, and quenched the embers,
covering the black ashes with sand, and so spent the night while
Selene's soft light shone down. Then the god went straight back
again at dawn to the bright crests of Cyllene, and no one met him
on the long journey either of the blessed gods or mortal men, nor
did any dog bark. And luck-bringing Hermes, the son of Zeus,
passed edgeways through the key-hole of the hall like the autumn
breeze, even as mist: straight through the cave he went and came
to the rich inner chamber, walking softly, and making no noise as
one might upon the floor. Then glorious Hermes went hurriedly to
his cradle, wrapping his swaddling clothes about his shoulders as
though he were a feeble babe, and lay playing with the covering
about his knees; but at his left hand he kept close his sweet
(ll. 155-161) But the god did not pass unseen by the goddess his
mother; but she said to him: 'How now, you rogue! Whence come
you back so at night-time, you that wear shamelessness as a
garment? And now I surely believe the son of Leto will soon have
you forth out of doors with unbreakable cords about your ribs, or
you will live a rogue's life in the glens robbing by whiles. Go
to, then; your father got you to be a great worry to mortal men
and deathless gods.'
(ll. 162-181) Then Hermes answered her with crafty words:
'Mother, why do you seek to frighten me like a feeble child whose
heart knows few words of blame, a fearful babe that fears its
mother's scolding? Nay, but I will try whatever plan is best,
and so feed myself and you continually. We will not be content
to remain here, as you bid, alone of all the gods unfee'd with
offerings and prayers. Better to live in fellowship with the
deathless gods continually, rich, wealthy, and enjoying stories
of grain, than to sit always in a gloomy cave: and, as regards
honour, I too will enter upon the rite that Apollo has. If my
father will not give it to me, I will seek -- and I am able -- to
be a prince of robbers. And if Leto's most glorious son shall
seek me out, I think another and a greater loss will befall him.
For I will go to Pytho to break into his great house, and will
plunder therefrom splendid tripods, and cauldrons, and gold, and
plenty of bright iron, and much apparel; and you shall see it if
(ll. 182-189) With such words they spoke together, the son of
Zeus who holds the aegis, and the lady Maia. Now Eros the early
born was rising from deep-flowing Ocean, bringing light to men,
when Apollo, as he went, came to Onchestus, the lovely grove and
sacred place of the loud-roaring Holder of the Earth. There he
found an old man grazing his beast along the pathway from his
court-yard fence, and the all-glorious Son of Leto began and said
(ll. 190-200) 'Old man, weeder (20) of grassy Onchestus, I am
come here from Pieria seeking cattle, cows all of them, all with
curving horns, from my herd. The black bull was grazing alone
away from the rest, but fierce-eyed hounds followed the cows,
four of them, all of one mind, like men. These were left behind,
the dogs and the bull -- which is great marvel; but the cows
strayed out of the soft meadow, away from the pasture when the
sun was just going down. Now tell me this, old man born long
ago: have you seen one passing along behind those cows?'
(ll. 201-211) Then the old man answered him and said: 'My son, it
is hard to tell all that one's eyes see; for many wayfarers pass
to and fro this way, some bent on much evil, and some on good: it
is difficult to know each one. However, I was digging about my
plot of vineyard all day long until the sun went down, and I
thought, good sir, but I do not know for certain, that I marked a
child, whoever the child was, that followed long-horned cattle --
an infant who had a staff and kept walking from side to side: he
was driving them backwards way, with their heads toward him.'
(ll. 212-218) So said the old man. And when Apollo heard this
report, he went yet more quickly on his way, and presently,
seeing a long-winged bird, he knew at once by that omen that
thief was the child of Zeus the son of Cronos. So the lord
Apollo, son of Zeus, hurried on to goodly Pylos seeking his
shambling oxen, and he had his broad shoulders covered with a
dark cloud. But when the Far-Shooter perceived the tracks, he
(ll. 219-226) 'Oh, oh! Truly this is a great marvel that my eyes
behold! These are indeed the tracks of straight-horned oxen, but
they are turned backwards towards the flowery meadow. But these
others are not the footprints of man or woman or grey wolves or
bears or lions, nor do I think they are the tracks of a rough-
maned Centaur -- whoever it be that with swift feet makes such
monstrous footprints; wonderful are the tracks on this side of
the way, but yet more wonderfully are those on that.'
(ll. 227-234) When he had so said, the lord Apollo, the Son of
Zeus hastened on and came to the forest-clad mountain of Cyllene
and the deep-shadowed cave in the rock where the divine nymph
brought forth the child of Zeus who is the son of Cronos. A
sweet odour spread over the lovely hill, and many thin-shanked
sheep were grazing on the grass. Then far-shooting Apollo
himself stepped down in haste over the stone threshold into the
(ll. 235-253) Now when the Son of Zeus and Maia saw Apollo in a
rage about his cattle, he snuggled down in his fragrant
swaddling-clothes; and as wood-ash covers over the deep embers of
tree-stumps, so Hermes cuddled himself up when he saw the Far-
Shooter. He squeezed head and hands and feet together in a small
space, like a new born child seeking sweet sleep, though in truth
he was wide awake, and he kept his lyre under his armpit. But
the Son of Leto was aware and failed not to perceive the
beautiful mountain-nymph and her dear son, albeit a little child
and swathed so craftily. He peered in ever corner of the great
dwelling and, taking a bright key, he opened three closets full
of nectar and lovely ambrosia. And much gold and silver was
stored in them, and many garments of the nymph, some purple and
some silvery white, such as are kept in the sacred houses of the
blessed gods. Then, after the Son of Leto had searched out the
recesses of the great house, he spake to glorious Hermes:
(ll. 254-259) 'Child, lying in the cradle, make haste and tell me
of my cattle, or we two will soon fall out angrily. For I will
take and cast you into dusty Tartarus and awful hopeless
darkness, and neither your mother nor your father shall free you
or bring you up again to the light, but you will wander under the
earth and be the leader amongst little folk.' (21)
(ll. 260-277) Then Hermes answered him with crafty words: 'Son of
Leto, what harsh words are these you have spoken? And is it
cattle of the field you are come here to seek? I have not seen
them: I have not heard of them: no one has told me of them. I
cannot give news of them, nor win the reward for news. Am I like
a cattle-liter, a stalwart person? This is no task for me:
rather I care for other things: I care for sleep, and milk of my
mother's breast, and wrappings round my shoulders, and warm
baths. Let no one hear the cause of this dispute; for this would
be a great marvel indeed among the deathless gods, that a child
newly born should pass in through the forepart of the house with
cattle of the field: herein you speak extravagantly. I was born
yesterday, and my feet are soft and the ground beneath is rough;
nevertheless, if you will have it so, I will swear a great oath
by my father's head and vow that neither am I guilty myself,
neither have I seen any other who stole your cows -- whatever
cows may be; for I know them only by hearsay.'
(ll. 278-280) So, then, said Hermes, shooting quick glances from
his eyes: and he kept raising his brows and looking this way and
that, whistling long and listening to Apollo's story as to an
(ll. 281-292) But far-working Apollo laughed softly and said to
him: 'O rogue, deceiver, crafty in heart, you talk so innocently
that I most surely believe that you have broken into many a well-
built house and stripped more than one poor wretch bare this
night (22), gathering his goods together all over the house
without noise. You will plague many a lonely herdsman in
mountain glades, when you come on herds and thick-fleeced sheep,
and have a hankering after flesh. But come now, if you would not
sleep your last and latest sleep, get out of your cradle, you
comrade of dark night. Surely hereafter this shall be your title
amongst the deathless gods, to be called the prince of robbers
(ll. 293-300) So said Phoebus Apollo, and took the child and
began to carry him. But at that moment the strong Slayer of
Argus had his plan, and, while Apollo held him in his hands, sent
forth an omen, a hard-worked belly-serf, a rude messenger, and
sneezed directly after. And when Apollo heard it, he dropped
glorious Hermes out of his hands on the ground: then sitting down
before him, though he was eager to go on his way, he spoke
mockingly to Hermes:
(ll. 301-303) 'Fear not, little swaddling baby, son of Zeus and
Maia. I shall find the strong cattle presently by these omens,
and you shall lead the way.'
(ll. 304-306) When Apollo had so said, Cyllenian Hermes sprang up
quickly, starting in haste. With both hands he pushed up to his
ears the covering that he had wrapped about his shoulders, and
(ll. 307-312) 'Where are you carrying me, Far-Worker, hastiest of
all the gods? Is it because of your cattle that you are so angry
and harass me? O dear, would that all the sort of oxen might
perish; for it is not I who stole your cows, nor did I see
another steal them -- whatever cows may be, and of that I have
only heard report. Nay, give right and take it before Zeus, the
Son of Cronos.'
(ll. 313-326) So Hermes the shepherd and Leto's glorious son kept
stubbornly disputing each article of their quarrel: Apollo,
....not fairly sought to seize glorious Hermes because of the
cows; but he, the Cyllenian, tried to deceive the God of the
Silver Bow with tricks and cunning words. But when, though he
had many wiles, he found the other had as many shifts, he began
to walk across the sand, himself in front, while the Son of Zeus
and Leto came behind. Soon they came, these lovely children of
Zeus, to the top of fragrant Olympus, to their father, the Son of
Cronos; for there were the scales of judgement set for them both.
There was an assembly on snowy Olympus, and the immortals who
perish not were gathering after the hour of gold-throned Dawn.
(ll. 327-329) Then Hermes and Apollo of the Silver Bow stood at
the knees of Zeus: and Zeus who thunders on high spoke to his
glorious son and asked him:
(ll. 330-332) 'Phoebus, whence come you driving this great spoil,
a child new born that has the look of a herald? This is a
weighty matter that is come before the council of the gods.'
(ll. 333-364) Then the lord, far-working Apollo, answered him: 'O
my father, you shall soon hear no triffling tale though you
reproach me that I alone am fond of spoil. Here is a child, a
burgling robber, whom I found after a long journey in the hills
of Cyllene: for my part I have never seen one so pert either
among the gods or all men that catch folk unawares throughout the
world. He strole away my cows from their meadow and drove them
off in the evening along the shore of the loud-roaring sea,
making straight for Pylos. There were double tracks, and
wonderful they were, such as one might marvel at, the doing of a
clever sprite; for as for the cows, the dark dust kept and showed
their footprints leading towards the flowery meadow; but he
himself -- bewildering creature -- crossed the sandy ground
outside the path, not on his feet nor yet on his hands; but,
furnished with some other means he trudged his way -- wonder of
wonders! -- as though one walked on slender oak-trees. Now while
he followed the cattle across sandy ground, all the tracks showed
quite clearly in the dust; but when he had finished the long way
across the sand, presently the cows' track and his own could not
be traced over the hard ground. But a mortal man noticed him as
he drove the wide-browed kine straight towards Pylos. And as
soon as he had shut them up quietly, and had gone home by crafty
turns and twists, he lay down in his cradle in the gloom of a dim
cave, as still as dark night, so that not even an eagle keenly
gazing would have spied him. Much he rubbed his eyes with his
hands as he prepared falsehood, and himself straightway said
roundly: "I have not seen them: I have not heard of them: no man
has told me of them. I could not tell you of them, nor win the
reward of telling."'
(ll. 365-367) When he had so spoken, Phoebus Apollo sat down.
But Hermes on his part answered and said, pointing at the Son of
Cronos, the lord of all the gods:
(ll. 368-386) 'Zeus, my father, indeed I will speak truth to you;
for I am truthful and I cannot tell a lie. He came to our house
to-day looking for his shambling cows, as the sun was newly
rising. He brought no witnesses with him nor any of the blessed
gods who had seen the theft, but with great violence ordered me
to confess, threatening much to throw me into wide Tartarus. For
he has the rich bloom of glorious youth, while I was born but
yesterday -- as he too knows -- nor am I like a cattle-lifter, a
sturdy fellow. Believe my tale (for you claim to be my own
father), that I did not drive his cows to my house -- so may I
prosper -- nor crossed the threshold: this I say truly. I
reverence Helios greatly and the other gods, and you I love and
him I dread. You yourself know that I am not guilty: and I will
swear a great oath upon it: -- No! by these rich-decked porticoes
of the gods. And some day I will punish him, strong as he is,
for this pitiless inquisition; but now do you help the younger.'
(ll. 387-396) So spake the Cyllenian, the Slayer of Argus, while
he kept shooting sidelong glances and kept his swaddling-clothes
upon his arm, and did not cast them away. But Zeus laughed out
loud to see his evil-plotting child well and cunningly denying
guilt about the cattle. And he bade them both to be of one mind
and search for the cattle, and guiding Hermes to lead the way
and, without mischievousness of heart, to show the place where
now he had hidden the strong cattle. Then the Son of Cronos
bowed his head: and goodly Hermes obeyed him; for the will of
Zeus who holds the aegis easily prevailed with him.
(ll. 397-404) Then the two all-glorious children of Zeus hastened
both to sandy Pylos, and reached the ford of Alpheus, and came to
the fields and the high-roofed byre where the beasts were
cherished at night-time. Now while Hermes went to the cave in
the rock and began to drive out the strong cattle, the son of
Leto, looking aside, saw the cowhides on the sheer rock. And he
asked glorious Hermes at once:
(ll. 405-408) 'How were you able, you crafty rogue, to flay two
cows, new-born and babyish as you are? For my part, I dread the
strength that will be yours: there is no need you should keep
growing long, Cyllenian, son of Maia!'
(ll. 409-414) So saying, Apollo twisted strong withes with his
hands meaning to bind Hermes with firm bands; but the bands would
not hold him, and the withes of osier fell far from him and began
to grow at once from the ground beneath their feet in that very
place. And intertwining with one another, they quickly grew and
covered all the wild-roving cattle by the will of thievish
Hermes, so that Apollo was astonished as he gazed.
(ll. 414-435) Then the strong slayer of Argus looked furtively
upon the ground with eyes flashing fire.... desiring to hide....
....Very easily he softened the son of all-glorious Leto as he
would, stern though the Far-shooter was. He took the lyre upon
his left arm and tried each string in turn with the key, so that
it sounded awesomely at his touch. And Phoebus Apollo laughed
for joy; for the sweet throb of the marvellous music went to his
heart, and a soft longing took hold on his soul as he listened.
Then the son of Maia, harping sweetly upon his lyre, took courage
and stood at the left hand of Phoebus Apollo; and soon, while he
played shrilly on his lyre, he lifted up his voice and sang, and
lovely was the sound of his voice that followed. He sang the
story of the deathless gods and of the dark earth, how at the
first they came to be, and how each one received his portion.
First among the gods he honoured Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses,
in his song; for the son of Maia was of her following. And next
the goodly son of Zeus hymned the rest of the immortals according
to their order in age, and told how each was born, mentioning all
in order as he struck the lyre upon his arm. But Apollo was
seized with a longing not to be allayed, and he opened his mouth
and spoke winged words to Hermes:
(ll. 436-462) 'Slayer of oxen, trickster, busy one, comrade of
the feast, this song of yours is worth fifty cows, and I believe
that presently we shall settle our quarrel peacefully. But come
now, tell me this, resourceful son of Maia: has this marvellous
thing been with you from your birth, or did some god or mortal
man give it you -- a noble gift -- and teach you heavenly song?
For wonderful is this new-uttered sound I hear, the like of which
I vow that no man nor god dwelling on Olympus ever yet has known
but you, O thievish son of Maia. What skill is this? What song
for desperate cares? What way of song? For verily here are
three things to hand all at once from which to choose, -- mirth,
and love, and sweet sleep. And though I am a follower of the
Olympian Muses who love dances and the bright path of song -- the
full-toned chant and ravishing thrill of flutes -- yet I never
cared for any of those feats of skill at young men's revels, as I
do now for this: I am filled with wonder, O son of Zeus, at your
sweet playing. But now, since you, though little, have such
glorious skill, sit down, dear boy, and respect the words of your
elders. For now you shall have renown among the deathless gods,
you and your mother also. This I will declare to you exactly: by
this shaft of cornel wood I will surely make you a leader
renowned among the deathless gods, and fortunate, and will give
you glorious gifts and will not deceive you from first to last.'
(ll. 463-495) Then Hermes answered him with artful words: 'You
question me carefully, O Far-worker; yet I am not jealous that
you should enter upon my art: this day you shall know it. For I
seek to be friendly with you both in thought and word. Now you
well know all things in your heart, since you sit foremost among
the deathless gods, O son of Zeus, and are goodly and strong.
And wise Zeus loves you as all right is, and has given you
splendid gifts. And they say that from the utterance of Zeus you
have learned both the honours due to the gods, O Far-worker, and
oracles from Zeus, even all his ordinances. Of all these I
myself have already learned that you have great wealth. Now, you
are free to learn whatever you please; but since, as it seems,
your heart is so strongly set on playing the lyre, chant, and
play upon it, and give yourself to merriment, taking this as a
gift from me, and do you, my friend, bestow glory on me. Sing
well with this clear-voiced companion in your hands; for you are
skilled in good, well-ordered utterance. From now on bring it
confidently to the rich feast and lovely dance and glorious
revel, a joy by night and by day. Whoso with wit and wisdom
enquires of it cunningly, him it teaches through its sound all
manner of things that delight the mind, being easily played with
gentle familiarities, for it abhors toilsome drudgery; but whoso
in ignorance enquires of it violently, to him it chatters mere
vanity and foolishness. But you are able to learn whatever you
please. So then, I will give you this lyre, glorious son of
Zeus, while I for my part will graze down with wild-roving cattle
the pastures on hill and horse-feeding plain: so shall the cows
covered by the bulls calve abundantly both males and females.
And now there is no need for you, bargainer though you are, to be
(ll. 496-502) When Hermes had said this, he held out the lyre:
and Phoebus Apollo took it, and readily put his shining whip in
Hermes' hand, and ordained him keeper of herds. The son of Maia
received it joyfully, while the glorious son of Leto, the lord
far-working Apollo, took the lyre upon his left arm and tried
each string with the key. Awesomely it sounded at the touch of
the god, while he sang sweetly to its note.
(ll. 503-512) Afterwards they two, the all-glorious sons of Zeus
turned the cows back towards the sacred meadow, but themselves
hastened back to snowy Olympus, delighting in the lyre. Then
wise Zeus was glad and made them both friends. And Hermes loved
the son of Leto continually, even as he does now, when he had
given the lyre as token to the Far-shooter, who played it
skilfully, holding it upon his arm. But for himself Hermes found
out another cunning art and made himself the pipes whose sound is
(ll. 513-520) Then the son of Leto said to Hermes: 'Son of Maia,
guide and cunning one, I fear you may steal form me the lyre and
my curved bow together; for you have an office from Zeus, to
establish deeds of barter amongst men throughout the fruitful
earth. Now if you would only swear me the great oath of the
gods, either by nodding your head, or by the potent water of
Styx, you would do all that can please and ease my heart.'
(ll. 521-549) Then Maia's son nodded his head and promised that
he would never steal anything of all the Far-shooter possessed,
and would never go near his strong house; but Apollo, son of
Leto, swore to be fellow and friend to Hermes, vowing that he
would love no other among the immortals, neither god nor man
sprung from Zeus, better than Hermes: and the Father sent forth
an eagle in confirmation. And Apollo sware also: 'Verily I will
make you only to be an omen for the immortals and all alike,
trusted and honoured by my heart. Moreover, I will give you a
splendid staff of riches and wealth: it is of gold, with three
branches, and will keep you scatheless, accomplishing every task,
whether of words or deeds that are good, which I claim to know
through the utterance of Zeus. But as for sooth-saying, noble,
heaven-born child, of which you ask, it is not lawful for you to
learn it, nor for any other of the deathless gods: only the mind
of Zeus knows that. I am pledged and have vowed and sworn a
strong oath that no other of the eternal gods save I should know
the wise-hearted counsel of Zeus. And do not you, my brother,
bearer of the golden wand, bid me tell those decrees which all-
seeing Zeus intends. As for men, I will harm one and profit
another, sorely perplexing the tribes of unenviable men.
Whosoever shall come guided by the call and flight of birds of
sure omen, that man shall have advantage through my voice, and I
will not deceive him. But whoso shall trust to idly-chattering
birds and shall seek to invoke my prophetic art contrary to my
will, and to understand more than the eternal gods, I declare
that he shall come on an idle journey; yet his gifts I would
(ll. 550-568) 'But I will tell you another thing, Son of all-
glorious Maia and Zeus who holds the aegis, luck-bringing genius
of the gods. There are certain holy ones, sisters born -- three
virgins (23) gifted with wings: their heads are besprinkled with
white meal, and they dwell under a ridge of Parnassus. These are
teachers of divination apart from me, the art which I practised
while yet a boy following herds, though my father paid no heed to
it. From their home they fly now here, now there, feeding on
honey-comb and bringing all things to pass. And when they are
inspired through eating yellow honey, they are willing to speak
truth; but if they be deprived of the gods' sweet food, then they
speak falsely, as they swarm in and out together. These, then, I
give you; enquire of them strictly and delight your heart: and if
you should teach any mortal so to do, often will he hear your
response -- if he have good fortune. Take these, Son of Maia,
and tend the wild roving, horned oxen and horses and patient
(ll. 568a-573) So he spake. And from heaven father Zeus himself
gave confirmation to his words, and commanded that glorious
Hermes should be lord over all birds of omen and grim-eyed lions,
and boars with gleaming tusks, and over dogs and all flocks that
the wide earth nourishes, and over all sheep; also that he only
should be the appointed messenger to Hades, who, though he takes
no gift, shall give him no mean prize.
(ll. 574-578) Thus the lord Apollo showed his kindness for the
Son of Maia by all manner of friendship: and the Son of Cronos
gave him grace besides. He consorts with all mortals and
immortals: a little he profits, but continually throughout the
dark night he cozens the tribes of mortal men.
(ll. 579-580) And so, farewell, Son of Zeus and Maia; but I will
remember you and another song also.
the morning was stale
only hours after a windless storm
when raindrops are stones
colliding with souls
even those beneath
the shroud of god
the water from the sky
has become our father
telling me things sotto voce
in the rain
i give praise to the giver of days
keeper of thoughts
watcher in dreams
master of winds
the one holding
this spinning stone
infinite emptiness forever
i call him eternal
to a great star
see me! please!
running out of your gifts
so the children
have forgotten how to smile
filled with poison teaching
we scorched the air
in turn it has
forsaken your promise
time has brought us here,
we set fire to great
plush green hills
that rolled over
and then back
in such a playful way
you'd think god reached down
hands in flames
and tickled the earth
below the trees
and the wildfires rage!
the clouds must know
that we are here
...fighting...dying to save the air
dancing at the mouth of xibalba
in the palm of paradise
long grass swaying
in the breeze
of the midland draft
taking souls forward
returning them home
help me now
as i am but walking aging skin
searching for the end...
with hopes i can begin
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds
Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went,
No further than to where his feet had stray'd,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed;
While his bow'd head seem'd list'ning to the Earth,
His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
It seem'd no force could wake him from his place;
But there came one, who with a kindred hand
Touch'd his wide shoulders, after bending low
With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
She was a Goddess of the infant world;
By her in stature the tall Amazon
Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have ta'en
Achilles by the hair and bent his neck;
Or with a finger stay'd Ixion's wheel.
Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx,
Pedestal'd haply in a palace court,
When sages look'd to Egypt for their lore.
But oh! how unlike marble was that face:
How beautiful, if sorrow had not made
Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self.
There was a listening fear in her regard,
As if calamity had but begun;
As if the vanward clouds of evil days
Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear
Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
One hand she press'd upon that aching spot
Where beats the human heart, as if just there,
Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain:
The other upon Saturn's bended neck
She laid, and to the level of his ear
Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake
In solemn tenor and deep organ tone:
Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
Would come in these like accents; O how frail
To that large utterance of the early Gods!
"Saturn, look up!---though wherefore, poor old King?
I have no comfort for thee, no not one:
I cannot say, 'O wherefore sleepest thou?'
For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God;
And ocean too, with all its solemn noise,
Has from thy sceptre pass'd; and all the air
Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,
Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house;
And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands
Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
O aching time! O moments big as years!
All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth,
And press it so upon our weary griefs
That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
Saturn, sleep on:---O thoughtless, why did I
Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude?
Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes?
Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep."
As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
So came these words and went; the while in tears
She touch'd her fair large forehead to the ground,
Just where her fallen hair might be outspread
A soft and silken mat for Saturn's feet.
One moon, with alteration slow, had shed
Her silver seasons four upon the night,
And still these two were postured motionless,
Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern;
The frozen God still couchant on the earth,
And the sad Goddess weeping at his feet:
Until at length old Saturn lifted up
His faded eyes, and saw his kingdom gone,
And all the gloom and sorrow ofthe place,
And that fair kneeling Goddess; and then spake,
As with a palsied tongue, and while his beard
Shook horrid with such aspen-malady:
"O tender spouse of gold Hyperion,
Thea, I feel thee ere I see thy face;
Look up, and let me see our doom in it;
Look up, and tell me if this feeble shape
Is Saturn's; tell me, if thou hear'st the voice
Of Saturn; tell me, if this wrinkling brow,
Naked and bare of its great diadem,
Peers like the front of Saturn? Who had power
To make me desolate? Whence came the strength?
How was it nurtur'd to such bursting forth,
While Fate seem'd strangled in my nervous grasp?
But it is so; and I am smother'd up,
And buried from all godlike exercise
Of influence benign on planets pale,
Of admonitions to the winds and seas,
Of peaceful sway above man's harvesting,
And all those acts which Deity supreme
Doth ease its heart of love in.---I am gone
Away from my own bosom: I have left
My strong identity, my real self,
Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit
Here on this spot of earth. Search, Thea, search!
Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round
Upon all space: space starr'd, and lorn of light;
Space region'd with life-air; and barren void;
Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell.---
Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest
A certain shape or shadow, making way
With wings or chariot fierce to repossess
A heaven he lost erewhile: it must---it must
Be of ripe progress---Saturn must be King.
Yes, there must be a golden victory;
There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown
Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival
Upon the gold clouds metropolitan,
Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir
Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be
Beautiful things made new, for the surprise
Of the sky-children; I will give command:
Thea! Thea! Thea! where is Saturn?"
This passion lifted him upon his feet,
And made his hands to struggle in the air,
His Druid locks to shake and ooze with sweat,
His eyes to fever out, his voice to cease.
He stood, and heard not Thea's sobbing deep;
A little time, and then again he snatch'd
Utterance thus.---"But cannot I create?
Cannot I form? Cannot I fashion forth
Another world, another universe,
To overbear and crumble this to nought?
Where is another Chaos? Where?"---That word
Found way unto Olympus, and made quake
The rebel three.---Thea was startled up,
And in her bearing was a sort of hope,
As thus she quick-voic'd spake, yet full of awe.
"This cheers our fallen house: come to our friends,
O Saturn! come away, and give them heart;
I know the covert, for thence came I hither."
Thus brief; then with beseeching eyes she went
With backward footing through the shade a space:
He follow'd, and she turn'd to lead the way
Through aged boughs, that yielded like the mist
Which eagles cleave upmounting from their nest.
Meanwhile in other realms big tears were shed,
More sorrow like to this, and such like woe,
Too huge for mortal tongue or pen of scribe:
The Titans fierce, self-hid, or prison-bound,
Groan'd for the old allegiance once more,
And listen'd in sharp pain for Saturn's voice.
But one of the whole mammoth-brood still kept
His sov'reigny, and rule, and majesy;---
Blazing Hyperion on his orbed fire
Still sat, still snuff'd the incense, teeming up
From man to the sun's God: yet unsecure:
For as among us mortals omens drear
Fright and perplex, so also shuddered he---
Not at dog's howl, or gloom-bird's hated screech,
Or the familiar visiting of one
Upon the first toll of his passing-bell,
Or prophesyings of the midnight lamp;
But horrors, portion'd to a giant nerve,
Oft made Hyperion ache. His palace bright,
Bastion'd with pyramids of glowing gold,
And touch'd with shade of bronzed obelisks,
Glar'd a blood-red through all its thousand courts,
Arches, and domes, and fiery galleries;
And all its curtains of Aurorian clouds
Flush'd angerly: while sometimes eagles' wings,
Unseen before by Gods or wondering men,
Darken'd the place; and neighing steeds were heard
Not heard before by Gods or wondering men.
Also, when he would taste the spicy wreaths
Of incense, breath'd aloft from sacred hills,
Instead of sweets, his ample palate took
Savor of poisonous brass and metal sick:
And so, when harbor'd in the sleepy west,
After the full completion of fair day,---
For rest divine upon exalted couch,
And slumber in the arms of melody,
He pac'd away the pleasant hours of ease
With stride colossal, on from hall to hall;
While far within each aisle and deep recess,
His winged minions in close clusters stood,
Amaz'd and full offear; like anxious men
Who on wide plains gather in panting troops,
When earthquakes jar their battlements and towers.
Even now, while Saturn, rous'd from icy trance,
Went step for step with Thea through the woods,
Hyperion, leaving twilight in the rear,
Came slope upon the threshold of the west;
Then, as was wont, his palace-door flew ope
In smoothest silence, save what solemn tubes,
Blown by the serious Zephyrs, gave of sweet
And wandering sounds, slow-breathed melodies;
And like a rose in vermeil tint and shape,
In fragrance soft, and coolness to the eye,
That inlet to severe magnificence
Stood full blown, for the God to enter in.
He enter'd, but he enter'd full of wrath;
His flaming robes stream'd out beyond his heels,
And gave a roar, as if of earthly fire,
That scar'd away the meek ethereal Hours
And made their dove-wings tremble. On he flared
From stately nave to nave, from vault to vault,
Through bowers of fragrant and enwreathed light,
And diamond-paved lustrous long arcades,
Until he reach'd the great main cupola;
There standing fierce beneath, he stampt his foot,
And from the basements deep to the high towers
Jarr'd his own golden region; and before
The quavering thunder thereupon had ceas'd,
His voice leapt out, despite of godlike curb,
To this result: "O dreams of day and night!
O monstrous forms! O effigies of pain!
O spectres busy in a cold, cold gloom!
O lank-eared phantoms of black-weeded pools!
Why do I know ye? why have I seen ye? why
Is my eternal essence thus distraught
To see and to behold these horrors new?
Saturn is fallen, am I too to fall?
Am I to leave this haven of my rest,
This cradle of my glory, this soft clime,
This calm luxuriance of blissful light,
These crystalline pavilions, and pure fanes,
Of all my lucent empire? It is left
Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.
The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry,
I cannot see but darkness, death, and darkness.
Even here, into my centre of repose,
The shady visions come to domineer,
Insult, and blind, and stifle up my pomp.---
Fall!---No, by Tellus and her briny robes!
Over the fiery frontier of my realms
I will advance a terrible right arm
Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove,
And bid old Saturn take his throne again."---
He spake, and ceas'd, the while a heavier threat
Held struggle with his throat but came not forth;
For as in theatres of crowded men
Hubbub increases more they call out "Hush!"
So at Hyperion's words the phantoms pale
Bestirr'd themselves, thrice horrible and cold;
And from the mirror'd level where he stood
A mist arose, as from a scummy marsh.
At this, through all his bulk an agony
Crept gradual, from the feet unto the crown,
Like a lithe serpent vast and muscular
Making slow way, with head and neck convuls'd
From over-strained might. Releas'd, he fled
To the eastern gates, and full six dewy hours
Before the dawn in season due should blush,
He breath'd fierce breath against the sleepy portals,
Clear'd them of heavy vapours, burst them wide
Suddenly on the ocean's chilly streams.
The planet orb of fire, whereon he rode
Each day from east to west the heavens through,
Spun round in sable curtaining of clouds;
Not therefore veiled quite, blindfold, and hid,
But ever and anon the glancing spheres,
Circles, and arcs, and broad-belting colure,
Glow'd through, and wrought upon the muffling dark
Sweet-shaped lightnings from the nadir deep
Up to the zenith,---hieroglyphics old,
Which sages and keen-eyed astrologers
Then living on the earth, with laboring thought
Won from the gaze of many centuries:
Now lost, save what we find on remnants huge
Of stone, or rnarble swart; their import gone,
Their wisdom long since fled.---Two wings this orb
Possess'd for glory, two fair argent wings,
Ever exalted at the God's approach:
And now, from forth the gloom their plumes immense
Rose, one by one, till all outspreaded were;
While still the dazzling globe maintain'd eclipse,
Awaiting for Hyperion's command.
Fain would he have commanded, fain took throne
And bid the day begin, if but for change.
He might not:---No, though a primeval God:
The sacred seasons might not be disturb'd.
Therefore the operations of the dawn
Stay'd in their birth, even as here 'tis told.
Those silver wings expanded sisterly,
Eager to sail their orb; the porches wide
Open'd upon the dusk demesnes of night
And the bright Titan, phrenzied with new woes,
Unus'd to bend, by hard compulsion bent
His spirit to the sorrow of the time;
And all along a dismal rack of clouds,
Upon the boundaries of day and night,
He stretch'd himself in grief and radiance faint.
There as he lay, the Heaven with its stars
Look'd down on him with pity, and the voice
Of Coelus, from the universal space,
Thus whisper'd low and solemn in his ear:
"O brightest of my children dear, earth-born
And sky-engendered, son of mysteries
All unrevealed even to the powers
Which met at thy creating; at whose joys
And palpitations sweet, and pleasures soft,
I, Coelus, wonder, how they came and whence;
And at the fruits thereof what shapes they be,
Distinct, and visible; symbols divine,
Manifestations of that beauteous life
Diffus'd unseen throughout eternal space:
Of these new-form'd art thou, O brightest child!
Of these, thy brethren and the Goddesses!
There is sad feud among ye, and rebellion
Of son against his sire. I saw him fall,
I saw my first-born tumbled from his throne!
To me his arms were spread, to me his voice
Found way from forth the thunders round his head!
Pale wox I, and in vapours hid my face.
Art thou, too, near such doom? vague fear there is:
For I have seen my sons most unlike Gods.
Divine ye were created, and divine
In sad demeanour, solemn, undisturb'd,
Unruffled, like high Gods, ye liv'd and ruled:
Now I behold in you fear, hope, and wrath;
Actions of rage and passion; even as
I see them, on the mortal world beneath,
In men who die.---This is the grief, O son!
Sad sign of ruin, sudden dismay, and fall!
Yet do thou strive; as thou art capable,
As thou canst move about, an evident God;
And canst oppose to each malignant hour
Ethereal presence:---I am but a voice;
My life is but the life of winds and tides,
No more than winds and tides can I avail:---
But thou canst.---Be thou therefore in the van
Of circumstance; yea, seize the arrow's barb
Before the tense string murmur.---To the earth!
For there thou wilt find Saturn, and his woes.
Meantime I will keep watch on thy bright sun,
And of thy seasons be a careful nurse."---
Ere half this region-whisper had come down,
Hyperion arose, and on the stars
Lifted his curved lids, and kept them wide
Until it ceas'd; and still he kept them wide:
And still they were the same bright, patient stars.
Then with a slow incline of his broad breast,
Like to a diver in the pearly seas,
Forward he stoop'd over the airy shore,
And plung'd all noiseless into the deep night.
Just at the self-same beat of Time's wide wings
Hyperion slid into the rustled air,
And Saturn gain'd with Thea that sad place
Where Cybele and the bruised Titans mourn'd.
It was a den where no insulting light
Could glimmer on their tears; where their own groans
They felt, but heard not, for the solid roar
Of thunderous waterfalls and torrents hoarse,
Pouring a constant bulk, uncertain where.
Crag jutting forth to crag, and rocks that seem'd
Ever as if just rising from a sleep,
Forehead to forehead held their monstrous horns;
And thus in thousand hugest phantasies
Made a fit roofing to this nest of woe.
Instead of thrones, hard flint they sat upon,
Couches of rugged stone, and slaty ridge
Stubborn'd with iron. All were not assembled:
Some chain'd in torture, and some wandering.
Caus, and Gyges, and Briareus,
Typhon, and Dolor, and Porphyrion,
With many more, the brawniest in assault,
Were pent in regions of laborious breath;
Dungeon'd in opaque element, to keep
Their clenched teeth still clench'd, and all their limbs
Lock'd up like veins of metal, crampt and screw'd;
Without a motion, save of their big hearts
Heaving in pain, and horribly convuls'd
With sanguine feverous boiling gurge of pulse.
Mnemosyne was straying in the world;
Far from her moon had Phoebe wandered;
And many else were free to roam abroad,
But for the main, here found they covert drear.
Scarce images of life, one here, one there,
Lay vast and edgeways; like a dismal cirque
Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor,
When the chill rain begins at shut of eve,
In dull November, and their chancel vault,
The Heaven itself, is blinded throughout night.
Each one kept shroud, nor to his neighbour gave
Or word, or look, or action of despair.
Creus was one; his ponderous iron mace
Lay by him, and a shatter'd rib of rock
Told of his rage, ere he thus sank and pined.
Iapetus another; in his grasp,
A serpent's plashy neck; its barbed tongue
Squeez'd from the gorge, and all its uncurl'd length
Dead: and because the creature could not spit
Its poison in the eyes of conquering Jove.
Next Cottus: prone he lay, chin uppermost,
As though in pain; for still upon the flint
He ground severe his skull, with open mouth
And eyes at horrid working. Nearest him
Asia, born of most enormous Caf,
Who cost her mother Tellus keener pangs,
Though feminine, than any of her sons:
More thought than woe was in her dusky face,
For she was prophesying of her glory;
And in her wide imagination stood
Palm-shaded temples, and high rival fanes
By Oxus or in Ganges' sacred isles.
Even as Hope upon her anchor leans,
So leant she, not so fair, upon a tusk
Shed from the broadest of her elephants.
Above her, on a crag's uneasy shelve,
Upon his elbow rais'd, all prostrate else,
Shadow'd Enceladus; once tame and mild
As grazing ox unworried in the meads;
Now tiger-passion'd, lion-thoughted, wroth,
He meditated, plotted, and even now
Was hurling mountains in that second war,
Not long delay'd, that scar'd the younger Gods
To hide themselves in forms of beast and bird.
Not far hence Atlas; and beside him prone
Phorcus, the sire of Gorgons. Neighbour'd close
Oceanus, and Tethys, in whose lap
Sobb'd Clymene among her tangled hair.
In midst of all lay Themis, at the feet
Of Ops the queen; all clouded round from sight,
No shape distinguishable, more than when
Thick night confounds the pine-tops with the clouds:
And many else whose names may not be told.
For when the Muse's wings are air-ward spread,
Who shall delay her flight? And she must chaunt
Of Saturn, and his guide, who now had climb'd
With damp and slippery footing from a depth
More horrid still. Above a sombre cliff
Their heads appear'd, and up their stature grew
Till on the level height their steps found ease:
Then Thea spread abroad her trembling arms
Upon the precincts of this nest of pain,
And sidelong fix'd her eye on Saturn's face:
There saw she direst strife; the supreme God
At war with all the frailty of grief,
Of rage, of fear, anxiety, revenge,
Remorse, spleen, hope, but most of all despair.
Against these plagues he strove in vain; for Fate
Had pour'd a mortal oil upon his head,
A disanointing poison: so that Thea,
Affrighted, kept her still, and let him pass
First onwards in, among the fallen tribe.
As with us mortal men, the laden heart
Is persecuted more, and fever'd more,
When it is nighing to the mournful house
Where other hearts are sick of the same bruise;
So Saturn, as he walk'd into the midst,
Felt faint, and would have sunk among the rest,
But that he met Enceladus's eye,
Whose mightiness, and awe of him, at once
Came like an inspiration; and he shouted,
"Titans, behold your God!" at which some groan'd;
Some started on their feet; some also shouted;
Some wept, some wail'd, all bow'd with reverence;
And Ops, uplifting her black folded veil,
Show'd her pale cheeks, and all her forehead wan,
Her eye-brows thin and jet, and hollow eyes.
There is a roaring in the bleak-grown pines
When Winter lifts his voice; there is a noise
Among immortals when a God gives sign,
With hushing finger, how he means to load
His tongue with the filll weight of utterless thought,
With thunder, and with music, and with pomp:
Such noise is like the roar of bleak-grown pines;
Which, when it ceases in this mountain'd world,
No other sound succeeds; but ceasing here,
Among these fallen, Saturn's voice therefrom
Grew up like organ, that begins anew
Its strain, when other harmonies, stopt short,
Leave the dinn'd air vibrating silverly.
Thus grew it up---"Not in my own sad breast,
Which is its own great judge and searcher out,
Can I find reason why ye should be thus:
Not in the legends of the first of days,
Studied from that old spirit-leaved book
Which starry Uranus with finger bright
Sav'd from the shores of darkness, when the waves
Low-ebb'd still hid it up in shallow gloom;---
And the which book ye know I ever kept
For my firm-based footstool:---Ah, infirm!
Not there, nor in sign, symbol, or portent
Of element, earth, water, air, and fire,---
At war, at peace, or inter-quarreling
One against one, or two, or three, or all
Each several one against the other three,
As fire with air loud warring when rain-floods
Drown both, and press them both against earth's face,
Where, finding sulphur, a quadruple wrath
Unhinges the poor world;---not in that strife,
Wherefrom I take strange lore, and read it deep,
Can I find reason why ye should be thus:
No, nowhere can unriddle, though I search,
And pore on Nature's universal scroll
Even to swooning, why ye, Divinities,
The first-born of all shap'd and palpable Gods,
Should cower beneath what, in comparison,
Is untremendous might. Yet ye are here,
O'erwhelm'd, and spurn'd, and batter'd, ye are here!
O Titans, shall I say 'Arise!'---Ye groan:
Shall I say 'Crouch!'---Ye groan. What can I then?
O Heaven wide! O unseen parent dear!
What can I? Tell me, all ye brethren Gods,
How we can war, how engine our great wrath!
O speak your counsel now, for Saturn's ear
Is all a-hunger'd. Thou, Oceanus,
Ponderest high and deep; and in thy face
I see, astonied, that severe content
Which comes of thought and musing: give us help!"
So ended Saturn; and the God of the sea,
Sophist and sage, from no Athenian grove,
But cogitation in his watery shades,
Arose, with locks not oozy, and began,
In murmurs, which his first-endeavouring tongue
Caught infant-like from the far-foamed sands.
"O ye, whom wrath consumes! who, passion-stung,
Writhe at defeat, and nurse your agonies!
Shut up your senses, stifle up your ears,
My voice is not a bellows unto ire.
Yet listen, ye who will, whilst I bring proof
How ye, perforce, must be content to stoop:
And in the proof much comfort will I give,
If ye will take that comfort in its truth.
We fall by course of Nature's law, not force
Of thunder, or of Jove. Great Saturn, thou
Hast sifted well the atom-universe;
But for this reason, that thou art the King,
And only blind from sheer supremacy,
One avenue was shaded from thine eyes,
Through which I wandered to eternal truth.
And first, as thou wast not the first of powers,
So art thou not the last; it cannot be:
Thou art not the beginning nor the end.
From Chaos and parental Darkness came
Light, the first fruits of that intestine broil,
That sullen ferment, which for wondrous ends
Was ripening in itself. The ripe hour came,
And with it Light, and Light, engendering
Upon its own producer, forthwith touch'd
The whole enormous matter into life.
Upon that very hour, our parentage,
The Heavens and the Earth, were manifest:
Then thou first born, and we the giant race,
Found ourselves ruling new and beauteous realms.
Now comes the pain of truth, to whom 'tis pain;
O folly! for to bear all naked truths,
And to envisage circumstance, all calm,
That is the top of sovereignty. Mark well!
As Heaven and Earth are fairer, fairer far
Than Chaos and blank Darkness, though once chiefs;
And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth
In form and shape compact and beautiful,
In will, in action free, companionship,
And thousand other signs of purer life;
So on our heels a fresh perfection treads,
A power more strong in beauty, born of us
And fated to excel us, as we pass
In glory that old Darkness: nor are we
Thereby more conquer'd, than by us the rule
Of shapeless Chaos. Say, doth the dull soil
Quarrel with the proud forests it hath fed,
And feedeth still, more comely than itself?
Can it deny the chiefdom of green groves?
Or shall the tree be envious of the dove
Because it cooeth, and hath snowy wings
To wander wherewithal and find its joys?
We are such forest-trees, and our fair boughs
Have bred forth, not pale solitary doves,
But eagles golden-feather'd, who do tower
Above us in their beauty, and must reign
In right thereof; for 'tis the eternal law
That first in beauty should be first in might:
Yea, by that law, another race may drive
Our conquerors to mourn as we do now.
Have ye beheld the young God of the seas,
My dispossessor? Have ye seen his face?
Have ye beheld his chariot, foam'd along
By noble winged creatures he hath made?
I saw him on the calmed waters scud,
With such a glow of beauty in his eyes,
That it enforc'd me to bid sad farewell
To all my empire: farewell sad I took,
And hither came, to see how dolorous fate
Had wrought upon ye; and how I might best
Give consolation in this woe extreme.
Receive the truth, and let it be your balm."
Whether through pos'd conviction, or disdain,
They guarded silence, when Oceanus
Left murmuring, what deepest thought can tell?
But so it was, none answer'd for a space,
Save one whom none regarded, Clymene;
And yet she answer'd not, only complain'd,
With hectic lips, and eyes up-looking mild,
Thus wording timidly among the fierce:
"O Father! I am here the simplest voice,
And all my knowledge is that joy is gone,
And this thing woe crept in among our hearts,
There to remain for ever, as I fear:
I would not bode of evil, if I thought
So weak a creature could turn off the help
Which by just right should come of mighty Gods;
Yet let me tell my sorrow, let me tell
Of what I heard, and how it made me weep,
And know that we had parted from all hope.
I stood upon a shore, a pleasant shore,
Where a sweet clime was breathed from a land
Of fragrance, quietness, and trees, and flowers.
Full of calm joy it was, as I of grief;
Too full of joy and soft delicious warmth;
So that I felt a movement in my heart
To chide, and to reproach that solitude
With songs of misery, music of our woes;
And sat me down, and took a mouthed shell
And murmur'd into it, and made melody---
O melody no more! for while I sang,
And with poor skill let pass into the breeze
The dull shell's echo, from a bowery strand
Just opposite, an island of the sea,
There came enchantment with the shifting wind,
That did both drown and keep alive my ears.
I threw my shell away upon the sand,
And a wave fill'd it, as my sense was fill'd
With that new blissful golden melody.
A living death was in each gush of sounds,
Each family of rapturous hurried notes,
That fell, one after one, yet all at once,
Like pearl beads dropping sudden from their string:
And then another, then another strain,
Each like a dove leaving its olive perch,
With music wing'd instead of silent plumes,
To hover round my head, and make me sick
Of joy and grief at once. Grief overcame,
And I was stopping up my frantic ears,
When, past all hindrance of my trembling hands,
A voice came sweeter, sweeter than all tune,
And still it cried, 'Apollo! young Apollo!
The morning-bright Apollo! young Apollo!'
I fled, it follow'd me, and cried 'Apollo!'
O Father, and O Brethren, had ye felt
Those pains of mine; O Saturn, hadst thou felt,
Ye would not call this too indulged tongue
Presumptuous, in thus venturing to be heard."
So far her voice flow'd on, like timorous brook
That, lingering along a pebbled coast,
Doth fear to meet the sea: but sea it met,
And shudder'd; for the overwhelming voice
Of huge Enceladus swallow'd it in wrath:
The ponderous syllables, like sullen waves
In the half-glutted hollows of reef-rocks,
Came booming thus, while still upon his arm
He lean'd; not rising, from supreme contempt.
"Or shall we listen to the over-wise,
Or to the over-foolish, Giant-Gods?
Not thunderbolt on thunderbolt, till all
That rebel Jove's whole armoury were spent,
Not world on world upon these shoulders piled,
Could agonize me more than baby-words
In midst of this dethronement horrible.
Speak! roar! shout! yell! ye sleepy Titans all.
Do ye forget the blows, the buffets vile?
Are ye not smitten by a youngling arm?
Dost thou forget, sham Monarch of the waves,
Thy scalding in the seas? What! have I rous'd
Your spleens with so few simple words as these?
O joy! for now I see ye are not lost:
O joy! for now I see a thousand eyes
Wide-glaring for revenge!"---As this he said,
He lifted up his stature vast, and stood,
Still without intermission speaking thus:
"Now ye are flames, I'll tell you how to burn,
And purge the ether of our enemies;
How to feed fierce the crooked stings of fire,
And singe away the swollen clouds of Jove,
Stifling that puny essence in its tent.
O let him feel the evil he hath done;
For though I scorn Oceanus's lore,
Much pain have I for more than loss of realms:
The days of peace and slumbrous calm are fled;
Those days, all innocent of scathing war,
When all the fair Existences of heaven
Carne open-eyed to guess what we would speak:---
That was before our brows were taught to frown,
Before our lips knew else but solemn sounds;
That was before we knew the winged thing,
Victory, might be lost, or might be won.
And be ye mindful that Hyperion,
Our brightest brother, still is undisgraced---
Hyperion, lo! his radiance is here!"
All eyes were on Enceladus's face,
And they beheld, while still Hyperion's name
Flew from his lips up to the vaulted rocks,
A pallid gleam across his features stern:
Not savage, for he saw full many a God
Wroth as himself. He look'd upon them all,
And in each face he saw a gleam of light,
But splendider in Saturn's, whose hoar locks
Shone like the bubbling foam about a keel
When the prow sweeps into a midnight cove.
In pale and silver silence they remain'd,
Till suddenly a splendor, like the morn,
Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps,
All the sad spaces of oblivion,
And every gulf, and every chasm old,
And every height, and every sullen depth,
Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented streams:
And all the everlasting cataracts,
And all the headlong torrents far and near,
Mantled before in darkness and huge shade,
Now saw the light and made it terrible.
It was Hyperion:---a granite peak
His bright feet touch'd, and there he stay'd to view
The misery his brilliance had betray'd
To the most hateful seeing of itself.
Golden his hair of short Numidian curl,
Regal his shape majestic, a vast shade
In midst of his own brightness, like the bulk
Of Memnon's image at the set of sun
To one who travels from the dusking East:
Sighs, too, as mournful as that Memnon's harp
He utter'd, while his hands contemplative
He press'd together, and in silence stood.
Despondence seiz'd again the fallen Gods
At sight of the dejected King of day,
And many hid their faces from the light:
But fierce Enceladus sent forth his eyes
Among the brotherhood; and, at their glare,
Uprose Iapetus, and Creus too,
And Phorcus, sea-born, and together strode
To where he towered on his eminence.
There those four shouted forth old Saturn's name;
Hyperion from the peak loud answered, "Saturn!"
Saturn sat near the Mother of the Gods,
In whose face was no joy, though all the Gods
Gave from their hollow throats the name of "Saturn!"
Thus in altemate uproar and sad peace,
Amazed were those Titans utterly.
O leave them, Muse! O leave them to their woes;
For thou art weak to sing such tumults dire:
A solitary sorrow best befits
Thy lips, and antheming a lonely grief.
Leave them, O Muse! for thou anon wilt find
Many a fallen old Divinity
Wandering in vain about bewildered shores.
Meantime touch piously the Delphic harp,
And not a wind of heaven but will breathe
In aid soft warble from the Dorian flute;
For lo! 'tis for the Father of all verse.
Flush everything that hath a vermeil hue,
Let the rose glow intense and warm the air,
And let the clouds of even and of morn
Float in voluptuous fleeces o'er the hills;
Let the red wine within the goblet boil,
Cold as a bubbling well; let faint-lipp'd shells,
On sands, or in great deeps, vermilion turn
Through all their labyrinths; and let the maid
Blush keenly, as with some warm kiss surpris'd.
Chief isle of the embowered Cyclades,
Rejoice, O Delos, with thine olives green,
And poplars, and lawn-shading palms, and beech,
In which the Zephyr breathes the loudest song,
And hazels thick, dark-stemm'd beneath the shade:
Apollo is once more the golden theme!
Where was he, when the Giant of the sun
Stood bright, amid the sorrow of his peers?
Together had he left his mother fair
And his twin-sister sleeping in their bower,
And in the morning twilight wandered forth
Beside the osiers of a rivulet,
Full ankle-deep in lilies of the vale.
The nightingale had ceas'd, and a few stars
Were lingering in the heavens, while the thrush
Began calm-throated. Throughout all the isle
There was no covert, no retired cave,
Unhaunted by the murmurous noise of waves,
Though scarcely heard in many a green recess.
He listen'd, and he wept, and his bright tears
Went trickling down the golden bow he held.
Thus with half-shut suffused eyes he stood,
While from beneath some cumbrous boughs hard by
With solemn step an awful Goddess came,
And there was purport in her looks for him,
Which he with eager guess began to read
Perplex'd, the while melodiously he said:
"How cam'st thou over the unfooted sea?
Or hath that antique mien and robed form
Mov'd in these vales invisible till now?
Sure I have heard those vestments sweeping o'er
The fallen leaves, when I have sat alone
In cool mid-forest. Surely I have traced
The rustle of those ample skirts about
These grassy solitudes, and seen the flowers
Lift up their heads, as still the whisper pass'd.
Goddess! I have beheld those eyes before,
And their eternal calm, and all that face,
Or I have dream'd."---"Yes," said the supreme shape,
"Thou hast dream'd of me; and awaking up
Didst find a lyre all golden by thy side,
Whose strings touch'd by thy fingers, all the vast
Unwearied ear of the whole universe
Listen'd in pain and pleasure at the birth
Of such new tuneful wonder. Is't not strange
That thou shouldst weep, so gifted? Tell me, youth,
What sorrow thou canst feel; for I am sad
When thou dost shed a tear: explain thy griefs
To one who in this lonely isle hath been
The watcher of thy sleep and hours of life,
From the young day when first thy infant hand
Pluck'd witless the weak flowers, till thine arm
Could bend that bow heroic to all times.
Show thy heart's secret to an ancient Power
Who hath forsaken old and sacred thrones
For prophecies of thee, and for the sake
Of loveliness new born."---Apollo then,
With sudden scrutiny and gloomless eyes,
Thus answer'd, while his white melodious throat
Throbb'd with the syllables.---"Mnemosyne!
Thy name is on my tongue, I know not how;
Why should I tell thee what thou so well seest?
Why should I strive to show what from thy lips
Would come no mystery? For me, dark, dark,
And painful vile oblivion seals my eyes:
I strive to search wherefore I am so sad,
Until a melancholy numbs my limbs;
And then upon the grass I sit, and moan,
Like one who once had wings.---O why should I
Feel curs'd and thwarted, when the liegeless air
Yields to my step aspirant? why should I
Spurn the green turf as hateful to my feet?
Goddess benign, point forth some unknown thing:
Are there not other regions than this isle?
What are the stars? There is the sun, the sun!
And the most patient brilliance of the moon!
And stars by thousands! Point me out the way
To any one particular beauteous star,
And I will flit into it with my lyre,
And make its silvery splendor pant with bliss.
I have heard the cloudy thunder: Where is power?
Whose hand, whose essence, what divinity
Makes this alarum in the elements,
While I here idle listen on the shores
In fearless yet in aching ignorance?
O tell me, lonely Goddess, by thy harp,
That waileth every morn and eventide,
Tell me why thus I rave about these groves!
Mute thou remainest---Mute! yet I can read
A wondrous lesson in thy silent face:
Knowledge enormous makes a God of me.
Names, deeds, gray legends, dire events, rebellions,
Majesties, sovran voices, agonies,
Creations and destroyings, all at once
Pour into the wide hollows of my brain,
And deify me, as if some blithe wine
Or bright elixir peerless I had drunk,
And so become immortal."---Thus the God,
While his enkindled eyes, with level glance
Beneath his white soft temples, steadfast kept
Trembling with light upon Mnemosyne.
Soon wild commotions shook him, and made flush
All the immortal fairness of his limbs;
Most like the struggle at the gate of death;
Or liker still to one who should take leave
Of pale immortal death, and with a pang
As hot as death's is chill, with fierce convulse
Die into life: so young Apollo anguish'd:
His very hair, his golden tresses famed,
Kept undulation round his eager neck.
During the pain Mnemosyne upheld
Her arms as one who prophesied. At length
Apollo shriek'd;---and lo! from all his limbs
solid congealed masses of fat sit
balloons filling within joints
stagnant extremities feel as if they are solidifying
the man becoming a statue; a watcher
here lies a perfect specimen of 21st (and in the latter half to a third) a 20th century man seated before the primary means of oral, aural and visual communication. Oral pertaining to the man's ability to only speak of it and the programmes displayed on it . . . . .
as still as the brain is telling them to be
as still as the brain wants them to be
it doesn't want to be left out you see, feels secluded when dormant
alongside a healthy, active set of limbs and torso
so it persuades them ever so gently to become as lazy as he
so he feels more at home in his body; the brain he lords over the body tyrannically and purposefully.
Extraneous effort can be avoided, in all manners of life; whilst sitting, whilst working, whilst running. Being properly lazy has to do with how little you can do without doing something else. It is possible to run at a speed that does not cease to be running but it is not walking. You can sit only so still before you are asleep. Being properly lazy is being able to sit precariously on this line so perfectly you don't slip backwards or forwards into a useful action or being in the top percentile of the new lesser action which you are in essence, lording over physically. An extremely intelligent man can be extremely lazy in an activity that would take a long concentrated effort from another less intelligent man, but in essence, he is really just avoiding falling asleep.
Laziness can be misappropriated; attributed to men who are not lazy at all. A man at the enth of any discipline could not be considered lazy; the same could be said about a man at the enth of his ability. We speak of course in terms of natural ability. Actions achieved in ones current capability; carried out without carrying on other efforts to cavort himself into a higher category of actions (a laziness compared to ability graph could be constructed/plotted and then correlated if one could be bothered). Of course, it goes without saying that the achievance of these goals necessary to propel or descend a man into the new upper or lower segment of before described laziness are in turn harder or easier to achieve depending on the man's predetermined stature; position in life even, considering we are talking of afflictions that affect a man and not a boy, and therefore we are assuming that the formative years are not thus (formative) and are but a compulsory precursor, a cross that every man must bear; not a development that pertains to the quantity of laziness he possesses.
with a sea of unachieved tasks/goals laid out before him he resides to sit patiently waiting for something to happen in front of him, sometimes clicking a mouse, sometimes a remote
sometimes he is angry that he is boring
sometimes he calls a friend to be angry at the boxes with him
sometimes he feels sick that he is a piece of shit
sometimes he laughs at people on the boxes who are pieces of shit
but most of the time he is a piece of shit happily, content that he is at least part of a healthy digestive system, whether he is the result/byproduct of, or the action that produced the shit in the first place.
after the painting by Mary Fedden
I kept seeing her around and about, but mostly on the beach. This is a small community and after five years or so I know who everyone is, except those who visit in the summer, though I am getting to know some of the regulars. I reckon she’s my age. When she looks at me in the store, and I look at her and smile, her smile tells me these things.
I have trouble with my hair. It’s thinned and doesn’t grow quite as it should. When I was pregnant and then nursing my children it was positively luxuriant. But later, and despite medical advice (and treatment I was unsure about and abandoned) it became an embarrassment, until he reassured me (just once) and I became an ‘adored woman’. He never ever spoke of it again and loved me so wholly and beautifully I had no reason for it to matter in his company, in his arms.
But seeing her, and often on the beach, more and more regularly, seeing her with her mane of strong dark brown hair flowing behind her in the wind, I felt a curious desire for such a wealth of hair. In fact, I began to feel something stir in me that was desire of a different kind. I can’t think I had ever looked at a woman in quite that way in any previous life. It was always men I sought, I wanted.
Her name is Sara, no h, just an A at the end. She said that when I eventually introduced myself. We were walking towards each other, barefoot both on that glistening skin of water the sea creates between the tides coming and going. It was about midday and I was, I was thinking and walking. I do this now. I don’t bring my sketchbook, I don’t look everywhere I can and more so, I have begun to retreat into my most private self. Perhaps it’s my age and so many years of feeling I had to be wholly attentive and active. Being in this remote place, almost permanently, has slowed me down, and I have begun to dream, to see beyond what I usually would have seen moment to moment. I’ve been re-reading the prose and poetry of Kathleen Raine, who understood this sea-swept place and was haunted by its ghosts, and who dreamed.
Never, never, again
This moment, never
These slow ripples
Across smooth water,
Never again these
Clouds white and grey
In sky crystalline
Blue as the tern’s cry
Shrill in the light air
Salt from the ocean,
Sweet from flowers
Oh yes, ‘the sun that rose this morning from the sea will never return . . .’ I have become a watcher, no longer an observer. I put my camera away last winter and now hold moments in my memory. Here I can sketch. I can have all the time I need, and more. And I knew when I began to talk to Sara I wanted beyond anything else to sketch her, to know her line by line with the pen, and later bring the texture of her into paint.
Painting is where I am now. It’s direct, mesmeric, challenging, wholly absorbing. My needles and thread only deal with our clothes, my clever printing and collaging lies dormant in my studio, a studio I rarely enter now. I have a room upstairs in the loft that is all light and sky. There’s just an easel, a table, a chair, a small bookcase, a trolley-thing of paints and brushes. Even that’s too much. I always collected things around me. I brought so much in from outside and now I’m trying, trying to have as little as possible. This is where I will paint Sara. I’m already thinking this as we take the first tentative steps towards knowing one another. Names, where we live, (we both know). Partners, family, children? I have all this, but not here, only my companion, my love who caresses me with such care and attention. There are my cats and my hens. She has no one, or rather she talks of no one. She asks the questions and avoids giving answers. She just nods and doesn’t answer. Otherwise, she’s a straight yes / no person. She doesn’t feel she has to qualify anything.
We’re standing together. We’re intent on looking at each other. Words seem a little unnecessary because what we both want to do is look. ‘I can tell you paint’, she says, ‘It’s your finger nails’. My perfect nails and the pads of my fingers hold the evidence of a morning at my easel. ‘I have seen your work’, she says, ‘One could hardly not. You’re well known beyond these shores.’ I feel myself blushing slightly. I thought blushing had stopped with the menopause, not that it troubled me much, the menopause that is. Blushing though was a torturous part of my adolescence, but let’s not go into that.
‘Your husband,’ she says, ‘he’s up very early. I see him sometimes here, on the beach.’
‘Do you get up at five?’ I am surprised. My husband gets up before five.
‘Sleep is difficult sometimes. I walk a lot. I need to be out, and walk.’
Her face, her head is larger than mine. She is a larger woman altogether, bigger boned, long-legged, but with youthful breasts that seem taut and well-rounded under her brown frock, no, her brown dress. I only think frock because that’s what he says – ‘I love that frock.’ And he means usually whatever I am wearing now that’s old and rich in memories of his hands knowing me through a dress, sorry a frock, which remains for me (and possibly for him) the most sensuous of sensations, still. Au nature has its place, and I love the rub of his skin and body hair. But when we are lovers, and we are still lovers and usually when travelling, in hotel rooms or borrowed cottages, or visiting friends and dare I say it, staying with our various children. Last autumn in Venice, in this large, amazing marble-tiled room, with this huge bed, he undressed me in front of a window opening onto our own terrace, and I was beside myself with passion, desire, oh all those wonderful things. And for months afterwards I would return to that early evening, remembering the lights coming on all over the watered city as he kissed and stroked and brushed my body through my Gudrun Sjödén frock. I would replay, find again over and over, those exquisite moments of such joyful touching as he then undressed me, and with such care and tenderness I felt myself crying out. Well, he says I did. In one of his poems (for your eyes only, he had whispered) he admits to his own celebration of those moments again, again.
Sara’s dress is calf-length. There’s nothing else. As the breeze wraps itself around the loose-fitting brown cotton her naked figure is revealed inside itself. No ring, no jewellery, nothing to hold her hair now flowing behind her. She has positioned herself so it does; flow out behind her. This is so strange. Am I dreaming this? We have become silent and together look in silence at the sea. I can hear her short breathes. She turns to me with a smile and looks straight into my eyes – and says nothing – and then walks backward a few steps – still with her warm smile – turns and walks away.
I tell him I met Sara today and ask if he sees her on the beach in the early mornings. Yes, he has, in the distance, mostly. He has said good morning to her on a few occasions, but she has smiled and said nothing. Five o’clock is far too early to say anything, he says. She swims occasionally. I keep my distance, he says with a grin.
I tell him I would like to paint her. I should, he says, You should go and ask her, do it, get it done and out of your system. It’s time you stopped being afraid of the face, the portrait, the figurative. I’d give so much to have been able to paint you, he says ruefully, my darling, my dearest. And he strokes my arm, kisses my cheek, then, he slowly and carefully kneels down beside my chair, places his arm across the top of my thighs so when I bend to kiss him his bare forearm touches the edge of my breasts. He puts his head in my lap, and I caress his ears, his quite white hair.
Sara’s door is open. She’s living in Ralph’s cottage, a summer-let habitable (just) in the nearly autumn time it is. I call, ‘Sara, it’s me’, thinking she’ll recognize my voice, not wishing to say my name. She appears at the door. ‘I have the kettle on, she says, ‘I had a feeling you might be by.’ Her accent is, like mine, un-regional, carefully articulated, a Welsh tinge perhaps. There’s an uplift and a slowness in some of the vowels. ‘You will come in’, she says, more a statement than a question. It’s rather dark inside. There’s a reading lamp on, but she has the chair, her chair, close by the window. There are letters being written. There are books. Not Ralph’s, but what she has brought with her. Normally, I would be hopelessly inquisitive, but I can’t stop myself looking at her, wondering even now, in these first few moments in this dark room, how I will position her to paint her form, her face, her nature. What will I paint? I look at her still-bare feet, her large hands.
And so, with mugs of tea, Indian tea I don’t drink, but here, as her guest I do, but without milk, we sit, I on the only other chair (from the kitchen) she on the floor. And she watches me look about, and look at her.
‘I’m rather done with talking, with polite conversation. That’s why I’m here to be done with all that for a while.’
‘I came to ask you to sit for me. To let me draw you, paint you even. You can be completely quiet. I won’t say a word. I’ve never, ever asked anyone to sit for me. I’m not that sort of painter. But when I saw you on the beach it was the first thing that came into my head.’
‘I should be flattered. Though I have sat for artists before, when I was a little younger,’ surprisingly she mentions two names I know, both women. ‘I know how to be still. But, those are days in a different life.’
‘I only want to paint you in the life you have now.’ And I realise then that what I want to paint was Sara’s ‘aloneness’. I think then I have never been truly alone since he came into my life and took any loneliness I had from me. Whenever we are apart, and still there are times, he writes to me the tenderest letters, the most touching poems, he quotes his Chinese favourites down the telephone. We always, always speak to each other before bed, even when we are on different continents and time-zones. He told me I was always his last thought before sleep. And I wonder if I would be his last thought . . .
‘Do you want to do this formally?, said Sara.
‘I don’t know. Yet. I’d like to draw you first, be with you for a little while, perhaps to walk. A little while at a time. Whatever might suit you.’
‘Would you pay me? I have little money. It would be useful.’
‘Of course’, I say this directly, having no idea about what one pays a model. He will know though. He knew Paula Rego and didn’t she have a female model? I think of those large full-length figures rendered in pastels. Her model’s name was Lila, who for more than 25 years, had sat for her, stood for her, crouched for her, hour after hour and day after day. I remember a newspaper piece that went something like this: since 1985 Lila has helped to give life, in paint, and pastel, and charcoal, to the characters in Paula Rego's head. Lila was all Paula Rego’s women.
‘Sara’, I said, ‘help me please. It’s taken more than a little courage to come to see you, to ask you. My husband says I should do this, finally get myself painting the person, the face, body, not as some exercise in a life class, but the real thing.’
‘Of course’, she says, ‘Let’s go and walk to the point.’
And we did. Not saying very much at all, but I suppose I did. She made me talk and gradually I laid my life out in front of her, and not the life she would have found in those glossy monographs and catalogue introductions, and God forbid, not in those media features and interviews that I suppose have made me a name I’d always dreamed of becoming, and now could do without.
‘I suppose you have a studio’, she said suddenly, ‘Is that where you’d want me to come?’
‘Yes, I have a studio. No, I don’t think I want you to come there. Not at first anyway.’ I was floundering. ‘ I’d like to draw you, paint you possibly on the beach, where we met, so there would be sea and sky and breeze blowing your hair.’
‘And a steamer out on the horizon belching smoke from its funnel and the sea blowing white horses and dancing about. I’d be right by the seastrand with waves and spray and foam, and under a greyish sky. Not a sunny day. A breezy day. In my brown dress, sitting on the sand by the tide marks, looking out to sea, looking at the steamer away in the distance, sitting with my left hand behind me holding myself up, and the shape of my legs akimbo bent slightly under my brown dress. How would that be?’
‘Perfect’, I said.
And it was.
15 November 2002
How would you like me to explain myself as dearingly as I possibly could? It's bad enough that whenever I try to get personal with you even though I may just as well be speaking to a solicitor. That alone admitting how much I love you and Mum but how? How would I extract it from you? It seems this so-near-yet-so-far situation which really gets into me - a kind of being towards some forced state of growth. Sure I know that Life is indeed forced in one way or another; and to be named as COMPTON though foreign to any noble blood kind of gets into me even the more.
I so long wanted to ask: Why couldn't you ask me....? WHY??? Thomas of all people should be treated as a SUBJECT - a white rat if you will - to square-off how I percieve the very nature of life and the state which it manifests called FAMILY. Why of all things this particular song? When you love something or someone - must you make excuses?
No. Rather you pick up the Original which I carelessly left behind at your working-desk whilst I was out for pomegranate juice. You read and re-read (I think!) trying to get the meat on what I was actually scribbling about (Probobly!) and after about half-an-hour you closed my loose scribbles and smoked your occasional pipe, cheering as if nothing ever happened.
THOMAS IS REAL, DAD! Can't you get it??? I write because I want to CHANGE. I scribble because I want to LEARN. I express because I want to GROW. What soul is there for a writer to write about something which he could hardly change himself? I have reiterated this time and time again that the best writer is one who conjures exciting words whilst wearing a hood! Then by golly would I believe that such words have soul.
And such is what I am striving till this day, Dad. Such is my GOAL. I want to be as good a writer even though how much I chant I hardly ever complain these bits of your trade which you forced upon me hour after hour. I know you once told me that every good writer has a mark and such mark can only be taught by practice, determination and self-discovery.
But the least you can do is to allow me to think what could possibly be my own best interest - my own work, that is. Even if I tried to budget my daily mites you still make that usual cast on your face. Well.....I tried. you're still my DAD. I must respect your decisions even in utter silence.
So I finally decided to let my works do the explaining for you. You promised you'd read it - good - I suppose I can learn to be a little more patient - all-right, A LOT! Maybe efforts such as these do not interest you at all. But you see, Dad, I am not asking you as an apprentice; I am asking you as your SON.
Do I love my family, then? Now what kind of a question is that? But I prefer to take a rather different approach here. You know so bloody well I could readily discuss this with you knowing how abyssmal your attitude can be on this matter. But this I will assure you, Dad - that I do have FEELINGS and I do acknowledge them.....or HIM.
It's been a-whilst since I've painfully learned to accept my family's temperament. It erupts deep within my heart itself - so who am I to deny it?
I guess being a senior literary staff at the International Creative Management has given you a basis on how great writers think - and how and what they should write about. I don't really know, it's just a whim.
Could that be the reason why you seem a bit base whenever you try to read any of my works? Please try to understand that I am not being pushy here but if my own family is un-interested in reading what I have to offer - how much more would the rest of the world?
For these past twenty-five years of my life I've mostly been criticised as self-centred, paranoid, egotistic, bird-watcher, milk-sucker, and even the occasional MANIAC. Some do tend to be true, other I feel I should dreadfully admit and for what it's worth I am really sorry whether you accept it or not. These faults probobly came from my innate desire to find that special someone in my life (which above all doubt is definitely frustrating!) and at times deprives me of my sanity.
And it's just as well another reason why I continue to write to Thomas. I certainly don't have the answers but at least I try to get the idea of how his state of being works - his, "Divinity" and all. In one way it keeps me from being too attached because I write about someone who inspires me which I call CELEBRATION - regardless of praise or damnation. On the other hand I tend to feel some of its repercussions - such as feeling alienated from society who also deserve my love and dedication. That is where my paranoia comes in yet I know it is wrong.
So what do I do? I try to ground myself so that I won't lose touch with my reality whenever I write. And what better agent to help with this but LIFE itself?
Despite all this I am truly grateful of being blessed with such wonderful parents and siblings (UGH!). I know no family is a Circle yet they are worth living for. They are all I have. YOU. (Plus Grandma of course but we all know we have to let her go pretty soon.)
So I've learned that Thomas is worth writing as well, Dad. My brooding ritual on what critics would say is totally un-founded. Such people should not exist until I've succeeded and then allow them to test the strength of my character. How I realised this? You, of course!
Though I should be constantly reminded to un-expect any possible reader of mine to believe this work as something at least based on reality even if the characters I use are quirkingly real. I do love them as my own and in some way they have become inseparable facets of me which I consistently reflect. I do hope I could make them reach other lives as well.....That writer in me must have the responsibility to help everyone in need - all by heart, mind and spirit. Such should all other reasonable writers are wont to do. I guess without those responsibilities I become totally ensnailed with my art and thus prove myself a fraud.
Thomas is REAL, yes, or at least he should have been. But even if he is not I will never give up. I will not lose HOPE. What he represents is what is essential - him and the rest in common bonds with his reputation.
This I endorse to you, Dad, because you are my father. Simply put. I will leave the rest of the judgment up to you.
With crosses and hearts,
crimson and magic
to splash without panic
in waves of compliance
for drugs made from science
and sorceress who summon the simple solutions
of grander worth loosing
confusing the process will aid not for coptic
or elsewhere semantics
act frantic in panic
to sob without reason
treason! say treason!
the exit of reason
to wander in wander a fate beyond yonder
set ponder a path set by mind on the map
of solutions and systems
yet wild apparitions
appear as conditioned - concerns
to a mindset as stern and subtracted
by fractions of actions repulsed by distraction
created the action
conceived from distractions
let change be for seasons
while i stay the rock in the pond
either frozen not gone
as the watcher
content upon watching
exhaling the notion
that motions for movement
with further consolement
atlas like the breeze of the gavel
let both parties ravel and tug
whether free or debugged
only mind over matter
unscrambles the lather
too see that is free
is like blind sight at sea
with the waves of conforming
to drown is informing
if not then be peace !
for all parties deceased
by a water so deep you could drown in your sleep
He is the dysphoric figure at my window.
Tapping the glass with piss-yellow nails.
He is the watcher. Observing my sleepless
turning as I avoid locking site.
He is the stalker.
overseer. Pale and greasy
with his elongated smile.
Like the stretching of skin
over virgin breast.
His soul is blank.
The hospital wall,
sanitized till germs crumble
And all he does is watch me.
Smiling in the garden,
and printing his sweaty palms
into my bed sheets.
The south-wind brings
Life, sunshine, and desire,
And on every mount and meadow
Breathes aromatic fire,
But over the dead he has no power,
The lost, the lost he cannot restore,
And, looking over the hills, I mourn
The darling who shall not return.
I see my empty house,
I see my trees repair their boughs,
And he, —the wondrous child,
Whose silver warble wild
Outvalued every pulsing sound
Within the air's cerulean round,
The hyacinthine boy, for whom
Morn well might break, and April bloom,
The gracious boy, who did adorn
The world whereinto he was born,
And by his countenance repay
The favor of the loving Day,
Has disappeared from the Day's eye;
Far and wide she cannot find him,
My hopes pursue, they cannot bind him.
Returned this day the south-wind searches
And finds young pines and budding birches,
But finds not the budding man;
Nature who lost him, cannot remake him;
Fate let him fall, Fate can't retake him;
Nature, Fate, men, him seek in vain.
And whither now, my truant wise and sweet,
Oh, whither tend thy feet?
I had the right, few days ago,
Thy steps to watch, thy place to know;
How have I forfeited the right?
Hast thou forgot me in a new delight?
I hearken for thy household cheer,
O eloquent child!
Whose voice, an equal messenger,
Conveyed thy meaning mild.
What though the pains and joys
Whereof it spoke were toys
Fitting his age and ken;—
Yet fairest dames and bearded men,
Who heard the sweet request
So gentle, wise, and grave,
Bended with joy to his behest,
And let the world's affairs go by,
Awhile to share his cordial game,
Or mend his wicker wagon frame,
Still plotting how their hungry ear
That winsome voice again might hear,
For his lips could well pronounce
Words that were persuasions.
Gentlest guardians marked serene
His early hope, his liberal mien,
Took counsel from his guiding eyes
To make this wisdom earthly wise.
Ah! vainly do these eyes recall
The school-march, each day's festival,
When every morn my bosom glowed
To watch the convoy on the road;—
The babe in willow wagon closed,
With rolling eyes and face composed,
With children forward and behind,
Like Cupids studiously inclined,
And he, the Chieftain, paced beside,
The centre of the troop allied,
With sunny face of sweet repose,
To guard the babe from fancied foes,
The little Captain innocent
Took the eye with him as he went,
Each village senior paused to scan
And speak the lovely caravan.
From the window I look out
To mark thy beautiful parade
Stately marching in cap and coat
To some tune by fairies played;
A music heard by thee alone
To works as noble led thee on.
Now love and pride, alas, in vain,
Up and down their glances strain.
The painted sled stands where it stood,
The kennel by the corded wood,
The gathered sticks to stanch the wall
Of the snow-tower, when snow should fall,
The ominous hole he dug in the sand,
And childhood's castles built or planned.
His daily haunts I well discern,
The poultry yard, the shed, the barn,
And every inch of garden ground
Paced by the blessed feet around,
From the road-side to the brook;
Whereinto he loved to look.
Step the meek birds where erst they ranged,
The wintry garden lies unchanged,
The brook into the stream runs on,
But the deep-eyed Boy is gone.
On that shaded day,
Dark with more clouds than tempests are,
When thou didst yield thy innocent breath
In bird-like heavings unto death,
Night came, and Nature had not thee,—
I said, we are mates in misery.
The morrow dawned with needless glow,
Each snow-bird chirped, each fowl must crow,
Each tramper started,— but the feet
Of the most beautiful and sweet
Of human youth had left the hill
And garden,—they were bound and still,
There's not a sparrow or a wren,
There's not a blade of autumn grain,
Which the four seasons do not tend,
And tides of life and increase lend,
And every chick of every bird,
And weed and rock-moss is preferred.
O ostriches' forgetfulness!
O loss of larger in the less!
Was there no star that could be sent,
No watcher in the firmament,
No angel from the countless host,
That loiters round the crystal coast,
Could stoop to heal that only child,
Nature's sweet marvel undefiled,
And keep the blossom of the earth,
Which all her harvests were not worth?
Not mine, I never called thee mine,
But nature's heir,— if I repine,
And, seeing rashly torn and moved,
Not what I made, but what I loved.
Grow early old with grief that then
Must to the wastes of nature go,—
'Tis because a general hope
Was quenched, and all must doubt and grope
For flattering planets seemed to say,
This child should ills of ages stay,—
By wondrous tongue and guided pen
Bring the flown muses back to men. —
Perchance, not he, but nature ailed,
The world, and not the infant failed,
It was not ripe yet, to sustain
A genius of so fine a strain,
Who gazed upon the sun and moon
As if he came unto his own,
And pregnant with his grander thought,
Brought the old order into doubt.
Awhile his beauty their beauty tried,
They could not feed him, and he died,
And wandered backward as in scorn
To wait an Æon to be born.
Ill day which made this beauty waste;
Plight broken, this high face defaced!
Some went and came about the dead,
And some in books of solace read,
Some to their friends the tidings say,
Some went to write, some went to pray,
One tarried here, there hurried one,
But their heart abode with none.
Covetous death bereaved us all
To aggrandize one funeral.
The eager Fate which carried thee
Took the largest part of me.
For this losing is true dying,
This is lordly man's down-lying,
This is slow but sure reclining,
Star by star his world resigning.
O child of Paradise!
Boy who made dear his father's home
In whose deep eyes
Men read the welfare of the times to come;
I am too much bereft;
The world dishonored thou hast left;
O truths and natures costly lie;
O trusted, broken prophecy!
O richest fortune sourly crossed;
Born for the future, to the future lost!
The deep Heart answered, Weepest thou?
Worthier cause for passion wild,
If I had not taken the child.
And deemest thou as those who pore
With aged eyes short way before?
Think'st Beauty vanished from the coast
Of matter, and thy darling lost?
Taught he not thee, — the man of eld,
Whose eyes within his eyes beheld
Heaven's numerous hierarchy span
The mystic gulf from God to man?
To be alone wilt thou begin,
When worlds of lovers hem thee in?
To-morrow, when the masks shall fall
That dizen nature's carnival,
The pure shall see, by their own will,
Which overflowing love shall fill,—
'Tis not within the force of Fate
The fate-conjoined to separate.
But thou, my votary, weepest thou?
I gave thee sight, where is it now?
I taught thy heart beyond the reach
Of ritual, Bible, or of speech;
Wrote in thy mind's transparent table
As far as the incommunicable;
Taught thee each private sign to raise
Lit by the supersolar blaze.
Past utterance and past belief,
And past the blasphemy of grief,
The mysteries of nature's heart,—
And though no muse can these impart,
Throb thine with nature's throbbing breast,
And all is clear from east to west.
I came to thee as to a friend,
Dearest, to thee I did not send
Tutors, but a joyful eye,
Innocence that matched the sky,
Lovely locks a form of wonder,
Laughter rich as woodland thunder;
That thou might'st entertain apart
The richest flowering of all art;
And, as the great all-loving Day
Through smallest chambers takes its way,
That thou might'st break thy daily bread
With Prophet, Saviour, and head;
That thou might'st cherish for thine own
The riches of sweet Mary's Son,
Boy-Rabbi, Israel's Paragon:
And thoughtest thou such guest
Would in thy hall take up his rest?
Would rushing life forget its laws,
Fate's glowing revolution pause?
High omens ask diviner guess,
Not to be conned to tediousness.
And know, my higher gifts unbind
The zone that girds the incarnate mind,
When the scanty shores are full
With Thought's perilous whirling pool,
When frail Nature can no more,—
Then the spirit strikes the hour,
My servant Death with solving rite
Pours finite into infinite.
Wilt thou freeze love's tidal flow,
Whose streams through nature circling go?
Nail the star struggling to its track
On the half-climbed Zodiack?
Light is light which radiates,
Blood is blood which circulates,
Life is life which generates,
And many-seeming life is one,—
Wilt thou transfix and make it none,
Its onward stream too starkly pent
In figure, bone, and lineament?
Wilt thou uncalled interrogate
Talker! the unreplying fate?
Nor see the Genius of the whole
Ascendant in the private soul,
Beckon it when to go and come,
Self-announced its hour of doom.
Fair the soul's recess and shrine,
Magic-built, to last a season,
Masterpiece of love benign!
Fairer than expansive reason
Whose omen 'tis, and sign.
Wilt thou not ope this heart to know
What rainbows teach and sunsets show,
Verdict which accumulates
From lengthened scroll of human fates,
Voice of earth to earth returned,
Prayers of heart that inly burned;
Saying, what is excellent,
As God lives, is permanent
Hearts are dust, hearts' loves remain,
Heart's love will meet thee again.
Revere the Maker; fetch thine eye
Up to His style, and manners of the sky.
Not of adamant and gold
Built He heaven stark and cold,
No, but a nest of bending reeds,
Flowering grass and scented weeds,
Or like a traveller's fleeting tent,
Or bow above the tempest pent,
Built of tears and sacred flames,
And virtue reaching to its aims;
Built of furtherance and pursuing,
Not of spent deeds, but of doing.
Silent rushes the swift Lord
Through ruined systems still restored,
Broad-sowing, bleak and void to bless,
Plants with worlds the wilderness,
Waters with tears of ancient sorrow
Apples of Eden ripe to-morrow;
House and tenant go to ground,
Lost in God, in Godhead found.