The Stars Will Not Devise
The stars will not devise a way out of your life
that they haven’t already offered you
and the sprawl of green fountains
that hallows you now, the victorious trees,
will later dropp all their keys
like a nightwatchman too drunk to get in.
You must stand in the ashes if you want to study orchids,
you must fill your body up with clouds
and red-tailed hawks, and autumn leaves
torn from the pages of the history of fire
if you want to follow what the wind is saying
back to its mouth in the sun.
Everything else is the source of everything else
and the rain knows more about circles and arrows
than all the bows and compasses
of the sad magician who’s stripped his purities of flesh.
Stay close to the earth if you want
to look deeply into the eyes of the stars
and see the golden maggot that hangs from its lifeline
like a message in a tear delivered with wings.
Your blood, no matter how you say it,
is a prelude of wild roses beside a murdered brook,
and there are legends of light on your skin
that are ancient instructions
on how to bring it back to life again. Denude yourself
of those feathers and leaves and mirrors
you dress the morning up in
to go and sit on the corner like an open guitar-case
to deprive the music of the night before.
There are women everywhere, half-awake,
who grope the sheets for you like spare change
in an empty bed, and blue doors where you live
waiting for you to fill the tiny eyes of their spy-holes
with ruined moons willing to sacrifice themselves
for a few moments more.
If you give your word to me
you won’t desecrate their graves with shallow questions,
I’ll show you where the harps
of the enlightened peacocks were buried with honours
when they saw through the veils of the eclipse
that opened their eyes to a dawn
they hadn’t expected. Get up off your knees
in that house of chains and crippled ladders you worship in;
there’s nothing holy about the crutches you contrive
in a shipyard of able bones, and your voyages
are already blessed by the sea that pounds in your chest
to add you to her islands. Can’t you feel
the soft adagios of her secret distances
swaying the keyboard of your crossed horizons like waves?
And why do you quote the fool of your own silence
to contradict the wisdom of the night
that everywhere answers you
with the shadows of bells and owls
you can read between the lines of the stars;
isn’t it clear that all that vastness is a rock in a well
she’s singing to you, a fragrance of time
that wants to voice the solitude
of her lachrymose labyrinths to someone
who knows how to listen
in the nocturnal flowers of her native tongue?
Write, yes, write; by all means
show us the beauty of your soul
in its passage across the moon
whether coming or going, array your lonely jewels
on the carpet of the sky before us
like the fruits and tears and eyes
that have congealed from your sorrows,
and those dark drops of amber and tar
that preserve all your flights and fears intact
like supple summers jailed in a locket; let’s
hold them up, too, to the light and wonder
that you could endure such fables of pain;
and not just your bleeding rubies, not just
your emeritus emeralds and the radiant sapphires
that fell from the crown
that graced the domain of your regal demeanour
with a northern constellation,
but the painted fish and electric eels,
and the sharks and the crabs and the jelly fish
that live in the dead cities of your all night corals
like cheap actors in ravenous wardrobes of blood
playing for real; let’s see them as well,
and all the rank gardens that grow in the dirt
beneath the crescents of your untrimmed nails
slumming like landlords in places you wouldn’t live;
let’s see all of these and more lifting the veils
on the ferrous brides of your unimpeachable sincerity.
But when all the vows have been taken and forsaken
and your dead have been lavishly mourned
in brass, granite, marble, and staples,
let’s see if you know how to drink with the shadows
you go out every sunset
with your tongue as thick as a broom
to sweep from the stairs? After the cool, blue, jazz clefs
warming up like fireflies and fiddleheads
to the implications of emptiness improvising
on the black trumpets of the scorched daylilies,
let’s hear from some passing storm now and again
that you’ve learned how to die enough
that the pulse of a profounder heartbeat
that marks time with the breathing of nightfall
is all that keeps you alive.
- quotes about fables
- quotes about honor
- quotes about victory
- quotes about eclipse
- quotes about islands
- quotes about language
- quotes about electricity
- quotes about gardens
- quotes about tomb
Sun And Rain And Seed
The distance calls.
Hedges and dry stone walls
On hillsides, flocks of sheep.
Rough cliffs high, valleys deep.
One stretched out patchwork quilt,
Time formed, from rocks and silt.
Our planet’s richness shown,
Under the sky’s ozone.
The distance calls.
Even through heavy squalls,
The wind, the trees reshape,
Mists falling like a cape.
Weathered timber barns,
Mountains, vales and tarns.
All grace this pleasant earth,
Prized beauty of such worth.
The distance calls.
Swift rivers, waterfalls
All senses become sharp.
The salmon, trout and carp,
Swim silently and glide,
Not easily espied.
These lands are fertile still,
With stream, with brook, with rill.
The distance calls.
Hear cows in cattle stalls.
Across the loose blown hay,
Their bellows drift away,
Fields grassed, look rich and green,
The air is fresh and clean.
And nature’s cleansed anew.
Space for every hue,
For what more does one need,
Just sun and rain and seed.
- quotes about cleaning
- quotes about ozone
- quotes about cows
- quotes about swimming
- quotes about sheep
- quotes about mountains
- quotes about walls
- quotes about Thanksgiving
- quotes about nature
One Day You Realize You're Looping
One day you realize you're looping,
Mars retrograde in Virgo,
through all the stations in life
you once progressed through,
and the door you return to
is a second innocence
more profoundly seasoned
than the one you first left by.
Everything else in the universe
is regressing ahead in accord with time
like a night sky doubling back on itself
to take its tail in its mouth
as a symbol of regenerative eternity.
Or moonrise. How likely is it
I'm not? That I'm
the only long-haired wavelength
that got straightened out
on a nineteen sixties ironing board
like the girlfriends
I was always waiting for back then.
That there's no twist in my stairwell?
No wheeling red-tailed hawks in my thermals?
No spirals in the sunflowers of my genomes?
No starfish in the bend of my galactic propellers?
No Sufis at the dance. Straight-laced crucifixions
of corkscrews and bottles of wine
that nailed it wrong
and turned back into sober water.
Not a chance. Or as they say in calculus
a straight line is just a special form of a curve.
Ask space. Ask the atoms.
I'm always one step behind my next birth
at an unexpected bend in the river.
You remember that old Etruscan god,
Vertumnus, whose name meant river's turning,
and later, adopted by the gullible Romans
turned into Morpheus, the shapeshifter?
I think the zodiacal kings of Etruria
got it more right
than the perfectionists who keep
trying to get it righter,
and water and light and dream
are closer to my original nature
than this snake of a road
I've been riding like black ice for light years
in a holy war of spurs and fangs,
the sacred thorns of a black rose
in a last duel with the first
and last crescents of the moon.
And as Lao-Tzu says in the Tao Te Ching
what isn't soft and supple
turns brittle and breaks
like a cataract of thin ice
over a flowing lens
it's easy enough to drown in
if you lose you're focus in the rapids.
Even glassblowers must need to cry
real tears now and again
that splinter like rain at their feet.
The fittest cornerstones all do Yoga.
Their twisted like the roots of trees
not a square uncarved block
of disciplined quicksand.
Look at the synchronous swimmers
in the undulation of an hourglass,
the S curve of a woman's figure,
the sign of a long distance snake in the desert
the Egyptians used as a glyph for intelligence.
Can you hear the same creek at midnight I do
whispering its way through the woods
as if it had no one to tell its secrets to but itself
taking the long way home like waterlilies
just coming into bloom
along the banks of the mindstream?
Makes me want to float poetic moonboats
like enlightened shipwrecks down river
when the fleet comes in
like Japanese plum blossoms in Atlantis
with a cargo of koans and haikus on board
that could be easily mistaken for loveletters.
And, hey, whether it's Cygnus above
in the Summer Triangle,
or a black swan on the Ottawa River,
I'm happy to take this trip alone
shooting the rapids of time
like an urgent waterclock
afraid of drowning in a flashback of its life
or a lifeboat full of moonlight
that came to the rescue of itself.
I won't beat the dust
out of the thread-bare wavelengths
of the flying carpets of life like stars
or houseflies that got in the way
of my broken window.
And o when I was young
I used to pray the day would never come
when I would talk like this,
but as the years turn into eras,
you can't help but see
a lot of things in life
some of which you wish you hadn't.
The beauty and the terror.
The candle in the dark doorway
at the back of the morgue,
whose light can go no further
than a prayer for the dead
behind closed eyelids.
Ferry, chariot, or limousine
it's still Charon at the toll gate.
No exit, no entrance,
thresholds of light upon light,
petals of a black rose
blooming in the shadows
on the far side of the moon
like the flight plan of a crow feather
that doesn't consult the tower anymore
for permission to take off and land
and leaves the trees to the night birds
to exorcise their longing
and by their singing,
as their fruits, be known.
Every step of the way
I've stood at the gate of a stranger
that looked a lot like me yesterday
without this death mask on
that doubles as a blossom
of the full moon on a dead branch.
Green bough. Dead branch.
And the lights play on
long after the music's over.
You can see and hear it
in the picture-music of the stars
that shine over you even after
both you and they
ahead of your own light
by the time it gets
to where it's going are
are long gone, gone, gone,
altogether gone beyond
firewalking with virgins on Mars
like bridges and crosswalks in transit.
You can't pour the universe
out of the universe
like a fish in a waterclock
that jumps up into your moon boat
at the strike of midnight at noon
to tell you what hour it is
when you know that every hour
every step, every breath,
every river, road, gate and doorway
is a death in life experience of this one.
Not the wounded wavelength
of a heartbeat on crutches
come to a game of snakes and ladders
that can't find anything to lean on
on the opposite side of the river
because the mindstream has no banks
and the bridges go on forever
like the wavelengths of snakes
with their tails in their mouth
going the way they came
like bouquets and fountains,
tears in the valley
that echo on the mountain
like snow at the feet of the stars
back into their deep watersheds
where the dry seas of the dead mingle
with the ebb and neap of the living
like the moon on the waters of life.
And I mustn't forget
as I sometimes do
even when I'm drowning
like a starfish in my own waters
that this flash of life,
this brevity of a firefly,
this lifespan of an insight
into this life, this death,
is just a galaxy's way
of bringing me back down to earth
without forgetting where I come from.
The Sunshine after The Rain
The sunshine after the rain
The grey darkness is gone
The sun back mighty in glory
crowned with golden rays
Sending love and warmth
to inhabitants of the world
Nature beauty is revealed
in remarkable way
the rain water drops lingering
kissing the roses,
the flowers and lilies
spreading over the fields
the pastures sparkling green
the awesome trees
the skies painted in crystal blue
the white shades of clouds
All bringing joy
nourishing our soul
The sunshine after the rain
Life In Bluish Green
Fantastic, neither subject to excessive joy
nor dramatic depression, immobile all day
long while researching terms for my texts
no emotional response to the outside world:
achieved my object of becoming a machine
Checking statistics without anxiety, a single
focus on my text and the four walls of reality,
no concern about any other thing on earth -
the opportunity to enjoy the peace and calm
normal people feel working without interruption
Satisfied with the visible part of life, Stoicism
at last, no floating on a dream nor sinking in-
to black nothingness, life in bluish green, no
third voice to make comments, the scenery
arranged in Framework 2 without my help
Early Works - The Seasons
Sky clouded and morbid blue
with cracks for the sun to shine through.
Fields barren and dead
with leaves turning from green to red.
Birds on high winging south
as rivers flow from its mouth.
Sun shines a light of cold on the
ground as autumn approaching us surrounds.
The leaves of orange and red mould where they are blown
as upon us winder begins to grow.
After a while comes a white blanket of snow
covering everything that will grow.
The nights get long
and the winter winds blow strong.
Everything is frozen fast
and in this wintry waste, none must trespass.
Overnight comes the warmth of a rearing sun
bringing with it the spring,
life to every living thing.
Trees and flowers bud, bloom,
and around the corner summer begins to loom.
As everything, turns’ smiling around
there is heard in the wind loves sweet sound.
Then with sunsets beautiful, but not rare
we can tell summer is in the air.
Flowers in full bloom spread multicolour around
as small creatures scamper on the ground
under the sun profound.
All the mysteries that summer does involve
will soon be gone as the seasons again revolve.
Date Unknown. (Early 1970’s I think)
I like to call you my wild horse
(and feed you silver sage ? )
Id like to paint my poems with
Desert tongued clay across her back
And ride you savagely as the sweet and southern wind
Through green and wild kentucky
Id like to make you my secret song
Blaze and dark and red in the orchards
And I would steal away to watch the way
Your silver belly bends and bows beneath me
Id make you my wings in the foothills of montana
My lover in the oceans of the world
Id make you... of children
And I would scatter you across my green memories of home
Id make you my hungry valley
And sow your golden fields and wheats my own
If I were a painter
I would paint you with this note
Silver traces on your skin
And if I were a writer
I would write these words on your back
In desert tongue clay, deep in (your wind? )
Id make you my secret song
Blazing in the orchard
And I would steal away
To watch the way your silver belly
Bends and bows beneath me
Id make you my wings in the foothills of montana
Make you my lover in the oceans of the world
Id make you my calico children
And I would scatter you across my green memories of home
Id be your hungry valley
And Id sow your golden fields of wheat my own
If I were a writer
I would make you my wild horse
Id paint you silver sage and
Ride you savagely through green wild country
(? ? ? ) swedish verses
And you are the rose on my alter
I worship you eternally in flight
Like the wave ?
Ill dip you in these praises like cobwebs
And watch them....?
For your hair is the rain
And it soaks across the continents of my skin
These hands that worship you so completely
You see this woman standing before you
Naked and seared, true of intent,
I dont need you
I want you near
For you are my love
You are my flower of the sun
You are my lover for all time
You wake in the morning
For your sun(flowers? )
You wake in the morning
With your kiss
Ill be your hungry valley
And sow your golden fields of wheat...?
And you are the rose on my alter
I worship you eternally in flight
Like the wave ?
You be my calico children
Ill scatter you across my green memories of home
Easy to extract oneself from the climacteric of doom
that will absolve humanity of its horrors
by placing its destiny in its own hands
like a loaded gun in the hands of a child
by taking long nocturnal walks by the Tay River
among wildflowers full of farewell.
To watch the moonrise glowing
on the Texas toes of my wet black boots
as if they'd just been spit polished by morning snails
and sense the just proportions
and inchoate eloquence of eternity
in the trivialities of sublime coincidence.
How randomly everything fits
into this urgent medium of life and death
as if it played the tailor to its own emergence seamlessly
the way the mind stream cuts a path for itself
among a bewildering array of rocks and fallen birch
or a startled rat snake adds its wavelength
like a higher frequency to the laconic water
and yet no river has ever flowed the wrong way to the sea.
Easy to step out of the polluted light of the streetlamps
into the cleaner darkness on the outskirts of town
to renew my innocence
in the macrocosmic reveries of my solitude
enchanted by the mesmerizing details
of the mystically miniscule.
How the New England asters
in the middle of September
that yesterday bloomed like stars
in happier zodiacs than this
today are watching their eyelashes fall out one by one
and the daylilies that blazed with desire
wither like the kisses of old women
when no one's there to receive them.
Easy to accept catastrophe in nature
as the spontaneous gesture of a hidden wisdom
that our eyes are too dependent on the light to see yet.
The muskrat gutted by the cattails
by a posse of rampant coyotes
in a frenzy of panicked hunger
sensing the cold-blooded wind turn vicious.
Soon the air will bare its fangs and snarl.
Soon the earth will harden into knuckles of ice
and the raccoons semi-hibernate
and the blue jays come like thieves
to pick the time-locks on the sunflowers
and the seeds enter the cryonic comas of their afterlives
confident of their revival in a future beyond doubt
as the planet sidles up to the sun at perigee
like an old love affair gone cold
tilting its head away
to rebuff any further advances.
Easy to lose yourself in the life of the mind
and the phantasmagoria of reality
that makes you feel you're walking with gods
you'll never know the name of.
Turn your back on the world
and let your thoughts wander off like smoke
from the fire pits of lost caravans
that have pitched their tents
on the dark side of the moon
where they can make up their own myths
about the strange stars
that have misled them this far from home.
How the creek laps the rock
like a doe at a salt block
left out in a farmer's field.
How the water purls over the terraced shale
that looks like a burnt book in the ashes
of a fire that's just been put out
like the library of Alexandria.
You could do that.
And who could blame you?
You wouldn't be wrong.
It's hard to listen
the way you listen to a star stream
slipping through a grove of birches at night
astute to everything it's whispering;
hard to listen to the blood
gurgling out of a wounded child
like a poppy choking to death.
Hard to fine-tune your sensibilities
to the miscreant devolution of your own species
and not be savagely appalled
into holding a mirror up to nature
that blocks the view as surely
as if you'd put your hands up over your eyes
to escape it all and wake up somewhere else
where skulls are more natural in Eden
than in the abattoirs of human carnage.
A clean life with no skidmarks of despair.
No fingernails scratching at the walls
in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
No graffiti under the bridges of PsychoBabylon.
No university students on the road to Damascus
tortured like Rosetta Stones
that have just had their tongues cut out
for not saying anything
that makes any sense
to the body language of the depraved
mutilating their flesh like slang.
Just the claw marks on the rocks
that have been sanitized by time
like the glacial striations of the last ice age
that gouged out the eyes of the lakes around here.
The bitter aesthetes of retreat run back to paradise
to study demonology by the light of fireflies
to better understand their fellow man
and live tactically out of reach
of their common inhumanity
where there's not chance of a ricochet.
Under a locust tree in full bloom.
A fragrant cloud of honey-bees
with as many thorns as they have stingers
behind a wall of zinnias, cosmos, gladiolas
on a hill in the eye of clearing
completely surrounded by trees
sitting at a picnic table
with a black coffee, cigarette, and journal
inspired by the beauty of the morning to write
before your lover wakes up
to tend nine bean rows in Innisfree
though it's eleven miles
and a hundred years ago
outside Westport Ontario
where you can hear the scarlet carillons
of the wild columbine in the rain
tinkling like delicate wind chimes
and modestly agitated chandeliers
plucked by the rain like the plectra
of home-made harpsichords
on the moss-pated rocks
of their composer's skulls.
No mediocrities in nature
it's hard not to feel like Mozart
whatever you're listening to.
No air raid sirens, ambulances
squad cars or firetrucks
screaming like banshees
like furies and erinyes
to the scene of the tragic event.
No fractious braying of political jackasses
grinding their teeth in their sleep
like the mill wheels of the stony bread
the rich resent the poor
like loaves and fishes and mice in the silo
boat-tailed grackles and black-capped chickadees
salvaging what they can
from the dumpsters of leftover gardens.
No pathological racket of garbage cans
being tipped over in a street fight
to end all street fights
like knights in armour on their backs
in front a shield wall of local police
picking them up to hold them for ransom.
No drunks and druggies in the hallways
only bats velcroed to the burdock
blinded by the porch light
and star-nosed moles and snakes on the threshold
the cats leave like offerings
on the stairs of the temple of Bast.
So much easier to listen to the eerie wailing
of baby porcupines high in the basswood trees
than the shrieks of a family
being dragged out of their beds
by an occupation army
to see which of their daughters sisters mothers
will be raped like the Congo
whose childhood shall be pressed into murder
and who shall be bred out of existence.
Easy to buff the crack of the world with talcum powder
to spare you from getting diaper-rash of the mind
and side-track the ferocity of your insight into the horror
with lightning-rods and tuning forks
you can break with your pinky finger like wishbones
torn from the throats of children
who didn't have time enough on earth
to learn to read the names on their own gravestones
if they're lucky enough to have one.
Easy to have a time-share
in nature's indifference to death
when there no place left
on the surface of a raging planet
that isn't a dangerous vacation.
So much easier to tinker with echinacea
and smudge the bad spirits
out of the renovated farm house with sage
from home-grown herb gardens
than it is to inhale the reek of cordite
or the stench of organic decomposition
of the adolescent flesh of the festering corpse
found in a drainage ditch among the weeds
like a lily that smelled far worse than them
on the outskirts of Argentina
in the stadiums of Chile
in the Tiananmen Squares of China
in the mass hysteria of the bloodbanks of Syria
trying to assail a nest of dynastic vampires
with a silver bullet through the heart of the cloaked one
in the radical slums of Gaza
in the Warsaw ghettos of the West Bank
run by Israel searching children outside the gate
for smuggled vegetables from the Fertile Crescent
in the native reservations of the originals
who peopled Canada
like a charter of indigenous freedoms
without any concept of surveying their mother like real estate.
Outside the emergency exits and entrances of Arizona
where immigrants beaten to death
and dumped on the pavement to die
abandon all hope of ever entering there
and bullfrogs squatting on their sheriff's badge
croak about getting tough on the mosquitoes
by hand-cuffing them to the food chain for deportation.
Flies eggs in the goat's milk.
Spiders sucking the life out of the jewel
in the heart of the American dream catcher.
All that is hideous, grotesque, perverse,
genocidal, fratricidal, patricidal, matricidal, suicidal and worse
than acid splashed in the eyes of Afghani schoolgirls
learning to read through holes in the ozone
by flashlight under the veils of Isis.
Seek ye knowledge even as far as China.
Wheresoever ye turn is the face of God revealed
like the encaustic portrait of girl that came unglued
like a multilated candle on CNN
trying to shine a light on
nur wa nur
what's dark and brutal
about the alif ba ta tha gim
of an alphabet in the mouth of an oral tradition
with an alchemical regime of hashashim for muscle.
You know how many dolls they collected at Dachau?
You know how many soccer balls
have had their feet blown off by cluster bombs in Gaza?
You know how many weathervanes
have stiffened their resolve
to look the other way like iron roosters
with alarmist political agendas
and industrious military complexes
as corrupted as the weather
when the wind is blowing the wrong way
like bad spin from the chimneys of Auschwitz
and Sabra and Shatila lie in the direction of prayer
like the gunsight of a Palestinian sniper?
Is this God's ferocity
or the inconceivable atrocities of mad men
eaten alive by Herodian maggots
seeking the life of the first born of every nation
to preserve their myth of spontaneous generation.
Sweet to see the shadows of the autumn leaves
fossilized like bat wings on the sidewalk;
to notice how they turn
in the same succession of colours
from the outside in
as rainbows sunsets
and the emission spectra of nearby stars
busy on the nightshift making calcium and carbon.
Sweet to know this and to wonder at it
easy in the mystery
among the dragonflies and the blue hyacinth,
nailing bluebird boxes out of the reach of the barn cats
and egg-stealing raccoons
to play your part in it like a companionable spirit.
Asylum from the world.
Diplomatic immunity among the great blue herons
because you've stood there so long
without disturbing a fish
they think you're one of them.
The experienced and man of wisdom,
Only accepts his ignorance seldom;
Knowing a little about behavior,
Of men and animals, he can just err.
Forecast he can’t, the wind or sun or rain;
His predictions often go down the drain;
Foretell he can’t where an earthquake will strike;
This earthly life, he can’t like or dislike.
When a cat happens to fall from a height,
How much it tumbles, can he tell aright?
The child’s reaction, he can’t guess truly;
Or what a spider will do next, surely.
Why does man try to soar then, in the skies?
If wise, he shouldn’t try predicting the dice.
The winds came out of the west one day,
And hurried the clouds before them;
And drove the shadows and mists away,
And over the mountains bore them.
And I wept, 'Oh, wind, blow into my mind,
Blow into my soul and heart,
And scatter the clouds that hang lile shrouds,
And make the shadows depart.'
The rain came out of th eleaden skies
And beat on the earth's cold bosom.
It said to the sleeping grass, 'Arise, '
And the young buds sprang in blossom.
And I wept in pain, 'Oh, blessed rain,
Beat into my heart to-day;
Thaw out the snows that are chilling it so,
Till it blossoms in hope, I pray.'
The sunshine fell on the bare-armed trees,
In a wonderful sheen of glory;
And the young leaves rustled and sang to the breeze,
And whispered a love-fraught story.
And 'Sun, oh, shine on this heart of mine,
And woo it to life, ' I cried;
But the wind, and sun, and rain, each one
The coveted boon denied
The Sun & The Moon
The autumn leaves were falling
As we raced against the sun
And all but friends stop calling
They assumed the race was run
And no one here can understand or reason
What weve done
We cant provide the answer
But we can provide the gun
It always looked so easy
When we watched it while were young
We always found a reason
To be cheerful having fun
Dont blame the moon
Dont blame the sun
Just tell me everything will be done
Dont blame the stars from up above
Just tell me everything is done for love
The energy of arrogance
Is wasted on the young
The power of all the thoughts
We have is greater than the sum
Dont believe your brothers
They will break you one by one
Dont believe your daughters
They will never bear you sons
It always seemed so easy
When we watched it while were young
We always found a reason to be cheerful having fun
Dont blame the moon
Dont blame the sun
Just tell me everything will be done
Dont blame the stars from up above
Just tell me everything is done for love
And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they
hanged them in the hill before the Lord; and they fell all seven
together, and were put to death in the days of the harvest, in the
first days, in the beginning of barley-harvest.
And Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, took sackcloth, and spread it for
her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until the water
dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the
air to rest upon them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.
2 SAMUEL, xxi. 10.
Hear what the desolate Rizpah said,
As on Gibeah's rocks she watched the dead.
The sons of Michal before her lay,
And her own fair children, dearer than they:
By a death of shame they all had died,
And were stretched on the bare rock, side by side.
And Rizpah, once the loveliest of all
That bloomed and smiled in the court of Saul,
All wasted with watching and famine now,
And scorched by the sun her haggard brow,
Sat mournfully guarding their corpses there,
And murmured a strange and solemn air;
The low, heart-broken, and wailing strain
Of a mother that mourns her children slain:
'I have made the crags my home, and spread
On their desert backs my sackcloth bed;
I have eaten the bitter herb of the rocks,
And drunk the midnight dew in my locks;
I have wept till I could not weep, and the pain
Of my burning eyeballs went to my brain.
Seven blackened corpses before me lie,
In the blaze of the sun and the winds of the sky.
I have watched them through the burning day,
And driven the vulture and raven away;
And the cormorant wheeled in circles round,
Yet feared to alight on the guarded ground.
And when the shadows of twilight came,
I have seen the hyena's eyes of flame,
And heard at my side his stealthy tread,
But aye at my shout the savage fled:
And I threw the lighted brand to fright
The jackal and wolf that yelled in the night.
'Ye were foully murdered, my hapless sons,
By the hands of wicked and cruel ones;
Ye fell, in your fresh and blooming prime,
All innocent, for your father's crime.
He sinned--but he paid the price of his guilt
When his blood by a nameless hand was spilt;
When he strove with the heathen host in vain,
And fell with the flower of his people slain,
And the sceptre his children's hands should sway
From his injured lineage passed away.
'But I hoped that the cottage roof would be
A safe retreat for my sons and me;
And that while they ripened to manhood fast,
They should wean my thoughts from the woes of the past.
And my bosom swelled with a mother's pride,
As they stood in their beauty and strength by my side,
Tall like their sire, with the princely grace
Of his stately form, and the bloom of his face.
'Oh, what an hour for a mother's heart,
When the pitiless ruffians tore us apart!
When I clasped their knees and wept and prayed,
And struggled and shrieked to Heaven for aid,
And clung to my sons with desperate strength,
Till the murderers loosed my hold at length,
And bore me breathless and faint aside,
In their iron arms, while my children died.
They died--and the mother that gave them birth
Is forbid to cover their bones with earth.
'The barley-harvest was nodding white,
When my children died on the rocky height,
And the reapers were singing on hill and plain,
When I came to my task of sorrow and pain.
But now the season of rain is nigh,
The sun is dim in the thickening sky,
And the clouds in sullen darkness rest
Where he hides his light at the doors of the west.
I hear the howl of the wind that brings
The long drear storm on its heavy wings;
But the howling wind and the driving rain
Will beat on my houseless head in vain:
I shall stay, from my murdered sons to scare
The beasts of the desert, and fowls of air.'
Every Insight, The Big Bang, And The Thought That Follows, A Universe
Every insight, the Big Bang, and the thought that follows, a universe.
Every image that flashes across the moonscape like a silhouette
in reverse of the dark matter and starmud that surrounds it,
a black swan among the white when there's snow on the river.
Worlds bubbling out of the mouth of a fish through a hole in the ice
that looks like the third eye of a glacier taking a long, hard look
at whether it was worth opening all those lakes
and then filling them like eyes with the runoff of its own tears
as it disappears into a more fertile approach to letting go of itself.
I could always see a human shape hidden in the landscape
and I wanted to free it so I scraped and gouged
and dug my way into it like a dog unearthing the fossil
of a distant ancestor that ran with the wolves.
Even now when their ghosts howl it's a sad ballad
of the lyrical hills going mad by themselves
and sometimes it breaks my heart like water
in the cleft of a pseudomorphic rock to write picture-music
in striated cuneiform on the cliff faces to sing to themselves
like a lost people with more legend than life in its veins.
I can take a single thread and weave it into a flying carpet.
I can take a string theory and make it resonate with membranes
that occasionally break their eardrums like water from a womb.
There are protocols of the imagination that have been imposed
by iconic means like straitjackets fitted to the inside of your psyche.
Cuckoos in your nest, memes in your mind,
nudging your cosmic eggs out to smash on the rocks below
like the stillborn of the sun. Embryos and fractals,
astronomical forensics sweeping the night sky for fetal stars,
hidden paradigms ferreted out like secrets
that will bloom each in their own good time
like the mysteries of life unravelling
the sequel of a waterclock that keeps on outliving itself
by transcending its own emptiness by pouring itself out
like a serpent that's always shedding its own skin
or a zodiac confabulating a false dawn
of mythically deflated metaphors, red giants
burnt out into black dwarfs and sink holes
where the stars plunge like butterflies into
the gaping maw of the dragon that consumes them like krill,
knowing its destiny, too, is just a provisional scaffolding of quicksand.
Yes, but how many make it all the way through
like wild salmon responding to the death call
of the spawning ground on the far side of the white hole
when the hourglass gets turned around like a fountain
instead of leaking out of a mortal wound in the side of the universe?
The morphology of knowledge is the history of shapeshifters.
Cosmology is an aesthetic expression of enculturated preferences.
Zero among the Hindus the form of the abundance of their emptiness.
Among the Greeks, a political exile. And for a Westerner
far sighted enough to see in aerial perspective,
the bluing of a way of life that's always over the next hill.
Sight is a kind of love I once read on a poster the sixties.
So astronomy for poets. And poets for astronomy.
Observatories on forbidden mountain tops
opening their eyes like blind prophets to the visions
engendered by a seven year eclipse of their visuals.
Who hasn't stepped out of their own well lit doorway
and walked up to the high field on a cold winter night
and watched their breath mingle with the Milky Way
like a tributary of a river on intimate terms with the mindstream
we're all flowing into like red-tailed hawks
riding our own thermals for the sheer joy of it
down the helical stairwells of our own polished bannisters of dna.
Twenty years a Druid in a vatic college learning
to speak to trees in the demotic of their own alphabet,
poetry isn't the calling of a clown or a gleeman
amusing the whimsical caprice of the king's court,
it's a summons to risk your life exploring the mystery
of every facet of what you're doing here turning jewels
like stars in the translucency of your own light
reflected in a brainstorm of parabolic mirrors that bloom at night.
Haul yourself up out of your tidal pool of awareness
into the rarefied bliss of a whole new medium that exceeds
the planetary boundary stones of the space time continuum
you've been so far, by devoting your disobedience
by bringing back enlightened serpent fire
from the hearths and the middens in the starfields
of the gods who first domesticated it like a selective ordeal of birth
in the imagination of a hungry human thief enough
to root a new kind of lightning in the earth that bears
all the birthmarks of the compassionate fruits of insight
into the nature of a mind that embodies all this
as if one moment the crescents of the moon were scars on its eyes
and the next, the talons of an owl flying out of the abyss in the grip
of a nocturnal imagination that's as wise as it is dangerous.
All my thoughts have fingertips. Blood your abstractions.
Lavish your mindstream on the available dimensions of the future
as if what you wanted to achieve were already behind you
like a star in pursuit of an earthly excellence.
Humanize the uninhabitable as if it were just
another room in a spatially enchanted palace
you haven't finished yet like Thomas Jefferson.
If you look for the cure in the heart of the disease,
by corollary, look for the disease in the heart of the cure
like the lesser vehicle in a pathology of grails.
Safer to drink from your own skull to an eclipse
that patched the eye of the moon with the crossbones
of its colours, than sip rainbows from the goblets
of lilaceous irises blooming like an effulgent halo
around the pupil of a black hole on a starless night
anticipating a cadaverous moonrise
like the dark beginning of death breaking into
the unimaginable radiance of another side to all this
that makes the light seem a mere carbon copy
of the shining that can be emanated by an enlightened mind
that never hesitates to contaminate the purity
of its numinous ignorance for the sake
of opening the gate like an exile to a secret garden
everybody must enter at the crossroads of a threshold
without the screening myth of a backdoor to duck out of.
I Want To Make A Contribution
I want to make a contribution.
I want to leave something on the stairs of the temple
in the dead of the night and steal away like a shadow,
hoping my small gift of a gift is well-received.
That the stars don't think they're wasting their light
to shine down upon it. Nor the wind resent the seeds it carries.
Fifty years of poetry. Painting the picture-music
the darkness pours into my heart and my heart conveys to my ears.
I can taste thousands of wildflowers like eyes in my blood.
I can taste the homelessness of the rogue stars in my tears,
and pull the wounded swords I cull like thorns of the rose
from the stone of my brain that fell in the farmer's field
like a rock through the window of the abyss
and make it clear as Merlin locked in his tower of glass,
that the stars only look fixed from a distance,
up close and intimate as atoms they're in a frenzy of creation
like a cloud of gnats in the last rapture of the sunset
radioactive with the bliss of being alive to know this.
That we're all longing for home in the lap of an expansive awareness
that threw the starmaps away the moment we were born
into the radiance of things that let go of the light
as if they knew something they just couldn't keep to themselves
without doing great injury to the flowers of life
that space was mind, and time was its emotional life
and as the dark mother said to her last incarnation
as it was stepping through the doorway into a stranger,
we're just going to wing it from here on end.
I want to be a strong storm tree twisted and bent by the wind
like the last letter of a sacred alphabet with no alpha or omega
to mark where things begin and end like death in life.
And wind up like a windfall of sweet fruit without end.
I want to make something of my falling, I want to honour
the table I eat at like iron and carbon and oxygen
by bringing something back for what I have received
without asking, or making a decision when I was not aware
of some unimaginable god that holds me personally responsible for it.
What a sleight to humans everywhere matter enjoins them
in a common labour to resonate so perfectly with the light
that lucidity isn't the exclusive property of the unknown,
and just because it's dark, the new moon of the black swan
shedding the feathers of the white, doesn't mean, it's not enlightened.
Though I come like a bird to a windowsill, though I pass
like a star from the window, though I sing of death
on the green bough, though I sing of life on the dead,
though I have been a dragon, a kitten, and a bee,
though I have floundered in sorrows like a lifeboat
way over my head, and lived through starless nights of fear
pulled down like executioners hoods over my eyes,
waiting to see what the morning brings that's vital,
I have not trafficked with my life like a pimp in a flower bed.
I have endured whatever excruciating transfigurations
I've ever had to go through, naked as a knife of light
unsheathed from the ore of this body that can no more
be cast off on the slag heap, than my spirit can paint in blood
a mural of all the changes we've been through like stars and mud.
I want to deepen the roots of the flowering night.
I want to beseech the poppies with my eyes
for more luminous experiences of cadmium red light
for more mystery among the stars than even they're aware of,
for more moons in the apple, more suns in the bread,
for more crazy wisdom than there is the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
I want to show the pine-cones they're pagodas as well
and point out where the mourning doves nest under their eyelids
and the shamans dwell in the upper branches of their evergreens
waiting to see if down will come cradle, baby and all,
or the next ascent is a red-tailed hawk at liberty
to fall upon whatever it likes, raising the snake of the lowest
up into the mystic delirium of the highest
to feather its scales in boas of oxymoronic light.
I want to intensify the dark until people can find
their way home by it, stars that broke into themselves
like morning glory tangled in an old bicycle wheel.
A pine-cone would do, a locket of sky, a piece of straw,
I could offer anything I wanted to, all those nests and pockets
I made in my pillow for years like a cat with a catcher's mitt
trying to find the perfect spot for its nightmare to sleep.
Or any one of a hundred cornerstones that were never built upon
or were torn down before the first brick laid.
Or I could lay my life down like a grain of wheat
among millions, at the feet of a silo so immaculately empty
it's never needed a single one of us, or all the animals
that bleated and bellowed and bled upon the earth
because we started drinking blood long before
we turned to bread like a better body to sacrifice.
Or my eyes like little thumb-drives of everything they've seen.
A gift of a gift as was given to me without a giver,
the ashes of a dead butterfly on a pyre of autumn leaves,
without ritual, celestial spin, I just want to come by myself
like a human in confusion we make the labour of our lives
as if I were stepping out of the trees like a white-tailed buck
come down to the river to drink from the moonlight
and add my reflection to the water that gave it to me,
with my head bowed toward the earth like a broken branch
heavy with the scarred fruits of life that have sweetened
like the moon over the years, poems I can recite by heart,
like the names of the stars and the flowers and the birds
and the ghosts of all those sad, passionate women who
tried so hard to be happy their tears clung like eyes
to the mystery of the windows they kept looking through
as if they were resilvering the mirrors of old telescopes
with the dew of a morning from a long time ago
witching in the dark for stars to explain their loss.
I want to bring a word that's been so deeply hidden in the open
like the flower of a rootless tree, it's got no colour of its own,
no seed, no leaf, no humming bird or bee, the tuning fork
of the nightbird, but no song, no honey, no nectar,
no likeness anywhere to compare it with, demonic or benign,
no meaning no mouth has ever wrapped itself around
like the atmosphere of a habitable planet, though the wind has tried,
a word so indelibly original it can't be washed out
like the whisper of a watercolour in the ear of a solar flare,
a word so private it gets said over the graves of the sacred syllables
that died in the mouths of men like the names of their gods,
not a prayer, not a mantra, not the shriek of a war-cry,
not a curse, not a blessing, not the answer to anything,
and I want to say the unsayable so unsayably free of veils
no junkie in the snakepit of a burning spoon, no lover
thawing virgin watersheds in the nunnery of Madame Moon
has ever stood so naked in their own eyes
even the emptiness inside felt overdressed for the occasion.
The Domestic Affections
WHENCE are those tranquil joys, in mercy giv'n,
To light the wilderness with beams of Heav'n?
To sooth our cares, and thro' the cloud diffuse,
Their tempered sun-shine, and celestial hues?
Those pure delights, ordain'd on life to throw
Gleams of the bliss ethereal natures know?
Say, do they grace Ambition's regal throne,
When kneeling myriads call the world his own?
Or dwell with luxury, in th' enchanted bow'rs,
Where taste and wealth exert creative pow'rs?
Favor'd of Heav'n! O Genius! are they thine,
When round thy brow the wreaths of glory shine;
While rapture gazes on thy radiant way,
'Midst the bright realms of clear and mental day?
No! sacred joys! 'tis yours to dwell enshrin'd,
Most fondly cherish'd, in the purest mind;
To twine with flowers, those lov'd, endearing ties,
On earth so sweet,—so perfect in the skies!
Nurs'd on the lap of solitude and shade,
The violet smiles, embosom'd in the glade;
There sheds her spirit on the lonely gale,
Gem of seclusion! treasure of the vale!
Thus, far retir'd from life's tumultuous road,
Domestic bliss has fix'd her calm abode,
Where hallow'd innocence and sweet repose
May strew her shadowy path with many a rose:
As, when dread thunder shakes the troubled sky,
The cherub, infancy, can close its eye,
And sweetly smile, unconscious of a tear,
While viewless angels wave their pinions near;
Thus, while around the storms of discord roll,
Borne on resistless wing, from pole to pole;
While war's red lightnings desolate the ball,
And thrones and empires in destruction fall;
Then, calm as evening on the silvery wave,
When the wind slumbers in the ocean-cave,
She dwells, unruffled, in her bow'r of rest,
Her empire, home!—her throne, affection's breast!
For her, sweet nature wears her loveliest blooms,
And softer sun-shine ev'ry scene illumes.
When spring awakes the spirit of the breeze,
Whose light wing undulates the sleeping seas;
When summer, waving her creative wand,
Bids verdure smile, and glowing life expand;
Or autumn's pencil sheds, with magic trace,
O'er fading loveliness, a moon-light grace;
Oh! still for her, thro' Nature's boundless reign,
No charm is lost, no beauty blooms in vain;
While mental peace, o'er ev'ry prospect bright,
Throws mellowing tints, and harmonizing light!
Lo! borne on clouds, in rushing might sublime,
Stern winter, bursting from the polar clime,
Triumphant waves his signal-torch on high,
The blood-red meteor of the northern sky!
And high thro' darkness rears his giant-form,
His throne, the billow!—and his flag, the storm!
Yet then, when bloom and sun-shine are no more,
And the wild surges foam along the shore;
Domestic bliss! thy heaven is still serene,
Thy star, unclouded, and thy myrtle, green!
Thy fane of rest no raging storms invade,
Sweet peace is thine, the seraph of the shade!
Clear thro' the day, her light around thee glows,
And gilds the midnight of thy deep repose!
Hail, sacred home! where soft Affection's hand,
With flow'rs of Eden twines her magic band!
Where pure and bright, the social ardors rise,
Concentring all their holiest energies!
When wasting toil has dimm'd the vital flame,
And ev'ry power deserts the sinking frame;
Exhausted nature still from sleep implores
The charm that lulls, the manna that restores!
Thus, when oppress'd with rude tumultuous cares,
To thee, sweet home! the fainting mind repairs;
Still to thy breast, a wearied pilgrim, flies,
Her ark of refuge from uncertain skies!
Bower of repose! when torn from all we love,
Thro' toil we struggle, or thro' distance rove;
To thee we turn, still faithful, from afar,
Thee, our bright vista! thee, our magnet-star!
And from the martial field, the troubled sea,
Unfetter'd thought still roves to bliss and thee!
When ocean-sounds in awful slumber die,
No wave to murmur, and no gale to sigh;
Wide o'er the world, when peace and midnight reign,
And the moon trembles on the sleeping main;
At that still hour, the sailor wakes to keep,
'Midst the dead calm, the vigil of the deep!
No gleaming shores his dim horizon hound,
All heaven—and sea—and solitude—around!
Then, from the lonely deck, the silent helm,
From the wide grandeur of the shadowy realm;
Still homeward borne, his fancy unconfin'd,
Leaving the worlds of ocean far behind,
Wings like a meteor-flash her swift career,
To the lov'd scene, so distant, and so dear!
Lo! the rude whirlwind rushes from its cave,
And danger frowns—the monarch of the wave!
Lo! rocks and storms the striving bark repel,
And death and shipwreck ride the foaming swell!
Child of the ocean! is thy bier the surge,
Thy grave the billow, and the wind thy dirge?
Yes! thy long toils, thy weary conflicts o'er,
No storm shall wake, no perils rouse thee more!
Yet, in that solemn hour, that awful strife,
The struggling agony for death or life;
E'en then, thy mind, embitt'ring ev'ry pain,
Retrac'd the image so belov'd—in vain!
Still to sweet home, thy last regrets were true,
Life's parting sigh—the murmur of adieu!
Can war's dread scenes the hallow'd ties efface,
Each tender thought, each fond remembrance chase?
Can fields of carnage, days of toil, destroy
The lov'd impressions of domestic joy?
Ye day-light dreams! that cheer the soldier's breast,
In hostile climes, with spells benign and blest;
Sooth his brave heart, and shed your glowing ray,
O'er the long march, thro' desolation's way;
Oh! still ye bear him from th' ensanguin'd plain,
Armour's bright flash, and victory's choral strain;
To that lov'd home, where pure affection glows,
That shrine of bliss! asylum of repose!
When all is hush'd—the rage of combat past,
And no dread war-note swells the moaning blast;
When the warm throb of many a heart is o'er,
And many an eye is clos'd—to wake no more;
Lull'd by the night-wind, pillow'd on the ground,
(The dewy death-bed of his comrades round!)
While o'er the slain the tears of midnight weep,
Faint with fatigue, he sinks in slumbers deep!
E'en then, soft visions, hov'ring round, portray,
The cherish'd forms that o'er his bosom sway!
He sees fond transport light each beaming face,
Meets the warm tear-drop, and the long embrace!
While the sweet welcome vibrates thro' his heart,
'Hail, weary soldier! —never more to part!'
And, lo! at last, releas'd from ev'ry toil,
He comes! the wanderer views his native soil!
Then the bright raptures, words can never speak,
Flash in his eye, and mantle o'er his cheek!
Then love and friendship, whose unceasing pray'r,
Implor'd for him, each guardian-spirit's care;
Who, for his fate, thro' sorrow's lingering year,
Had prov'd each thrilling pulse of hope and fear;
In that blest moment, all the past forget,
Hours of suspense! and vigils of regret!
And, oh! for him, the child of rude alarms,
Rear'd by stern danger, in the school of arms;
How sweet to change the war-song's pealing note,
For woodland-sounds, in summer-air that float!
Thro' vales of peace, o'er mountain-wilds to roam,
And breathe his native gales, that whisper—'Home!'
Hail! sweet endearments of domestic ties,
Charms of existence! angel-sympathies!
Tho' pleasure smile, a soft, Circassian queen!
And guide her votaries thro' a fairy scene;
Where sylphid forms beguile their vernal hours,
With mirth and music, in Arcadian bow'rs;
Tho' gazing nations hail the fiery car,
That bears the son of conquest from afar;
While Fame's loud Pæan bids his heart rejoice,
And ev'ry life-pulse vibrates to her voice;
Yet from your source alone, in mazes bright,
Flows the full current of serene delight!
On Freedom's wing, that ev'ry wild explores,
Thro' realms of space, th' aspiring eagle soars!
Darts o'er the clouds, exulting to admire,
Meridian glory—on her throne of fire!
Bird of the sun! his keen, unwearied gaze,
Hails the full noon, and triumphs in the blaze!
But soon, descending from his height sublime,
Day's burning fount, and light's empyreal clime;
Once more he speeds to joys more calmly blest,
'Midst the dear inmates of his lonely nest!
Thus Genius, mounting on his bright career,
Thro' the wide regions of the mental sphere;
And proudly waving, in his gifted hand,
O'er Fancy's worlds, Invention's plastic wand;
Fearless and firm, with lightning-eye surveys
The clearest heav'n of intellectual rays!
Yet, on his course tho' loftiest hopes attend,
And kindling raptures aid him to ascend;
(While in his mind, with high-born grandeur fraught,
Dilate the noblest energies of thought
Still, from the bliss, ethereal and refin'd,
Which crowns the soarings of triumphant mind,
At length he flies, to that serene retreat,
Where calm and pure, the mild affections meet;
Embosom'd there, to feel and to impart,
The softer pleasures of the social heart!
Ah! weep for those, deserted and forlorn,
From ev'ry tie, by fate relentless torn!
See, on the barren coast, the lonely isle,
Mark'd with no step, uncheer'd by human smile;
Heart-sick and faint, the shipwreck'd wanderer stand,
Raise the dim eye, and lift the suppliant hand!
Explore with fruitless gaze the billowy main,
And weep—and pray—and linger!—but in vain!
Thence, roving wild thro' many a depth of shade!
Where voice ne'er echo'd, footstep never stray'd;
He fondly seeks, o'er cliffs and deserts rude,
Haunts of mankind, 'midst realms of solitude!
And pauses oft, and sadly hears alone,
The wood's deep sigh, the surge's distant moan!
All else is hush'd! so silent, so profound,
As if some viewless power, presiding round,
With mystic spell, unbroken by a breath,
Had spread for ages the repose of death!
Ah! still the wanderer, by the boundless deep,
Lives but to watch,—and watches but to weep!
He sees no sail in faint perspective rise,
His the dread loneliness of sea and skies!
Far from his cherish'd friends, his native shore,
Banish'd from being—to return no more;
There must he die!—within that circling wave,
That lonely isle—his prison and his grave!
Lo! thro' the waste, the wilderness of snows,
With fainting step, Siberia's exile goes!
Homeless and sad, o'er many a polar wild,
Where beam, or flower, or verdure, never smil'd;
Where frost and silence hold their despot-reign,
And bind existence in eternal chain!
Child of the desert! pilgrim of the gloom!
Dark is the path which leads thee to the tomb!
While on thy faded cheek, the arctic air
Congeals the bitter tear-drop of despair!
Yet not, that fate condemns thy closing day,
In that stern clime, to shed its parting ray;
Not that fair Nature's loveliness find light,
No more shall beam enchantment on thy sight;
Ah! not for this, far, far beyond relief,
Deep in thy bosom dwells the hopeless grief;
But that no friend of kindred heart is there,
Thy woes to meliorate, thy toils to share;
That no mild soother fondly shall assuage
The stormy trials of thy lingering age;
No smile of tenderness, with angel-power,
Lull the dread pangs of dissolution's hour;
For this alone, despair, a withering guest,
Sits on thy brow, and cankers in thy breast!
Yes! there, e'en there, in that tremendous clime,
Where desert-grandeur frowns, in pomp sublime;
Where winter triumphs, thro' the polar night,
In all his wild magnificence of might;
E'en there, Affection's hallow'd spell might pour,
The light of heav'n around th' inclement shore!
And, like the vales with bloom and sun-shine grac'd,
That smile, by circling Pyrennees embrac'd,
Teach the pure heart, with vital fires to glow,
E'en 'midst the world of solitude and snow!
The Halcyon's charm, thus dreaming fictions feign,
With mystic power, could tranquillize the main;
Bid the loud wind, the mountain-billow sleep,
And peace and silence brood upon the deep!
And thus, Affection, can thy voice compose
The stormy tide of passions and of woes;
Bid every throb of wild emotion cease,
And lull misfortune in the arms of peace!
Oh! mark yon drooping form, of aged mien,
Wan, yet resign'd, and hopeless, yet serene!
Long ere victorious time had sought to chase
The bloom, the smile, that once illum'd his face;
That faded eye was dimm'd with many a care,
Those waving locks were silver'd by despair!
Yet filial love can pour the sovereign balm,
Assuage his pangs, his wounded spirit calm!
He, a sad emigrant! condemn'd to roam
In life's pale autumn from his ruin'd home;
Has borne the shock of peril's darkest wave,
Where joy—and hope—and fortune—found a grave!
'Twas his, to see destruction's fiercest band,
Rush, like a TYPHON, on his native land,
And roll, triumphant, on their blasted way,
In fire and blood—the deluge of dismay!
Unequal combat rag'd on many a plain,
And patriot-valour wav'd the sword—in vain!
Ah! gallant exile! nobly, long, he bled,
Long brav'd the tempest gath'ring o'er his head!
Till all was lost! and horror's darkening eye,
Rous'd the stern spirit of despair—to die!
Ah! gallant exile! in the storm that roll'd
Far o'er his country, rushing uncontroll'd;
The flowers that grac'd his path with loveliest bloom,
Torn by the blast—were scatter'd on the tomb!
When carnage burst, exulting in the strife,
The bosom ties that bound his soul to life;
Yet one was spar'd! and she, whose filial smile,
Can sooth his wanderings, and his tears beguile,
E'en then, could temper, with divine relief,
The wild delirium of unbounded grief;
And whisp'ring peace, conceal, with duteous art,
Her own deep sorrows in her inmost heart!
And now, tho' time, subduing ev'ry trace,
Has mellow'd all, he never can erase;
Oft will the wanderer's tears in silence flow,
Still sadly faithful to remember'd woe!
Then she, who feels a father's pang alone,
(Still fondly struggling to suppress her own
With anxious tenderness is ever nigh,
To chase the image that awakes the sigh!
Her angel-voice his hinting soul can raise
To brighter visions of celestial days!
And speak of realms, where virtue's wing shall soar
On eagle-plume—to wonder and adore!
And friends, divided here, shall meet at last,
Unite their kindred souls—and smile on all the past!
Yes! we may hope, that Nature's deathless ties,
Renew'd, refin'd—shall triumph in the skies!
Heart-soothing thought! whose lov'd, consoling pow'r,
With seraph-dreams can gild reflection's hour;
Oh! still be near! and bright'ning thro' the gloom,
Beam and ascend! the day-star of the tomb!
And smile for those, in sternest ordeals prov'd,
Those lonely hearts, bereft of all they lov'd!
Lo! by the couch, where pain and chill disease,
In ev'ry vein the ebbing life-blood freeze;
Where youth is taught, by stealing, slow decay,
Life's closing lesson—in its dawning day;
Where beauty's rose is with'ring ere its prime,
Unchang'd by sorrow—and unsoil'd by time;
There, bending still, with fix'd and sleepless eye,
There, from her child, the mother learns—to die!
Explores, with fearful gaze, each mournful trace
Of ling'ring sickness in the faded face;
Thro' the sad night, when ev'ry hope is fled,
Keeps her lone vigil by the suff'rer's bed;
And starts each morn, as deeper marks declare
The spoiler's hand—the blight of death—is there!
He comes! now feebly in th' exhausted frame,
Slow, languid, quiv'ring, burns the vital flame!
From the glaz'd eye-ball sheds its parting ray,
Dim, transient spark! that flutt'ring, fades away!
Faint beats the hov'ring pulse, the trembling heart,
Yet fond existence lingers—ere she part!
'Tis past! the struggle and the pang are o'er,
And life shall throb with agony no more!
While o'er the wasted form, the features pale,
Death's awful shadows throw their silvery veil!
Departed spirit! on this earthly sphere,
Tho' poignant suff'ring mark'd thy short career;
Still could maternal love beguile thy woes,
And hush thy sighs—an angel of repose!
But who may charm her sleepless pang to rest,
Or draw the thorn that rankles in her breast?
And while she bends in silence o'er thy bier,
Assuage the grief, too heart-sick for a tear?
Visions of hope! in loveliest hues array'd,
Fair scenes of bliss! by Fancy's hand portray'd;
And were ye doom'd, with false, illusive smile,
With flatt'ring promise, to enchant awhile?
And are ye vanish'd, never to return,
Set in the darkness of the mouldering urn?
Will no bright hour departed joys restore?
Shall the sad parent meet her child no more;
Behold no more the soul-illumin'd face,
Th' expressive smile, the animated grace?
Must the fair blossom, wither'd in the tomb,
Revive no more in loveliness and bloom?—
Descend, blest Faith! dispel the hopeless care,
And chase the gathering phantoms of despair!
Tell, that the flow'r, transplanted in its morn,
Enjoys bright Eden, freed from every thorn;
Expands to milder suns, and softer dews;
The full perfection of immortal hues!
Tell, that when mounting to her native skies,
By death releas'd, the parent-spirit flies;
There shall the child, in anguish mourn'd so long,
With rapture hail her, 'midst the cherub-throng;
And guide her pinion, on exulting flight,
Thro' glory's boundless realms, and worlds of living light!
Ye gentle spirits of departed friends!
If e'er on earth your buoyant wing descends;
If, with benignant care; ye linger near,
To guard the objects in existence dear;
If hov'ring o'er, ethereal band! ye view
The tender sorrows, to your memory true;
Oh! in the musing hour, at midnight deep,
While for your loss Affection wakes to weep;
While ev'ry sound in hallow'd stillness lies,
But the low murmur of her plaintive sighs;
Oh! then, amidst that holy calm, be near!
Breathe your light whisper softly in her ear!
With secret spells, her wounded mind compose,
And chase the faithful tear—for you that flows!
Be near! when moon-light spreads the charm you lov'd,
O'er scenes where once your earthly footstep rov'd!
Then, while she wanders o'er the sparkling dew,
Thro' glens, and wood-paths, once endear'd by you;
And fondly lingers, in your fav'rite bow'rs,
And pauses oft, recalling former hours;
Then wave your pinion o'er each well-known vale,
Float in the moon-beam, sigh upon the gale!
Bid your wild symphonies remotely swell,
Borne by the summer-wind, from grot and dell;
And touch your viewless harps, and sooth her soul,
With soft enchantments and divine control!
Be near! sweet guardians! watch her sacred rest,
When slumber folds her in his magic vest!
Around her, smiling, let your forms arise
Return'd in dreams, to bless her mental eyes!
Efface the mem'ry of your last farewell,
Of glowing joys, of radiant prospects, tell!
The sweet communion of the past, renew,
Reviving former scenes, array'd in softer hue!
Be near, when death, in virtue's brightest hour,
Calls up each pang, and summons all his pow'r!
Oh! then, transcending Fancy's loveliest dream,
Then let your forms, unveil'd, around her beam!
Then waft the vision of unclouded light,
A burst of glory, on her closing sight!
Wake from the harp of heav'n th' immortal strain,
To hush the final agonies of pain!
With rapture's flame, the parting soul illume,
And smile triumphant thro' the shadowy gloom!
Oh! still be near! when, darting into day,
Th' exulting spirit leaves her bonds of clay;
Be yours to guide her flutt'ring wing on high,
O'er many a world, ascending to the sky!
There let your presence, once her earthly joy,
Tho' dimm'd with tears, and clouded with alloy;
Now form her bliss on that celestial shore,
Where death shall sever kindred hearts no more!
Yes! in the noon of that Elysian clime,
Beyond the sphere of anguish, death, or time;
Where mind's bright eye, with renovated fire,
Shall beam on glories—never to expire;
Oh! there, th' illumin'd soul may fondly trust,
More pure, more perfect, rising from the dust;
Those mild affections, whose consoling light
Sheds the soft moon-beam on terrestrial night;
Sublim'd, ennobled, shall for ever glow,
Exalting rapture—not assuaging woe!
We can but follow to the Sun
We can but follow to the Sun—
As oft as He go down
He leave Ourselves a Sphere behind—
We go no further with the Dust
Than to the Earthen Door—
And then the Panels are reversed—
And we behold—no more.
Old And New: A Parable
See how the autumn leaves float by decaying,
Down the wild swirls of the rain-swollen stream.
So fleet the works of men, back to their earth again;
Ancient and holy things fade like a dream.
Nay! see the spring-blossoms steal forth a-maying,
Clothing with tender hues orchard and glen;
So, though old forms pass by, ne'er shall their spirit die,
Look! England's bare boughs show green leaf again.
Lady Of The Dancing Water
Grass in your hair stretched like a lion in the sun
Restlessly turned moistened your mouth with your
Pouring my wine in your eyes caged mine glowing
Touching your face my fingers strayed knowing.
I called you lady of the dancing water.
Blown autumn leaves shed to the fire where you laid
Burn slow to ash just as my days now seem to be.
I feel you still always your eyes glowing
Remembered hours salt, earth and flowers flowing
Farewell my lady of the dancing water.
Old Man Rain
Old Man Rain at the windowpane
Knocks and fumbles and knocks again:
His long-nailed fingers slip and strain:
Old Man Rain at the windowpane
Knocks all night but knocks in vain.
Old Man Rain.
Old Man Rain at the windowpane
Reels and shambles along the lane:
His old gray whiskers drip and drain:
Old Man Rain with fuddled brain
Reels and staggers like one insane.
Old Man Rain.
Old Man Rain is back again,
With old Mis' Wind at the windowpane,
Dancing there with her tattered train:
Her old shawl flaps as she whirls again
In the wildman dance and is torn in twain.
Old Mis' Wind and Old Man Rain.
Time & Motion
Words by neil peart, music by geddy lee and alex lifeson
Time and motion
Wind and sun and rain
Days connect like boxcars in a train
Fill them up with precious cargo
Squeeze in all that you can find
And the long-enduring kind
Time and motion
Flesh and blood and fire
Lives connect in webs of gold and razor wire
Spin a thread of precious contact
Squeeze in all that you can find
And the long-enduring kind
The mighty ocean
Dances with the moon
The silent forest
Echoes with the loon
Time and motion
Live and love and dream
Eyes connect like interstellar beams
Superman in supernature
Needs all the comfort he can find
And the long enduring kind
Follow Thy Fair Sun
Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow;
Though thou be black as night,
And she made all of light,
Yet follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow.
Follow her, whose light thy light depriveth;
Though here thou liv'st disgrac'd,
And she in heaven is plac'd,
Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth.
Follow those pure beams, whose beauty burneth;
That so have scorched thee,
As thou still black must be,
Till her kind beams thy black to brightness turneth.
Follow her, while yet her glory shineth;
There comes a luckless night
That will dim all her light;
And this the black unhappy shade divineth.
Follow still, since so thy fates ordained;
The sun must have his shade,
Till both at once do fade,
The sun still proud, the shadow still disdained.