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by
Alexander K Opicho

(Eldoret, Kenya;aopicho@yahoo.com)

When I grow up I will seek permission
From my parents, my mother before my father
To travel to Russia the European land of dystopia
that has never known democracy in any tincture
I will beckon the tsar of Russia to open for me
Their classical cipher that Bogy visoky tsa dalyko
I will ask the daughters of Russia to oblivionize my dark skin
***** skin and make love to me the real pre-democratic love
Love that calls for ambers that will claw the fire of revolution,
I will ask my love from the land of Siberia to show me cradle of Rand
The European manger on which Ayn Rand was born during the Leninist census
I will exhume her umbilical cord plus the placenta to link me up
To her dystopian mind that germinated the vice
For shrugging the atlas for we the living ones,
In a full dint of my ***** libido I will ask her
With my African temerarious manner I will bother her
To show me the bronze statues of Alexander Pushkin
I hear it is at ******* of the city of Moscow; Petersburg
I will talk to my brother Pushkin, my fellow African born in Ethiopia
In the family of Godunov only taken to Europe in a slave raid
Ask the Frenchman Henri Troyat who stood with his ***** erected
As he watched an Ethiopian father fertilizing an Ethiopian mother
And child who was born was Dystopian Alexander Pushkin,
I will carry his remains; the bones, the skull and the skeleton in oily
Sisal threads made bag on my broad African shoulders back to Africa
I will re-bury him in the city of Omurate in southern Ethiopia at the buttocks
Of the fish venting beautiful summer waters of Lake Turkana,
I will ask Alexander Pushkin when in a sag on my back to sing for me
His famous poems in praise of thighs of women;

(I loved you: and, it may be, from my soul
The former love has never gone away,
But let it not recall to you my dole;
I wish not sadden you in any way.

I loved you silently, without hope, fully,
In diffidence, in jealousy, in pain;
I loved you so tenderly and truly,
As let you else be loved by any man.
I loved you because of your smooth thighs
They put my heart on fire like amber in gasoline)

I will leave the bronze statue of Alexander Pushkin in Moscow
For Lenin to look at, he will assign Mayakovski to guard it
Day and night as he sings for it the cacotopian
Poems of a slap in the face of public taste;

(I know the power of words, I know words' tocsin.
They're not the kind applauded by the boxes.
From words like these coffins burst from the earth
and on their own four oaken legs stride forth.
It happens they reject you, unpublished, unprinted.
But saddle-girths tightening words gallop ahead.
See how the centuries ring and trains crawl
to lick poetry's calloused hands.
I know the power of words. Seeming trifles that fall
like petals beneath the heel-taps of dance.
But man with his soul, his lips, his bones.)

I will come along to African city of Omurate
With the pedagogue of the thespic poet
The teacher of the poets, the teacher who taught
Alexander Sergeyvich Pushkin; I know his name
The name is Nikolai Vasileyvitch Gogol
I will caution him to carry only two books
From which he will teach the re-Africanized Pushkin
The first book is the Cloak and second book will be
The voluminous dead souls that have two sharp children of Russian dystopia;
The cactopia of Nosdrezv in his sadistic cult of betrayal
And utopia of Chichikov in his paranoid ownership of dead souls
Of the Russian peasants, muzhiks and serfs,
I will caution him not to carry the government inspector incognito
We don’t want the inspector general in the African city of Omurate
He will leave it behind for Lenin to read because he needs to know
What is to be done.
I don’t like the extreme badness of owning the dead souls
Let me run away to the city of Paris, where romance and poetry
Are utopian commanders of the dystopian orchestra
In which Victor Marie Hugo is haunted by
The ghost of Jean Val Jean; Le Miserable,
I will implore Hugo to take me to the Corsican Island
And chant for me one **** song of the French revolution;


       (  take heed of this small child of earth;
He is great; he hath in him God most high.
Children before their fleshly birth
Are lights alive in the blue sky.
  
In our light bitter world of wrong
They come; God gives us them awhile.
His speech is in their stammering tongue,
And his forgiveness in their smile.
  
Their sweet light rests upon our eyes.
Alas! their right to joy is plain.
If they are hungry Paradise
Weeps, and, if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.
  
The want that saps their sinless flower
Speaks judgment on sin's ministers.
Man holds an angel in his power.
Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs,
  
When God seeks out these tender things
Whom in the shadow where we sleep
He sends us clothed about with wings,
And finds them ragged babes that we)

 From the Corsican I won’t go back to Paris
Because Napoleon Bonaparte and the proletariat
Has already taken over the municipal of Paris
I will dodge this city and maneuver my ways
Through Alsace and Lorraine
The Miginko islands of Europe
And cross the boundaries in to bundeslander
Into Germany, I will go to Berlin and beg the Gestapo
The State police not to shoot me as I climb the Berlin wall
I will balance dramatically on the top of Berlin wall
Like Eshu the Nigerian god of fate
With East Germany on my right; Die ossie
And West Germany on my left; Die wessie
Then like Jesus balancing and walking
On the waters of Lake Galilee
I will balance on Berlin wall
And call one of my faithful followers from Germany
The strong hearted Friedrich von Schiller
To climb the Berlin wall with me
So that we can sing his dystopic Cassandra as a duet
We shall sing and balance on the wall of Berlin
Schiller’s beauteous song of Cassandra;

(Mirth the halls of Troy was filling,
Ere its lofty ramparts fell;
From the golden lute so thrilling
Hymns of joy were heard to swell.
From the sad and tearful slaughter
All had laid their arms aside,
For Pelides Priam's daughter
Claimed then as his own fair bride.

Laurel branches with them bearing,
Troop on troop in bright array
To the temples were repairing,
Owning Thymbrius' sovereign sway.
Through the streets, with frantic measure,
Danced the bacchanal mad round,
And, amid the radiant pleasure,
Only one sad breast was found.

Joyless in the midst of gladness,
None to heed her, none to love,
Roamed Cassandra, plunged in sadness,
To Apollo's laurel grove.
To its dark and deep recesses
Swift the sorrowing priestess hied,
And from off her flowing tresses
Tore the sacred band, and cried:

"All around with joy is beaming,
Ev'ry heart is happy now,
And my sire is fondly dreaming,
Wreathed with flowers my sister's brow
I alone am doomed to wailing,
That sweet vision flies from me;
In my mind, these walls assailing,
Fierce destruction I can see."

"Though a torch I see all-glowing,
Yet 'tis not in *****'s hand;
Smoke across the skies is blowing,
Yet 'tis from no votive brand.
Yonder see I feasts entrancing,
But in my prophetic soul,
Hear I now the God advancing,
Who will steep in tears the bowl!"

"And they blame my lamentation,
And they laugh my grief to scorn;
To the haunts of desolation
I must bear my woes forlorn.
All who happy are, now shun me,
And my tears with laughter see;
Heavy lies thy hand upon me,
Cruel Pythian deity!"

"Thy divine decrees foretelling,
Wherefore hast thou thrown me here,
Where the ever-blind are dwelling,
With a mind, alas, too clear?
Wherefore hast thou power thus given,
What must needs occur to know?
Wrought must be the will of Heaven--
Onward come the hour of woe!"

"When impending fate strikes terror,
Why remove the covering?
Life we have alone in error,
Knowledge with it death must bring.
Take away this prescience tearful,
Take this sight of woe from me;
Of thy truths, alas! how fearful
'Tis the mouthpiece frail to be!"

"Veil my mind once more in slumbers
Let me heedlessly rejoice;
Never have I sung glad numbers
Since I've been thy chosen voice.
Knowledge of the future giving,
Thou hast stolen the present day,
Stolen the moment's joyous living,--
Take thy false gift, then, away!"

"Ne'er with bridal train around me,
Have I wreathed my radiant brow,
Since to serve thy fane I bound me--
Bound me with a solemn vow.
Evermore in grief I languish--
All my youth in tears was spent;
And with thoughts of bitter anguish
My too-feeling heart is rent."

"Joyously my friends are playing,
All around are blest and glad,
In the paths of pleasure straying,--
My poor heart alone is sad.
Spring in vain unfolds each treasure,
Filling all the earth with bliss;
Who in life can e'er take pleasure,
When is seen its dark abyss?"

"With her heart in vision burning,
Truly blest is Polyxene,
As a bride to clasp him yearning.
Him, the noblest, best Hellene!
And her breast with rapture swelling,
All its bliss can scarcely know;
E'en the Gods in heavenly dwelling
Envying not, when dreaming so."

"He to whom my heart is plighted
Stood before my ravished eye,
And his look, by passion lighted,
Toward me turned imploringly.
With the loved one, oh, how gladly
Homeward would I take my flight
But a Stygian shadow sadly
Steps between us every night."

"Cruel Proserpine is sending
All her spectres pale to me;
Ever on my steps attending
Those dread shadowy forms I see.
Though I seek, in mirth and laughter
Refuge from that ghastly train,
Still I see them hastening after,--
Ne'er shall I know joy again."

"And I see the death-steel glancing,
And the eye of ****** glare;
On, with hasty strides advancing,
Terror haunts me everywhere.
Vain I seek alleviation;--
Knowing, seeing, suffering all,
I must wait the consummation,
In a foreign land must fall."

While her solemn words are ringing,
Hark! a dull and wailing tone
From the temple's gate upspringing,--
Dead lies Thetis' mighty son!
Eris shakes her snake-locks hated,
Swiftly flies each deity,
And o'er Ilion's walls ill-fated
Thunder-clouds loom heavily!)

When the Gestapoes get impatient
We shall not climb down to walk on earth
Because by this time  of utopia
Thespis and Muse the gods of poetry
Would have given us the wings to fly
To fly high over England, I and schiller
We shall not land any where in London
Nor perch to any of the English tree
Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Thales
We shall not land there in these lands
The waters of river Thames we shall not drink
We shall fly higher over England
The queen of England we shall not commune
For she is my lender; has lend me the language
English language in which I am chanting
My dystopic songs, poor me! What a cacotopia!
If she takes her language away from
I will remain poetically dead
In the Universe of art and culture
I will form a huge palimpsest of African poetry
Friedrich son of schiller please understand me
Let us not land in England lest I loose
My borrowed tools of worker back to the owner,
But instead let us fly higher in to the azure
The zenith of the sky where the eagles never dare
And call the English bard
through  our high shrilled eagle’s contralto
William Shakespeare to come up
In the English sky; to our treat of poetic blitzkrieg
Please dear schiller we shall tell the bard of London
To come up with his three Luftwaffe
These will be; the deer he stole from the rich farmer
Once when he was a lad in the rural house of john the father,
Second in order is the Hamlet the price of Denmark
Thirdly is  his beautiful song of the **** of lucrece,
We shall ask the bard to return back the deer to the owner
Three of ourselves shall enjoy together dystopia in Hamlet
And ask Shakespeare to sing for us his song
In which he saw a man **** Lucrece; the **** of Lucrece;

( From the besieged Ardea all in post,
Borne by the trustless wings of false desire,
Lust-breathed Tarquin leaves the Roman host,
And to Collatium bears the lightless fire
Which, in pale embers hid, lurks to aspire
  And girdle with embracing flames the waist
  Of Collatine's fair love, Lucrece the chaste.

Haply that name of chaste unhapp'ly set
This bateless edge on his keen appetite;
When Collatine unwisely did not let
To praise the clear unmatched red and white
Which triumph'd in that sky of his delight,
  Where mortal stars, as bright as heaven's beauties,
  With pure aspects did him peculiar duties.

For he the night before, in Tarquin's tent,
Unlock'd the treasure of his happy state;
What priceless wealth the heavens had him lent
In the possession of his beauteous mate;
Reckoning his fortune at such high-proud rate,
  That kings might be espoused to more fame,
  But king nor peer to such a peerless dame.

O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
And, if possess'd, as soon decay'd and done
As is the morning's silver-melting dew
Against the golden splendour of the sun!
An expir'd date, cancell'd ere well begun:
  Honour and beauty, in the owner's arms,
  Are weakly fortress'd from a world of harms.

Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator;
What needeth then apologies be made,
To set forth that which is so singular?
Or why is Collatine the publisher
  Of that rich jewel he should keep unknown
  From thievish ears, because it is his own?

Perchance his boast of Lucrece' sovereignty
Suggested this proud issue of a king;
For by our ears our hearts oft tainted be:
Perchance that envy of so rich a thing,
Braving compare, disdainfully did sting
  His high-pitch'd thoughts, that meaner men should vaunt
  That golden hap which their superiors want)

  
I and Schiller we shall be the audience
When Shakespeare will echo
The enemies of beauty as
It is weakly protected in the arms of Othello.

I and Schiller we don’t know places in Greece
But Shakespeare’s mother comes from Greece
And Shakespeare’s wife comes from Athens
Shakespeare thus knows Greece like Pericles,
We shall not land anywhere on the way
But straight we shall be let
By Shakespeare to Greece
Into the inner chamber of calypso
Lest the Cyclopes eat us whole meal
We want to redeem Homer from the
Love detention camp of calypso
Where he has dallied nine years in the wilderness
Wilderness of love without reaching home
I will ask Homer to introduce me
To Muse, Clio and Thespis
The three spiritualities of poetry
That gave Homer powers to graft the epics
Of Iliad and Odyssey centerpieces of Greece dystopia
I will ask Homer to chant and sing for us the epical
Songs of love, Grecian cradle of utopia
Where Cyclopes thrive on heavyweight cacotopia
Please dear Homer kindly sing for us;
(Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we
feasted our fill on meat and drink, but when the sun went down and
it came on dark, we camped upon the beach. When the child of
morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I bade my men on board and
loose the hawsers. Then they took their places and smote the grey
sea with their oars; so we sailed on with sorrow in our hearts, but
glad to have escaped death though we had lost our comrades)
                                  
From Greece to Africa the short route  is via India
The sub continent of India where humanity
Flocks like the oceans of women and men
The land in which Romesh Tulsi
Grafted Ramayana and Mahabharata
The handbook of slavery and caste prejudice
The land in which Gujarat Indian tongue
In the cheeks of Rabidranathe Tagore
Was awarded a Poetical honour
By Alfred Nobel minus any Nemesis
From the land of Scandinavia,
I will implore Tagore to sing for me
The poem which made Nobel to give him a prize
I will ask Tagore to sing in English
The cacotopia and utopia that made India
An oversized dystopia that man has ever seen,
Tagore sing please Tagore sing for me your beggarly heat;

(When the heart is hard and parched up,
come upon me with a shower of mercy.

When grace is lost from life,
come with a burst of song.

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out from
beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest.

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner,
break open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one,
thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder)



The heart of beggar must be
A hard heart for it to glorify in the art of begging,

I don’t like begging
This is knot my heart suffered
From my childhood experience
I saw my mother
Kindness glides about my house.
Dame Kindness, she is so nice!
The blue and red jewels of her rings smoke
In the windows, the mirrors
Are filling with smiles.

What is so real as the cry of a child?
A rabbit's cry may be wilder
But it has no soul.
Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says.
Sugar is a necessary fluid,

Its crystals a little poultice.
O kindness, kindness
Sweetly picking up pieces!
My Japanese silks, desperate butterflies,
May be pinned any minute, anesthetized.

And here you come, with a cup of tea
Wreathed in steam.
The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.
You hand me two children, two roses.
Pauper of Prose Aug 2018
Stories browsed by the bedside of budding of children
Told of all the adventure that awaited us
So I ran amok with my compatriots
Every one of us wreathed in youth
Burning with the boundless fuel
Of curiosity
From the streets spilled opportunities
Of Fame, Of Wealth, Of Love
Then eventually the Sun rays Bent
Before bleeding upon the stone
So that we traversed on bricks of yellow
Until sore legs led us
To an enchanted emerald mirror
And as we stared we began to wheeze
Seeing a frail old wizard or witch
Wondering “why” with a whimper
As curtains cradling clocks, crash upon us
An Ode to Oz an Ode to Youth
1

You said 'The world is going back to Paganism'.
Oh bright Vision! I saw our dynasty in the bar of the House
Spill from their tumblers a libation to the Erinyes,
And Leavis with Lord Russell wreathed in flowers, heralded with flutes,
Leading white bulls to the cathedral of the solemn Muses
To pay where due the glory of their latest theorem.
Hestia's fire in every flat, rekindled, burned before
The Lardergods. Unmarried daughters with obedient hands
Tended it By the hearth the white-armd venerable mother
Domum servabat, lanam faciebat. at the hour
Of sacrifice their brothers came, silent, corrected, grave
Before their elders; on their downy cheeks easily the blush
Arose (it is the mark of freemen's children) as they trooped,
Gleaming with oil, demurely home from the palaestra or the dance.
Walk carefully, do not wake the envy of the happy gods,
Shun Hubris. The middle of the road, the middle sort of men,
Are best. Aidos surpasses gold. Reverence for the aged
Is wholesome as seasonable rain, and for a man to die
Defending the city in battle is a harmonious thing.
Thus with magistral hand the Puritan Sophrosune
Cooled and schooled and tempered our uneasy motions;
Heathendom came again, the circumspection and the holy fears ...
You said it. Did you mean it? Oh inordinate liar, stop.

2

Or did you mean another kind of heathenry?
Think, then, that under heaven-roof the little disc of the earth,
Fortified Midgard, lies encircled by the ravening Worm.
Over its icy bastions faces of giant and troll
Look in, ready to invade it. The Wolf, admittedly, is bound;
But the bond wil1 break, the Beast run free. The weary gods,
Scarred with old wounds the one-eyed Odin, Tyr who has lost a hand,
Will limp to their stations for the Last defence. Make it your hope
To be counted worthy on that day to stand beside them;
For the end of man is to partake of their defeat and die
His second, final death in good company. The stupid, strong
Unteachable monsters are certain to be victorious at last,
And every man of decent blood is on the losing side.
Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits
Who walked back into burning houses to die with men,
Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals
Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.
Are these the Pagans you spoke of? Know your betters and crouch, dogs;
You that have Vichy water in your veins and worship the event
Your goddess History (whom your fathers called the strumpet Fortune).
NUMB, half asleep, and dazed with whirl of wheels,
And gasp of steam, and measured clank of chains,
I heard a blithe voice break a sudden pause,
Ringing familiarly through the lamp-lit night,
“Wife, here's your Venice!”
I was lifted down,
And gazed about in stupid wonderment,
Holding my little Katie by the hand—
My yellow-haired step-daughter. And again
Two strong arms led me to the water-brink,
And laid me on soft cushions in a boat,—
A queer boat, by a queerer boatman manned—
Swarthy-faced, ragged, with a scarlet cap—
Whose wild, weird note smote shrilly through the dark.
Oh yes, it was my Venice! Beautiful,
With melancholy, ghostly beauty—old,
And sorrowful, and weary—yet so fair,
So like a queen still, with her royal robes,
Full of harmonious colour, rent and worn!
I only saw her shadow in the stream,
By flickering lamplight,—only saw, as yet,
White, misty palace-portals here and there,
Pillars, and marble steps, and balconies,
Along the broad line of the Grand Canal;
And, in the smaller water-ways, a patch
Of wall, or dim bridge arching overhead.
But I could feel the rest. 'Twas Venice!—ay,
The veritable Venice of my dreams.

I saw the grey dawn shimmer down the stream,
And all the city rise, new bathed in light,
With rose-red blooms on her decaying walls,
And gold tints quivering up her domes and spires—
Sharp-drawn, with delicate pencillings, on a sky
Blue as forget-me-nots in June. I saw
The broad day staring in her palace-fronts,
Pointing to yawning gap and crumbling boss,
And colonnades, time-stained and broken, flecked
With soft, sad, dying colours—sculpture-wreathed,
And gloriously proportioned; saw the glow
Light up her bright, harmonious, fountain'd squares,
And spread out on her marble steps, and pass
Down silent courts and secret passages,
Gathering up motley treasures on its way;—

Groups of rich fruit from the Rialto mart,
Scarlet and brown and purple, with green leaves—
Fragments of exquisite carving, lichen-grown,
Found, 'mid pathetic squalor, in some niche
Where wild, half-naked urchins lived and played—
A bright robe, crowned with a pale, dark-eyed face—
A red-striped awning 'gainst an old grey wall—
A delicate opal gleam upon the tide.

I looked out from my window, and I saw
Venice, my Venice, naked in the sun—
Sad, faded, and unutterably forlorn!—
But still unutterably beautiful.

For days and days I wandered up and down—
Holding my breath in awe and ecstasy,—
Following my husband to familiar haunts,
Making acquaintance with his well-loved friends,
Whose faces I had only seen in dreams
And books and photographs and his careless talk.
For days and days—with sunny hours of rest
And musing chat, in that cool room of ours,
Paved with white marble, on the Grand Canal;
For days and days—with happy nights between,
Half-spent, while little Katie lay asleep
Out on the balcony, with the moon and stars.

O Venice, Venice!—with thy water-streets—
Thy gardens bathed in sunset, flushing red
Behind San Giorgio Maggiore's dome—
Thy glimmering lines of haughty palaces
Shadowing fair arch and column in the stream—
Thy most divine cathedral, and its square,
With vagabonds and loungers daily thronged,
Taking their ice, their coffee, and their ease—
Thy sunny campo's, with their clamorous din,
Their shrieking vendors of fresh fish and fruit—
Thy churches and thy pictures—thy sweet bits
Of colour—thy grand relics of the dead—
Thy gondoliers and water-bearers—girls
With dark, soft eyes, and creamy faces, crowned
With braided locks as bright and black as jet—
Wild ragamuffins, picturesque in rags,
And swarming beggars and old witch-like crones,
And brown-cloaked contadini, hot and tired,
Sleeping, face-downward, on the sunny steps—
Thy fairy islands floating in the sun—
Thy poppy-sprinkled, grave-strewn Lido shore—

Thy poetry and thy pathos—all so strange!—
Thou didst bring many a lump into my throat,
And many a passionate thrill into my heart,
And once a tangled dream into my head.

'Twixt afternoon and evening. I was tired;
The air was hot and golden—not a breath
Of wind until the sunset—hot and still.
Our floor was water-sprinkled; our thick walls
And open doors and windows, shadowed deep
With jalousies and awnings, made a cool
And grateful shadow for my little couch.
A subtle perfume stole about the room
From a small table, piled with purple grapes,
And water-melon slices, pink and wet,
And ripe, sweet figs, and golden apricots,
New-laid on green leaves from our garden—leaves
Wherewith an antique torso had been clothed.
My husband read his novel on the floor,
Propped up on cushions and an Indian shawl;
And little Katie slumbered at his feet,
Her yellow curls alight, and delicate tints
Of colour in the white folds of her frock.
I lay, and mused, in comfort and at ease,
Watching them both and playing with my thoughts;
And then I fell into a long, deep sleep,
And dreamed.
I saw a water-wilderness—
Islands entangled in a net of streams—
Cross-threads of rippling channels, woven through
Bare sands, and shallows glimmering blue and broad—
A line of white sea-breakers far away.
There came a smoke and crying from the land—
Ruin was there, and ashes, and the blood
Of conquered cities, trampled down to death.
But here, methought, amid these lonely gulfs,
There rose up towers and bulwarks, fair and strong,
Lapped in the silver sea-mists;—waxing aye
Fairer and stronger—till they seemed to mock
The broad-based kingdoms on the mainland shore.
I saw a great fleet sailing in the sun,
Sailing anear the sand-slip, whereon broke
The long white wave-crests of the outer sea,—
Pepin of Lombardy, with his warrior hosts—
Following the ****** steps of Attila!
I saw the smoke rise when he touched the towns
That lay, outposted, in his ravenous reach;

Then, in their island of deep waters,* saw
A gallant band defy him to his face,
And drive him out, with his fair vessels wrecked
And charred with flames, into the sea again.
“Ah, this is Venice!” I said proudly—“queen
Whose haughty spirit none shall subjugate.”

It was the night. The great stars hung, like globes
Of gold, in purple skies, and cast their light
In palpitating ripples down the flood
That washed and gurgled through the silent streets—
White-bordered now with marble palaces.
It was the night. I saw a grey-haired man,
Sitting alone in a dark convent-porch—
In beggar's garments, with a kingly face,
And eyes that watched for dawnlight anxiously—
A weary man, who could not rest nor sleep.
I heard him muttering prayers beneath his breath,
And once a malediction—while the air
Hummed with the soft, low psalm-chants from within.
And then, as grey gleams yellowed in the east,
I saw him bend his venerable head,
Creep to the door, and knock.
Again I saw
The long-drawn billows breaking on the land,
And galleys rocking in the summer noon.
The old man, richly retinued, and clad
In princely robes, stood there, and spread his arms,
And cried, to one low-kneeling at his feet,
“Take thou my blessing with thee, O my son!
And let this sword, wherewith I gird thee, smite
The impious tyrant-king, who hath defied,
Dethroned, and exiled him who is as Christ.
The Lord be good to thee, my son, my son,
For thy most righteous dealing!”
And again
'Twas that long slip of land betwixt the sea
And still lagoons of Venice—curling waves
Flinging light, foamy spray upon the sand.
The noon was past, and rose-red shadows fell
Across the waters. Lo! the galleys came
To anchorage again—and lo! the Duke
Yet once more bent his noble head to earth,
And laid a victory at the old man's feet,
Praying a blessing with exulting heart.
“This day, my well-belovèd, thou art blessed,
And Venice with thee, for St. Peter's sake.

And I will give thee, for thy bride and queen,
The sea which thou hast conquered. Take this ring,
As sign of her subjection, and thy right
To be her lord for ever.”
Once again
I saw that old man,—in the vestibule
Of St. Mark's fair cathedral,—circled round
With cardinals and priests, ambassadors
And the noblesse of Venice—richly robed
In papal vestments, with the triple crown
Gleaming upon his brows. There was a hush:—
I saw a glittering train come sweeping on,
From the blue water and across the square,
Thronged with an eager multitude,—the Duke,
And with him Barbarossa, humbled now,
And fain to pray for pardon. With bare heads,
They reached the church, and paused. The Emperor knelt,
Casting away his purple mantle—knelt,
And crept along the pavement, as to kiss
Those feet, which had been weary twenty years
With his own persecutions. And the Pope
Lifted his white haired, crowned, majestic head,
And trod upon his neck,—crying out to Christ,
“Upon the lion and adder shalt thou go—
The dragon shalt thou tread beneath thy feet!”
The vision changed. Sweet incense-clouds rose up
From the cathedral altar, mix'd with hymns
And solemn chantings, o'er ten thousand heads;
And ebbed and died away along the aisles.
I saw a train of nobles—knights of France—
Pass 'neath the glorious arches through the crowd,
And stand, with halo of soft, coloured light
On their fair brows—the while their leader's voice
Rang through the throbbing silence like a bell.
“Signiors, we come to Venice, by the will
Of the most high and puissant lords of France,
To pray you look with your compassionate eyes
Upon the Holy City of our Christ—
Wherein He lived, and suffered, and was lain
Asleep, to wake in glory, for our sakes—
By Paynim dogs dishonoured and defiled!
Signiors, we come to you, for you are strong.
The seas which lie betwixt that land and this
Obey you. O have pity! See, we kneel—
Our Masters bid us kneel—and bid us stay
Here at your feet until you grant our prayers!”
Wherewith the knights fell down upon their knees,

And lifted up their supplicating hands.
Lo! the ten thousand people rose as one,
And shouted with a shout that shook the domes
And gleaming roofs above them—echoing down,
Through marble pavements, to the shrine below,
Where lay the miraculous body of their Saint
(Shed he not heavenly radiance as he heard?—
Perfuming the damp air of his secret crypt),
And cried, with an exceeding mighty cry,
“We do consent! We will be pitiful!”
The thunder of their voices reached the sea,
And thrilled through all the netted water-veins
Of their rich city. Silence fell anon,
Slowly, with fluttering wings, upon the crowd;
And then a veil of darkness.
And again
The filtered sunlight streamed upon those walls,
Marbled and sculptured with divinest grace;
Again I saw a multitude of heads,
Soft-wreathed with cloudy incense, bent in prayer—
The heads of haughty barons, armed knights,
And pilgrims girded with their staff and scrip,
The warriors of the Holy Sepulchre.
The music died away along the roof;
The hush was broken—not by him of France—
By Enrico Dandolo, whose grey head
Venice had circled with the ducal crown.
The old man looked down, with his dim, wise eyes,
Stretching his hands abroad, and spake. “Seigneurs,
My children, see—your vessels lie in port
Freighted for battle. And you, standing here,
Wait but the first fair wind. The bravest hosts
Are with you, and the noblest enterprise
Conceived of man. Behold, I am grey-haired,
And old and feeble. Yet am I your lord.
And, if it be your pleasure, I will trust
My ducal seat in Venice to my son,
And be your guide and leader.”
When they heard,
They cried aloud, “In God's name, go with us!”
And the old man, with holy weeping, passed
Adown the tribune to the altar-steps;
And, kneeling, fixed the cross upon his cap.
A ray of sudden sunshine lit his face—
The grand, grey, furrowed face—and lit the cross,
Until it twinkled like a cross of fire.
“We shall be safe with him,” the people said,

Straining their wet, bright eyes; “and we shall reap
Harvests of glory from our battle-fields!”

Anon there rose a vapour from the sea—
A dim white mist, that thickened into fog.
The campanile and columns were blurred out,
Cathedral domes and spires, and colonnades
Of marble palaces on the Grand Canal.
Joy-bells rang sadly and softly—far away;
Banners of welcome waved like wind-blown clouds;
Glad shouts were muffled into mournful wails.
A Doge was come to be enthroned and crowned,—
Not in the great Bucentaur—not in pomp;
The water-ways had wandered in the mist,
And he had tracked them, slowly, painfully,
From San Clemente to Venice, in a frail
And humble gondola. A Doge was come;
But he, alas! had missed his landing-place,
And set his foot upon the blood-stained stones
Betwixt the blood-red columns. Ah, the sea—
The bride, the queen—she was the first to turn
Against her passionate, proud, ill-fated lord!

Slowly the sea-fog melted, and I saw
Long, limp dead bodies dangling in the sun.
Two granite pillars towered on either side,
And broad blue waters glittered at their feet.
“These are the traitors,” said the people; “they
Who, with our Lord the Duke, would overthrow
The government of Venice.”
And anon,
The doors about the palace were made fast.
A great crowd gathered round them, with hushed breath
And throbbing pulses. And I knew their lord,
The Duke Faliero, knelt upon his knees,
On the broad landing of the marble stairs
Where he had sworn the oath he could not keep—
Vexed with the tyrannous oligarchic rule
That held his haughty spirit netted in,
And cut so keenly that he writhed and chafed
Until he burst the meshes—could not keep!
I watched and waited, feeling sick at heart;
And then I saw a figure, robed in black—
One of their dark, ubiquitous, supreme
And fearful tribunal of Ten—come forth,
And hold a dripping sword-blade in the air.
“Justice has fallen on the traitor! See,
His blood has paid the forfeit of his crime!”

And all the people, hearing, murmured deep,
Cursing their dead lord, and the council, too,
Whose swift, sure, heavy hand had dealt his death.

Then came the night, all grey and still and sad.
I saw a few red torches flare and flame
Over a little gondola, where lay
The headless body of the traitor Duke,
Stripped of his ducal vestments. Floating down
The quiet waters, it passed out of sight,
Bearing him to unhonoured burial.
And then came mist and darkness.
Lo! I heard
The shrill clang of alarm-bells, and the wails
Of men and women in the wakened streets.
A thousand torches flickered up and down,
Lighting their ghastly faces and bare heads;
The while they crowded to the open doors
Of all the churches—to confess their sins,
To pray for absolution, and a last
Lord's Supper—their viaticum, whose death
Seemed near at hand—ay, nearer than the dawn.
“Chioggia is fall'n!” they cried, “and we are lost!”

Anon I saw them hurrying to and fro,
With eager eyes and hearts and blither feet—
Grave priests, with warlike weapons in their hands,
And delicate women, with their ornaments
Of gold and jewels for the public fund—
Mix'd with the bearded crowd, whose lives were given,
With all they had, to Venice in her need.
No more I heard the wailing of despair,—
But great Pisani's blithe word of command,
The dip of oars, and creak of beams and chains,
And ring of hammers in the arsenal.
“Venice shall ne'er be lost!” her people cried—
Whose names were worthy of the Golden Book—
“Venice shall ne'er be conquered!”
And anon
I saw a scene of triumph—saw the Doge,
In his Bucentaur, sailing to the land—
Chioggia behind him blackened in the smoke,
Venice before, all banners, bells, and shouts
Of passionate rejoicing! Ten long months
Had Genoa waged that war of life and death;
And now—behold the remnant of her host,
Shrunken and hollow-eyed and bound with chains—
Trailing their galleys in the conqueror's wake!

Once more the tremulous waters, flaked with light;
A covered vessel, with an armèd guard—
A yelling mob on fair San Giorgio's isle,
And ominous whisperings in the city squares.
Carrara's noble head bowed down at last,
Beaten by many storms,—his golden spurs
Caught in the meshes of a hidden snare!
“O Venice!” I cried, “where is thy great heart
And honourable soul?”
And yet once more
I saw her—the gay Sybaris of the world—
The rich voluptuous city—sunk in sloth.
I heard Napoleon's cannon at her gates,
And her degenerate nobles cry for fear.
I saw at last the great Republic fall—
Conquered by her own sickness, and with scarce
A noticeable wound—I saw her fall!
And she had stood above a thousand years!
O Carlo Zeno! O Pisani! Sure
Ye turned and groaned for pity in your graves.
I saw the flames devour her Golden Book
Beneath the rootless “Tree of Liberty;”
I saw the Lion's le
S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
        A persona che mai tornasse al mondo
        Questa fiamma staria senza più scosse.
        Ma perciocchè giammai di questo fondo
        Non tornò vivo alcun, s’i'odo il vero,
        Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to ****** and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!’)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the ****-ends of my days and ways?
  And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?

     . . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

     . . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in
     upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all’—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all;
  That is not it, at all.’

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail
     along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  ‘That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.’

     . . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Shofi Ahmed Mar 2017
Someone is singing a song, it's somewhere written.
The ocean breaks in billowy dances, the seas open up
Get it off the chests, put a notion through onto the cloud
that won’t just fall, won’t just stop and drop: it will float
to the measured moves, only then will it roll in,
pop into the million blooms, wreathed rosy lips,
set out bowls of colours before the one is pouring in!

A song like King David sang and everyone heard.
It’s the sweet song sang in every mother tongue;
a perfumed speech is heard sweeter than the nectar,
wreaths round each patch of earth as part of a tongue.
In all different variations, directions it’s being sung!

Mathematically composed that rhythmically spans
fashion in both, or you choose science or arts.
It’s a lyric sung with finest curvy swaying dance.
Feel the thrills deep down through the atomic level.
still the variety motions in various directions turn on,  
and nowhere near that looks, drawing a pause!
This English Thames is holier far than Rome,
Those harebells like a sudden flush of sea
Breaking across the woodland, with the foam
Of meadow-sweet and white anemone
To fleck their blue waves,—God is likelier there
Than hidden in that crystal-hearted star the pale monks bear!

Those violet-gleaming butterflies that take
Yon creamy lily for their pavilion
Are monsignores, and where the rushes shake
A lazy pike lies basking in the sun,
His eyes half shut,—he is some mitred old
Bishop in partibus! look at those gaudy scales all green and gold.

The wind the restless prisoner of the trees
Does well for Palaestrina, one would say
The mighty master’s hands were on the keys
Of the Maria *****, which they play
When early on some sapphire Easter morn
In a high litter red as blood or sin the Pope is borne

From his dark House out to the Balcony
Above the bronze gates and the crowded square,
Whose very fountains seem for ecstasy
To toss their silver lances in the air,
And stretching out weak hands to East and West
In vain sends peace to peaceless lands, to restless nations rest.

Is not yon lingering orange after-glow
That stays to vex the moon more fair than all
Rome’s lordliest pageants! strange, a year ago
I knelt before some crimson Cardinal
Who bare the Host across the Esquiline,
And now—those common poppies in the wheat seem twice as fine.

The blue-green beanfields yonder, tremulous
With the last shower, sweeter perfume bring
Through this cool evening than the odorous
Flame-jewelled censers the young deacons swing,
When the grey priest unlocks the curtained shrine,
And makes God’s body from the common fruit of corn and vine.

Poor Fra Giovanni bawling at the mass
Were out of tune now, for a small brown bird
Sings overhead, and through the long cool grass
I see that throbbing throat which once I heard
On starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady,
Once where the white and crescent sand of Salamis meets sea.

Sweet is the swallow twittering on the eaves
At daybreak, when the mower whets his scythe,
And stock-doves murmur, and the milkmaid leaves
Her little lonely bed, and carols blithe
To see the heavy-lowing cattle wait
Stretching their huge and dripping mouths across the farmyard gate.

And sweet the hops upon the Kentish leas,
And sweet the wind that lifts the new-mown hay,
And sweet the fretful swarms of grumbling bees
That round and round the linden blossoms play;
And sweet the heifer breathing in the stall,
And the green bursting figs that hang upon the red-brick wall,

And sweet to hear the cuckoo mock the spring
While the last violet loiters by the well,
And sweet to hear the shepherd Daphnis sing
The song of Linus through a sunny dell
Of warm Arcadia where the corn is gold
And the slight lithe-limbed reapers dance about the wattled fold.

And sweet with young Lycoris to recline
In some Illyrian valley far away,
Where canopied on herbs amaracine
We too might waste the summer-tranced day
Matching our reeds in sportive rivalry,
While far beneath us frets the troubled purple of the sea.

But sweeter far if silver-sandalled foot
Of some long-hidden God should ever tread
The Nuneham meadows, if with reeded flute
Pressed to his lips some Faun might raise his head
By the green water-flags, ah! sweet indeed
To see the heavenly herdsman call his white-fleeced flock to feed.

Then sing to me thou tuneful chorister,
Though what thou sing’st be thine own requiem!
Tell me thy tale thou hapless chronicler
Of thine own tragedies! do not contemn
These unfamiliar haunts, this English field,
For many a lovely coronal our northern isle can yield

Which Grecian meadows know not, many a rose
Which all day long in vales AEolian
A lad might seek in vain for over-grows
Our hedges like a wanton courtesan
Unthrifty of its beauty; lilies too
Ilissos never mirrored star our streams, and cockles blue

Dot the green wheat which, though they are the signs
For swallows going south, would never spread
Their azure tents between the Attic vines;
Even that little **** of ragged red,
Which bids the robin pipe, in Arcady
Would be a trespasser, and many an unsung elegy

Sleeps in the reeds that fringe our winding Thames
Which to awake were sweeter ravishment
Than ever Syrinx wept for; diadems
Of brown bee-studded orchids which were meant
For Cytheraea’s brows are hidden here
Unknown to Cytheraea, and by yonder pasturing steer

There is a tiny yellow daffodil,
The butterfly can see it from afar,
Although one summer evening’s dew could fill
Its little cup twice over ere the star
Had called the lazy shepherd to his fold
And be no prodigal; each leaf is flecked with spotted gold

As if Jove’s gorgeous leman Danae
Hot from his gilded arms had stooped to kiss
The trembling petals, or young Mercury
Low-flying to the dusky ford of Dis
Had with one feather of his pinions
Just brushed them! the slight stem which bears the burden of its suns

Is hardly thicker than the gossamer,
Or poor Arachne’s silver tapestry,—
Men say it bloomed upon the sepulchre
Of One I sometime worshipped, but to me
It seems to bring diviner memories
Of faun-loved Heliconian glades and blue nymph-haunted seas,

Of an untrodden vale at Tempe where
On the clear river’s marge Narcissus lies,
The tangle of the forest in his hair,
The silence of the woodland in his eyes,
Wooing that drifting imagery which is
No sooner kissed than broken; memories of Salmacis

Who is not boy nor girl and yet is both,
Fed by two fires and unsatisfied
Through their excess, each passion being loth
For love’s own sake to leave the other’s side
Yet killing love by staying; memories
Of Oreads peeping through the leaves of silent moonlit trees,

Of lonely Ariadne on the wharf
At Naxos, when she saw the treacherous crew
Far out at sea, and waved her crimson scarf
And called false Theseus back again nor knew
That Dionysos on an amber pard
Was close behind her; memories of what Maeonia’s bard

With sightless eyes beheld, the wall of Troy,
Queen Helen lying in the ivory room,
And at her side an amorous red-lipped boy
Trimming with dainty hand his helmet’s plume,
And far away the moil, the shout, the groan,
As Hector shielded off the spear and Ajax hurled the stone;

Of winged Perseus with his flawless sword
Cleaving the snaky tresses of the witch,
And all those tales imperishably stored
In little Grecian urns, freightage more rich
Than any gaudy galleon of Spain
Bare from the Indies ever! these at least bring back again,

For well I know they are not dead at all,
The ancient Gods of Grecian poesy:
They are asleep, and when they hear thee call
Will wake and think ‘t is very Thessaly,
This Thames the Daulian waters, this cool glade
The yellow-irised mead where once young Itys laughed and played.

If it was thou dear jasmine-cradled bird
Who from the leafy stillness of thy throne
Sang to the wondrous boy, until he heard
The horn of Atalanta faintly blown
Across the Cumnor hills, and wandering
Through Bagley wood at evening found the Attic poets’ spring,—

Ah! tiny sober-suited advocate
That pleadest for the moon against the day!
If thou didst make the shepherd seek his mate
On that sweet questing, when Proserpina
Forgot it was not Sicily and leant
Across the mossy Sandford stile in ravished wonderment,—

Light-winged and bright-eyed miracle of the wood!
If ever thou didst soothe with melody
One of that little clan, that brotherhood
Which loved the morning-star of Tuscany
More than the perfect sun of Raphael
And is immortal, sing to me! for I too love thee well.

Sing on! sing on! let the dull world grow young,
Let elemental things take form again,
And the old shapes of Beauty walk among
The simple garths and open crofts, as when
The son of Leto bare the willow rod,
And the soft sheep and shaggy goats followed the boyish God.

Sing on! sing on! and Bacchus will be here
Astride upon his gorgeous Indian throne,
And over whimpering tigers shake the spear
With yellow ivy crowned and gummy cone,
While at his side the wanton Bassarid
Will throw the lion by the mane and catch the mountain kid!

Sing on! and I will wear the leopard skin,
And steal the mooned wings of Ashtaroth,
Upon whose icy chariot we could win
Cithaeron in an hour ere the froth
Has over-brimmed the wine-vat or the Faun
Ceased from the treading! ay, before the flickering lamp of dawn

Has scared the hooting owlet to its nest,
And warned the bat to close its filmy vans,
Some Maenad girl with vine-leaves on her breast
Will filch their beech-nuts from the sleeping Pans
So softly that the little nested thrush
Will never wake, and then with shrilly laugh and leap will rush

Down the green valley where the fallen dew
Lies thick beneath the elm and count her store,
Till the brown Satyrs in a jolly crew
Trample the loosestrife down along the shore,
And where their horned master sits in state
Bring strawberries and bloomy plums upon a wicker crate!

Sing on! and soon with passion-wearied face
Through the cool leaves Apollo’s lad will come,
The Tyrian prince his bristled boar will chase
Adown the chestnut-copses all a-bloom,
And ivory-limbed, grey-eyed, with look of pride,
After yon velvet-coated deer the ****** maid will ride.

Sing on! and I the dying boy will see
Stain with his purple blood the waxen bell
That overweighs the jacinth, and to me
The wretched Cyprian her woe will tell,
And I will kiss her mouth and streaming eyes,
And lead her to the myrtle-hidden grove where Adon lies!

Cry out aloud on Itys! memory
That foster-brother of remorse and pain
Drops poison in mine ear,—O to be free,
To burn one’s old ships! and to launch again
Into the white-plumed battle of the waves
And fight old Proteus for the spoil of coral-flowered caves!

O for Medea with her poppied spell!
O for the secret of the Colchian shrine!
O for one leaf of that pale asphodel
Which binds the tired brows of Proserpine,
And sheds such wondrous dews at eve that she
Dreams of the fields of Enna, by the far Sicilian sea,

Where oft the golden-girdled bee she chased
From lily to lily on the level mead,
Ere yet her sombre Lord had bid her taste
The deadly fruit of that pomegranate seed,
Ere the black steeds had harried her away
Down to the faint and flowerless land, the sick and sunless day.

O for one midnight and as paramour
The Venus of the little Melian farm!
O that some antique statue for one hour
Might wake to passion, and that I could charm
The Dawn at Florence from its dumb despair,
Mix with those mighty limbs and make that giant breast my lair!

Sing on! sing on!  I would be drunk with life,
Drunk with the trampled vintage of my youth,
I would forget the wearying wasted strife,
The riven veil, the Gorgon eyes of Truth,
The prayerless vigil and the cry for prayer,
The barren gifts, the lifted arms, the dull insensate air!

Sing on! sing on!  O feathered Niobe,
Thou canst make sorrow beautiful, and steal
From joy its sweetest music, not as we
Who by dead voiceless silence strive to heal
Our too untented wounds, and do but keep
Pain barricadoed in our hearts, and ****** pillowed sleep.

Sing louder yet, why must I still behold
The wan white face of that deserted Christ,
Whose bleeding hands my hands did once enfold,
Whose smitten lips my lips so oft have kissed,
And now in mute and marble misery
Sits in his lone dishonoured House and weeps, perchance for me?

O Memory cast down thy wreathed shell!
Break thy hoarse lute O sad Melpomene!
O Sorrow, Sorrow keep thy cloistered cell
Nor dim with tears this limpid Castaly!
Cease, Philomel, thou dost the forest wrong
To vex its sylvan quiet with such wild impassioned song!

Cease, cease, or if ‘t is anguish to be dumb
Take from the pastoral thrush her simpler air,
Whose jocund carelessness doth more become
This English woodland than thy keen despair,
Ah! cease and let the north wind bear thy lay
Back to the rocky hills of Thrace, the stormy Daulian bay.

A moment more, the startled leaves had stirred,
Endymion would have passed across the mead
Moonstruck with love, and this still Thames had heard
Pan plash and paddle groping for some reed
To lure from her blue cave that Naiad maid
Who for such piping listens half in joy and half afraid.

A moment more, the waking dove had cooed,
The silver daughter of the silver sea
With the fond gyves of clinging hands had wooed
Her wanton from the chase, and Dryope
Had ****** aside the branches of her oak
To see the ***** gold-haired lad rein in his snorting yoke.

A moment more, the trees had stooped to kiss
Pale Daphne just awakening from the swoon
Of tremulous laurels, lonely Salmacis
Had bared his barren beauty to the moon,
And through the vale with sad voluptuous smile
Antinous had wandered, the red lotus of the Nile

Down leaning from his black and clustering hair,
To shade those slumberous eyelids’ caverned bliss,
Or else on yonder grassy ***** with bare
High-tuniced limbs unravished Artemis
Had bade her hounds give tongue, and roused the deer
From his green ambuscade with shrill halloo and pricking spear.

Lie still, lie still, O passionate heart, lie still!
O Melancholy, fold thy raven wing!
O sobbing Dryad, from thy hollow hill
Come not with such despondent answering!
No more thou winged Marsyas complain,
Apollo loveth not to hear such troubled songs of pain!

It was a dream, the glade is tenantless,
No soft Ionian laughter moves the air,
The Thames creeps on in sluggish leadenness,
And from the copse left desolate and bare
Fled is young Bacchus with his revelry,
Yet still from Nuneham wood there comes that thrilling melody

So sad, that one might think a human heart
Brake in each separate note, a quality
Which music sometimes has, being the Art
Which is most nigh to tears and memory;
Poor mourning Philomel, what dost thou fear?
Thy sister doth not haunt these fields, Pandion is not here,

Here is no cruel Lord with murderous blade,
No woven web of ****** heraldries,
But mossy dells for roving comrades made,
Warm valleys where the tired student lies
With half-shut book, and many a winding walk
Where rustic lovers stray at eve in happy simple talk.

The harmless rabbit gambols with its young
Across the trampled towing-path, where late
A troop of laughing boys in jostling throng
Cheered with their noisy cries the racing eight;
The gossamer, with ravelled silver threads,
Works at its little loom, and from the dusky red-eaved sheds

Of the lone Farm a flickering light shines out
Where the swinked shepherd drives his bleating flock
Back to their wattled sheep-cotes, a faint shout
Comes from some Oxford boat at Sandford lock,
And starts the moor-hen from the sedgy rill,
And the dim lengthening shadows flit like swallows up the hill.

The heron passes homeward to the mere,
The blue mist creeps among the shivering trees,
Gold world by world the silent stars appear,
And like a blossom blown before the breeze
A white moon drifts across the shimmering sky,
Mute arbitress of all thy sad, thy rapturous threnody.

She does not heed thee, wherefore should she heed,
She knows Endymion is not far away;
’Tis I, ’tis I, whose soul is as the reed
Which has no message of its own to play,
So pipes another’s bidding, it is I,
Drifting with every wind on the wide sea of misery.

Ah! the brown bird has ceased:  one exquisite trill
About the sombre woodland seems to cling
Dying in music, else the air is still,
So still that one might hear the bat’s small wing
Wander and wheel above the pines, or tell
Each tiny dew-drop dripping from the bluebell’s brimming cell.

And far away across the lengthening wold,
Across the willowy flats and thickets brown,
Magdalen’s tall tower tipped with tremulous gold
Marks the long High Street of the little town,
And warns me to return; I must not wait,
Hark! ’Tis the curfew booming from the bell at Christ Church gate.
Blain Rogers Nov 2012
If it pleases the court
I wish to call my witness
I assure you he is pleasantly witless
And features you ask?
You needn't worry
He isn't the type that is tall and squirrely
And he isn't the type that is strong and burly
No, I admit he is a slight of a man
A crook in his back and
An un-healing wound for a hand
Stature shouldn't be a bother
For he isn't much bigger than even the smallest little toddler.

No, he wasn't much to look at but clever he was
He entered the court caring not for the faces of the smug
Why should he care? Why should he look?
He knew the judges falsified records and books
His word was useless so his tongue stood quiet
And none would know what was it he meant by it
Crooked he was, bent and broken

Broken and battered and beaten and bruised
Even he didn't know how much magic he'd used
A sorcerer he was, and a good one I'd wager
For he never shirked from harm or danger
To he so old and brittle
No one stooped to hear his riddle

With a crack of his back and a flick of his wrist
All his ailments went amiss
Twas he the king giant of legends old
Seven feet tall he stood so proud wreathed in the light of gold
Eying the bold
And scaring the crowd
With his mighty cape made out of his shroud

Come to place judgement on those unworthy
And rid his lands of those who wore their hair curly
Judges, Politicians, and Royalty alike
These pompous blights with their wigs powdered white
His voice so quiet, yet only at first
For he had not had need to quench his thirst  
Not for 300 or 400 years had his voice been needed here
With a resounding boom from he whom no one suspected
The one whom they had so unjustly subjected

Broken and battered and beaten and bruised he was
But not from violence or bathing the blood from wounds
His soul was what was sad and destroyed
The fiends of today had hurt this once glorious man
The frivolity, the slander, and general corruption
The crime, the ****, and societal destruction
Who were these "people" to have earned his blessing
Better they were hens stuffed with dressing
His land he had given to their ancestors of old
Yet a once weak people had grown so bold
"Who are you?" they asked
"And where did you come from?"
"I know, we'll take him to the dungeon"

"Silence vile sinners" said the giant of a man
resend these orders and bark back your commands
For it is I who is the ruler of these lands
From mother to daughter and father to son
I have seen your lives spread, grow, and bud
This is not the life I had planned for you all
Divine Right of rulers ordained by my cross on the wall
You have twisted and molded my laws and my trust
To suit your own needs and greed

To you all I take everything and send you back
Across the barren wasteland you've left in your tracks
Away from me and go quickly
I should rather have you leave my sight swiftly
It was then that his voice broke it's timbre
When he saw one so small blond and slender
"You girl, how is it that you are not frightened?"
Her response was firm as the wrath of a Titan
"Sir you scare me not by your words alone, for I have lived a life of beatings by stones"
Outcast for life, and ridiculed hourly
The giant chose to reward her powerfully
"You my daughter are your people's saving grace"
Watch them all leave now with pitiful haste
How was it that she, the spawn of a sinner,
could mend her race as a whole?
"I'll tell you my daughter, by the goodness of your soul"
Go now and start a city within my lands, and forever shall it remain in your kind gentle hands
D Conors Oct 2010
this is where i sit like stone,
knowing soon it shall be over,
all balled up and all alone,
wreathed in sickly crimson clover;
in a corner cold and stark,
where the pressure chokes my chest,
my mind's eye fizzles into dark,
i cannot eat nor find sweet rest.

i no longer see the pathways,
where i have strolled past fields of pain,
cloaked in shadowed sunless days,
walking weary in the chilling rains;
of torrid teardrops that always fail to fall,
stuck inside behind my bloodshot eyes,
between sight and dreams i scarce recall,
haunted by the sounds of ghostly cries.

i no longer feel the passions,
i had once did cling,
for there no longer comes a need to rise,
or open my mouth to sing.
__

I sit:
http://beautyineverything.com/175543419
d.
17 oct. 10
serpentinium Jun 2018
distant ships sailing through the
pink crests of brain matter  
brimming with cargo; the unit
of knowledge burrowed in flesh
unable to feel pain, passing the
sensation on skulled flags—beware,
remember, know that these things
can haunt you.

(know that these things may one
day heal you)

this is who you are now: yellow,
sunflowers wreathed in knotted strands
of wheat-colored hair, pill bottles
half-full, hands like rotting fly traps
curled in supplication on a
Thursday morning when the pain is
too much to bear alone.

this is who you will always be: a series
of binary sparks, a long silvery tunnel,
streetcars laden with passengers
weaned on anger & fear & love--
a construction site.

you are a work in progress.
the definition of a neuron from a neuroscientist
By this, sad Hero, with love unacquainted,
Viewing Leander’s face, fell down and fainted.
He kissed her and breathed life into her lips,
Wherewith as one displeased away she trips.
Yet, as she went, full often looked behind,
And many poor excuses did she find
To linger by the way, and once she stayed,
And would have turned again, but was afraid,
In offering parley, to be counted light.
So on she goes and in her idle flight
Her painted fan of curled plumes let fall,
Thinking to train Leander therewithal.
He, being a novice, knew not what she meant
But stayed, and after her a letter sent,
Which joyful Hero answered in such sort,
As he had hope to scale the beauteous fort
Wherein the liberal Graces locked their wealth,
And therefore to her tower he got by stealth.
Wide open stood the door, he need not climb,
And she herself before the pointed time
Had spread the board, with roses strowed the room,
And oft looked out, and mused he did not come.
At last he came.

O who can tell the greeting
These greedy lovers had at their first meeting.
He asked, she gave, and nothing was denied.
Both to each other quickly were affied.
Look how their hands, so were their hearts united,
And what he did she willingly requited.
(Sweet are the kisses, the embracements sweet,
When like desires and affections meet,
For from the earth to heaven is Cupid raised,
Where fancy is in equal balance peised.)
Yet she this rashness suddenly repented
And turned aside, and to herself lamented
As if her name and honour had been wronged
By being possessed of him for whom she longed.
Ay, and she wished, albeit not from her heart
That he would leave her turret and depart.
The mirthful god of amorous pleasure smiled
To see how he this captive nymph beguiled.
For hitherto he did but fan the fire,
And kept it down that it might mount the higher.
Now waxed she jealous lest his love abated,
Fearing her own thoughts made her to be hated.
Therefore unto him hastily she goes
And, like light Salmacis, her body throws
Upon his ***** where with yielding eyes
She offers up herself a sacrifice
To slake his anger if he were displeased.
O, what god would not therewith be appeased?
Like Aesop’s **** this jewel he enjoyed
And as a brother with his sister toyed
Supposing nothing else was to be done,
Now he her favour and good will had won.
But know you not that creatures wanting sense
By nature have a mutual appetence,
And, wanting organs to advance a step,
Moved by love’s force unto each other lep?
Much more in subjects having intellect
Some hidden influence breeds like effect.
Albeit Leander rude in love and raw,
Long dallying with Hero, nothing saw
That might delight him more, yet he suspected
Some amorous rites or other were neglected.
Therefore unto his body hers he clung.
She, fearing on the rushes to be flung,
Strived with redoubled strength; the more she strived
The more a gentle pleasing heat revived,
Which taught him all that elder lovers know.
And now the same gan so to scorch and glow
As in plain terms (yet cunningly) he craved it.
Love always makes those eloquent that have it.
She, with a kind of granting, put him by it
And ever, as he thought himself most nigh it,
Like to the tree of Tantalus, she fled
And, seeming lavish, saved her maidenhead.
Ne’er king more sought to keep his diadem,
Than Hero this inestimable gem.
Above our life we love a steadfast friend,
Yet when a token of great worth we send,
We often kiss it, often look thereon,
And stay the messenger that would be gone.
No marvel then, though Hero would not yield
So soon to part from that she dearly held.
Jewels being lost are found again, this never;
’Tis lost but once, and once lost, lost forever.

Now had the morn espied her lover’s steeds,
Whereat she starts, puts on her purple weeds,
And red for anger that he stayed so long
All headlong throws herself the clouds among.
And now Leander, fearing to be missed,
Embraced her suddenly, took leave, and kissed.
Long was he taking leave, and loath to go,
And kissed again as lovers use to do.
Sad Hero wrung him by the hand and wept
Saying, “Let your vows and promises be kept.”
Then standing at the door she turned about
As loath to see Leander going out.
And now the sun that through th’ horizon peeps,
As pitying these lovers, downward creeps,
So that in silence of the cloudy night,
Though it was morning, did he take his flight.
But what the secret trusty night concealed
Leander’s amorous habit soon revealed.
With Cupid’s myrtle was his bonnet crowned,
About his arms the purple riband wound
Wherewith she wreathed her largely spreading hair.
Nor could the youth abstain, but he must wear
The sacred ring wherewith she was endowed
When first religious chastity she vowed.
Which made his love through Sestos to be known,
And thence unto Abydos sooner blown
Than he could sail; for incorporeal fame
Whose weight consists in nothing but her name,
Is swifter than the wind, whose tardy plumes
Are reeking water and dull earthly fumes.
Home when he came, he seemed not to be there,
But, like exiled air ****** from his sphere,
Set in a foreign place; and straight from thence,
Alcides like, by mighty violence
He would have chased away the swelling main
That him from her unjustly did detain.
Like as the sun in a diameter
Fires and inflames objects removed far,
And heateth kindly, shining laterally,
So beauty sweetly quickens when ’tis nigh,
But being separated and removed,
Burns where it cherished, murders where it loved.
Therefore even as an index to a book,
So to his mind was young Leander’s look.
O, none but gods have power their love to hide,
Affection by the countenance is descried.
The light of hidden fire itself discovers,
And love that is concealed betrays poor lovers,
His secret flame apparently was seen.
Leander’s father knew where he had been
And for the same mildly rebuked his son,
Thinking to quench the sparkles new begun.
But love resisted once grows passionate,
And nothing more than counsel lovers hate.
For as a hot proud horse highly disdains
To have his head controlled, but breaks the reins,
Spits forth the ringled bit, and with his hooves
Checks the submissive ground; so he that loves,
The more he is restrained, the worse he fares.
What is it now, but mad Leander dares?
“O Hero, Hero!” thus he cried full oft;
And then he got him to a rock aloft,
Where having spied her tower, long stared he on’t,
And prayed the narrow toiling Hellespont
To part in twain, that he might come and go;
But still the rising billows answered, “No.”
With that he stripped him to the ivory skin
And, crying “Love, I come,” leaped lively in.
Whereat the sapphire visaged god grew proud,
And made his capering Triton sound aloud,
Imagining that Ganymede, displeased,
Had left the heavens; therefore on him he seized.
Leander strived; the waves about him wound,
And pulled him to the bottom, where the ground
Was strewed with pearl, and in low coral groves
Sweet singing mermaids sported with their loves
On heaps of heavy gold, and took great pleasure
To spurn in careless sort the shipwrack treasure.
For here the stately azure palace stood
Where kingly Neptune and his train abode.
The ***** god embraced him, called him “Love,”
And swore he never should return to Jove.
But when he knew it was not Ganymede,
For under water he was almost dead,
He heaved him up and, looking on his face,
Beat down the bold waves with his triple mace,
Which mounted up, intending to have kissed him,
And fell in drops like tears because they missed him.
Leander, being up, began to swim
And, looking back, saw Neptune follow him,
Whereat aghast, the poor soul ‘gan to cry
“O, let me visit Hero ere I die!”
The god put Helle’s bracelet on his arm,
And swore the sea should never do him harm.
He clapped his plump cheeks, with his tresses played
And, smiling wantonly, his love bewrayed.
He watched his arms and, as they opened wide
At every stroke, betwixt them would he slide
And steal a kiss, and then run out and dance,
And, as he turned, cast many a lustful glance,
And threw him gaudy toys to please his eye,
And dive into the water, and there pry
Upon his breast, his thighs, and every limb,
And up again, and close beside him swim,
And talk of love.

Leander made reply,
“You are deceived; I am no woman, I.”
Thereat smiled Neptune, and then told a tale,
How that a shepherd, sitting in a vale,
Played with a boy so fair and kind,
As for his love both earth and heaven pined;
That of the cooling river durst not drink,
Lest water nymphs should pull him from the brink.
And when he sported in the fragrant lawns,
Goat footed satyrs and upstaring fauns
Would steal him thence. Ere half this tale was done,
“Ay me,” Leander cried, “th’ enamoured sun
That now should shine on Thetis’ glassy bower,
Descends upon my radiant Hero’s tower.
O, that these tardy arms of mine were wings!”
And, as he spake, upon the waves he springs.
Neptune was angry that he gave no ear,
And in his heart revenging malice bare.
He flung at him his mace but, as it went,
He called it in, for love made him repent.
The mace, returning back, his own hand hit
As meaning to be venged for darting it.
When this fresh bleeding wound Leander viewed,
His colour went and came, as if he rued
The grief which Neptune felt. In gentle *******
Relenting thoughts, remorse, and pity rests.
And who have hard hearts and obdurate minds,
But vicious, harebrained, and illiterate hinds?
The god, seeing him with pity to be moved,
Thereon concluded that he was beloved.
(Love is too full of faith, too credulous,
With folly and false hope deluding us.)
Wherefore, Leander’s fancy to surprise,
To the rich Ocean for gifts he flies.
’tis wisdom to give much; a gift prevails
When deep persuading oratory fails.

By this Leander, being near the land,
Cast down his weary feet and felt the sand.
Breathless albeit he were he rested not
Till to the solitary tower he got,
And knocked and called. At which celestial noise
The longing heart of Hero much more joys
Than nymphs and shepherds when the timbrel rings,
Or crooked dolphin when the sailor sings.
She stayed not for her robes but straight arose
And, drunk with gladness, to the door she goes,
Where seeing a naked man, she screeched for fear
(Such sights as this to tender maids are rare)
And ran into the dark herself to hide.
(Rich jewels in the dark are soonest spied).
Unto her was he led, or rather drawn
By those white limbs which sparkled through the lawn.
The nearer that he came, the more she fled,
And, seeking refuge, slipped into her bed.
Whereon Leander sitting thus began,
Through numbing cold, all feeble, faint, and wan.
“If not for love, yet, love, for pity sake,
Me in thy bed and maiden ***** take.
At least vouchsafe these arms some little room,
Who, hoping to embrace thee, cheerly swum.
This head was beat with many a churlish billow,
And therefore let it rest upon thy pillow.”
Herewith affrighted, Hero shrunk away,
And in her lukewarm place Leander lay,
Whose lively heat, like fire from heaven fet,
Would animate gross clay and higher set
The drooping thoughts of base declining souls
Than dreary Mars carousing nectar bowls.
His hands he cast upon her like a snare.
She, overcome with shame and sallow fear,
Like chaste Diana when Actaeon spied her,
Being suddenly betrayed, dived down to hide her.
And, as her silver body downward went,
With both her hands she made the bed a tent,
And in her own mind thought herself secure,
O’ercast with dim and darksome coverture.
And now she lets him whisper in her ear,
Flatter, entreat, promise, protest and swear;
Yet ever, as he greedily assayed
To touch those dainties, she the harpy played,
And every limb did, as a soldier stout,
Defend the fort, and keep the foeman out.
For though the rising ivory mount he scaled,
Which is with azure circling lines empaled,
Much like a globe (a globe may I term this,
By which love sails to regions full of bliss)
Yet there with Sisyphus he toiled in vain,
Till gentle parley did the truce obtain.
Wherein Leander on her quivering breast
Breathless spoke something, and sighed out the rest;
Which so prevailed, as he with small ado
Enclosed her in his arms and kissed her too.
And every kiss to her was as a charm,
And to Leander as a fresh alarm,
So that the truce was broke and she, alas,
(Poor silly maiden) at his mercy was.
Love is not full of pity (as men say)
But deaf and cruel where he means to prey.
Even as a bird, which in our hands we wring,
Forth plungeth and oft flutters with her wing,
She trembling strove.

This strife of hers (like that
Which made the world) another world begat
Of unknown joy. Treason was in her thought,
And cunningly to yield herself she sought.
Seeming not won, yet won she was at length.
In such wars women use but half their strength.
Leander now, like Theban Hercules,
Entered the orchard of th’ Hesperides;
Whose fruit none rightly can describe but he
That pulls or shakes it from the golden tree.
And now she wished this night were never done,
And sighed to think upon th’ approaching sun;
For much it grieved her that the bright daylight
Should know the pleasure of this blessed night,
And them, like Mars and Erycine, display
Both in each other’s arms chained as they lay.
Again, she knew not how to frame her look,
Or speak to him, who in a moment took
That which so long so charily she kept,
And fain by stealth away she would have crept,
And to some corner secretly have gone,
Leaving Leander in the bed alone.
But as her naked feet were whipping out,
He on the sudden clinged her so about,
That, mermaid-like, unto the floor she slid.
One half appeared, the other half was hid.
Thus near the bed she blushing stood upright,
And from her countenance behold ye might
A kind of twilight break, which through the hair,
As from an orient cloud, glimpsed here and there,
And round about the chamber this false morn
Brought forth the day before the day was born.
So Hero’s ruddy cheek Hero betrayed,
And her all naked to his sight displayed,
Whence his admiring eyes more pleasure took
Than Dis, on heaps of gold fixing his look.
By this, Apollo’s golden harp began
To sound forth music to the ocean,
Which watchful Hesperus no sooner heard
But he the bright day-bearing car prepared
And ran before, as harbinger of light,
And with his flaring beams mocked ugly night,
Till she, o’ercome with anguish, shame, and rage,
Danged down to hell her loathsome carriage.
harlon rivers Aug 2018
.
The waves spilled the rising tide
back into the scattered footprints  in the sand
deeply entrenched in life’s mystery,
receding into every breaking wave


A stiff sea breeze put back every grain of sand,
elements of a larger object gathers,
gravity firmed, into the silent shoreline chasms—
a beheld essence washed out to sea
by the fugitive tides and retreating sea-foam


Soon all trodden traces visibly vanish;
unmarked mileposts on a metaphysical pathway
slip away back to a windswept shoreline
and elapsing summer tide


Seabirds glide in slow-motion,
held sway into the shapeless gusts —
as if feathered puppets hovering,
hanging from the rafters
of the burgeoning orange sky


There's an uncommon peace in the renaissance;
effervescent crisp ocean air filling
the indefinable emptiness
marooned within each heartbeat’s echo


Each new breath inhaled,  disappearing within
the unhealed hollow of every thing once believed;
fully aware this life is unholdable as time,
yet feeling many things deeply retained
    in each passing moment—
slipping away like a handful of sand
sifting through all these hands once held


Presence becoming wreathed in a miasma of stillness,
space that levitates like an unpredictable fog
that seeps into the gnawing voids
of an unsated hunger



harlon rivers  ...  August 1st,  2018
a piece from the TRAVELOGUE collection:
https://hellopoetry.com/collection/27104/travelogue/

Getting away from my ordinary life maze seems to be changing perspective; moments still unfold as they are intended, but there is less peripheral distraction, more focus on the simple things that enrich life in the moment.

I did not plan on posting anything else until back to daily Internet access
in Fall ... plus, much I've scribbled these days, seems derivative of the last  pieces i've published: that said, this is of the present moment and as close to peace as I've tread in eons:  Thank you for taking the time to check out something newly written at a time when my web access and participation @ HePo is sporadic at best.   :)  rivers
A Masque Presented At Ludlow Castle, 1634, Before

The Earl Of Bridgewater, Then President Of Wales.

The Persons

        The ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterwards in the habit of THYRSIS.
COMUS, with his Crew.
The LADY.
FIRST BROTHER.
SECOND BROTHER.
SABRINA, the Nymph.

The Chief Persons which presented were:—

The Lord Brackley;
Mr. Thomas Egerton, his Brother;
The Lady Alice Egerton.


The first Scene discovers a wild wood.
The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descends or enters.


Before the starry threshold of Jove’s court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial spirits live insphered
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot
Which men call Earth, and, with low-thoughted care,
Confined and pestered in this pinfold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true servants
Amongst the enthroned gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key
That opes the palace of eternity.
To Such my errand is; and, but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.
         But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway
Of every salt flood and each ebbing stream,
Took in by lot, ‘twixt high and nether Jove,
Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles
That, like to rich and various gems, inlay
The unadorned ***** of the deep;
Which he, to grace his tributary gods,
By course commits to several government,
And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns
And wield their little tridents. But this Isle,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
He quarters to his blue-haired deities;
And all this tract that fronts the falling sun
A noble Peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with tempered awe to guide
An old and haughty nation, proud in arms:
Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore,
Are coming to attend their father’s state,
And new-intrusted sceptre. But their way
Lies through the perplexed paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horror of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger;
And here their tender age might suffer peril,
But that, by quick command from sovran Jove,
I was despatched for their defence and guard:
And listen why; for I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.
         Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transformed,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe’s island fell. (Who knows not Circe,
The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovelling swine?)
This Nymph, that gazed upon his clustering locks,
With ivy berries wreathed, and his blithe youth,
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus named:
Who, ripe and frolic of his full-grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood,
And, in thick shelter of black shades imbowered,
Excels his mother at her mighty art;
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drouth of Phoebus; which as they taste
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst),
Soon as the potion works, their human count’nance,
The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
Into some brutish form of wolf or bear,
Or ounce or tiger, hog, or bearded goat,
All other parts remaining as they were.
And they, so perfect is their misery,
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,
But boast themselves more comely than before,
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
Therefore, when any favoured of high Jove
Chances to pass through this adventurous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from heaven, to give him safe convoy,
As now I do. But first I must put off
These my sky-robes, spun out of Iris’ woof,
And take the weeds and likeness of a swain
That to the service of this house belongs,
Who, with his soft pipe and smooth-dittied song,
Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar,
And hush the waving woods; nor of less faith
And in this office of his mountain watch
Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid
Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
Of hateful steps; I must be viewless now.


COMUS enters, with a charming-rod in one hand, his glass in the
other: with him a rout of monsters, headed like sundry sorts of
wild
beasts, but otherwise like men and women, their apparel
glistering.
They come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in
their hands.


         COMUS. The star that bids the shepherd fold
Now the top of heaven doth hold;
And the gilded car of day
His glowing axle doth allay
In the steep Atlantic stream;
And the ***** sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky pole,
Pacing toward the other goal
Of his chamber in the east.
Meanwhile, welcome joy and feast,
Midnight shout and revelry,
Tipsy dance and jollity.
Braid your locks with rosy twine,
Dropping odours, dropping wine.
Rigour now is gone to bed;
And Advice with scrupulous head,
Strict Age, and sour Severity,
With their grave saws, in slumber lie.
We, that are of purer fire,
Imitate the starry quire,
Who, in their nightly watchful spheres,
Lead in swift round the months and years.
The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove,
Now to the moon in wavering morrice move;
And on the tawny sands and shelves
Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves.
By dimpled brook and fountain-brim,
The wood-nymphs, decked with daisies trim,
Their merry wakes and pastimes keep:
What hath night to do with sleep?
Night hath better sweets to prove;
Venus now wakes, and wakens Love.
Come, let us our rights begin;
‘T is only daylight that makes sin,
Which these dun shades will ne’er report.
Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport,
Dark-veiled Cotytto, to whom the secret flame
Of midnight torches burns! mysterious dame,
That ne’er art called but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air!
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Wherein thou ridest with Hecat’, and befriend
Us thy vowed priests, till utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out,
Ere the blabbing eastern scout,
The nice Morn on the Indian steep,
From her cabined loop-hole peep,
And to the tell-tale Sun descry
Our concealed solemnity.
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.

                              The Measure.

         Break off, break off! I feel the different pace
Of some chaste footing near about this ground.
Run to your shrouds within these brakes and trees;
Our number may affright. Some ****** sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods! Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains: I shall ere long
Be well stocked with as fair a herd as grazed
About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl
My dazzling spells into the spongy air,
Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
And give it false presentments, lest the place
And my quaint habits breed astonishment,
And put the damsel to suspicious flight;
Which must not be, for that’s against my course.
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-placed words of glozing courtesy,
Baited with reasons not unplausible,
Wind me into the easy-hearted man,
And hug him into snares. When once her eye
Hath met the virtue of this magic dust,
I shall appear some harmless villager
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear.
But here she comes; I fairly step aside,
And hearken, if I may her business hear.

The LADY enters.

         LADY. This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,
My best guide now. Methought it was the sound
Of riot and ill-managed merriment,
Such as the jocund flute or gamesome pipe
Stirs up among the loose unlettered hinds,
When, for their teeming flocks and granges full,
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,
And thank the gods amiss. I should be loth
To meet the rudeness and swilled insolence
Of such late wassailers; yet, oh! where else
Shall I inform my unacquainted feet
In the blind mazes of this tangled wood?
My brothers, when they saw me wearied out
With this long way, resolving here to lodge
Under the spreading favour of these pines,
Stepped, as they said, to the next thicket-side
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind hospitable woods provide.
They left me then when the grey-hooded Even,
Like a sad votarist in palmer’s ****,
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus’ wain.
But where they are, and why they came not back,
Is now the labour of my thoughts. TTis likeliest
They had engaged their wandering steps too far;
And envious darkness, ere they could return,
Had stole them from me. Else, O thievish Night,
Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end,
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars
That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps
With everlasting oil to give due light
To the misled and lonely traveller?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear;
Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
What might this be ? A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
And airy tongues that syllable men’s names
On sands and shores and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
O, welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemished form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassailed. . . .
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err: there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
I cannot hallo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I’ll venture; for my new-enlivened spirits
Prompt me, and they perhaps are not far off.

Song.

Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv’st unseen
                 Within thy airy shell
         By slow Meander’s margent green,
And in the violet-embroidered vale
         Where the love-lorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well:
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
         That likest thy Narcissus are?
                  O, if thou have
         Hid them in some flowery cave,
                  Tell me but where,
         Sweet Queen of Parley, Daughter of the Sphere!
         So may’st thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all Heaven’s harmonies!


         COMUS. Can any mortal mixture of earthUs mould
Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment?
Sure something holy lodges in that breast,
And with these raptures moves the vocal air
To testify his hidden residence.
How sweetly did they float upon the wings
Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night,
At every fall smoothing the raven down
Of darkness till it smiled! I have oft heard
My mother Circe with the Sirens three,
Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs,
Who, as they sung, would take the prisoned soul,
And lap it in Elysium: Scylla wept,
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause.
Yet they in pleasing slumber lulled the sense,
And in sweet madness robbed it of itself;
But such a sacred and home-felt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking bliss,
I never heard till now. I’ll speak to her,
And she shall be my queen.QHail, foreign wonder!
Whom certain these rough shades did never breed,
Unless the goddess that in rural shrine
Dwell’st here with Pan or Sylvan, by blest song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
         LADY. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise
That is addressed to unattending ears.
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my severed company,
Compelled me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossy couch.
         COMUS: What chance, good lady, hath bereft you thus?
         LADY. Dim darkness and this leafy labyrinth.
         COMUS. Could that divide you from near-ushering guides?
         LADY. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
         COMUS. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
         LADY. To seek i’ the valley some cool friendly spring.
         COMUS. And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady?
         LADY. They were but twain, and purposed quick return.
         COMUS. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
         LADY. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
         COMUS. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
         LADY. No less than if I should my brothers lose.
         COMUS. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
         LADY. As smooth as ****’s their unrazored lips.
         COMUS. Two such I saw, what time the laboured ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swinked hedger at his supper sat.
I saw them under a green mantling vine,
That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots;
Their port was more than human, as they stood.
I took it for a faery vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
That in the colours of the rainbow live,
And play i’ the plighted clouds. I was awe-strook,
And, as I passed, I worshiped. If those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to Heaven
To help you find them.
         LADY.                          Gentle villager,
What readiest way would bring me to that place?
         COMUS. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
         LADY. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose,
In such a scant allowance of star-light,
Would overtask the best land-pilot’s art,
Without the sure guess of well-practised feet.
        COMUS. I know each lane, and every alley green,
******, or bushy dell, of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side,
My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood;
And, if your stray attendance be yet lodged,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatched pallet rouse. If otherwise,
I can c
On a sunny brae alone I lay
One summer afternoon;
It was the marriage-time of May,
With her young lover, June.

From her mother's heart seemed loath to part
That queen of bridal charms,
But her father smiled on the fairest child
He ever held in his arms.

The trees did wave their plumy crests,
The glad birds carolled clear;
And I, of all the wedding guests,
Was only sullen there!

There was not one, but wished to shun
My aspect void of cheer;
The very gray rocks, looking on,
Asked, "What do you here?"

And I could utter no reply;
In sooth, I did not know
Why I had brought a clouded eye
To greet the general glow.

So, resting on a heathy bank,
I took my heart to me;
And we together sadly sank
Into a reverie.

We thought, "When winter comes again,
Where will these bright things be?
All vanished, like a vision vain,
An unreal mockery!

"The birds that now so blithely sing,
Through deserts, frozen dry,
Poor spectres of the perished spring,
In famished troops will fly.

"And why should we be glad at all?
The leaf is hardly green,
Before a token of its fall
Is on the surface seen!"

Now, whether it were really so,
I never could be sure;
But as in fit of peevish woe,
I stretched me on the moor,

A thousand thousand gleaming fires
Seemed kindling in the air;
A thousand thousand silvery lyres
Resounded far and near:

Methought, the very breath I breathed
Was full of sparks divine,
And all my heather-couch was wreathed
By that celestial shine!

And, while the wide earth echoing rung
To that strange minstrelsy
The little glittering spirits sung,
Or seemed to sing, to me:

"O mortal! mortal! let them die;
Let time and tears destroy,
That we may overflow the sky
With universal joy!

"Let grief distract the sufferer's breast,
And night obscure his way;
They hasten him to endless rest,
And everlasting day.

"To thee the world is like a tomb,
A desert's naked shore;
To us, in unimagined bloom,
It brightens more and more!

"And, could we lift the veil, and give
One brief glimpse to thine eye,
Thou wouldst rejoice for those that live,
BECAUSE they live to die."

The music ceased; the noonday dream,
Like dream of night, withdrew;
But Fancy, still, will sometimes deem
Her fond creation true.



Published in the 1846 collection Poems By Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell under Emily's nom de plume 'Ellis Bell'.
O, for that warning voice, which he, who saw
The Apocalypse, heard cry in Heaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,
Came furious down to be revenged on men,
Woe to the inhabitants on earth! that now,
While time was, our first parents had been warned
The coming of their secret foe, and ’scaped,
Haply so ’scaped his mortal snare:  For now
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,
The tempter ere the accuser of mankind,
To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss
Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell:
Yet, not rejoicing in his speed, though bold
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins his dire attempt; which nigh the birth
Now rolling boils in his tumultuous breast,
And like a devilish engine back recoils
Upon himself; horrour and doubt distract
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The Hell within him; for within him Hell
He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell
One step, no more than from himself, can fly
By change of place:  Now conscience wakes despair,
That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory
Of what he was, what is, and what must be
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view
Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;
Sometimes towards Heaven, and the full-blazing sun,
Which now sat high in his meridian tower:
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began.
O thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned,
Lookest from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
Of Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down
Warring in Heaven against Heaven’s matchless King:
Ah, wherefore! he deserved no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks,
How due! yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high
I sdeined subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome still paying, still to owe,
Forgetful what from him I still received,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged; what burden then
O, had his powerful destiny ordained
Me some inferiour Angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition!  Yet why not some other Power
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part; but other Powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations armed.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heaven’s free love dealt equally to all?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
O, then, at last relent:  Is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent.  Ay me! they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan,
While they adore me on the throne of Hell.
With diadem and scepter high advanced,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery:  Such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain,
By act of grace, my former state; how soon
Would highth recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feigned submission swore?  Ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
For never can true reconcilement grow,
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep:
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall:  so should I purchase dear
Short intermission bought with double smart.
This knows my Punisher; therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging, peace;
All hope excluded thus, behold, in stead
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So farewell, hope; and with hope farewell, fear;
Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good; by thee at least
Divided empire with Heaven’s King I hold,
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As Man ere long, and this new world, shall know.
Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face
Thrice changed with pale, ire, envy, and despair;
Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld.
For heavenly minds from such distempers foul
Are ever clear.  Whereof he soon aware,
Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm,
Artificer of fraud; and was the first
That practised falsehood under saintly show,
Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge:
Yet not enough had practised to deceive
Uriel once warned; whose eye pursued him down
The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount
Saw him disfigured, more than could befall
Spirit of happy sort; his gestures fierce
He marked and mad demeanour, then alone,
As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen.
So on he fares, and to the border comes
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,
As with a rural mound, the champaign head
Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
Access denied; and overhead upgrew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,
A sylvan scene, and, as the ranks ascend,
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops
The verdurous wall of Paradise upsprung;                        

Which to our general sire gave prospect large
Into his nether empire neighbouring round.
And higher than that wall a circling row
Of goodliest trees, loaden with fairest fruit,
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,
Appeared, with gay enamelled colours mixed:
On which the sun more glad impressed his beams
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God hath showered the earth; so lovely seemed
That landskip:  And of pure now purer air
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness but despair:  Now gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils.  As when to them who fail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambick, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabean odours from the spicy shore
Of Araby the blest; with such delay
Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league
Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles:
So entertained those odorous sweets the Fiend,
Who came their bane; though with them better pleased
Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume
That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse
Of Tobit’s son, and with a vengeance sent
From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.
Now to the ascent of that steep savage hill
Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;
But further way found none, so thick entwined,
As one continued brake, the undergrowth
Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplexed
All path of man or beast that passed that way.
One gate there only was, and that looked east
On the other side: which when the arch-felon saw,
Due entrance he disdained; and, in contempt,
At one flight bound high over-leaped all bound
Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within
Lights on his feet.  As when a prowling wolf,
Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,
Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve
In hurdled cotes amid the field secure,
Leaps o’er the fence with ease into the fold:
Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash
Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,
Cross-barred and bolted fast, fear no assault,
In at the window climbs, or o’er the tiles:
So clomb this first grand thief into God’s fold;
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.
Thence up he flew, and on the tree of life,
The middle tree and highest there that grew,
Sat like a cormorant; yet not true life
Thereby regained, but sat devising death
To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought
Of that life-giving plant, but only used
For prospect, what well used had been the pledge
Of immortality.  So little knows
Any, but God alone, to value right
The good before him, but perverts best things
To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.
Beneath him with new wonder now he views,
To all delight of human sense exposed,
In narrow room, Nature’s whole wealth, yea more,
A Heaven on Earth:  For blissful Paradise
Of God the garden was, by him in the east
Of Eden planted; Eden stretched her line
From Auran eastward to the royal towers
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,
Of where the sons of Eden long before
Dwelt in Telassar:  In this pleasant soil
His far more pleasant garden God ordained;
Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow
All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;
And all amid them stood the tree of life,
High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit
Of vegetable gold; and next to life,
Our death, the tree of knowledge, grew fast by,
Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill.
Southward through Eden went a river large,
Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill
Passed underneath ingulfed; for God had thrown
That mountain as his garden-mould high raised
Upon the rapid current, which, through veins
Of porous earth with kindly thirst up-drawn,
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill
Watered the garden; thence united fell
Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,
Which from his darksome passage now appears,
And now, divided into four main streams,
Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm
And country, whereof here needs no account;
But rather to tell how, if Art could tell,
How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,
Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,
With mazy errour under pendant shades
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed
Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art
In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon
Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
The open field, and where the unpierced shade
Imbrowned the noontide bowers:  Thus was this place
A happy rural seat of various view;
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,
Others whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,
Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true,
If true, here only, and of delicious taste:
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,
Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her store,
Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose:
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves
Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps
Luxuriant; mean while murmuring waters fall
Down the ***** hills, dispersed, or in a lake,
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crowned
Her crystal mirrour holds, unite their streams.
The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,
Led on the eternal Spring.  Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower by gloomy Dis
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world; nor that sweet grove
Of Daphne by Orontes, and the inspired
Castalian spring, might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle
Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,
Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Libyan Jove,
Hid Amalthea, and her florid son
Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea’s eye;
Nor where Abassin kings their issue guard,
Mount Amara, though this by some supposed
True Paradise under the Ethiop line
By Nilus’ head, enclosed with shining rock,
A whole day’s journey high, but wide remote
From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend
Saw, undelighted, all delight, all kind
Of living creatures, new to sight, and strange
Two of far nobler shape, ***** and tall,
Godlike *****, with native honour clad
In naked majesty seemed lords of all:
And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine
The image of their glorious Maker shone,
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure,
(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,)
Whence true authority in men; though both
Not equal, as their *** not equal seemed;
For contemplation he and valour formed;
For softness she and sweet attractive grace;
He for God only, she for God in him:
His fair large front and eye sublime declared
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:
She, as a veil, down to the slender waist
Her unadorned golden tresses wore
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved
As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best received,
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed;
Then was not guilty shame, dishonest shame
Of nature’s works, honour dishonourable,
Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind
With shows instead, mere shows of seeming pure,
And banished from man’s life his happiest life,
Simplicity and spotless innocence!
So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight
Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill:
So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair,
That ever since in love’s embraces met;
Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Under a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain side
They sat them down; and, after no more toil
Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed
To recommend cool Zephyr, and made ease
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite
More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell,
Nectarine fruits which the compliant boughs
Yielded them, side-long as they sat recline
On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers:
The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,
Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream;
Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles
Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems
Fair couple, linked in happy nuptial league,
Alone as they.  About them frisking played
All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase
In wood or wilderness, forest or den;
Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw
Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,
Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant,
To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed
His?kithetmroboscis; close the serpent sly,
Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine
His braided train, and of his fatal guile
Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass
Couched, and now filled with pasture gazing sat,
Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,
Declined, was hasting now with prone career
To the ocean isles, and in the ascending scale
Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose:
When Satan still in gaze, as first he stood,
Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad.
O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold!
Into our room of bliss thus high advanced
Creatures of other mould, earth-born perhaps,
Not Spirits, yet to heavenly Spirits bright
Little inferiour; whom my thoughts pursue
XXVI. TO DIONYSUS (13 lines)

(ll. 1-9) I begin to sing of ivy-crowned Dionysus, the loud-
crying god, splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele.  The rich-
haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his
father and fostered and nurtured him carefully in the dells of
Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet-
smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals.  But when the
goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to
wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed
with ivy and laurel.  And the Nymphs followed in his train with
him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with
their outcry.

(ll. 10-13) And so hail to you, Dionysus, god of abundant
clusters!  Grant that we may come again rejoicing to this season,
and from that season onwards for many a year.
(To Marcel Schwob in friendship and in admiration)

In a dim corner of my room for longer than
my fancy thinks
A beautiful and silent Sphinx has watched me
through the shifting gloom.

Inviolate and immobile she does not rise she
does not stir
For silver moons are naught to her and naught
to her the suns that reel.

Red follows grey across the air, the waves of
moonlight ebb and flow
But with the Dawn she does not go and in the
night-time she is there.

Dawn follows Dawn and Nights grow old and
all the while this curious cat
Lies couching on the Chinese mat with eyes of
satin rimmed with gold.

Upon the mat she lies and leers and on the
tawny throat of her
Flutters the soft and silky fur or ripples to her
pointed ears.

Come forth, my lovely seneschal! so somnolent,
so statuesque!
Come forth you exquisite grotesque! half woman
and half animal!

Come forth my lovely languorous Sphinx! and
put your head upon my knee!
And let me stroke your throat and see your
body spotted like the Lynx!

And let me touch those curving claws of yellow
ivory and grasp
The tail that like a monstrous Asp coils round
your heavy velvet paws!

A thousand weary centuries are thine
while I have hardly seen
Some twenty summers cast their green for
Autumn’s gaudy liveries.

But you can read the Hieroglyphs on the
great sandstone obelisks,
And you have talked with Basilisks, and you
have looked on Hippogriffs.

O tell me, were you standing by when Isis to
Osiris knelt?
And did you watch the Egyptian melt her union
for Antony

And drink the jewel-drunken wine and bend
her head in mimic awe
To see the huge proconsul draw the salted tunny
from the brine?

And did you mark the Cyprian kiss white Adon
on his catafalque?
And did you follow Amenalk, the God of
Heliopolis?

And did you talk with Thoth, and did you hear
the moon-horned Io weep?
And know the painted kings who sleep beneath
the wedge-shaped Pyramid?

Lift up your large black satin eyes which are
like cushions where one sinks!
Fawn at my feet, fantastic Sphinx! and sing me
all your memories!

Sing to me of the Jewish maid who wandered
with the Holy Child,
And how you led them through the wild, and
how they slept beneath your shade.

Sing to me of that odorous green eve when
crouching by the marge
You heard from Adrian’s gilded barge the
laughter of Antinous

And lapped the stream and fed your drouth and
watched with hot and hungry stare
The ivory body of that rare young slave with
his pomegranate mouth!

Sing to me of the Labyrinth in which the twi-
formed bull was stalled!
Sing to me of the night you crawled across the
temple’s granite plinth

When through the purple corridors the screaming
scarlet Ibis flew
In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the
moaning Mandragores,

And the great torpid crocodile within the tank
shed slimy tears,
And tare the jewels from his ears and staggered
back into the Nile,

And the priests cursed you with shrill psalms as
in your claws you seized their snake
And crept away with it to slake your passion by
the shuddering palms.

Who were your lovers? who were they
who wrestled for you in the dust?
Which was the vessel of your Lust?  What
Leman had you, every day?

Did giant Lizards come and crouch before you
on the reedy banks?
Did Gryphons with great metal flanks leap on
you in your trampled couch?

Did monstrous hippopotami come sidling toward
you in the mist?
Did gilt-scaled dragons writhe and twist with
passion as you passed them by?

And from the brick-built Lycian tomb what
horrible Chimera came
With fearful heads and fearful flame to breed
new wonders from your womb?

Or had you shameful secret quests and did
you harry to your home
Some Nereid coiled in amber foam with curious
rock crystal *******?

Or did you treading through the froth call to
the brown Sidonian
For tidings of Leviathan, Leviathan or
Behemoth?

Or did you when the sun was set climb up the
cactus-covered *****
To meet your swarthy Ethiop whose body was
of polished jet?

Or did you while the earthen skiffs dropped
down the grey Nilotic flats
At twilight and the flickering bats flew round
the temple’s triple glyphs

Steal to the border of the bar and swim across
the silent lake
And slink into the vault and make the Pyramid
your lupanar

Till from each black sarcophagus rose up the
painted swathed dead?
Or did you lure unto your bed the ivory-horned
Tragelaphos?

Or did you love the god of flies who plagued
the Hebrews and was splashed
With wine unto the waist? or Pasht, who had
green beryls for her eyes?

Or that young god, the Tyrian, who was more
amorous than the dove
Of Ashtaroth? or did you love the god of the
Assyrian

Whose wings, like strange transparent talc, rose
high above his hawk-faced head,
Painted with silver and with red and ribbed with
rods of Oreichalch?

Or did huge Apis from his car leap down and
lay before your feet
Big blossoms of the honey-sweet and honey-
coloured nenuphar?

How subtle-secret is your smile!  Did you
love none then?  Nay, I know
Great Ammon was your bedfellow!  He lay with
you beside the Nile!

The river-horses in the slime trumpeted when
they saw him come
Odorous with Syrian galbanum and smeared with
spikenard and with thyme.

He came along the river bank like some tall
galley argent-sailed,
He strode across the waters, mailed in beauty,
and the waters sank.

He strode across the desert sand:  he reached
the valley where you lay:
He waited till the dawn of day:  then touched
your black ******* with his hand.

You kissed his mouth with mouths of flame:
you made the horned god your own:
You stood behind him on his throne:  you called
him by his secret name.

You whispered monstrous oracles into the
caverns of his ears:
With blood of goats and blood of steers you
taught him monstrous miracles.

White Ammon was your bedfellow!  Your
chamber was the steaming Nile!
And with your curved archaic smile you watched
his passion come and go.

With Syrian oils his brows were bright:
and wide-spread as a tent at noon
His marble limbs made pale the moon and lent
the day a larger light.

His long hair was nine cubits’ span and coloured
like that yellow gem
Which hidden in their garment’s hem the
merchants bring from Kurdistan.

His face was as the must that lies upon a vat of
new-made wine:
The seas could not insapphirine the perfect azure
of his eyes.

His thick soft throat was white as milk and
threaded with thin veins of blue:
And curious pearls like frozen dew were
broidered on his flowing silk.

On pearl and porphyry pedestalled he was
too bright to look upon:
For on his ivory breast there shone the wondrous
ocean-emerald,

That mystic moonlit jewel which some diver of
the Colchian caves
Had found beneath the blackening waves and
carried to the Colchian witch.

Before his gilded galiot ran naked vine-wreathed
corybants,
And lines of swaying elephants knelt down to
draw his chariot,

And lines of swarthy Nubians bare up his litter
as he rode
Down the great granite-paven road between the
nodding peacock-fans.

The merchants brought him steatite from Sidon
in their painted ships:
The meanest cup that touched his lips was
fashioned from a chrysolite.

The merchants brought him cedar chests of rich
apparel bound with cords:
His train was borne by Memphian lords:  young
kings were glad to be his guests.

Ten hundred shaven priests did bow to Ammon’s
altar day and night,
Ten hundred lamps did wave their light through
Ammon’s carven house—and now

Foul snake and speckled adder with their young
ones crawl from stone to stone
For ruined is the house and prone the great
rose-marble monolith!

Wild *** or trotting jackal comes and couches
in the mouldering gates:
Wild satyrs call unto their mates across the
fallen fluted drums.

And on the summit of the pile the blue-faced
ape of Horus sits
And gibbers while the fig-tree splits the pillars
of the peristyle

The god is scattered here and there:  deep
hidden in the windy sand
I saw his giant granite hand still clenched in
impotent despair.

And many a wandering caravan of stately
negroes silken-shawled,
Crossing the desert, halts appalled before the
neck that none can span.

And many a bearded Bedouin draws back his
yellow-striped burnous
To gaze upon the Titan thews of him who was
thy paladin.

Go, seek his fragments on the moor and
wash them in the evening dew,
And from their pieces make anew thy mutilated
paramour!

Go, seek them where they lie alone and from
their broken pieces make
Thy bruised bedfellow!  And wake mad passions
in the senseless stone!

Charm his dull ear with Syrian hymns! he loved
your body! oh, be kind,
Pour spikenard on his hair, and wind soft rolls
of linen round his limbs!

Wind round his head the figured coins! stain
with red fruits those pallid lips!
Weave purple for his shrunken hips! and purple
for his barren *****!

Away to Egypt!  Have no fear.  Only one
God has ever died.
Only one God has let His side be wounded by a
soldier’s spear.

But these, thy lovers, are not dead.  Still by the
hundred-cubit gate
Dog-faced Anubis sits in state with lotus-lilies
for thy head.

Still from his chair of porphyry gaunt Memnon
strains his lidless eyes
Across the empty land, and cries each yellow
morning unto thee.

And Nilus with his broken horn lies in his black
and oozy bed
And till thy coming will not spread his waters on
the withering corn.

Your lovers are not dead, I know.  They will
rise up and hear your voice
And clash their cymbals and rejoice and run to
kiss your mouth!  And so,

Set wings upon your argosies!  Set horses to
your ebon car!
Back to your Nile!  Or if you are grown sick of
dead divinities

Follow some roving lion’s spoor across the copper-
coloured plain,
Reach out and hale him by the mane and bid
him be your paramour!

Couch by his side upon the grass and set your
white teeth in his throat
And when you hear his dying note lash your
long flanks of polished brass

And take a tiger for your mate, whose amber
sides are flecked with black,
And ride upon his gilded back in triumph
through the Theban gate,

And toy with him in amorous jests, and when
he turns, and snarls, and gnaws,
O smite him with your jasper claws! and bruise
him with your agate *******!

Why are you tarrying?  Get hence!  I
weary of your sullen ways,
I weary of your steadfast gaze, your somnolent
magnificence.

Your horrible and heavy breath makes the light
flicker in the lamp,
And on my brow I feel the damp and dreadful
dews of night and death.

Your eyes are like fantastic moons that shiver
in some stagnant lake,
Your tongue is like a scarlet snake that dances
to fantastic tunes,

Your pulse makes poisonous melodies, and your
black throat is like the hole
Left by some torch or burning coal on Saracenic
tapestries.

Away!  The sulphur-coloured stars are hurrying
through the Western gate!
Away!  Or it may be too late to climb their silent
silver cars!

See, the dawn shivers round the grey gilt-dialled
towers, and the rain
Streams down each diamonded pane and blurs
with tears the wannish day.

What snake-tressed fury fresh from Hell, with
uncouth gestures and unclean,
Stole from the poppy-drowsy queen and led you
to a student’s cell?

What songless tongueless ghost of sin crept
through the curtains of the night,
And saw my taper burning bright, and knocked,
and bade you enter in?

Are there not others more accursed, whiter with
leprosies than I?
Are Abana and Pharphar dry that you come here
to slake your thirst?

Get hence, you loathsome mystery!  Hideous
animal, get hence!
You wake in me each ******* sense, you make me
what I would not be.

You make my creed a barren sham, you wake
foul dreams of sensual life,
And Atys with his blood-stained knife were
better than the thing I am.

False Sphinx!  False Sphinx!  By reedy Styx
old Charon, leaning on his oar,
Waits for my coin.  Go thou before, and leave
me to my crucifix,

Whose pallid burden, sick with pain, watches
the world with wearied eyes,
And weeps for every soul that dies, and weeps
for every soul in vain.
Throned in splendor, immortal Aphrodite!
Child of Zeus, Enchantress, I implore thee
Slay me not in this distress and anguish,
Lady of beauty.

Hither come as once before thou camest,
When from afar thou heard'st my voice lamenting,
Heard'st and camest, leaving thy glorious father's Palace golden,

Yoking thy chariot. Fair the doves that bore thee;
Swift to the darksome earth their course directing,
Waving their thick wings from the highest heaven
Down through the ether.

Quickly they came. Then thou, O blessed goddess,
All in smiling wreathed thy face immortal,
Bade me tell thee the cause of all my suffering,
Why now I called thee;

What for my maddened heart I most was longing.
"Whom," thou criest, "dost wish that sweet Persuasion
Now win over and lead to thy love, my Sappho?
Who is it wrongs thee?

"For, though now he flies, he soon shall follow,
Soon shall be giving gifts who now rejects them.
Even though now he love not, soon shall he love thee
Even though thou wouldst not."

Come then now, dear goddess, and release me
From my anguish. All my heart's desiring
Grant thou now. Now too again as aforetime,
Be thou my ally.
If only we could begin again and slow down the pernicious pace
We ruin our oceans, the land, our air even outer space.
If only we avoided such precarious paths that may lead to disparity
If only we knew what action is needed now, to deal with the reality.
Ecologists warned, yet still observe with ever-growing anxiety
the growth of harmful long-term effects on Earth's biodiversity.
If only the air wasn't gravely polluted, so the atmosphere begins to fail,
so wreathed by carbon dioxide layers, extremes to climate may prevail.
If only Earth's lungs cease being shrunk by profits heedless exploitation,
existing relationships are considered scarcely in these aberrations.
If only a solution for discarded synthetics which float in ugly hordes
on oceans global drifts, disaster occurs wherever it reaches landfall.
If only we can do something, a belated but resounding universal call,
If only we can safeguard the future before there are no options at all.
If only we could begin again and slow the ruinous pace... if only

If Only

M C Crowder
@scorsby
19th November 2018
I first wrote song lyrics in 1978, song lyrics not so long, but it's message hasn't changed
Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought
countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send
hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs
and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the
day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first
fell out with one another.
  And which of the gods was it that set them on to quarrel? It was the
son of Jove and Leto; for he was angry with the king and sent a
pestilence upon the host to plague the people, because the son of
Atreus had dishonoured Chryses his priest. Now Chryses had come to the
ships of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and had brought with him a
great ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the sceptre of Apollo
wreathed with a suppliant’s wreath and he besought the Achaeans, but
most of all the two sons of Atreus, who were their chiefs.
  “Sons of Atreus,” he cried, “and all other Achaeans, may the gods
who dwell in Olympus grant you to sack the city of Priam, and to reach
your homes in safety; but free my daughter, and accept a ransom for
her, in reverence to Apollo, son of Jove.”
  On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for
respecting the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but not
so Agamemnon, who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly away.
“Old man,” said he, “let me not find you tarrying about our ships, nor
yet coming hereafter. Your sceptre of the god and your wreath shall
profit you nothing. I will not free her. She shall grow old in my
house at Argos far from her own home, busying herself with her loom
and visiting my couch; so go, and do not provoke me or it shall be the
worse for you.”
  The old man feared him and obeyed. Not a word he spoke, but went
by the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo
whom lovely Leto had borne. “Hear me,” he cried, “O god of the
silver bow, that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest Tenedos
with thy might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have ever decked your
temple with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones in fat of bulls or
goats, grant my prayer, and let your arrows avenge these my tears upon
the Danaans.”
  Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. He came down
furious from the summits of Olympus, with his bow and his quiver
upon his shoulder, and the arrows rattled on his back with the rage
that trembled within him. He sat himself down away from the ships with
a face as dark as night, and his silver bow rang death as he shot
his arrow in the midst of them. First he smote their mules and their
hounds, but presently he aimed his shafts at the people themselves,
and all day long the pyres of the dead were burning.
  For nine whole days he shot his arrows among the people, but upon
the tenth day Achilles called them in assembly—moved thereto by Juno,
who saw the Achaeans in their death-throes and had compassion upon
them. Then, when they were got together, he rose and spoke among them.
  “Son of Atreus,” said he, “I deem that we should now turn roving
home if we would escape destruction, for we are being cut down by
war and pestilence at once. Let us ask some priest or prophet, or some
reader of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Jove) who can tell us why
Phoebus Apollo is so angry, and say whether it is for some vow that we
have broken, or hecatomb that we have not offered, and whether he will
accept the savour of lambs and goats without blemish, so as to take
away the plague from us.”
  With these words he sat down, and Calchas son of Thestor, wisest
of augurs, who knew things past present and to come, rose to speak. He
it was who had guided the Achaeans with their fleet to Ilius,
through the prophesyings with which Phoebus Apollo had inspired him.
With all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them thus:-
  “Achilles, loved of heaven, you bid me tell you about the anger of
King Apollo, I will therefore do so; but consider first and swear that
you will stand by me heartily in word and deed, for I know that I
shall offend one who rules the Argives with might, to whom all the
Achaeans are in subjection. A plain man cannot stand against the anger
of a king, who if he swallow his displeasure now, will yet nurse
revenge till he has wreaked it. Consider, therefore, whether or no you
will protect me.”
  And Achilles answered, “Fear not, but speak as it is borne in upon
you from heaven, for by Apollo, Calchas, to whom you pray, and whose
oracles you reveal to us, not a Danaan at our ships shall lay his hand
upon you, while I yet live to look upon the face of the earth—no, not
though you name Agamemnon himself, who is by far the foremost of the
Achaeans.”
  Thereon the seer spoke boldly. “The god,” he said, “is angry neither
about vow nor hecatomb, but for his priest’s sake, whom Agamemnon
has dishonoured, in that he would not free his daughter nor take a
ransom for her; therefore has he sent these evils upon us, and will
yet send others. He will not deliver the Danaans from this
pestilence till Agamemnon has restored the girl without fee or
ransom to her father, and has sent a holy hecatomb to Chryse. Thus
we may perhaps appease him.”
  With these words he sat down, and Agamemnon rose in anger. His heart
was black with rage, and his eyes flashed fire as he scowled on
Calchas and said, “Seer of evil, you never yet prophesied smooth
things concerning me, but have ever loved to foretell that which was
evil. You have brought me neither comfort nor performance; and now you
come seeing among Danaans, and saying that Apollo has plagued us
because I would not take a ransom for this girl, the daughter of
Chryses. I have set my heart on keeping her in my own house, for I
love her better even than my own wife Clytemnestra, whose peer she
is alike in form and feature, in understanding and accomplishments.
Still I will give her up if I must, for I would have the people
live, not die; but you must find me a prize instead, or I alone
among the Argives shall be without one. This is not well; for you
behold, all of you, that my prize is to go elsewhither.”
  And Achilles answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, covetous beyond
all mankind, how shall the Achaeans find you another prize? We have no
common store from which to take one. Those we took from the cities
have been awarded; we cannot disallow the awards that have been made
already. Give this girl, therefore, to the god, and if ever Jove
grants us to sack the city of Troy we will requite you three and
fourfold.”
  Then Agamemnon said, “Achilles, valiant though you be, you shall not
thus outwit me. You shall not overreach and you shall not persuade me.
Are you to keep your own prize, while I sit tamely under my loss and
give up the girl at your bidding? Let the Achaeans find me a prize
in fair exchange to my liking, or I will come and take your own, or
that of Ajax or of Ulysses; and he to whomsoever I may come shall
rue my coming. But of this we will take thought hereafter; for the
present, let us draw a ship into the sea, and find a crew for her
expressly; let us put a hecatomb on board, and let us send Chryseis
also; further, let some chief man among us be in command, either Ajax,
or Idomeneus, or yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you are,
that we may offer sacrifice and appease the the anger of the god.”
  Achilles scowled at him and answered, “You are steeped in
insolence and lust of gain. With what heart can any of the Achaeans do
your bidding, either on foray or in open fighting? I came not
warring here for any ill the Trojans had done me. I have no quarrel
with them. They have not raided my cattle nor my horses, nor cut
down my harvests on the rich plains of Phthia; for between me and them
there is a great space, both mountain and sounding sea. We have
followed you, Sir Insolence! for your pleasure, not ours—to gain
satisfaction from the Trojans for your shameless self and for
Menelaus. You forget this, and threaten to rob me of the prize for
which I have toiled, and which the sons of the Achaeans have given me.
Never when the Achaeans sack any rich city of the Trojans do I receive
so good a prize as you do, though it is my hands that do the better
part of the fighting. When the sharing comes, your share is far the
largest, and I, forsooth, must go back to my ships, take what I can
get and be thankful, when my labour of fighting is done. Now,
therefore, I shall go back to Phthia; it will be much better for me to
return home with my ships, for I will not stay here dishonoured to
gather gold and substance for you.”
  And Agamemnon answered, “Fly if you will, I shall make you no
prayers to stay you. I have others here who will do me honour, and
above all Jove, the lord of counsel. There is no king here so
hateful to me as you are, for you are ever quarrelsome and ill
affected. What though you be brave? Was it not heaven that made you
so? Go home, then, with your ships and comrades to lord it over the
Myrmidons. I care neither for you nor for your anger; and thus will
I do: since Phoebus Apollo is taking Chryseis from me, I shall send
her with my ship and my followers, but I shall come to your tent and
take your own prize Briseis, that you may learn how much stronger I am
than you are, and that another may fear to set himself up as equal
or comparable with me.”
  The son of Peleus was furious, and his heart within his shaggy
breast was divided whether to draw his sword, push the others aside,
and **** the son of Atreus, or to restrain himself and check his
anger. While he was thus in two minds, and was drawing his mighty
sword from its scabbard, Minerva came down from heaven (for Juno had
sent her in the love she bore to them both), and seized the son of
Peleus by his yellow hair, visible to him alone, for of the others
no man could see her. Achilles turned in amaze, and by the fire that
flashed from her eyes at once knew that she was Minerva. “Why are
you here,” said he, “daughter of aegis-bearing Jove? To see the
pride of Agamemnon, son of Atreus? Let me tell you—and it shall
surely be—he shall pay for this insolence with his life.”
  And Minerva said, “I come from heaven, if you will hear me, to bid
you stay your anger. Juno has sent me, who cares for both of you
alike. Cease, then, this brawling, and do not draw your sword; rail at
him if you will, and your railing will not be vain, for I tell you-
and it shall surely be—that you shall hereafter receive gifts three
times as splendid by reason of this present insult. Hold, therefore,
and obey.”
  “Goddess,” answered Achilles, “however angry a man may be, he must
do as you two command him. This will be best, for the gods ever hear
the prayers of him who has obeyed them.”
  He stayed his hand on the silver hilt of his sword, and ****** it
back into the scabbard as Minerva bade him. Then she went back to
Olympus among the other gods, and to the house of aegis-bearing Jove.
  But the son of Peleus again began railing at the son of Atreus,
for he was still in a rage. “Wine-bibber,” he cried, “with the face of
a dog and the heart of a hind, you never dare to go out with the
host in fight, nor yet with our chosen men in ambuscade. You shun this
as you do death itself. You had rather go round and rob his prizes
from any man who contradicts you. You devour your people, for you
are king over a feeble folk; otherwise, son of Atreus, henceforward
you would insult no man. Therefore I say, and swear it with a great
oath—nay, by this my sceptre which shalt sprout neither leaf nor
shoot, nor bud anew from the day on which it left its parent stem upon
the mountains—for the axe stripped it of leaf and bark, and now the
sons of the Achaeans bear it as judges and guardians of the decrees of
heaven—so surely and solemnly do I swear that hereafter they shall
look fondly for Achilles and shall not find him. In the day of your
distress, when your men fall dying by the murderous hand of Hector,
you shall not know how to help them, and shall rend your heart with
rage for the hour when you offered insult to the bravest of the
Achaeans.”
  With this the son of Peleus dashed his gold-bestudded sceptre on the
ground and took his seat, while the son of Atreus was beginning
fiercely from his place upon the other side. Then uprose
smooth-tongued Nestor, the facile speaker of the Pylians, and the
words fell from his lips sweeter than honey. Two generations of men
born and bred in Pylos had passed away under his rule, and he was
now reigning over the third. With all sincerity and goodwill,
therefore, he addressed them thus:-
  “Of a truth,” he said, “a great sorrow has befallen the Achaean
land. Surely Priam with his sons would rejoice, and the Trojans be
glad at heart if they could hear this quarrel between you two, who are
so excellent in fight and counsel. I am older than either of you;
therefore be guided by me. Moreover I have been the familiar friend of
men even greater than you are, and they did not disregard my counsels.
Never again can I behold such men as Pirithous and Dryas shepherd of
his people, or as Caeneus, Exadius, godlike Polyphemus, and Theseus
son of Aegeus, peer of the immortals. These were the mightiest men
ever born upon this earth: mightiest were they, and when they fought
the fiercest tribes of mountain savages they utterly overthrew them. I
came from distant Pylos, and went about among them, for they would
have me come, and I fought as it was in me to do. Not a man now living
could withstand them, but they heard my words, and were persuaded by
them. So be it also with yourselves, for this is the more excellent
way. Therefore, Agamemnon, though you be strong, take not this girl
away, for the sons of the Achaeans have already given her to Achilles;
and you, Achilles, strive not further with the king, for no man who by
the grace of Jove wields a sceptre has like honour with Agamemnon. You
are strong, and have a goddess for your mother; but Agamemnon is
stronger than you, for he has more people under him. Son of Atreus,
check your anger, I implore you; end this quarrel with Achilles, who
in the day of battle is a tower of strength to the Achaeans.”
  And Agamemnon answered, “Sir, all that you have said is true, but
this fellow must needs become our lord and master: he must be lord
of all, king of all, and captain of all, and this shall hardly be.
Granted that the gods have made him a great warrior, have they also
given him the right to speak with railing?”
  Achilles interrupted him. “I should be a mean coward,” he cried,
“were I to give in to you in all things. Order other people about, not
me, for I shall obey no longer. Furthermore I say—and lay my saying
to your heart—I shall fight neither you nor any man about this
girl, for those that take were those also that gave. But of all else
that is at my ship you shall carry away nothing by force. Try, that
others may see; if you do, my spear shall be reddened with your
blood.”
  When they had quarrelled thus angrily, they rose, and broke up the
assembly at the ships of the Achaeans. The son of Peleus went back
to his tents and ships with the son of Menoetius and his company,
while Agamemnon drew a vessel into the water and chose a crew of
twenty oarsmen. He escorted Chryseis on board and sent moreover a
hecatomb for the god. And Ulysses went as captain.
  These, then, went on board and sailed their ways over the sea. But
the son of Atreus bade the people purify themselves; so they
purified themselves and cast their filth into the sea. Then they
offered hecatombs of bulls and goats without blemish on the sea-shore,
and the smoke with the savour of their sacrifice rose curling up
towards heaven.
  Thus did they busy themselves throughout the host. But Agamemnon did
not forget the threat that he had made Achilles, and called his trusty
messengers and squires Talthybius and Eurybates. “Go,” said he, “to
the tent of Achilles, son of Peleus; take Briseis by the hand and
bring her hither; if he will not give her I shall come with others and
take her—which will press him harder.”
  He charged them straightly furthe
Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers and tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

No rays from the holy Heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently—
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free—
Up domes—up spires—up kingly halls—
Up fanes—up Babylon-like walls—
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers—
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.

Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol’s diamond eye—
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass—
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea—
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave—there is a movement there!
As if the towers had ****** aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide—
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow—
The hours are breathing faint and low—
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.
You can see it already: chalks and ochers;
Country crossed with a thousand furrow-lines;
Ground-level rooftops hidden by the shrubbery;
Sporadic haystacks standing on the grass;
Smoky old rooftops tarnishing the landscape;
A river (not Cayster or Ganges, though:
A feeble Norman salt-infested watercourse);
On the right, to the north, bizarre terrain
All angular--you'd think a shovel did it.
So that's the foreground. An old chapel adds
Its antique spire, and gathers alongside it
A few gnarled elms with grumpy silhouettes;
Seemingly tired of all the frisky breezes,
They carp at every gust that stirs them up.
At one side of my house a big wheelbarrow
Is rusting; and before me lies the vast
Horizon, all its notches filled with ocean blue;
***** and hens spread their gildings, and converse
Beneath my window; and the rooftop attics,
Now and then, toss me songs in dialect.
In my lane dwells a patriarchal rope-maker;
The old man makes his wheel run loud, and goes
Retrograde, hemp wreathed tightly round the midriff.
I like these waters where the wild gale scuds;
All day the country tempts me to go strolling;
The little village urchins, book in hand,
Envy me, at the schoolmaster's (my lodging),
As a big schoolboy sneaking a day off.
The air is pure, the sky smiles; there's a constant
Soft noise of children spelling things aloud.
The waters flow; a linnet flies; and I say: "Thank you!
Thank you, Almighty God!"--So, then, I live:
Peacefully, hour by hour, with little fuss, I shed
My days, and think of you, my lady fair!
I hear the children chattering; and I see, at times,
Sailing across the high seas in its pride,
Over the gables of the tranquil village,
Some winged ship which is traveling far away,
Flying across the ocean, hounded by all the winds.
Lately it slept in port beside the quay.
Nothing has kept it from the jealous sea-surge:
No tears of relatives, nor fears of wives,
Nor reefs dimly reflected in the waters,
Nor importunity of sinister birds.
Onoma Nov 2013
Ganders...gargantua--ensconced in far-fetched space...
(attrition)...LOOK AT THAT LINE...LOOK AT IT...
ROUND THE CORNERS OF PERPETUITY...predilections.
A soul's inalienable fracas...on bend and knee...hop...and
whoop...miasmic gargoyles poppy-wreathed...
for all-too-lucid dreaming...chanting etceteras of bare riff raffs.
Golden breastplates...weeping willow wings...empurpled--
fending fang trumping lines of: yuck, cluck, claw and kook.
...Listless eyes...alphabetize...think a blind oracle's informed
absentia...holy and bovine.
Redolent airs...perspiration of spume's most distancing shore--
eyepieces for the specks and logs in the oculos of brothers
and sisters.
As dust to dust doth not settle...heart's yonder score...nay cease
of interstice...off-world amorousness.
Gather ye yarrow sticks...hurl them at days...roofless arcady...
live into the spectra of their worlds, come friend or foe...Fate's foundling.
Lines strung as prayer beads...curs-ed beads...forget-me-nots
enclosed in letters baiting Long Farewells, in the great literary
correspondence of authored and Author.
...Ye gorgeous gargoyles come perch and push.
Persona non grata...the wide world...unisex prodigal...All--returneth.
LOOK AT THAT LINE...LOOK AT IT...(attrition)...ROUND THE
CORNERS OF PERPETUITY.
NEBULAEIC FANFARE...come perch to push...lo...ANGELS!
Prabhu Iyer Dec 2014
I come floating to you Mother, dead on the river, body bullet ridden: this is how God reaps His harvest of faith.

See, those columns that support the sky now, carried once the roof of our temple. The fire burning the pyres now carried oblations to our ideals; But we face a jealous God consuming in wrath.

Here I come, un-wreathed, unsung, wet in the tears of the skies, skin carrying scars of resistance, eyes open to the tyranny of faith.

Clutch my hands, let me feel the love that birthed me, one last time before my Spirit moves onward and beyond to the worlds of light.
Religion, unguided by the arc-light of spirituality, is becoming a tool for violent self-aggrandizement at the hands of extremists
St. Agnes' Eve--Ah, bitter chill it was!
    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
    The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
    And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
    Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
    His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
    Like pious incense from a censer old,
    Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet ******'s picture, while his prayer he saith.

    His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
    Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
    And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
    Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
    The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
    Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails:
    Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries,
    He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.

    Northward he turneth through a little door,
    And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue
    Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor;
    But no--already had his deathbell rung;
    The joys of all his life were said and sung:
    His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve:
    Another way he went, and soon among
    Rough ashes sat he for his soul's reprieve,
And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to grieve.

    That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
    And so it chanc'd, for many a door was wide,
    From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,
    The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide:
    The level chambers, ready with their pride,
    Were glowing to receive a thousand guests:
    The carved angels, ever eager-eyed,
    Star'd, where upon their heads the cornice rests,
With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their *******.

    At length burst in the argent revelry,
    With plume, tiara, and all rich array,
    Numerous as shadows haunting faerily
    The brain, new stuff'd, in youth, with triumphs gay
    Of old romance. These let us wish away,
    And turn, sole-thoughted, to one Lady there,
    Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day,
    On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care,
As she had heard old dames full many times declare.

    They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
    Young virgins might have visions of delight,
    And soft adorings from their loves receive
    Upon the honey'd middle of the night,
    If ceremonies due they did aright;
    As, supperless to bed they must retire,
    And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
    Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.

    Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline:
    The music, yearning like a God in pain,
    She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine,
    Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
    Pass by--she heeded not at all: in vain
      Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier,
    And back retir'd; not cool'd by high disdain,
    But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere:
She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year.

    She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes,
    Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short:
    The hallow'd hour was near at hand: she sighs
    Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort
    Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
    'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn,
    Hoodwink'd with faery fancy; all amort,
    Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.

    So, purposing each moment to retire,
    She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors,
    Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
    For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
    Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores
    All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
    But for one moment in the tedious hours,
    That he might gaze and worship all unseen;
Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss--in sooth such things have been.

    He ventures in: let no buzz'd whisper tell:
    All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
    Will storm his heart, Love's fev'rous citadel:
    For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes,
    Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords,
    Whose very dogs would execrations howl
    Against his lineage: not one breast affords
    Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.

    Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came,
    Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
    To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame,
    Behind a broad half-pillar, far beyond
    The sound of merriment and chorus bland:
    He startled her; but soon she knew his face,
    And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand,
    Saying, "Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place;
They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty race!

    "Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hildebrand;
    He had a fever late, and in the fit
    He cursed thee and thine, both house and land:
    Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
    More tame for his gray hairs--Alas me! flit!
    Flit like a ghost away."--"Ah, Gossip dear,
    We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit,
    And tell me how"--"Good Saints! not here, not here;
Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy bier."

    He follow'd through a lowly arched way,
    Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume,
    And as she mutter'd "Well-a--well-a-day!"
    He found him in a little moonlight room,
    Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb.
    "Now tell me where is Madeline," said he,
    "O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
    Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously."

    "St. Agnes! Ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve--
    Yet men will ****** upon holy days:
    Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,
    And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
    To venture so: it fills me with amaze
    To see thee, Porphyro!--St. Agnes' Eve!
    God's help! my lady fair the conjuror plays
    This very night: good angels her deceive!
But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve."

    Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
    While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
    Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
    Who keepeth clos'd a wond'rous riddle-book,
    As spectacled she sits in chimney nook.
    But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
    His lady's purpose; and he scarce could brook
    Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold,
And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.

    Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
    Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart
    Made purple riot: then doth he propose
    A stratagem, that makes the beldame start:
    "A cruel man and impious thou art:
    Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep, and dream
    Alone with her good angels, far apart
    From wicked men like thee. Go, go!--I deem
Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst seem."

    "I will not harm her, by all saints I swear,"
    Quoth Porphyro: "O may I ne'er find grace
    When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer,
    If one of her soft ringlets I displace,
    Or look with ruffian passion in her face:
    Good Angela, believe me by these tears;
    Or I will, even in a moment's space,
    Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen's ears,
And beard them, though they be more fang'd than wolves and bears."

    "Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul?
    A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing,
    Whose passing-bell may ere the midnight toll;
    Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening,
    Were never miss'd."--Thus plaining, doth she bring
    A gentler speech from burning Porphyro;
    So woful, and of such deep sorrowing,
    That Angela gives promise she will do
Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe.

    Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
    Even to Madeline's chamber, and there hide
    Him in a closet, of such privacy
    That he might see her beauty unespy'd,
    And win perhaps that night a peerless bride,
    While legion'd faeries pac'd the coverlet,
    And pale enchantment held her sleepy-ey'd.
    Never on such a night have lovers met,
Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous debt.

    "It shall be as thou wishest," said the Dame:
    "All cates and dainties shall be stored there
    Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame
    Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare,
    For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare
    On such a catering trust my dizzy head.
    Wait here, my child, with patience; kneel in prayer
    The while: Ah! thou must needs the lady wed,
Or may I never leave my grave among the dead."

    So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear.
    The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd;
    The dame return'd, and whisper'd in his ear
    To follow her; with aged eyes aghast
    From fright of dim espial. Safe at last,
    Through many a dusky gallery, they gain
    The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd, and chaste;
    Where Porphyro took covert, pleas'd amain.
His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain.

    Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade,
    Old Angela was feeling for the stair,
    When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid,
    Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware:
    With silver taper's light, and pious care,
    She turn'd, and down the aged gossip led
    To a safe level matting. Now prepare,
    Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed;
She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove fray'd and fled.

    Out went the taper as she hurried in;
    Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died:
    She clos'd the door, she panted, all akin
    To spirits of the air, and visions wide:
    No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
    But to her heart, her heart was voluble,
    Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
    As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.

    A casement high and triple-arch'd there was,
    All garlanded with carven imag'ries
    Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
    And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
    Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
    As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings;
    And in the midst, '**** thousand heraldries,
    And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
A shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens and kings.

    Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
    And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
    As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
    Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
    And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
    And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
    She seem'd a splendid angel, newly drest,
    Save wings, for heaven:--Porphyro grew faint:
She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.

    Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
    Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
    Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
    Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
    Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
    Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-****,
    Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
    In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.

    Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
    In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay,
    Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress'd
    Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
    Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
    Blissfully haven'd both from joy and pain;
    Clasp'd like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
    Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.

    Stol'n to this paradise, and so entranced,
    Porphyro gaz'd upon her empty dress,
    And listen'd to her breathing, if it chanced
    To wake into a slumberous tenderness;
    Which when he heard, that minute did he bless,
    And breath'd himself: then from the closet crept,
    Noiseless a
DJ Goodwin Jul 2013
Retail-hunter gatherers pick
clean processed bones, digging graves
with their shiny teeth, studious in
their reveries as they drone

past worlds dumped in the thresher;
the trucked-in fields of film-wrapped
gore splayed lustily before the managers
wound tight in Machiavellian design.

A shepherd herds his flock of
wreathed iron back to its pen, its
skeletal tangle lit in riotous gold by
swords flung from lambent eyes of
pre-dawn’s shunting chariots

Cages shunt and bobble like tugboats
chugging stoic up swimming pool lanes
of nondescript tile, cheered on by shouting
colours to float through archipelagos of
paper towel and chocolate blocks past

the vegemite diaspora, and the arctic
wastelands cased in sliding glass fields of
perfect steady storms as wraiths baked in halogen
ask silent questions of the silverbeet, while

Lana Del Ray’s voice falls like
nightshade—slutty and serene—coating
shelf stackers in a Piaf sadness as the
shelves reach their arms out for more.

The check out chick hatches
a sense of déjà vu as carrots
and biscuits drone towards her
mind berEFT of any twitching
sense of POSsibility that wised
up and flew this leering coop and

deep in her catalogue of grey folds
something stillborn and waxen is
perched on gleaming steel, reeling
out her guts like cassette tape with jerky
nightmare arms and laughing like a
banker watching ***** films, mornings
dull cerise an invocation through
auto-jaws as she bursts out to warble
with magpies in car park’s climbing fire.
Of what she said to me that night--no matter.
The strange thing came next day.
My brain was full of music--something she played me--;
I couldn't remember it all, but phrases of it
Wreathed and wreathed among faint memories,
Seeking for something, trying to tell me something,
Urging to restlessness: verging on grief.
I tried to play the tune, from memory,--
But memory failed: the chords and discords climbed
And found no resolution--only hung there,
And left me morbid . . . Where, then, had I heard it? . . .
What secret dusty chamber was it hinting?
'Dust', it said, 'dust . . . and dust . . . and sunlight . .
A cold clear April evening . . . snow, bedraggled,
Rain-worn snow, dappling the hideous grass . . .
And someone walking alone; and someone saying
That all must end, for the time had come to go . . . '
These were the phrases . . . but behind, beneath them
A greater shadow moved: and in this shadow
I stood and guessed . . . Was it the blue-eyed lady?
The one who always danced in golden slippers--
And had I danced with her,--upon this music?
Or was it further back--the unplumbed twilight
Of childhood?--No--much recenter than that.

You know, without my telling you, how sometimes
A word or name eludes you, and you seek it
Through running ghosts of shadow,--leaping at it,
Lying in wait for it to spring upon it,
Spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound:
Until, of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest,
You hear it, see it flash among the branches,
And scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it--
Well, it was so I followed down this music,
Glimpsing a face in darkness, hearing a cry,
Remembering days forgotten, moods exhausted,
Corners in sunlight, puddles reflecting stars--;
Until, of a sudden, and least of all suspected,
The thing resolved itself: and I remembered
An April afternoon, eight years ago--
Or was it nine?--no matter--call it nine--
A room in which the last of sunlight faded;
A vase of violets, fragrance in white curtains;
And, she who played the same thing later, playing.

She played this tune.  And in the middle of it
Abruptly broke it off, letting her hands
Fall in her lap.  She sat there so a moment,
With shoulders drooped, then lifted up a rose,
One great white rose, wide opened like a lotos,
And pressed it to her cheek, and closed her eyes.

'You know--we've got to end this--Miriam loves you . . .
If she should ever know, or even guess it,--
What would she do?--Listen!--I'm not absurd . . .
I'm sure of it.  If you had eyes, for women--
To understand them--which you've never had--
You'd know it too . . . '  So went this colloquy,
Half humorous, with undertones of pathos,
Half grave, half flippant . . . while her fingers, softly,
Felt for this tune, played it and let it fall,
Now note by singing note, now chord by chord,
Repeating phrases with a kind of pleasure . . .
Was it symbolic of the woman's weakness
That she could neither break it--nor conclude?
It paused . . . and wandered . . . paused again; while she,
Perplexed and tired, half told me I must go,--
Half asked me if I thought I ought to go . . .

Well, April passed with many other evenings,
Evenings like this, with later suns and warmer,
With violets always there, and fragrant curtains . . .
And she was right: and Miriam found it out . . .
And after that, when eight deep years had passed--
Or nine--we met once more,--by accident . . .
But was it just by accident, I wonder,
She played this tune?--Or what, then, was intended? . . .
Nabs Dec 2015
By: Nabs

    When I was little, my mother often gave me flowers.

She would make me a crown of Primroses that smells like the day my father left us.
I would smile and dance a little twirl that had her smiling fondly. Her little princess, Said she couldn't live with out me.
I believed her.

Right before my mother decided to stop breathing, she gave me a bouquet of Lily of the valley.

I never knew that apology was poisonous.

    The day I turned fifteen, my grandmother gave me a book on flowers, It was written with green ink and bound in human skin. Said that It was family heirloom. Said that the universe needed someone who understand Hana. Said that I was born to understand only them and to remember that flowers are ephemeral.

I cradled the book, feeling as if the world was spinning. Opening it feels like coming home after a long time of drowning.

By the time I realized, a bush of Basil and beds of Petunias were growing in my home like ****. The color should have been red instead of purple.

      I met you when you were giving a bundle of daisy to a boy.
The boy scoffed and slapped the daisies to the ground. It's petal were falling apart just as blue and black blooms like an eager bud on you. Your body were taut as a string but your face was smiling, the kind of smile I couldn't decipher the meaning.

I picked the daisies up and asked if i could keep it.  You said only if I gave you my name.

You were wreathed with White Hyacinth and Pine leaves. It suits you.

    You told me one day, after you gave me a Bleeding Heart, that I needed to learn more than the languages that flower speak. That I needed to learn human.
I asked to you why do you say that?
You looked at me, with a little smile and a soft look on your face. Told me that I was too oblivious, I was more flower than human. I frowned and said," That hurts".
You laughter was much more sweeter than any Honeysuckle.

Though I still didnt understand your laughter nor the bleeding heart.

    The sight of our hands lacing together, looks much more delicate than Queen Anne laces. It made me aware of the dips of your lips, how warm your callouses hands were and the way you sometimes darts to sneak a glance at me with warmth in your eyes when you thought I wasn't looking.
I would feel my heart thumping loudly and I would disentangle our hands, trying to hide the tremors in my hands. You would pursed your lips and cracked a joke.

The next day I received a bouquet of Lilacs and red Peonies. It was too beautiful and I was already withering.

    You often asked If I was ok. I said I was. You would go rigid at that and started to pull down all the blinds to your soul. But that day when I answered I was ok, you gave me an Orange mock.
Said that I can trust you. You left with out meeting my eyes.

That night, I left a single Aster on your window sill. Hoping I did the right thing.

    The thing was, I was scared. Not of you, no never of you. That I swear on White Lilies and Myrtles that we bound ourself to.
It's just, every time I'm with you I want to bare my self naked. To let you see how the parasites are growing inside me, withering me as it did my mother. My grandmother would say that it is our legacy we cannot escape. To grow and bloom then wither ourself after the peak.

My Grandmother was a Sakura tree, My Mother an Ajisai, and I was a Tsubaki.

My mother was supposed to lived longer than me. But Hydrangeas needed their rain or they'll wither away.

    You told me once, that I remind you of Wisterias. Always enduring even after the cruelest storm. I grimaced and whacked you on the back. Said that you were an idiot for thinking that. You laughed again and tickled me until I asked for mercy.

I feel less Tsubaki and more human with you.

    I never let you go to my home because I could not bear the thoughts of you seeing the lawn strewn Marigolds, the grief that latched itself to the soil.
How the yards was filled with weeds and plants that was tangling them self to choke each other. How the walls was bare and the furniture was only enough to survive. The only thing that was lending colors to my home were the branches of Plum Blossom and bouquet of Lilacs and Peonies that seems to not wither away.

This home would not hold further.

    I gave you Blue Carnations the night when vines were choking my lungs, making it hard for me to breathe.

You said they were beautiful, and smiled a serene smile. I wanted to kiss you so bad, but I was leaking clear salty sap, that was rolling down my cheeks. I told you all about Hana and all about my family. How bare my home is and how you are my Iris, my good news, my good tidings.

You hugged me, not minding the sap that's staining your shirt. I didn't see the Red Camellia you were tucking in my hair.

  The day when I almost gave you Red Daisies and Lungwort was the day I found out that you had severe allergy to flowers.
That breathing their pollen would shorten your life as the breath you took became a privilege that you were slowly losing.
I asked, "why would you endanger yourself like that?".
"I love flowers, that's all", you said with an uncaring shrug.
The thoughts of you withering away, made me nauseous.

I went home throwing away the Daisies and Lungwort, Burning down the marigolds and Petunias.

The only thing was left were Hana and the bouquet of Lilacs and Red Peonies.

  I never get to told you that my roots was withering.

  When you found me lying on my home, covered with Primroses, Camellias, and Blood Red Poppies, I know that you knew. In your hand were Peach Blossoms and they were so very beautiful.
You cradled me close to your chest. Whispering that I will be okay, that It's unfair for me to do this to him.
"I know", I rasped. My voice was barely working and Black-Red sap was steadily tricking from the corner of my lips.

  When I saw my mother walking down to me, carrying a basket full of Sweet Peas, Volkamenia, and Yarrows, I understand what your smile meant the first we met.

It was Red Camellias, Love and acceptence
Thank you for reading this long poem.
This is a tribute for flowers.
Hope you guys enjoy it.
I.

  When to the common rest that crowns our days,
  Called in the noon of life, the good man goes,
  Or full of years, and ripe in wisdom, lays
  His silver temples in their last repose;
  When, o'er the buds of youth, the death-wind blows,
  And blights the fairest; when our bitter tears
  Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close,
  We think on what they were, with many fears
Lest goodness die with them, and leave the coming years:

II.

  And therefore, to our hearts, the days gone by,--
  When lived the honoured sage whose death we wept,
  And the soft virtues beamed from many an eye,
  And beat in many a heart that long has slept,--
  Like spots of earth where angel-feet have stepped--
  Are holy; and high-dreaming bards have told
  Of times when worth was crowned, and faith was kept,
  Ere friendship grew a snare, or love waxed cold--
Those pure and happy times--the golden days of old.

III.

  Peace to the just man's memory,--let it grow
  Greener with years, and blossom through the flight
  Of ages; let the mimic canvas show
  His calm benevolent features; let the light
  Stream on his deeds of love, that shunned the sight
  Of all but heaven, and in the book of fame,
  The glorious record of his virtues write,
  And hold it up to men, and bid them claim
A palm like his, and catch from him the hallowed flame.

IV.

  But oh, despair not of their fate who rise
  To dwell upon the earth when we withdraw!
  Lo! the same shaft by which the righteous dies,
  Strikes through the wretch that scoffed at mercy's law,
  And trode his brethren down, and felt no awe
  Of Him who will avenge them. Stainless worth,
  Such as the sternest age of virtue saw,
  Ripens, meanwhile, till time shall call it forth
From the low modest shade, to light and bless the earth.

V.

  Has Nature, in her calm, majestic march
  Faltered with age at last? does the bright sun
  Grow dim in heaven? or, in their far blue arch,
  Sparkle the crowd of stars, when day is done,
  Less brightly? when the dew-lipped Spring comes on,
  Breathes she with airs less soft, or scents the sky
  With flowers less fair than when her reign begun?
  Does prodigal Autumn, to our age, deny
The plenty that once swelled beneath his sober eye?

VI.

  Look on this beautiful world, and read the truth
  In her fair page; see, every season brings
  New change, to her, of everlasting youth;
  Still the green soil, with joyous living things,
  Swarms, the wide air is full of joyous wings,
  And myriads, still, are happy in the sleep
  Of ocean's azure gulfs, and where he flings
  The restless surge. Eternal Love doth keep
In his complacent arms, the earth, the air, the deep.

VII.

  Will then the merciful One, who stamped our race
  With his own image, and who gave them sway
  O'er earth, and the glad dwellers on her face,
  Now that our swarming nations far away
  Are spread, where'er the moist earth drinks the day,
  Forget the ancient care that taught and nursed
  His latest offspring? will he quench the ray
  Infused by his own forming smile at first,
And leave a work so fair all blighted and accursed?

VIII.

  Oh, no! a thousand cheerful omens give
  Hope of yet happier days, whose dawn is nigh.
  He who has tamed the elements, shall not live
  The slave of his own passions; he whose eye
  Unwinds the eternal dances of the sky,
  And in the abyss of brightness dares to span
  The sun's broad circle, rising yet more high,
  In God's magnificent works his will shall scan--
And love and peace shall make their paradise with man.

IX.

  Sit at the feet of history--through the night
  Of years the steps of virtue she shall trace,
  And show the earlier ages, where her sight
  Can pierce the eternal shadows o'er their face;--
  When, from the genial cradle of our race,
  Went forth the tribes of men, their pleasant lot
  To choose, where palm-groves cooled their dwelling-place,
  Or freshening rivers ran; and there forgot
The truth of heaven, and kneeled to gods that heard them not.

X.

  Then waited not the murderer for the night,
  But smote his brother down in the bright day,
  And he who felt the wrong, and had the might,
  His own avenger, girt himself to slay;
  Beside the path the unburied carcass lay;
  The shepherd, by the fountains of the glen,
  Fled, while the robber swept his flock away,
  And slew his babes. The sick, untended then,
Languished in the damp shade, and died afar from men.

XI.

  But misery brought in love--in passion's strife
  Man gave his heart to mercy, pleading long,
  And sought out gentle deeds to gladden life;
  The weak, against the sons of spoil and wrong,
  Banded, and watched their hamlets, and grew strong.
  States rose, and, in the shadow of their might,
  The timid rested. To the reverent throng,
  Grave and time-wrinkled men, with locks all white,
Gave laws, and judged their strifes, and taught the way of right;

XII.

  Till bolder spirits seized the rule, and nailed
  On men the yoke that man should never bear,
  And drove them forth to battle. Lo! unveiled
  The scene of those stern ages! What is there!
  A boundless sea of blood, and the wild air
  Moans with the crimson surges that entomb
  Cities and bannered armies; forms that wear
  The kingly circlet rise, amid the gloom,
O'er the dark wave, and straight are swallowed in its womb.

XIII.

  Those ages have no memory--but they left
  A record in the desert--columns strown
  On the waste sands, and statues fallen and cleft,
  Heaped like a host in battle overthrown;
  Vast ruins, where the mountain's ribs of stone
  Were hewn into a city; streets that spread
  In the dark earth, where never breath has blown
  Of heaven's sweet air, nor foot of man dares tread
The long and perilous ways--the Cities of the Dead:

XIV.

  And tombs of monarchs to the clouds up-piled--
  They perished--but the eternal tombs remain--
  And the black precipice, abrupt and wild,
  Pierced by long toil and hollowed to a fane;--
  Huge piers and frowning forms of gods sustain
  The everlasting arches, dark and wide,
  Like the night-heaven, when clouds are black with rain.
  But idly skill was tasked, and strength was plied,
All was the work of slaves to swell a despot's pride.

XV.

  And Virtue cannot dwell with slaves, nor reign
  O'er those who cower to take a tyrant's yoke;
  She left the down-trod nations in disdain,
  And flew to Greece, when Liberty awoke,
  New-born, amid those glorious vales, and broke
  Sceptre and chain with her fair youthful hands:
  As rocks are shivered in the thunder-stroke.
  And lo! in full-grown strength, an empire stands
Of leagued and rival states, the wonder of the lands.

XVI.

  Oh, Greece! thy flourishing cities were a spoil
  Unto each other; thy hard hand oppressed
  And crushed the helpless; thou didst make thy soil
  Drunk with the blood of those that loved thee best;
  And thou didst drive, from thy unnatural breast,
  Thy just and brave to die in distant climes;
  Earth shuddered at thy deeds, and sighed for rest
  From thine abominations; after times,
That yet shall read thy tale, will tremble at thy crimes.

XVII.

  Yet there was that within thee which has saved
  Thy glory, and redeemed thy blotted name;
  The story of thy better deeds, engraved
  On fame's unmouldering pillar, puts to shame
  Our chiller virtue; the high art to tame
  The whirlwind of the passions was thine own;
  And the pure ray, that from thy ***** came,
  Far over many a land and age has shone,
And mingles with the light that beams from God's own throne;

XVIII.

  And Rome--thy sterner, younger sister, she
  Who awed the world with her imperial frown--
  Rome drew the spirit of her race from thee,--
  The rival of thy shame and thy renown.
  Yet her degenerate children sold the crown
  Of earth's wide kingdoms to a line of slaves;
  Guilt reigned, and we with guilt, and plagues came down,
  Till the north broke its floodgates, and the waves
Whelmed the degraded race, and weltered o'er their graves.

XIX.

  Vainly that ray of brightness from above,
  That shone around the Galilean lake,
  The light of hope, the leading star of love,
  Struggled, the darkness of that day to break;
  Even its own faithless guardians strove to slake,
  In fogs of earth, the pure immortal flame;
  And priestly hands, for Jesus' blessed sake,
  Were red with blood, and charity became,
In that stern war of forms, a mockery and a name.

**.

  They triumphed, and less ****** rites were kept
  Within the quiet of the convent cell:
  The well-fed inmates pattered prayer, and slept,
  And sinned, and liked their easy penance well.
  Where pleasant was the spot for men to dwell,
  Amid its fair broad lands the abbey lay,
  Sheltering dark ****** that were shame to tell,
  And cowled and barefoot beggars swarmed the way,
All in their convent weeds, of black, and white, and gray.

XXI.

  Oh, sweetly the returning muses' strain
  Swelled over that famed stream, whose gentle tide
  In their bright lap the Etrurian vales detain,
  Sweet, as when winter storms have ceased to chide,
  And all the new-leaved woods, resounding wide,
  Send out wild hymns upon the scented air.
  Lo! to the smiling Arno's classic side
  The emulous nations of the west repair,
And kindle their quenched urns, and drink fresh spirit there.

XXII.

  Still, Heaven deferred the hour ordained to rend
  From saintly rottenness the sacred stole;
  And cowl and worshipped shrine could still defend
  The wretch with felon stains upon his soul;
  And crimes were set to sale, and hard his dole
  Who could not bribe a passage to the skies;
  And vice, beneath the mitre's kind control,
  Sinned gaily on, and grew to giant size,
Shielded by priestly power, and watched by priestly eyes.

XXIII.

  At last the earthquake came--the shock, that hurled
  To dust, in many fragments dashed and strown,
  The throne, whose roots were in another world,
  And whose far-stretching shadow awed our own.
  From many a proud monastic pile, o'erthrown,
  Fear-struck, the hooded inmates rushed and fled;
  The web, that for a thousand years had grown
  O'er prostrate Europe, in that day of dread
Crumbled and fell, as fire dissolves the flaxen thread.

XXIV.

  The spirit of that day is still awake,
  And spreads himself, and shall not sleep again;
  But through the idle mesh of power shall break
  Like billows o'er the Asian monarch's chain;
  Till men are filled with him, and feel how vain,
  Instead of the pure heart and innocent hands,
  Are all the proud and pompous modes to gain
  The smile of heaven;--till a new age expands
Its white and holy wings above the peaceful lands.

XXV.

  For look again on the past years;--behold,
  How like the nightmare's dreams have flown away
  Horrible forms of worship, that, of old,
  Held, o'er the shuddering realms, unquestioned sway:
  See crimes, that feared not once the eye of day,
  Rooted from men, without a name or place:
  See nations blotted out from earth, to pay
  The forfeit of deep guilt;--with glad embrace
The fair disburdened lands welcome a nobler race.

XXVI.

  Thus error's monstrous shapes from earth are driven;
  They fade, they fly--but truth survives their flight;
  Earth has no shades to quench that beam of heaven;
  Each ray that shone, in early time, to light
  The faltering footsteps in the path of right,
  Each gleam of clearer brightness shed to aid
  In man's maturer day his bolder sight,
  All blended, like the rainbow's radiant braid,
Pour yet, and still shall pour, the blaze that cannot fade.

XXVII.

  Late, from this western shore, that morning chased
  The deep and ancient night, that threw its shroud
  O'er the green land of groves, the beautiful waste,
  Nurse of full streams, and lifter-up of proud
  Sky-mingling mountains that o'erlook the cloud.
  Erewhile, where yon gay spires their brightness rear,
  Trees waved, and the brown hunter's shouts were loud
  Amid the forest; and the bounding deer
Fled at the glancing plume, and the gaunt wolf yelled near;

XXVIII.

  And where his willing waves yon bright blue bay
  Sends up, to kiss his decorated brim,
  And cradles, in his soft embrace, the gay
  Young group of grassy islands born of him,
  And crowding nigh, or in the distance dim,
  Lifts the white throng of sails, that bear or bring
  The commerce of the world;--with tawny limb,
  And belt and beads in sunlight glistening,
The savage urged his skiff like wild bird on the wing.

XXIX.

  Then all this youthful paradise around,
  And all the broad and boundless mainland, lay
  Cooled by the interminable wood, that frowned
  O'er mount and vale, where never summer ray
  Glanced, till the strong tornado broke his way
  Through the gray giants of the sylvan wild;
  Yet many a sheltered glade, with blossoms gay,
  Beneath the showery sky and sunshine mild,
Within the shaggy arms of that dark forest smiled.

***.

  There stood the Indian hamlet, there the lake
  Spread its blue sheet that flashed with many an oar,
  Where the brown otter plunged him from the brake,
  And the deer drank: as the light gale flew o'er,
  The twinkling maize-field rustled on the shore;
  And while that spot, so wild, and lone, and fair,
  A look of glad and guiltless beauty wore,
  And peace was on the earth and in the air,
The warrior lit the pile, and bound his captive there:

XXXI.

  Not unavenged--the foeman, from the wood,
  Beheld the deed, and when the midnight shade
  Was stillest, gorged his battle-axe with blood;
  All died--the wailing babe--the shrieking maid--
  And in the flood of fire that scathed the glade,
  The roofs went down; but deep the silence grew,
  When on the dewy woods the day-beam played;
  No more the cabin smokes rose wreathed and blue,
And ever, by their lake, lay moored the light canoe.

XXXII.

  Look now abroad--another race has filled
  These populous borders
st64 Mar 2013
Sliding into the water as I rise
She holds onto me, I stand steady
Feeling the hot, soapy suds slide down me
Her fingers on my legs, gently caressing

I look down to see what my leopard-girl's up to
Through the steam, I feel her roving eyes
Whose slinky slits belie what she intends
Not an inkling do I have ....of what she holds in store.

Then she's beside me....yes, her on bended knee
And with her lips planted carelessly along my belly
I quiver now in the shimmering heat of her arrows
On her haunches, darting lower now to thighs....

I flinch in disbelief as she reaches up, all coy
Does a befuddled thing I would never expect
She.....oh, holy smackerel in a barrel, baby!
What in blazes ARE you doing to me?

My senses fall to pieces, mind in utter disarray
Wordlessly, I try real hard to hold it together
As she scratches lightly, while purring oh-so deep
My feline fantasy coming oh-too-true!

Mumbling sweet-nothings in a haze of desire
Ramming shaft into her mouth, we make a different musical jam
Throttling up all the way to the hilt
Sure ain't nothing so sweet as her takin'-at!

She shifts the rolling gears,  I sway along
Clutching her hair for support, I humbly beg release
I see her ***** her eyes, makes ME ***** her harder
Makes me buck, drives me up that ***** wall!

I am in the driver's seat now, better believe
Feel a touch unsteady, but I hold her reins
I pull her maddeningly tight into me
Such delicious thrills course through my veins.

Pumping on vigorously, I'm-a  gonna spurt
But I know I have to pull the plug a bit
So her face and neck and **** rejoice
As not everyone can swallow what I give.

Ooh! Sweet heaven...now rinse off all-a that love-sap
Gingerly step out, wreathed in smiles
I let her soak on, as she's wont to do
She loves a delayed bath and I do need the time....

No room at all for doubt must be left
For her to earn folded returns for sated favour
She must be famished for some humble pie
How creative shall I prove to be, I wonder....

Swathed in terry cloth, her skin all pink-an-rosy
Oh, will she be just ripe-an-ready for this picking
Deftly will I lead her down, on downy floor
And mete out sweet and fitting penalty.

Growing exceeding restless, she will moan
But I shall will her to her knobby knees
Shame, wouldn't want her to be uncomfy
Give the lass a cushion....there, there.

I will rake my nails delightful 'cross her back
My leopard-girl will taste and be a crumpled mess
She will crave the whips across her ****
To match her lovely, striped, distorted mind!

And.... do I spy the goldfish bowl beside our bed?
Yes, methinks a wicked dip.... will do the trick
And her tower of resistance crumble, it must
Oh yeah, have I got a treat laid out for my pussycat!


Star Toucher, 30 March 2013
Just a .....tiny tidbit, really :)
There's a paradox in here, dunno if it's detectable....
Rather, hope it's ....um, delectable! Lol

Arrr!

Written in Jan 2913.
Well, as you say, we live for small horizons:
We move in crowds, we flow and talk together,
Seeing so many eyes and hands and faces,
So many mouths, and all with secret meanings,--
Yet know so little of them; only seeing
The small bright circle of our consciousness,
Beyond which lies the dark.  Some few we know--
Or think we know. . .  Once, on a sun-bright morning,
I walked in a certain hallway, trying to find
A certain door: I found one, tried it, opened,
And there in a spacious chamber, brightly lighted,
A hundred men played music, loudly, swiftly,
While one tall woman sent her voice above them
In powerful sweetness. . . Closing then the door
I heard it die behind me, fade to whisper,--
And walked in a quiet hallway as before.
Just such a glimpse, as through that opened door,
Is all we know of those we call our friends. . . .
We hear a sudden music, see a playing
Of ordered thoughts--and all again is silence.
The music, we suppose, (as in ourselves)
Goes on forever there, behind shut doors,--
As it continues after our departure,
So, we divine, it played before we came . . .
What do you know of me, or I of you? . . .
Little enough. . . We set these doors ajar
Only for chosen movements of the music:
This passage, (so I think--yet this is guesswork)
Will please him,--it is in a strain he fancies,--
More brilliant, though, than his; and while he likes it
He will be piqued . . . He looks at me bewildered
And thinks (to judge from self--this too is guesswork)

The music strangely subtle, deep in meaning,
Perplexed with implications; he suspects me
Of hidden riches, unexpected wisdom. . . .
Or else I let him hear a lyric passage,--
Simple and clear; and all the while he listens
I make pretence to think my doors are closed.
This too bewilders him.  He eyes me sidelong
Wondering 'Is he such a fool as this?
Or only mocking?'--There I let it end. . . .
Sometimes, of course, and when we least suspect it--
When we pursue our thoughts with too much passion,
Talking with too great zeal--our doors fly open
Without intention; and the hungry watcher
Stares at the feast, carries away our secrets,
And laughs. . . but this, for many counts, is seldom.
And for the most part we vouchsafe our friends,
Our lovers too, only such few clear notes
As we shall deem them likely to admire:
'Praise me for this' we say, or 'laugh at this,'
Or 'marvel at my candor'. . . all the while
Withholding what's most precious to ourselves,--
Some sinister depth of lust or fear or hatred,
The sombre note that gives the chord its power;
Or a white loveliness--if such we know--
Too much like fire to speak of without shame.

Well, this being so, and we who know it being
So curious about those well-locked houses,
The minds of those we know,--to enter softly,
And steal from floor to floor up shadowy stairways,
From room to quiet room, from wall to wall,
Breathing deliberately the very air,
Pressing our hands and nerves against warm darkness
To learn what ghosts are there,--
Suppose for once I set my doors wide open
And bid you in. . . Suppose I try to tell you
The secrets of this house, and how I live here;
Suppose I tell you who I am, in fact. . . .
Deceiving you--as far as I may know it--
Only so much as I deceive myself.

If you are clever you already see me
As one who moves forever in a cloud
Of warm bright vanity: a luminous cloud
Which falls on all things with a quivering magic,
Changing such outlines as a light may change,
Brightening what lies dark to me, concealing
Those things that will not change . . . I walk sustained
In a world of things that flatter me: a sky
Just as I would have had it; trees and grass
Just as I would have shaped and colored them;
Pigeons and clouds and sun and whirling shadows,
And stars that brightening climb through mist at nightfall,--
In some deep way I am aware these praise me:
Where they are beautiful, or hint of beauty,
They point, somehow, to me. . . This water says,--
Shimmering at the sky, or undulating
In broken gleaming parodies of clouds,
Rippled in blue, or sending from cool depths
To meet the falling leaf the leaf's clear image,--
This water says, there is some secret in you
Akin to my clear beauty, silently responsive
To all that circles you.  This bare tree says,--
Austere and stark and leafless, split with frost,
Resonant in the wind, with rigid branches
Flung out against the sky,--this tall tree says,
There is some cold austerity in you,
A frozen strength, with long roots gnarled on rocks,
Fertile and deep; you bide your time, are patient,
Serene in silence, bare to outward seeming,
Concealing what reserves of power and beauty!
What teeming Aprils!--chorus of leaves on leaves!
These houses say, such walls in walls as ours,
Such streets of walls, solid and smooth of surface,
Such hills and cities of walls, walls upon walls;
Motionless in the sun, or dark with rain;
Walls pierced with windows, where the light may enter;
Walls windowless where darkness is desired;
Towers and labyrinths and domes and chambers,--
Amazing deep recesses, dark on dark,--
All these are like the walls which shape your spirit:
You move, are warm, within them, laugh within them,
Proud of their depth and strength; or sally from them,
When you are bold, to blow great horns at the world
This deep cool room, with shadowed walls and ceiling,
Tranquil and cloistral, fragrant of my mind,
This cool room says,--just such a room have you,
It waits you always at the tops of stairways,
Withdrawn, remote, familiar to your uses,
Where you may cease pretence and be yourself. . . .
And this embroidery, hanging on this wall,
Hung there forever,--these so soundless glidings
Of dragons golden-scaled, sheer birds of azure,
Coilings of leaves in pale vermilion, griffins
Drawing their rainbow wings through involutions
Of mauve chrysanthemums and lotus flowers,--
This goblin wood where someone cries enchantment,--
This says, just such an involuted beauty
Of thought and coiling thought, dream linked with dream,
Image to image gliding, wreathing fires,
Soundlessly cries enchantment in your mind:
You need but sit and close your eyes a moment
To see these deep designs unfold themselves.

And so, all things discern me, name me, praise me--
I walk in a world of silent voices, praising;
And in this world you see me like a wraith
Blown softly here and there, on silent winds.
'Praise me'--I say; and look, not in a glass,
But in your eyes, to see my image there--
Or in your mind; you smile, I am contented;
You look at me, with interest unfeigned,
And listen--I am pleased; or else, alone,
I watch thin bubbles veering brightly upward
From unknown depths,--my silver thoughts ascending;
Saying now this, now that, hinting of all things,--
Dreams, and desires, velleities, regrets,
Faint ghosts of memory, strange recognitions,--
But all with one deep meaning: this is I,
This is the glistening secret holy I,
This silver-winged wonder, insubstantial,
This singing ghost. . . And hearing, I am warmed.

     *     *     *     *     *

You see me moving, then, as one who moves
Forever at the centre of his circle:
A circle filled with light.  And into it
Come bulging shapes from darkness, loom gigantic,
Or huddle in dark again. . . A clock ticks clearly,
A gas-jet steadily whirs, light streams across me;
Two church bells, with alternate beat, strike nine;
And through these things my pencil pushes softly
To weave grey webs of lines on this clear page.
Snow falls and melts; the eaves make liquid music;
Black wheel-tracks line the snow-touched street; I turn
And look one instant at the half-dark gardens,
Where skeleton elm-trees reach with frozen gesture
Above unsteady lamps,--with black boughs flung
Against a luminous snow-filled grey-gold sky.
'Beauty!' I cry. . . My feet move on, and take me
Between dark walls, with orange squares for windows.
Beauty; beheld like someone half-forgotten,
Remembered, with slow pang, as one neglected . . .
Well, I am frustrate; life has beaten me,
The thing I strongly seized has turned to darkness,
And darkness rides my heart. . . These skeleton elm-trees--
Leaning against that grey-gold snow filled sky--
Beauty! they say, and at the edge of darkness
Extend vain arms in a frozen gesture of protest . . .
A clock ticks softly; a gas-jet steadily whirs:
The pencil meets its shadow upon clear paper,
Voices are raised, a door is slammed.  The lovers,
Murmuring in an adjacent room, grow silent,
The eaves make liquid music. . . Hours have passed,
And nothing changes, and everything is changed.
Exultation is dead, Beauty is harlot,--
And walks the streets.  The thing I strongly seized
Has turned to darkness, and darkness rides my heart.

If you could solve this darkness you would have me.
This causeless melancholy that comes with rain,
Or on such days as this when large wet snowflakes
Drop heavily, with rain . . . whence rises this?
Well, so-and-so, this morning when I saw him,
Seemed much preoccupied, and would not smile;
And you, I saw too much; and you, too little;
And the word I chose for you, the golden word,
The word that should have struck so deep in purpose,
And set so many doors of wish wide open,
You let it fall, and would not stoop for it,
And smiled at me, and would not let me guess
Whether you saw it fall. . . These things, together,
With other things, still slighter, wove to music,
And this in time drew up dark memories;
And there I stand.  This music breaks and bleeds me,
Turning all frustrate dreams to chords and discords,
Faces and griefs, and words, and sunlit evenings,
And chains self-forged that will not break nor lengthen,
And cries that none can answer, few will hear.
Have these things meaning?  Or would you see more clearly
If I should say 'My second wife grows tedious,
Or, like gay tulip, keeps no perfumed secret'?

Or 'one day dies eventless as another,
Leaving the seeker still unsatisfied,
And more convinced life yields no satisfaction'?
Or 'seek too hard, the sight at length grows callous,
And beauty shines in vain'?--

                                These things you ask for,
These you shall have. . . So, talking with my first wife,
At the dark end of evening, when she leaned
And smiled at me, with blue eyes weaving webs
Of finest fire, revolving me in scarlet,--
Calling to mind remote and small successions
Of countless other evenings ending so,--
I smiled, and met her kiss, and wished her dead;
Dead of a sudden sickness, or by my hands
Savagely killed; I saw her in her coffin,
I saw her coffin borne downstairs with trouble,
I saw myself alone there, palely watching,
Wearing a masque of grief so deeply acted
That grief itself possessed me.  Time would pass,
And I should meet this girl,--my second wife--
And drop the masque of grief for one of passion.
Forward we move to meet, half hesitating,
We drown in each others' eyes, we laugh, we talk,
Looking now here, now there, faintly pretending
We do not hear the powerful pulsing prelude
Roaring beneath our words . . . The time approaches.
We lean unbalanced.  The mute last glance between us,
Profoundly searching, opening, asking, yielding,
Is steadily met: our two lives draw together . . .
. . . .'What are you thinking of?'. . . My first wife's voice
Scattered these ghosts.  'Oh nothing--nothing much--
Just wondering where we'd be two years from now,
And what we might be doing . . . ' And then remorse
Turned sharply in my mind to sudden pity,
And pity to echoed love.  And one more evening
Drew to the usual end of sleep and silence.

And, as it is with this, so too with all things.
The pages of our lives are blurred palimpsest:
New lines are wreathed on old lines half-erased,
And those on older still; and so forever.
The old shines through the new, and colors it.
What's new?  What's old?  All things have double meanings,--
All things return.  I write a line with passion
(Or touch a woman's hand, or plumb a doctrine)
Only to find the same thing, done before,--
Only to know the same thing comes to-morrow. . . .
This curious riddled dream I dreamed last night,--
Six years ago I dreamed it just as now;
The same man stooped to me; we rose from darkness,
And broke the accustomed order of our days,
And struck for the morning world, and warmth, and freedom. . . .
What does it mean?  Why is this hint repeated?
What darkness does it spring from, seek to end?

You see me, then, pass up and down these stairways,
Now through a beam of light, and now through shadow,--
Pursuing silent ends.  No rest there is,--
No more for me than you.  I move here always,
From quiet room to room, from wall to wall,
Searching and plotting, weaving a web of days.
This is my house, and now, perhaps, you know me. . .
Yet I confess, for all my best intentions,
Once more I have deceived you. . . I withhold
The one thing precious, the one dark thing that guides me;
And I have spread two snares for you, of lies.
Perplexed and troubled at his bad success
The Tempter stood, nor had what to reply,
Discovered in his fraud, thrown from his hope
So oft, and the persuasive rhetoric
That sleeked his tongue, and won so much on Eve,
So little here, nay lost.  But Eve was Eve;
This far his over-match, who, self-deceived
And rash, beforehand had no better weighed
The strength he was to cope with, or his own.
But—as a man who had been matchless held
In cunning, over-reached where least he thought,
To salve his credit, and for very spite,
Still will be tempting him who foils him still,
And never cease, though to his shame the more;
Or as a swarm of flies in vintage-time,
About the wine-press where sweet must is poured,
Beat off, returns as oft with humming sound;
Or surging waves against a solid rock,
Though all to shivers dashed, the assault renew,
(Vain battery!) and in froth or bubbles end—
So Satan, whom repulse upon repulse
Met ever, and to shameful silence brought,
Yet gives not o’er, though desperate of success,
And his vain importunity pursues.
He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,
Washed by the southern sea, and on the north
To equal length backed with a ridge of hills
That screened the fruits of the earth and seats of men
From cold Septentrion blasts; thence in the midst
Divided by a river, off whose banks
On each side an Imperial City stood,
With towers and temples proudly elevate
On seven small hills, with palaces adorned,
Porches and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens and groves, presented to his eyes
Above the highth of mountains interposed—
By what strange parallax, or optic skill
Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to enquire.
And now the Tempter thus his silence broke:—
  “The city which thou seest no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, Queen of the Earth
So far renowned, and with the spoils enriched
Of nations.  There the Capitol thou seest,
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel
Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine,
The imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements, conspicuous far,
Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires.
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods—so well I have disposed
My aerie microscope—thou may’st behold,
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see
What conflux issuing forth, or entering in:
Praetors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state;
Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power;
Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on the AEmilian—some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotic isle, and, more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Blackmoor sea;
From the Asian kings (and Parthian among these),
From India and the Golden Chersoness,
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbants wreathed;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians north
Beyond Danubius to the Tauric pool.
All nations now to Rome obedience pay—
To Rome’s great Emperor, whose wide domain,
In ample territory, wealth and power,
Civility of manners, arts and arms,
And long renown, thou justly may’st prefer
Before the Parthian.  These two thrones except,
The rest are barbarous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shared among petty kings too far removed;
These having shewn thee, I have shewn thee all
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
This Emperor hath no son, and now is old,
Old and lascivious, and from Rome retired
To Capreae, an island small but strong
On the Campanian shore, with purpose there
His horrid lusts in private to enjoy;
Committing to a wicked favourite
All public cares, and yet of him suspicious;
Hated of all, and hating.  With what ease,
Endued with regal virtues as thou art,
Appearing, and beginning noble deeds,
Might’st thou expel this monster from his throne,
Now made a sty, and, in his place ascending,
A victor-people free from servile yoke!
And with my help thou may’st; to me the power
Is given, and by that right I give it thee.
Aim, therefore, at no less than all the world;
Aim at the highest; without the highest attained,
Will be for thee no sitting, or not long,
On David’s throne, be prophesied what will.”
  To whom the Son of God, unmoved, replied:—
“Nor doth this grandeur and majestic shew
Of luxury, though called magnificence,
More than of arms before, allure mine eye,
Much less my mind; though thou should’st add to tell
Their sumptuous gluttonies, and gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic stone
(For I have also heard, perhaps have read),
Their wines of Setia, Cales, and Falerne,
Chios and Crete, and how they quaff in gold,
Crystal, and myrrhine cups, imbossed with gems
And studs of pearl—to me should’st tell, who thirst
And hunger still.  Then embassies thou shew’st
From nations far and nigh!  What honour that,
But tedious waste of time, to sit and hear
So many hollow compliments and lies,
Outlandish flatteries?  Then proceed’st to talk
Of the Emperor, how easily subdued,
How gloriously.  I shall, thou say’st, expel
A brutish monster: what if I withal
Expel a Devil who first made him such?
Let his tormentor, Conscience, find him out;
For him I was not sent, nor yet to free
That people, victor once, now vile and base,
Deservedly made vassal—who, once just,
Frugal, and mild, and temperate, conquered well,
But govern ill the nations under yoke,
Peeling their provinces, exhausted all
By lust and rapine; first ambitious grown
Of triumph, that insulting vanity;
Then cruel, by their sports to blood inured
Of fighting beasts, and men to beasts exposed;
Luxurious by their wealth, and greedier still,
And from the daily Scene effeminate.
What wise and valiant man would seek to free
These, thus degenerate, by themselves enslaved,
Or could of inward slaves make outward free?
Know, therefore, when my season comes to sit
On David’s throne, it shall be like a tree
Spreading and overshadowing all the earth,
Or as a stone that shall to pieces dash
All monarchies besides throughout the world;
And of my Kingdom there shall be no end.
Means there shall be to this; but what the means
Is not for thee to know, nor me to tell.”
  To whom the Tempter, impudent, replied:—
“I see all offers made by me how slight
Thou valuest, because offered, and reject’st.
Nothing will please the difficult and nice,
Or nothing more than still to contradict.
On the other side know also thou that I
On what I offer set as high esteem,
Nor what I part with mean to give for naught,
All these, which in a moment thou behold’st,
The kingdoms of the world, to thee I give
(For, given to me, I give to whom I please),
No trifle; yet with this reserve, not else—
On this condition, if thou wilt fall down,
And worship me as thy superior Lord
(Easily done), and hold them all of me;
For what can less so great a gift deserve?”
  Whom thus our Saviour answered with disdain:—
“I never liked thy talk, thy offers less;
Now both abhor, since thou hast dared to utter
The abominable terms, impious condition.
But I endure the time, till which expired
Thou hast permission on me.  It is written,
The first of all commandments, ‘Thou shalt worship
The Lord thy God, and only Him shalt serve.’
And dar’st thou to the Son of God propound
To worship thee, accursed? now more accursed
For this attempt, bolder than that on Eve,
And more blasphemous; which expect to rue.
The kingdoms of the world to thee were given!
Permitted rather, and by thee usurped;
Other donation none thou canst produce.
If given, by whom but by the King of kings,
God over all supreme?  If given to thee,
By thee how fairly is the Giver now
Repaid!  But gratitude in thee is lost
Long since.  Wert thou so void of fear or shame
As offer them to me, the Son of God—
To me my own, on such abhorred pact,
That I fall down and worship thee as God?
Get thee behind me!  Plain thou now appear’st
That Evil One, Satan for ever ******.”
  To whom the Fiend, with fear abashed, replied:—
“Be not so sore offended, Son of God—
Though Sons of God both Angels are and Men—
If I, to try whether in higher sort
Than these thou bear’st that title, have proposed
What both from Men and Angels I receive,
Tetrarchs of Fire, Air, Flood, and on the Earth
Nations besides from all the quartered winds—
God of this World invoked, and World beneath.
Who then thou art, whose coming is foretold
To me most fatal, me it most concerns.
The trial hath indamaged thee no way,
Rather more honour left and more esteem;
Me naught advantaged, missing what I aimed.
Therefore let pass, as they are transitory,
The kingdoms of this world; I shall no more
Advise thee; gain them as thou canst, or not.
And thou thyself seem’st otherwise inclined
Than to a worldly crown, addicted more
To contemplation and profound dispute;
As by that early action may be judged,
When, slipping from thy mother’s eye, thou went’st
Alone into the Temple, there wast found
Among the gravest Rabbies, disputant
On points and questions fitting Moses’ chair,
Teaching, not taught.  The childhood shews the man,
As morning shews the day.  Be famous, then,
By wisdom; as thy empire must extend,
So let extend thy mind o’er all the world
In knowledge; all things in it comprehend.
All knowledge is not couched in Moses’ law,
The Pentateuch, or what the Prophets wrote;
The Gentiles also know, and write, and teach
To admiration, led by Nature’s light;
And with the Gentiles much thou must converse,
Ruling them by persuasion, as thou mean’st.
Without their learning, how wilt thou with them,
Or they with thee, hold conversation meet?
How wilt thou reason with them, how refute
Their idolisms, traditions, paradoxes?
Error by his own arms is best evinced.
Look once more, ere we leave this specular mount,
Westward, much nearer by south-west; behold
Where on the AEgean shore a city stands,
Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil—
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
And Eloquence, native to famous wits
Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
City or suburban, studious walks and shades.
See there the olive-grove of Academe,
Plato’s retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;
There, flowery hill, Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees’ industrious murmur, oft invites
To studious musing; there Ilissus rowls
His whispering stream.  Within the walls then view
The schools of ancient sages—his who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Lyceum there; and painted Stoa next.
There thou shalt hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
AEolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called,
Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own.
Thence what the lofty grave Tragedians taught
In chorus or iambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence, with delight received
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of fate, and chance, and change in human life,
High actions and high passions best describing.
Thence to the famous Orators repair,
Those ancient whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democraty,
Shook the Arsenal, and fulmined over Greece
To Macedon and Artaxerxes’ throne.
To sage Philosophy next lend thine ear,
From heaven descended to the low-roofed house
Of Socrates—see there his tenement—
Whom, well inspired, the Oracle pronounced
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams, that watered all the schools
Of Academics old and new, with those
Surnamed Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe.
These here revolve, or, as thou likest, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom’s weight;
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire joined.”
  To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied:—
“Think not but that I know these things; or, think
I know them not, not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought.  He who receives
Light from above, from the Fountain of Light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all professed
To know this only, that he nothing knew;
The next to fabling fell and smooth conceits;
A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense;
Others in virtue placed felicity,
But virtue joined with riches and long life;
In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last in philosophic pride,
By him called virtue, and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing,
Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life—
Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he can;
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas! what can they teach, and not mislead,
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the World began, and how Man fell,
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?
Much of the Soul they talk, but all awry;
And in themselves seek virtue; and to themselves
All glory arrogate, to God give none;
Rather accuse him under usual names,
Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite
Of mortal things.  Who, therefore, seeks in these
True wisdom finds her not, or, by delusion
Far worse, her false resemblance only meets,
An empty cloud.  However, many books,
Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
(And what he brings what needs he elsewhere seek?)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
Deep-versed in books and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge,
As children gathering pebbles on the shore.
Or, if I would delight my private hours
With music or with poem, where so soon
As in our native language can I find
That solace?  All our Law and Story strewed
With hymns, our Psalms with artful terms inscribed,
Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon
That pleased so well our victor’s ear, declare
That rather Greece from us these arts derived—
Ill imitated while they loudest sing
The vices of their deities, and their own,
In fable, hymn, or song, so personating
Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame.
Remove their swelling epithetes, thick-laid
As varnish on a harlot’s cheek, the rest,
Thin-sown with aught of profit or delight,
Will far be found unworthy to compare
With Sion’s songs, to all true tastes excelling,
Where God is praised aright and godlike men,
The Holiest of Holies and his Saints
(Such are from God inspired, not such from thee);
Unless where moral virtue is expressed
By light of Nature, not in all quite lost.
Their orators thou then extoll’st as those
The top of eloquence—statists indeed,
And lovers of their country, as may seem;
But herein to our Prophets far beneath,
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government,
In their majestic, unaffected style,
Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt,
What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,
What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;
These only, with our Law, best form a king.”
  So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now
Quite at a loss (for all his darts were spent),
Thus to our Saviour, with stern brow, replied:—
  “Since neither wealth nor honour, arms nor arts,
Kingdom nor empire, pleases thee, nor aught
By me proposed in life contemplative
Or active, tended on by glory or fame,
What dost thou in this world?  The Wilderness
For thee is fittest place: I found thee there,
And thither will return thee.  Yet remember
What I foretell t
ConnectHook Dec 2015
Multitudes will be liberated by that recognition;
and although multitudes obtain liberation in that manner,
the number of sentient beings being great, evil karma powerful,
obscurations dense, propensities o too long standing,
the Wheel of Ignorance and Illusion becometh neither exhausted nor accelerated.

           The Tibetan Book of the Dead
          *translation:
  Lāma Kazi Dawa-Samdup


“Free Tibet” your sticker tells me…
Yes, I think, perhaps I should –
and the noble thought compels me,
uninformed, half-understood.

Will their freedom help my Karma?
Upgrade my reincarnation?
(Soul who could not dare to harm a
fly… much less a Buddhist nation.)

Not to justify aggression
by the ever-brutal Commies,
let us grant no glib concession
to the Maoists – or their mommies.

Slogans echo in the void,
shining in bardos of the dead;
stopped by the light, I am annoyed
impatient for the change from red.

A bumper crop of human woe
beams forth a mandate to my brain
while red Dakinis circle slow
in Buddhist hells of karmic pain.

The eastern concepts here diverge
and bow before brutality.
They make this driver long to merge
with incorporeality.

Then I glimpse a monkish fellow
swathed in saffron, calmly seated.
His, the cloud-borne sage’s pillow;
mine the traffic; stalled, defeated.

In his gaze of stern displeasure
I perceive the orient stars
calculating man’s mismeasure
trapped, exhausted, among the cars.

Flanked by Spirits wreathed in fire
he extends an accusing hand:
Western slave of base desire:
come and  liberate my land !”

I meditate before the stop light:
am I ready for the task ?
Should I just refuse it outright
Can’t it be someone else ?  I ask…

Must I free this mountain nation
from the Buddha, demons and Reds?
Shall your sticker’s declaration
shatter the yoke and raise their heads ?

Somebody ought to free Tibet,
and heed this Himalayan cry.
Maybe we should get upset…
The red light changes. Cars pass by,

predestined for benign events
and unconcerned for persecution;
oblivious to dissidents
awaiting execution.
Justin Aptaker Aug 2019
death calls
every heartbeat by name
making each one the same

this is your life
this is your life
this is your life
this is your life

the metronome, calling me home, ticking away, fading the day
life can be so melodramatic
like watching static
with the volume on mute
and your mind on mute, numbed by the gentle static hiss of your own personal hell
and the waves that swell
the remains of life-forms onto endless beaches of time

all time is mine
all time is mind

i look out by night
at the vast ocean of Being
and the sand, as it slips in my hands
is not made for my counting
infinity is not comforting

i smell salt
sitting on the naked earth, i draw from a vast reservoir
a deep well
hoping that maybe if i bury my head
under the beachy sand
i will escape the tide by becoming one with the earth and the stars

i try to write perfect words
with the absurd feeling that if i get them right
they will work like a spell
that shatters reality itself
and places me somewhere else
where things were right the first time

after all, we cast reality with words
and all of our pictures come to life
and all of life is our pictures
and words are our entire reality
so we must not be saying the right words, thinking the right words
no one taught us the right words, we don’t have the faculty for those kinds of words

silence and sleep
thoughts of the deep
give no rest for me
they reek of the sleep i dread to sleep
i make noise so that the universe must keep listening
i banish sleep because a white gangrene is glistening
where the worm never dies
and the smokes always rise, blotting the skies

are we the children of Cain? cursed from the face of the earth
is it because of ****** in my heart
that i am marked to die?

we stand shivering outside, in chains and shackles, all in a line
with brothers and sisters in front and behind
and every so often (we never know when)
our captors pluck one of us out of the line
and none of us can stop it
and we are forced to watch it
while they stand our mothers and fathers against the wall
and open fire, but not at heart or head
on stomachs and bowels instead
so our loved ones expire slowly, writhing on the cold dirt
pleading eyes upturned
begging our love to save them
but we can only wait our own turn

it seems that no Mind would dream up such a dream
and give it as Life
to its very offspring

i tremble to blaspheme
but i am questioning
doubting

whether Love has ever tread these tangled paths at all
whether Life ever begot life
whether we are not in fact just the spectacular fireworks
of passion and sorrow
that the universe has cooked up with
its chemical sorceries

which paint once the sky
for an instant in time

Father! Father!
do you even remember the name that you gave me?
do you remember the night you pulled me violently from my resting place
where it was dark and warm and secure?
and you cast me into a cold, hollow womb that continually miscarries
and i was born in a tomb
too soon?

it was winter
do you remember?

the dying of embers
O, wanton December!
Who pierced me with sorrows
and gave me tommorows
but stole all my todays


i inquire into the science
of infinite gaps
of gaping synapse

i investigate the substance of Being
poking at it from every angle
demanding that it yeild fruits fit for our consumption
that it justify itself

must i remind you
that i never asked to be here
and i never consented
to this form or this figure
riddled with cancers

i am the eternal thought
thinking itself
watching with terrified attatchment
these bodies which i inhabit

my haunts, my accostomed places
my ethos, my habits
my character, a socially constructed facade
my self, ever putting itself
into the eyes of others, looking on itself
imagining itself playing the roles
of each of the other children in the schoolyard


but at last, the primitive state of nature overtakes me
i’m going to sleep now, do not awaken me
and when i awake, Love will wake again with me
and all the smoldering, dying wreckage of this day will forsake me

ah, i remember now, the sound of Love, walking in the cool of the garden
when each day seemed to stretch on forever
and the night was full of magic
the infinite gaps can only be scaled
in the space of one instant, no more and no less

working its way back through every other instant
time, since it is a function of mind, is also subject to language
i stand back from the bodies of the dead i inhabit
i am the universal singularity, the one thought
throbbing and pulsing in the ****** heights before explosive creation
i
howl
the body electric
and rise, ******* over Moloch
whose mind is pure machinery
and whose children drown in their insanity

with a cold and broken hallelujah
i hymn the blessed race immortal
and rend the fabric of reality from top to bottom
entering in the place most holy
and die, writhing on the warm, welcoming earth
the place of my birth
the place of my hearth, where the embers glow and spark

December has now heard a lark
Hades, required to return to her mother
the goddess he has stolen for a season
and the Bird rises wreathed
in flame from the ashes
baptizing the Forms of our collective unconscious
with the blessed and holy power of life

and coming to life, all of our pictures bring us to life with them!

*

one can not blaspheme what is not
for one can not think of it
look again at what Love gave us
in the space of an instant, which extends on forever
since time and space alike are a construct of our symbolic processes

i pull out my tabula rasa
i am written on the tabula rasa
all is white on the tabula rasa
all is white
all is white

the waves now are dragging me in
to the ocean without beginning or end
and the depths are alive with the wind
of warm currents and of births and of sand
and death would appear now a friend
leading me in by the hand
calling me into the land

Love is life
Love’s alive
Love is death

Death calls
Written ca. 2011
Paul M Chafer May 2014
London,
Beating heart of England,
Charismatic time-capsule thrumming to its own rhythm,
History looming, akin to massive waves splashing down,
Drenching all, the unwary, the scholar, soaking it up,
Savouring every scintillating droplet, blissful, hopeful,
Weaving through lives, changing with every moment,
Variety of race and creed, intermingling, jostling, noticing,
Sharing sight, sound, colour, scents, smiles and frowns,
Pulsing soul of people, thriving and alive, buzzing with spirit,
In Camden, easy-going, a friendly riot of textured-hazy-peace,
Artful structures of Belgravia, magnolia temples of affluence,
Lauding architectural finery while mere mortals pass through,
Mind swinging through centuries, flowing along the river artery,
Bridges carrying us home, keeping their own dark secrets,
Cranes rising high, creating modern palaces, new beginnings,
Old lives wreathed in the foggy past of legendry deeds,
Embellished beyond reality, ghosts crying out, warning,
We can never own this city, never know this city, not really,
Guardian dragon allows us entrance, pours herself upon us,
Takes our love, progresses while we observe,
All left behind, knowing, feeling, sensing,
We are but shadows in her Light,
Dust on her famous streets,
Blessed to know her,
To breathe her,
Love her,
London.

©Paul Chafer 2014
Snapshot impression from a recent long weekend.
Thou wast that all to me, love,
  For which my soul did pine—
A green isle in the sea, love,
  A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.

Ah, dream too bright to last!
  Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
  A voice from out the Future cries,
“On! on!”—but o’er the Past
  (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast!

For, alas! alas! with me
  The light of Life is o’er!
“No more—no more—no more”—
(Such language holds the solemn sea
  To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
  Or the stricken eagle soar!

And all my days are trances,
  And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy dark eye glances,
  And where thy footstep gleams—
In what ethereal dances,
  By what eternal streams!

Alas! for that accursed time
  They bore thee o’er the billow,
From love to titled age and crime,
  And an unholy pillow!
From me, and from our misty clime,
  Where weeps the silver willow!
(From a Persian Carpet)


Ash and strewments, the first moth-wings, pale
Ardour of brief evenings, on the fecund wind;
Or all a wing, less than wind,
Breath of low herbs upfloats, petal or wing,
Haunting the musk precincts of burial.
For the season of newer riches moves triumphing,
Of the evanescence of deaths. These potpourris
Earth-tinctured, jet insect-bead, cinder of bloom—
How weigh while a great summer knows increase,
Ceaselessly risen, what there entombs?—
Of candour fallen from the slight stems of Mays,
Corrupt of the rim a blue shades, pensively:
So a fatigue of wishes will young eyes.
And brightened, unpurged eyes of revery, now
Not to glance to fabulous groves again!
For now deep presence is, and binds its close,
And closes down the wreathed alleys escape of sighs.
And now rich time is weaving, hidden tree,
The fable of orient threads from bough to bough.
Old rinded wood, whose lissomeness within
Has reached from nothing to its covering
These many corymbs’ flourish!—And the green
Shells which wait amber, breathing, wrought
Towards the still trance of summer’s centering,
Motives by ravished humble fingers set,
Each in a noon of its own infinite.
And here is leant the branch and its repose
of the deep leaf to the pilgrim plume. Repose,
Inflections brilliant and mute of the voyager, light!
And here the nests, and freshet throats resume
Notes over and over found, names
For the silvery ascensions of joy. Nothing is here
But moss and its bells now of the root’s night;
But the beetle’s bower, and arc from grass to grass
For the flight in gauze. Now its fresh lair,
Grass-deep, nestles the cool eft to stir
Vague newborn limbs, and the bud’s dark winding has
Access of day. Now on the subtle noon
Time’s image, at pause with being, labours free
Of all its charge, for each in coverts laid,
Of clement kind; and everlastingly,
In some elision of bright moments is known,
Changed wide as Eden, the branch whose silence sways
Dazzle of the murmurous leaves to continual tone;
Its separations, sighing to own again
Being of the ignorant wish; and sways to sight,
Waked from it nighted, the marvelous foundlings of light;
Risen and weaving from the ceaseless root
A divine ease whispers toward fruitfulness,
While all a summer’s conscience tempts the fruit.
I built my soul a lordly pleasure-house,
    Wherein at ease for aye to dwell.
I said, "O Soul, make merry and carouse,
      Dear soul, for all is well."

  A huge crag-platform, smooth as burnish'd brass
    I chose. The ranged ramparts bright
From level meadow-bases of deep grass
      Suddenly scaled the light.

  Thereon I built it firm. Of ledge or shelf
    The rock rose clear, or winding stair.
My soul would live alone unto herself
      In her high palace there.

  And "while the world runs round and round," I said,
    "Reign thou apart, a quiet king,
Still as, while Saturn whirls, his steadfast shade
      Sleeps on his luminous ring."

  To which my soul made answer readily:
    "Trust me, in bliss I shall abide
In this great mansion, that is built for me,
      So royal-rich and wide."

* * * *

  Four courts I made, East, West and South and North,
    In each a squared lawn, wherefrom
The golden gorge of dragons spouted forth
      A flood of fountain-foam.

  And round the cool green courts there ran a row
    Of cloisters, branch'd like mighty woods,
Echoing all night to that sonorous flow
      Of spouted fountain-floods.

  And round the roofs a gilded gallery
    That lent broad verge to distant lands,
Far as the wild swan wings, to where the sky
      Dipt down to sea and sands.

  From those four jets four currents in one swell
    Across the mountain stream'd below
In misty folds, that floating as they fell
      Lit up a torrent-bow.

  And high on every peak a statue seem'd
    To hang on tiptoe, tossing up
A cloud of incense of all odour steam'd
      From out a golden cup.

  So that she thought, "And who shall gaze upon
    My palace with unblinded eyes,
While this great bow will waver in the sun,
      And that sweet incense rise?"

  For that sweet incense rose and never fail'd,
    And, while day sank or mounted higher,
The light aerial gallery, golden-rail'd,
      Burnt like a fringe of fire.

  Likewise the deep-set windows, stain'd and traced,
    Would seem slow-flaming crimson fires
From shadow'd grots of arches interlaced,
      And tipt with frost-like spires.

* * *

  Full of long-sounding corridors it was,
    That over-vaulted grateful gloom,
Thro' which the livelong day my soul did pass,
      Well-pleased, from room to room.

  Full of great rooms and small the palace stood,
    All various, each a perfect whole
From living Nature, fit for every mood
      And change of my still soul.

  For some were hung with arras green and blue,
    Showing a gaudy summer-morn,
Where with puff'd cheek the belted hunter blew
      His wreathed bugle-horn.

  One seem'd all dark and red--a tract of sand,
    And some one pacing there alone,
Who paced for ever in a glimmering land,
      Lit with a low large moon.

  One show'd an iron coast and angry waves.
    You seem'd to hear them climb and fall
And roar rock-thwarted under bellowing caves,
      Beneath the windy wall.

  And one, a full-fed river winding slow
    By herds upon an endless plain,
The ragged rims of thunder brooding low,
      With shadow-streaks of rain.

  And one, the reapers at their sultry toil.
    In front they bound the sheaves. Behind
Were realms of upland, prodigal in oil,
      And hoary to the wind.

  And one a foreground black with stones and slags,
    Beyond, a line of heights, and higher
All barr'd with long white cloud the scornful crags,
      And highest, snow and fire.

  And one, an English home--gray twilight pour'd
    On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep--all things in order stored,
      A haunt of ancient Peace.

  Nor these alone, but every landscape fair,
    As fit for every mood of mind,
Or gay, or grave, or sweet, or stern, was there,
      Not less than truth design'd.

* * *

  Or the maid-mother by a crucifix,
    In tracts of pasture sunny-warm,
Beneath branch-work of costly sardonyx
      Sat smiling, babe in arm.

  Or in a clear-wall'd city on the sea,
    Near gilded *****-pipes, her hair
Wound with white roses, slept St. Cecily;
      An angel look'd at her.

  Or thronging all one porch of Paradise
    A group of Houris bow'd to see
The dying Islamite, with hands and eyes
      That said, We wait for thee.

  Or mythic Uther's deeply-wounded son
    In some fair space of sloping greens
Lay, dozing in the vale of Avalon,
      And watch'd by weeping queens.

  Or hollowing one hand against his ear,
    To list a foot-fall, ere he saw
The wood-nymph, stay'd the Ausonian king to hear
      Of wisdom and of law.

  Or over hills with peaky tops engrail'd,
    And many a tract of palm and rice,
The throne of Indian Cama slowly sail'd
      A summer fann'd with spice.

  Or sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasp'd,
    From off her shoulder backward borne:
From one hand droop'd a crocus: one hand grasp'd
      The mild bull's golden horn.

  Or else flush'd Ganymede, his rosy thigh
    Half-buried in the Eagle's down,
Sole as a flying star shot thro' the sky
      Above the pillar'd town.

  Nor these alone; but every legend fair
    Which the supreme Caucasian mind
Carved out of Nature for itself, was there,
      Not less than life, design'd.

* * *

  Then in the towers I placed great bells that swung,
    Moved of themselves, with silver sound;
And with choice paintings of wise men I hung
      The royal dais round.

  For there was Milton like a seraph strong,
    Beside him Shakespeare bland and mild;
And there the world-worn Dante grasp'd his song,
      And somewhat grimly smiled.

  And there the Ionian father of the rest;
    A million wrinkles carved his skin;
A hundred winters snow'd upon his breast,
      From cheek and throat and chin.

  Above, the fair hall-ceiling stately-set
    Many an arch high up did lift,
And angels rising and descending met
      With interchange of gift.

  Below was all mosaic choicely plann'd
    With cycles of the human tale
Of this wide world, the times of every land
      So wrought, they will not fail.

  The people here, a beast of burden slow,
    Toil'd onward, *****'d with goads and stings;
Here play'd, a tiger, rolling to and fro
      The heads and crowns of kings;

  Here rose, an athlete, strong to break or bind
    All force in bonds that might endure,
And here once more like some sick man declined,
      And trusted any cure.

  But over these she trod: and those great bells
    Began to chime. She took her throne:
She sat betwixt the shining Oriels,
      To sing her songs alone.

  And thro' the topmost Oriels' coloured flame
    Two godlike faces gazed below;
Plato the wise, and large brow'd Verulam,
      The first of those who know.

  And all those names, that in their motion were
    Full-welling fountain-heads of change,
Betwixt the slender shafts were blazon'd fair
      In diverse raiment strange:

  Thro' which the lights, rose, amber, emerald, blue,
    Flush'd in her temples and her eyes,
And from her lips, as morn from Memnon, drew
      Rivers of melodies.

  No nightingale delighteth to prolong
    Her low preamble all alone,
More than my soul to hear her echo'd song
      Throb thro' the ribbed stone;

  Singing and murmuring in her feastful mirth,
    Joying to feel herself alive,
Lord over Nature, Lord of the visible earth,
      Lord of the senses five;

  Communing with herself: "All these are mine,
    And let the world have peace or wars,
'T is one to me." She--when young night divine
      Crown'd dying day with stars,

  Making sweet close of his delicious toils--
    Lit light in wreaths and anadems,
And pure quintessences of precious oils
      In hollow'd moons of gems,

  To mimic heaven; and clapt her hands and cried,
    "I marvel if my still delight
In this great house so royal-rich, and wide,
      Be flatter'd to the height.

  "O all things fair to sate my various eyes!
    O shapes and hues that please me well!
O silent faces of the Great and Wise,
      My Gods, with whom I dwell!

  "O God-like isolation which art mine,
    I can but count thee perfect gain,
What time I watch the darkening droves of swine
      That range on yonder plain.

  "In filthy sloughs they roll a prurient skin,
    They graze and wallow, breed and sleep;
And oft some brainless devil enters in,
      And drives them to the deep."

  Then of the moral instinct would she prate
    And of the rising from the dead,
As hers by right of full accomplish'd Fate;
      And at the last she said:

  "I take possession of man's mind and deed.
    I care not what the sects may brawl.
I sit as God holding no form of creed,
      But contemplating all."

* * * *

  Full oft the riddle of the painful earth
    Flash'd thro' her as she sat alone,
Yet not the less held she her solemn mirth,
      And intellectual throne.

  And so she throve and prosper'd; so three years
    She prosper'd: on the fourth she fell,
Like Herod, when the shout was in his ears,
      Struck thro' with pangs of hell.

  Lest she should fail and perish utterly,
    God, before whom ever lie bare
The abysmal deeps of Personality,
      Plagued her with sore despair.

  When she would think, where'er she turn'd her sight
    The airy hand confusion wrought,
Wrote, "Mene, mene," and divided quite
      The kingdom of her thought.

  Deep dread and loathing of her solitude
    Fell on her, from which mood was born
Scorn of herself; again, from out that mood
      Laughter at her self-scorn.

  "What! is not this my place of strength," she said,
    "My spacious mansion built for me,
Whereof the strong foundation-stones were laid
      Since my first memory?"

  But in dark corners of her palace stood
    Uncertain shapes; and unawares
On white-eyed phantasms weeping tears of blood,
      And horrible nightmares,

  And hollow shades enclosing hearts of flame,
    And, with dim fretted foreheads all,
On corpses three-months-old at noon she came,
      That stood against the wall.

  A spot of dull stagnation, without light
    Or power of movement, seem'd my soul,
'Mid onward-sloping motions infinite
      Making for one sure goal.

  A still salt pool, lock'd in with bars of sand,
    Left on the shore, that hears all night
The plunging seas draw backward from the land
      Their moon-led waters white.

  A star that with the choral starry dance
    Join'd not, but stood, and standing saw
The hollow orb of moving Circumstance
      Roll'd round by one fix'd law.

  Back on herself her serpent pride had curl'd.
    "No voice," she shriek'd in that lone hall,
"No voice breaks thro' the stillness of this world:
      One deep, deep silence all!"

  She, mouldering with the dull earth's mouldering sod,
    Inwrapt tenfold in slothful shame,
Lay there exiled from eternal God,
      Lost to her place and name;

  And death and life she hated equally,
    And nothing saw, for her despair,
But dreadful time, dreadful eternity,
      No comfort anywhere;

  Remaining utterly confused with fears,
    And ever worse with growing time,
And ever unrelieved by dismal tears,
      And all alone in crime:

  Shut up as in a crumbling tomb, girt round
    With blackness as a solid wall,
Far off she seem'd to hear the dully sound
      Of human footsteps fall.

  As in strange lands a traveller walking slow,
    In doubt and great perplexity,
A little before moon-rise hears the low
      Moan of an unknown sea;

  And knows not if it be thunder, or a sound
    Of rocks thrown down, or one deep cry
Of great wild beasts; then thinketh, "I have found
      A new land, but I die."

  She howl'd aloud, "I am on fire within.
    There comes no murmur of reply.
What is it that will take away my sin,
      And save me lest I die?"

  So when four years were wholly finished,
    She threw her royal robes away.
"Make me a cottage in the vale," she said,
      "Where I may mourn and pray.

  "Yet pull not down my palace towers, that are
    So lightly, beautifully built:
Perchance I may return with othe
In the spirit’s solitary hours
It is lovely to walk in the sun
Along the yellow walls of summer.
Quietly whisper the steps in the grass; yet always sleeps
The son of Pan in the grey marble.

At eventide on the terrace we got drunk on brown wine
The red peach glows under the foliage.
Tender sonata, joyous laughter.

Lovely is this silence of the night.
On the dark plains
We gather with shepherds and the white stars.

When autumn rises
The grove is a sight of sober clarity.
Along the red walls we loiter at ease
And the round eyes follow the flight of birds.
In the evening pale water gathers in the dregs of burial urns.

Heaven celebrates, sitting in bare branches.
In hallowed hands the yeoman carries bread and wine
And fruit ripens in the peace of a sunny chamber.

Oh how stern is the face of the beloved who have taken their passage.
Yet the soul is comforted in righteous meditation.

Overwhelming is the desolated garden‘s secrecy,
As the young novice has wreathed his brow with brown leaves,
His breath inhales icy gold.

The hands touch the antiquity of blueish water
Or in a cold night the sisters’ white cheeks.

In quiet and harmony we walk along a suite of hospitable rooms
Into solitude and the rustling of maple trees,
Where, perhaps, the thrush still sings.

Beautiful is man and emerging from the dark
He marvels as he moves his arms and legs,
And his eyes quietly roll in purple cavities.

At suppertime a stranger loses himself in November’s black destitution;
Under brittle branches he follows a wall covered under leprosy.
Once the holy brother went here,
Engrossed in the tender music of his madness.

Oh how lonely settles the evening-wind.
Dying away a man‘s head droops in the dark of the olive tree.

How shattering is the decline of a family.
This is the hour when the seer’s eyes are filled
With gold as he beholds the stars.

The evening’s descend has muffled the belfry‘s knell in silence;
Among black walls in the public place,
A dead soldier calls for a prayer.

Like a pale angel
The son enters his ancestor’s empty house.

The sisters have traveled far to the pale ancients.
At night, returned from their mournful pilgrimage,
He found them asleep under the columns of the hallway.

Oh hair stained with dung and worms
As his silver feet stepped on it
And on those who died in echoing rooms.

Oh you palms under midnight’s burning rain,
When the servants flogged those tender eyes with nettles,
The hollyhock’s early fruit
Beheld your empty grave in wonder.

Fading moons sail quietly
Over the sheets of the feverish lad,
Into the silence of winter.

At the bank of Kidron a great mind is lost in musing,
Under a tree, the tender cedar,
Stretched out under the father’s blue eyebrows,
Where a shepherd drives his flock to pastures at night.

Or there are screams which escape the sleep;
When an iron angel approaches man in the grove,
The holy man’s flesh melts over burning coals.

Purple wine climbs about the mud-cottage,
Sheaves of faded corn sing;
The buzz of bees; the crane’s flight.
In the evening the souls of the resurrected gather on rocky paths.

Lepers behold their image in dark water;
Or they lift the hemp of their dung soiled attire,
And weep to the soothing wind, as it drifts down from the rosy hill.

Slender maidens ***** their way through the narrow lanes of night;
They hope for the gracious shepherd.
Tenderly, songs ring out from the huts on weekend.

Let the song pay homage to the boy,
To his madness to his white eyebrows and to his passage,
To the decaying corpse, who opened his blue eyes.
Oh how sad is this reunion.

The stairs of madness in black apartments –
The matriarch’s shadow emerged under the open door
When Helian’s soul beheld his image in a rosy mirror;
And from his brow bled snow and leprosy.

The walls extinguished the stars
And the white effigies of light.

From the carpet rise skeletons, escaping their graves,
Fallen crosses sit silent on the hill,
The night’s purple wind is sweet with frankincense.

Oh ye broken eyes over black gaping jaws,
When the grandson in the solitude
Of his tender madness muses over a darker ending,
The blue eyelids of the silent god sink upon him.

— The End —