On the green, green farm
In green, green Monroe Louisiana
So green, green
Wet-luscious green and alive
So green after the rain
So bright green and clean
Just passing through
On my way to tomorrow
But so green today and yesterday
It was on that stranger's green, green farm
And I didn't stay long
And I didn't expect someone
To fire that shotgun right next to me
The barrel pointed out the front door
Into that green, green world beyond.
There were hot springs
On the green, green farm
In green, green Monroe Louisiana
Back in 1973.
I Saw My Friend At The Front Door
I saw my friend to the front door
I stood in the golden dust.
Momentous sounds issued
From the little belfry close by.
Tossed! Such a made-up word-
What am I, a flower or a letter?
But my eyes already gaze grimly
Into the darkened looking glass.
Back Door Side Door Front Door: Which Door Might A Confucian Take?
for René Etiemble (Jan.26,1909 - Jan.2002) *
Barely a few speechless moments before your first words
burned the « Coplas por la muerte de su padre »:
‘Nuestras vidas son los ríos
que van a dar en la mar,
que es el morir;
y llegados, son iguales
los que viven por sus manos
y los ricos.'
Is the open back door which emboldens courage
No untarnished name to be remembered by
No selfless mate to lay by your honour
No issue laying about themselves for your prize
Decidedly it was a door of stealth
As if choosing it you let it be known
you were only merely passing by
and stopped to hang your hat here for a while
Yet you let your kin and callers believe
your whims were worth putting up with
your mischievous tantrums and gripes
merely the mental athlete's unwinding antics
The poïetic birth pangs of imminent glory
just the mounting stones in the monumental lighthouse
that ages from hence would pick forth
your works your unfathomable literary resource
You upheld dozens who did leave behind a name
a lasting name not quite torn from solitary pain
Yet who could deny you could have bettered their fame
What undisclosed pain you harboured in your brain
Oh so strangely were you endowed with the intelligence
of the Chun Tzu - that uncanny eagle's scan
To rout out of the mazes of your students' past lives
just that one passqge through their Tierra del Fuego
But then you who completely espoused the rigours
of that step by step mounting of respectful steps
Were unsparing in your demands of adherence
to old Master Kung's hierarchical obedience
An open hand ready to sign any cheque
to succour the caller's needs
was alas! also the whip hand
To keep the renegades in constant check
You were possessed of a rare brand of anger
which shook the land about you
At those who bent justice to their unsavoury will
such thunder boiled from the guts of the earth
Now you're gone and empty lecture halls echo your
uncontainable ire where forged resounding silence
You said at the start of a seminal master-seminar:
« Nul n'est prophète dans son pays! »
With the distaff side hanging on your every word
wondering if your plans were for something yet undone
No stray notes lie about to record your travail
No visible correspondence to make it all credible
Only books and books files magazines and books
and an overcrowdedly conquered mental pad
jumbled words scratched into shaded inchoate sketches
ganglia synapses shot-up neurons
no clues to a ragingly flailing mind
none to record the lives you succoured
nor even the beneficiaries' hurriedly scribbled thanks
nor besides to the beclouding relations with one and all
not even a hint at why you may have refused
to forge a name beyond the beaten path of fame
Would going by the front door
in a fanfare of tv talkshows conference papers prize-giving ceremonies paper- interviews in ample studied poses and thoughts for future auto-memoirs volume one to seven the rest put-together posthumously in an omnibus
expurgated version with prefaces notes introductions critiques eulogies
would it have been less like you
to exit by the side-door
the baywindow leading to reflected glory
in a cool cloister of loosened leaves
stray poems in the tradition of your schooled masters
or did you burn them all
in a fit of (cou) rage
tore them to bits incinerated by your fiery mind
or squashed within yesterday's leftovers
not caring who thought what
the mocking condescension
* The late Professor René Etiemble held the Chair of Comparative Literature at the old, pre-1968 Sorbonne University but retired in 1978 while a professor at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle University. In later life, he even refused nomination to the French Academy of Letters, though he did accept the Academy's Prize. He was a prolific critic, essayist, and memorialist, having published some poetry and three novels. A renowned linguist and grammarian (a graduate of the prestigious and elite Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris) , he remained until his very last days an inveterate Sinophile. He edited the Gallimard-instituted UNESCO oriental literary classics series, a fitting tribute to his encyclopaedic learning.
© T.Wignesan, 6 novembre 1997, Fresnes-94, France (from the collection: Poems Omega Minus, Paris,2002)
- quotes about literature
- quotes about writers
- quotes about language
- quotes about universities
- quotes about students
- quotes about poetry
- quotes about books
- quotes about France
- quotes about novels
The Show Must Go On
Ive been trapped in the madness,
From the shadows of sadness
I laugh it away.
Ive been blind to the passion
While the whole world is flashing
I stash it away.
While Im singing of freedom,
Im trying to sell
What I never had.
Hoping Ill be released from my own kind of hell
Cause I lost the key to my past.
The show must go on.
It seems like theres something Im leaving behind.
The show must go on.
Cause the dreams that Im having,
Im having all the time.
The show must go on.
There will be no confessions,
Cause Id only be guessing just where to begin.
Theres only one thing Im knowing
This feeling aint blowing
Away with the wind.
And Im tired of turning my back on myself
Throwing truth away.
Let the fire burn down the front door to myself
And give me a season of play.
The show must go on,
I just keep pretending to live for the game.
The show must go on.
I just keep on bending the rules to fit the pain.
Its time for collecting
What Ive been neglecting.
Its gonna be a little strange.
Cause one day Ill be gone,
And Ill be back in time(town? ).
Nothings gonna, nothings gonna
Be the same.
The show must go on,
And I just keep pretending to live for your game,
The show must go on,
I just keep on bending the rules to fit the pain.
Put on the face,
Win every race,
Im just so strong cant you see,
And I keep up the pace,
I wont leave a trace.
Still going on, still going on.
The show must go on,
The show must go on.
- quotes about time
- quotes about illness
- quotes about sadness
- quotes about seasons
- quotes about pain
- quotes about beginning
- quotes about life
- quotes about freedom
- quotes about strength
Spa (Hot Springs)
In the spa city of Hot Springs
Old maids sit in trolley cars
Up and down the busy streets
Young men strum on blue guitars
In the spa city of Hot Springs
Pilgrims gather at the sump
To fill their homely samovars
With rusty liquid from a pump
In the spa city of Hot Springs
Sidewalk touts hawk lemonade
In the park policemen wink
At winos on the promenade
In the spa city of Hot Springs
Artist hacks in residence
Paint the sun on velvet, black
For kings and former presidents
In the spa city of Hot Springs
Chinese men play dominos
In rooms where on another day
A tart pulls on her pantyhose
In the spa city of Hot Springs
Healing waters tip the pail
As ponies gather at the gate
To chase each other’s pony tail.
Art of Fire
Whether big, whether small
Whether tamed, whether monster
Whether damned, whether adored
Fire is always attracting
Whether solid, whether liquid
In the summer, in the winter
Whether friend, whether foe
Fire always born to burn
Match sparks, gas bursts
Hot springs vacation, sun bath holiday
Inside earth, the shear of space
Fire never truly dies
The light, the smoke
Training patience, teaching alertness
You must learn or left in ash
Fire is master of survival
The spirit, the god
Breath and move, eat and grow
The desire, the anger
Fire is enigmatic thing
Red, Blue, Green and Gold
Silence somehow has entered this room where
This morning laughter had filled, I hardly know what to say but
I can hear my own tears screaming aloud- even though
I cannot see them falling- Red, blue, green and gold- Just about any color I can
See decorating the four walls that enclose me- All I can do is look and
All I can do is to try and remember yesterday as being close to God-
Now the doors have been locked- the doors to those dreams that kept my spirit alive-
That window into a once vivid imagination- and now a curtain has fallen and
I have lost the key to that door that has become a wall that separates-
I have been in love with silence- Devoured solitude as if
It was the food that kept me alive-
I danced amongst carnations and yellow peace roses
Every moment I looked into the world of my hallucinations?
Yesterday was another day as will be tomorrow-
I am trying to live one day at a time- I once rode a bus towards eternity-
That has come to a roadblock I cannot bypass-
Red, blue, green and gold- only colors but all I have left-
Decorating the walls inside which I find myself imprisoned-
Listening to the music of my spirit, then collapsing as I
Once again fall into that cesspool of insanity that had once before contained me?
Fighting the memories of lying upon a urine stained carpet inside
A room so rudely called “seclusion? ”
Or walking about some nowhere land as I have wept tears and
Have abandoned faith, hope and a will to stay alive?
Locked doors and broken windows, clouds obstructing the sun-
I cannot find the right words to say- my heart has been buried and
I find myself lying still- drifting away into another world-
Trying to escape from such a place that has been deemed by others as reality?
No hope, but a prayer, moments lost have turned to years of
Never ending frustration and truth to me as I lose myself into
That world everyone identifies as delusive?
Voices that tell me they want me to die and now rain turns to ice as I
Slip and fall into never abating madness?
Red, blue, green and gold- vibrant colors that kept my soul alive?
Red, blue, green, and gold- have become none but futile and
Colors of that rainbow that is part of somebody else’s world-
Yesterday is another day as is tomorrow- and today-
Today I ride a bus that is speeding down a highway to nowhere-
Has just crashed and here I lie- staring at the ceiling
Breathing oxygen from a rubber mask counting from one to ten and -
Red, blue, green and gold – have become none but elements of my dreams-
As I lose myself in some other place and time has become none but an illusion?
I do not live in a world of flowers & clouds and mountains & rivers & brooks
I do not live in a world of flowers
I do not live in the world of blue clouds and green mountains and ricefields
I do not live in running rivers and stretching seas and clear brooks
Though I write about them
Though I miss the scent exuded by them in their kindness
Though I like the bees and butterflies that busy in their
Multicolored world with some rainbows and coolness
Of rain showers and warmth of sunshine so like
Paradise, so like the Eden of our ancient dreams,
But I do not live in the world of flowers
I cannot leave in the world of flowers
My land is this desert scorched by the noonday sun
My sea is this sand stretching from shore to shore
My outlook, my view is this misleading mirage
My clouds are these unresolved doubts and fears
And my air is this silence that only the dead can surmise.
Max: The Terrier
As soon as the front door opens,
Max, the dog, dashes straight out;
He feels thrilled to be finally free,
And he happily frolics about.
Once he's out of the garden gate,
He bolts down the nearby alley.
He doesn't ever once look back,
And he doesn't ever dilly-dally.
Although it is cosy in the house,
He'd much rather be outdoors;
As there is nothing that he likes
Better than being able to explore.
He prides himself on being friendly
To any people that he may meet;
He rushes up to them, barking,
And runs circles round their feet.
He shares his home with a cat:
A green-eyed cat, whose fur is black;
Whenever Max's owner calls for him,
The cat rounds him up, and brings him back.
Of course, it is very often the case
That cats and dogs do not get along,
But these two are at ease together,
And their relationship seems strong.
Until Max's owner calls for him,
The cat leaves him a while to wander;
While he stretches himself out in the sun,
And, his day ahead, he will lazily ponder.
Max is a lively, wire-haired terrier
Of who I am really rather fond.
Now that he has explored the local area,
He is ready to explore the world beyond.
0244 Trying to write a sonnet
It's a bit like a trip in a hot air balloon -
the hot air of thousands of years of
poets poetizing; all trying to float a little higher than the everyday,
just a little lower than the angels -
whoops, there's four lines gone already...
so, the first four lines or so say
where you're taking this trip from, hoping
to arrive somewhere quite new and unexpected
after fourteen lines, otherwise
why take the trip at all?
so, fire up the burner of ambition, whatever,
and we're into the second four lines now;
floating in an easy, silent, gently breeze-blown world,
a poet's paradise,
where the mind is stilled, the beauty of the landscape
almost beyond words (ha!) : all perspectives on the world
altered; but do we know now where we're heading?
It's a cool way of experiencing altered state
without illegal substances. Take out the notebook,
try to describe it, just in case
someone reads it; at least it might
encourage them to take the trip themself.
And now we're into the last six lines
which, the pundits say, should introduce
some new insight, some viewpoint on the world;
you've had your chance; has the trip been worthwhile?
the balloon's gone higher, the landscape stretches out,
greener than a politician's promise...
Floating above the green fields, the concrete and the smog,
the unexpected words from the ground heard crystal clear -
have new thoughts, new visions, come, in this poet's paradise?
And now so soon, the final couplet - which the pundits of today
condemn as the valueless whistling in the dark,
the false claim to cultural certainties -
so beware: take all your humility in hand like
a doffed Elizabethan cap: will that final couplet be
the clunk-click of the safety belt's banality? The
front-door clack of Alexander Pope's front door,
before the scrape of sharpened pen, the mellow smell
of candlelight on paper that will ring the world
like thought-fired, savage Georgian hot-air balloon?
Or the clang of oven door in Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald?
For the poet, just fourteen lines: heaven and earth,
truth and lies, life and death, Icarus 's fate,
all these, for his few hours, depend upon it;
but I digress; I should have writ a sonnet..
A Winter's Tale
It is a winter's tale
That the snow blind twilight ferries over the lakes
And floating fields from the farm in the cup of the vales,
Gliding windless through the hand folded flakes,
The pale breath of cattle at the stealthy sail,
And the stars falling cold,
And the smell of hay in the snow, and the far owl
Warning among the folds, and the frozen hold
Flocked with the sheep white smoke of the farm house cowl
In the river wended vales where the tale was told.
Once when the world turned old
On a star of faith pure as the drifting bread,
As the food and flames of the snow, a man unrolled
The scrolls of fire that burned in his heart and head,
Torn and alone in a farm house in a fold
Of fields. And burning then
In his firelit island ringed by the winged snow
And the dung hills white as wool and the hen
Roosts sleeping chill till the flame of the cock crow
Combs through the mantled yards and the morning men
Stumble out with their spades,
The cattle stirring, the mousing cat stepping shy,
The puffed birds hopping and hunting, the milkmaids
Gentle in their clogs over the fallen sky,
And all the woken farm at its white trades,
He knelt, he wept, he prayed,
By the spit and the black pot in the log bright light
And the cup and the cut bread in the dancing shade,
In the muffled house, in the quick of night,
At the point of love, forsaken and afraid.
He knelt on the cold stones,
He wept form the crest of grief, he prayed to the veiled sky
May his hunger go howling on bare white bones
Past the statues of the stables and the sky roofed sties
And the duck pond glass and the blinding byres alone
Into the home of prayers
And fires where he should prowl down the cloud
Of his snow blind love and rush in the white lairs.
His naked need struck him howling and bowed
Though no sound flowed down the hand folded air
But only the wind strung
Hunger of birds in the fields of the bread of water, tossed
In high corn and the harvest melting on their tongues.
And his nameless need bound him burning and lost
When cold as snow he should run the wended vales among
The rivers mouthed in night,
And drown in the drifts of his need, and lie curled caught
In the always desiring centre of the white
Inhuman cradle and the bride bed forever sought
By the believer lost and the hurled outcast of light.
Deliver him, he cried,
By losing him all in love, and cast his need
Alone and naked in the engulfing bride,
Never to flourish in the fields of the white seed
Or flower under the time dying flesh astride.
Listen. The minstrels sing
In the departed villages. The nightingale,
Dust in the buried wood, flies on the grains of her wings
And spells on the winds of the dead his winter's tale.
The voice of the dust of water from the withered spring
Is telling. The wizened
Stream with bells and baying water bounds. The dew rings
On the gristed leaves and the long gone glistening
Parish of snow. The carved mouths in the rock are wind swept strings.
Time sings through the intricately dead snow drop. Listen.
It was a hand or sound
In the long ago land that glided the dark door wide
And there outside on the bread of the ground
A she bird rose and rayed like a burning bride.
A she bird dawned, and her breast with snow and scarlet downed.
Look. And the dancers move
On the departed, snow bushed green, wanton in moon light
As a dust of pigeons. Exulting, the grave hooved
Horses, centaur dead, turn and tread the drenched white
Paddocks in the farms of birds. The dead oak walks for love.
The carved limbs in the rock
Leap, as to trumpets. Calligraphy of the old
Leaves is dancing. Lines of age on the stones weave in a flock.
And the harp shaped voice of the water's dust plucks in a fold
Of fields. For love, the long ago she bird rises. Look.
And the wild wings were raised
Above her folded head, and the soft feathered voice
Was flying through the house as though the she bird praised
And all the elements of the slow fall rejoiced
That a man knelt alone in the cup of the vales,
In the mantle and calm,
By the spit and the black pot in the log bright light.
And the sky of birds in the plumed voice charmed
Him up and he ran like a wind after the kindling flight
Past the blind barns and byres of the windless farm.
In the poles of the year
When black birds died like priests in the cloaked hedge row
And over the cloth of counties the far hills rode near,
Under the one leaved trees ran a scarecrow of snow
And fast through the drifts of the thickets antlered like deer,
Rags and prayers down the knee-
Deep hillocks and loud on the numbed lakes,
All night lost and long wading in the wake of the she-
Bird through the times and lands and tribes of the slow flakes.
Listen and look where she sails the goose plucked sea,
The sky, the bird, the bride,
The cloud, the need, the planted stars, the joy beyond
The fields of seed and the time dying flesh astride,
The heavens, the heaven, the grave, the burning font.
In the far ago land the door of his death glided wide,
And the bird descended.
On a bread white hill over the cupped farm
And the lakes and floating fields and the river wended
Vales where he prayed to come to the last harm
And the home of prayers and fires, the tale ended.
The dancing perishes
On the white, no longer growing green, and, minstrel dead,
The singing breaks in the snow shoed villages of wishes
That once cut the figures of birds on the deep bread
And over the glazed lakes skated the shapes of fishes
Flying. The rite is shorn
Of nightingale and centaur dead horse. The springs wither
Back. Lines of age sleep on the stones till trumpeting dawn.
Exultation lies down. Time buries the spring weather
That belled and bounded with the fossil and the dew reborn.
For the bird lay bedded
In a choir of wings, as though she slept or died,
And the wings glided wide and he was hymned and wedded,
And through the thighs of the engulfing bride,
The woman breasted and the heaven headed
Bird, he was brought low,
Burning in the bride bed of love, in the whirl-
Pool at the wanting centre, in the folds
Of paradise, in the spun bud of the world.
And she rose with him flowering in her melting snow.
The Naked Goddess
D'immortal piede i ruinosi gioghi
Scossero e l'ardue selve (oggi romito
Nido de' venti). LEOPARDI
Through the country to the town
Ran a rumour and renown,
That a woman grand and tall,
Swift of foot, and therewithal
Naked as a lily gleaming,
Had been seen by eyes not dreaming,
Darting down far forest glades,
Flashing sunshine through the shades.
With this rumour's swelling word
All the city buzzed and stirred;
Solemn senators conferred;
Priest, astrologer, and mage,
Subtle sophist, bard, and sage,
Brought their wisdom, lore, and wit,
To expound or riddle it:
Last a porter ventured -- 'We
Might go out ourselves to see.'
Thus, upon a summer morn
Lo the city all forlorn;
Every house and street and square
In the sunshine still and bare,
Every galley left to sway
Silent in the glittering bay;
All the people swarming out,
Young and old a joyous rout,
Rich and poor, far-streaming through
Fields and meadows dark with dew,
Crowd on crowd, and throng on throng;
Chatter, laughter, jest, and song
Deafened all the singing birds,
Wildered sober grazing herds.
Up the hillside 'gainst the sun,
Where the forest outskirts run;
On along the level high,
Where the azure of the sky,
And the ruddy morning sheen,
Drop in fragments through the treen
Where the sward surrounds the brake
With a lucid, glassy lake,
Where the ample glades extend
Until clouds and foliage blend;
Where whoever turneth may
See the city and the bay,
And, beyond, the broad sea bright,
League on league of slanting light;
Where the moist blue shadows sleep
In the sacred forest deep.
Suddenly the foremost pause,
Ere the rear discern a cause;
Loiterers press up row on row,
All the mass heaves to and fro;
All seem murmuring in one strain,
All seem hearkening fixed and fain:
Silence, and the lifted light
Of countless faces gazing white.
Four broad beech-trees, great of bole,
Crowned the green, smooth-swelling knoll;
There She leant, the glorious form
Dazzling with its beauty warm,
Naked as the sun of noon,
Naked as the midnight moon:
And around her, tame and mild,
All the forest creatures wild --
Lion, panther, kid, and fawn,
Eagle, hawk, and dove, all drawn
By the magic of her splendour,
By her great voice, rich and tender,
Whereof every beast and bird
Understood each tone and word,
While she fondled and carest,
Playing freaks of joyous zest.
Suddenly the lion stood,
Turned and saw the multitude,
Swelled his mighty front in ire,
Roared the roar of raging fire:
Then She turned, the living light,
Sprang erect, grew up in height,
Smote them with the flash and blaze
Of her terrible, swift gaze;
A divine, flushed, throbbing form,
Dreadfuller than blackest storm.
All the forest creatures cowered,
Trembling, moaning, overpowered;
All the simple folk who saw
Sank upon their knees in awe
Of this Goddess, fierce and splendid,
Whom they witless had offended;
And they murmured out faint prayers,
Till her haught and angry mien
Grew more gentle and serene.
Stood the high priest forth, and went
Halfway up the green ascent;
There began a preachment long
Of the great and grievous wrong
She unto her own soul wrought
In thus living without thought
Of the gods who sain and save,
Of the life beyond the grave:
Living with the beasts that perish,
Far from all the rites that cherish
Hope and faith and holy love,
And appease the thrones above:
Full of unction pled the preacher;
Let her come and they would teach her
Spirit strangled in the mesh
Of the vile and sinful flesh,
How to gain the heavenly prize,
How grow meet for Paradise;
Penance, prayer, self sacrifice,
Fasting, cloistered solitude,
Mind uplifted, heart subdued;
‘Thus a Virgin, clean and chaste,
In the Bridegroom's arms embraced.
Vestal sister's hooded gown,
Straight and strait, of dismal brown,
Here he proffered, and laid down
On the green grass like a frown.
Then stood forth the old arch-sage,
Wrinkled more with thought than age:
What could worse afflict, deject
Any well-trained intellect
Than in savage forest seeing
Such a full-grown human being
With the beasts and birds at play,
Ignorant and wild as they?
Sciences and arts, by which
Man makes Nature's poor life rich,
Dominates the world around,
Proves himself its King self-crowned,
She knew nothing of them, she
Knew not even what they be!
Body naked to the air,
And the reason just as bare!
Yet (since circumstance, that can
Hinder the full growth of man,
Cannot kill the seeds of worth
Innate in the Lord of Earth),
Yet she might be taught and brought
To full sovranty of thought,
Crowned with reason's glorious crown.
So he tendered and laid down,
Sober grey beside the brown,
Amplest philosophic gown.
Calm and proud she stood the while
With a certain wondering smile;
When the luminous sage was done
She begin to speak as one
Using language not her own,
Simplest words in sweetest tone:
'Poor old greybeards, worn and bent!
I do know not what they meant;
Only here and there a word
Reached my mind of all I heard;
Let some child come here, I may
Understand what it can say.'
So two little children went,
Lingering up the green ascent,
Hand in hand, but grew the while
Bolder in her gentle smile;
When she kissed them they were free,
Joyous as at mother’s knee.
'Tell me, darlings, now,' said she,
'What they want to say to me.'
Boy and girl then, nothing loth,
Sometimes one and sometimes both,
Prattled to her sitting there
Fondling with their soft young hair:
'Dear kind lady, do you stay
Here with always holiday?
Do you sleep among the trees?
People want you, if you please,
To put on your dress and come
With us to the City home;
Live with us and be our friend:
Oh, such pleasant times we'll spend! ...
But if you can't come away,
Will you let us stop and play
With you and all these happy things
With hair and horns and shining wings?'
She arose and went half down,
Took the vestal sister's gown,
Tried it on, burst through its shroud,
As the sun burns through a cloud:
Flung it from her split and rent;
Said: 'This cerement sad was meant
For some creature stunted, thin,
Breastless, blighted, bones and skin.'
Then the sage's robe she tried,
Muffling in its long folds wide
All her lithe and glorious grace:
'I should stumble every pace!
This big bag was meant to hold
Some poor sluggard fat and old,
Limping, shuffling wearily,
With a form not fit to see!'
So she flung it off again
With a gesture of disdain.
Naked as the midnight moon,
Naked as the sun of noon,
Burning too intensely bright,
Clothed in its own dazzling light;
Seen less thus than in the shroud
Of morning mist or evening cloud;
She stood terrible and proud
O'er the pallid quivering crowd.
At a gesture ere they wist,
Perched a falcon on her wrist,
And she whispered to the bird
Something it alone there heard;
Then she threw it off: when thrown
Straight it rose as falls a stone,
Arrow-swift on high, on high,
Till a mere speck in the sky;
Then it circled round and round,
Till, as if the prey were found,
Forth it darted on its quest
Straight away into the West....
Every eye that watched its flight
Felt a sideward flash of light,
All were for a moment dazed,
Then around intently gazed:
What had passed them?
Where was She,
The offended deity?
O'er the city, o'er the bay,
They beheld her melt away,
Melt away beyond their quest
Through the regions of the west;
While the eagle screamed rauque ire,
And the lion roared like fire.
That same night both priest and sage
Died accursed in sombre rage.
Never more in wild wood green
Was that glorious Goddess seen,
Never more: and from that day
Evil hap and dull decay
Fell on countryside and town;
Life and vigour dwindled down;
Storms in Spring nipped bud and sprout,
Summer suns shed plague and drought,
Autumn's store was crude and scant,
Winter snows beleaguered want;
Vines were black at vintage-tide,
Flocks and herds of murrain died;
Fishing boats came empty home,
Good ships foundered in the foam;
Haggard traders lost all heart
Wandering through the empty mart:
For the air hung thick with gloom,
Silence, and the sense of doom.
But those little children she
Had caressed so tenderly
Were betrothed that self-same night,
Grew up beautiful and bright,
Lovers through the years of play
Forward to their marriage-day.
Three long moons of bridal bliss
Overflowed them; after this,
With his bride and with a band
Of the noblest in the land,
Youths and maidens, wedded pairs
Scarcely older in life's cares,
He took ship and sailed away
Westward Ho from out the bay:
Portioned from their native shrine
With the Sacred Fire divine,
They will cherish while they roam,
Quintiles 'mid the salt sea foam,
Till it burns beneath a dome
In some new and far-off home.
As they ventured more and more
In that ocean without shore,
And some hearts were growing cold
At the emprise all too bold,
It is said a falcon came
Down the void blue swift as flame;
Every sunset came to rest
On the prow's high curving crest,
Every sunrise rose from rest
Flying forth into the west;
And they followed, faint no more,
Through that ocean without shore.
Three moons crescent fill and wane
O'er the solitary main,
When behold a green shore smile:
It was that Atlantic isle,
Drowned beneath the waves and years,
Whereof some faint shadow peers
Dubious through the modern stream
Of Platonic legend-dream.
High upon that green shore stood
She who left their native wood;
Glorious, and with solemn hand
Beckoned to them there to land.
Though She forthwith disappeared
As the wave-worn galley neared,
They knew well her presence still
Haunted stream and wood and hill.
There they landed, there grew great,
Founders of a mighty state:
There the Sacred Fire divine
Burned within a wondrous shrine
Which Her statue glorified
Throughout many kingdoms wide.
There those children wore the crown
To their children handed down
Many and many a golden age
Blotted now from history's page;
Till the last of all the line
Leagued him with the other nine
Great Atlantic kings whose hosts
Ravaged all the Mid Sea coasts:
Then the whelming deluge rolled
Over all those regions old;
Thrice three thousand years before
Solon questioned Egypt's lore.
Love in the Valley
Under yonder beech-tree single on the green-sward,
Couched with her arms behind her golden head,
Knees and tresses folded to slip and ripple idly,
Lies my young love sleeping in the shade.
Had I the heart to slide an arm beneath her,
Press her parting lips as her waist I gather slow,
Waking in amazement she could not but embrace me:
Then would she hold me and never let me go?
Shy as the squirrel and wayward as the swallow,
Swift as the swallow along the river's light
Circleting the surface to meet his mirrored winglets,
Fleeter she seems in her stay than in her flight.
Shy as the squirrel that leaps among the pine-tops,
Wayward as the swallow overhead at set of sun,
She whom I love is hard to catch and conquer,
Hard, but O the glory of the winning were she won!
When her mother tends her before the laughing mirror,
Tying up her laces, looping up her hair,
Often she thinks, were this wild thing wedded,
More love should I have, and much less care.
When her mother tends her before the lighted mirror,
Loosening her laces, combing down her curls,
Often she thinks, were this wild thing wedded,
I should miss but one for many boys and girls.
Heartless she is as the shadow in the meadows
Flying to the hills on a blue and breezy noon.
No, she is athirst and drinking up her wonder:
Earth to her is young as the slip of the new moon.
Deals she an unkindness, 'tis but her rapid measure,
Even as in a dance; and her smile can heal no less:
Like the swinging May-cloud that pelts the flowers with hailstones
Off a sunny border, she was made to bruise and bless.
Lovely are the curves of the white owl sweeping
Wavy in the dusk lit by one large star.
Lone on the fir-branch, his rattle-note unvaried,
Brooding o'er the gloom, spins the brown eve-jar.
Darker grows the valley, more and more forgetting:
So were it with me if forgetting could be willed.
Tell the grassy hollow that holds the bubbling well-spring,
Tell it to forget the source that keeps it filled.
Stepping down the hill with her fair companions,
Arm in arm, all against the raying West
Boldly she sings, to the merry tune she marches,
Brave in her shape, and sweeter unpossessed.
Sweeter, for she is what my heart first awaking
Whispered the world was; morning light is she.
Love that so desires would fain keep her changeless;
Fain would fling the net, and fain have her free.
Happy happy time, when the white star hovers
Low over dim fields fresh with bloomy dew,
Near the face of dawn, that draws athwart the darkness,
Threading it with colour, as yewberries the yew.
Thicker crowd the shades while the grave East deepens
Glowing, and with crimson a long cloud swells.
Maiden still the morn is; and strange she is, and secret;
Strange her eyes; her cheeks are cold as cold sea-shells.
Sunrays, leaning on our southern hills and lighting
Wild cloud-mountains that drag the hills along,
Oft ends the day of your shifting brilliant laughter
Chill as a dull face frowning on a song.
Ay, but shows the South-West a ripple-feathered bosom
Blown to silver while the clouds are shaken and ascend
Scaling the mid-heavens as they stream, there comes a sunset
Rich, deep like love in beauty without end.
When at dawn she sighs, and like an infant to the window
Turns grave eyes craving light, released from dreams,
Beautiful she looks, like a white water-lily
Bursting out of bud in havens of the streams.
When from bed she rises clothed from neck to ankle
In her long nightgown sweet as boughs of May,
Beautiful she looks, like a tall garden lily
Pure from the night, and splendid for the day.
Mother of the dews, dark eye-lashed twilight,
Low-lidded twilight, o'er the valley's brim,
Rounding on thy breast sings the dew-delighted skylark,
Clear as though the dewdrops had their voice in him.
Hidden where the rose-flush drinks the rayless planet,
Fountain-full he pours the spraying fountain-showers.
Let me hear her laughter, I would have her ever
Cool as dew in twilight, the lark above the flowers.
All the girls are out with their baskets for the primrose;
Up lanes, woods through, they troop in joyful bands.
My sweet leads: she knows not why, but now she totters,
Eyes the bent anemones, and hangs her hands.
Such a look will tell that the violets are peeping,
Coming the rose: and unaware a cry
Springs in her bosom for odours and for colour,
Covert and the nightingale; she knows not why.
Kerchiefed head and chin she darts between her tulips,
Streaming like a willow grey in arrowy rain:
Some bend beaten cheek to gravel, and their angel
She will be; she lifts them, and on she speeds again.
Black the driving raincloud breasts the iron gateway:
She is forth to cheer a neighbour lacking mirth.
So when sky and grass met rolling dumb for thunder
Saw I once a white dove, sole light of earth.
Prim little scholars are the flowers of her garden,
Trained to stand in rows, and asking if they please.
I might love them well but for loving more the wild ones:
O my wild ones! they tell me more than these.
You, my wild one, you tell of honied field-rose,
Violet, blushing eglantine in life; and even as they,
They by the wayside are earnest of your goodness,
You are of life's, on the banks that line the way.
Peering at her chamber the white crowns the red rose,
Jasmine winds the porch with stars two and three.
Parted is the window; she sleeps; the starry jasmine
Breathes a falling breath that carries thoughts of me.
Sweeter unpossessed, have I said of her my sweetest?
Not while she sleeps: while she sleeps the jasmine breathes,
Luring her to love; she sleeps; the starry jasmine
Bears me to her pillow under white rose-wreaths.
Yellow with birdfoot-trefoil are the grass-glades;
Yellow with cinquefoil of the dew-grey leaf;
Yellow with stonecrop; the moss-mounds are yellow;
Blue-necked the wheat sways, yellowing to the sheaf:
Green-yellow bursts from the copse the laughing yaffle;
Sharp as a sickle is the edge of shade and shine:
Earth in her heart laughs looking at the heavens,
Thinking of the harvest: I look and think of mine.
This I may know: her dressing and undressing
Such a change of light shows as when the skies in sport
Shift from cloud to moonlight; or edging over thunder
Slips a ray of sun; or sweeping into port
White sails furl; or on the ocean borders
White sails lean along the waves leaping green.
Visions of her shower before me, but from eyesight
Guarded she would be like the sun were she seen.
Front door and back of the mossed old farmhouse
Open with the morn, and in a breezy link
Freshly sparkles garden to stripe-shadowed orchard,
Green across a rill where on sand the minnows wink.
Busy in the grass the early sun of summer
Swarms, and the blackbird's mellow fluting notes
Call my darling up with round and roguish challenge:
Quaintest, richest carol of all the singing throats!
Cool was the woodside; cool as her white dairy
Keeping sweet the cream-pan; and there the boys from school,
Cricketing below, rushed brown and red with sunshine;
O the dark translucence of the deep-eyed cool!
Spying from the farm, herself she fetched a pitcher
Full of milk, and tilted for each in turn the beak.
Then a little fellow, mouth up and on tiptoe,
Said, "I will kiss you": she laughed and leaned her cheek.
Doves of the fir-wood walling high our red roof
Through the long noon coo, crooning through the coo.
Loose droop the leaves, and down the sleepy roadway
Sometimes pipes a chaffinch; loose droops the blue.
Cows flap a slow tail knee-deep in the river,
Breathless, given up to sun and gnat and fly.
Nowhere is she seen; and if I see her nowhere,
Lightning may come, straight rains and tiger sky.
O the golden sheaf, the rustling treasure-armful!
O the nutbrown tresses nodding interlaced!
O the treasure-tresses one another over
Nodding! O the girdle slack about the waist!
Slain are the poppies that shot their random scarlet
Quick amid the wheatears: wound about the waist,
Gathered, see these brides of Earth one blush of ripeness!
O the nutbrown tresses nodding interlaced!
Large and smoky red the sun's cold disk drops,
Clipped by naked hills, on violet shaded snow:
Eastward large and still lights up a bower of moonrise,
Whence at her leisure steps the moon aglow.
Nightlong on black print-branches our beech-tree
Gazes in this whiteness: nightlong could I.
Here may life on death or death on life be painted.
Let me clasp her soul to know she cannot die!
Gossips count her faults; they scour a narrow chamber
Where there is no window, read not heaven or her.
"When she was a tiny," one aged woman quavers,
Plucks at my heart and leads me by the ear.
Faults she had once as she learnt to run and tumbled:
Faults of feature some see, beauty not complete.
Yet, good gossips, beauty that makes holy
Earth and air, may have faults from head to feet.
Hither she comes; she comes to me; she lingers,
Deepens her brown eyebrows, while in new surprise
High rise the lashes in wonder of a stranger;
Yet am I the light and living of her eyes.
Something friends have told her fills her heart to brimming,
Nets her in her blushes, and wounds her, and tames.--
Sure of her haven, O like a dove alighting,
Arms up, she dropped: our souls were in our names.
Soon will she lie like a white-frost sunrise.
Yellow oats and brown wheat, barley pale as rye,
Long since your sheaves have yielded to the thresher,
Felt the girdle loosened, seen the tresses fly.
Soon will she lie like a blood-red sunset.
Swift with the to-morrow, green-winged Spring!
Sing from the South-West, bring her back the truants,
Nightingale and swallow, song and dipping wing.
Soft new beech-leaves, up to beamy April
Spreading bough on bough a primrose mountain, you,
Lucid in the moon, raise lilies to the skyfields,
Youngest green transfused in silver shining through:
Fairer than the lily, than the wild white cherry:
Fair as in image my seraph love appears
Borne to me by dreams when dawn is at my eyelids:
Fair as in the flesh she swims to me on tears.
Could I find a place to be alone with heaven,
I would speak my heart out: heaven is my need.
Every woodland tree is flushing like the dog-wood,
Flashing like the whitebeam, swaying like the reed.
Flushing like the dog-wood crimson in October;
Streaming like the flag-reed South-West blown;
Flashing as in gusts the sudden-lighted white beam:
All seem to know what is for heaven alone.
LYRIC-LUTE  / by Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar
Sing; so that life a lyric may become!
Man is helpless at each step,
Each silvery love-dream is shattered,
Sunken in sea of tears
The sun of hope is far, far away,
Sing, so that each particle a friend may become!
Surrounded on all sides is darkness dense
Hurt is each heart, full of pain,
Shall mute cover of troubles life-long
For ever remain thus overhead?
Sing, that defeat victory may become!
Breath is overcast with helplessness-suffocation,
Smoldering is life smarting-burning fed,
Full of poisonous dense-dust particles
Is sky of man’s wishes,
Sing, so that suffering a music may become!
 A WISH
Let life flow freely,
Let it lead to victory!
Let each one find solace
Under the tree-shade of blessings!
Let there be songs played day and night
On the harp of the soul!
Let sweet dreams ever come
And bring pleasure and laughter!
Let no one be sad
Let laughter ring!
Let each man become gold
Made pure in the inner fire!
Let each one bear bravely
The knocks of the unknown fate!
 WHO ARE YOU
Who are you long-lost in waiting,
So awake in the dark mid-night?
Clouds of darkness are fleeing fast
From end to end of universe,
The atmosphere is calm and quiet
And without a wink
The stars stare in sky
Who are you, sweet! so awake
In the company of galaxy of stars?
Whose lamp is it burning
With light new at the door?
It is illuminating the path,
Light is reaching out far beyond,
What is this lamp, flickering alone
In the face of the furious wind?
Again and again to-day
Strikes somebody the chords of heart-lyre
And from black lustrous eyes now and then
Flows down love on both the cheeks,
What is that agony
Touching the heart of lotus full awake at night?
 TO THE MOON
Please smile not and tempt me thus,
Or else I shall kiss your cheeks!
Yes, lavishly endowed with beauty you are
Your graceful eyes reflect the dream world of happiness
Where dance the naked damsels
Where new beauties enter and add to glamour
Go and join the beauty parade
Please shed not your lustre here!
How stealthy are your steps
Like a thief you traversed the sky
But no sooner the golden sun withdraws
All your lustre bewitching spreads out,
Cover not your limbs with attempt so vain!
For ages past I have seen you so mute
Tell me please, I ask, 'Who are you? '
Now never shall you escape from view
Strewn is the entire court-yard with your treasure to-day
Please pause in your path
and enshrine me softly in your heart!
 THE BEAUTY OF THE SLEEPING MOON
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!
So care-free physically,
Mentally so free from worries;
And so content with life
Holding somebody's loving 'Anchal'!
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!
With feelings all anew,
With imaginations all novel,
With desires all maiden;
And with a heart full of a world of dreams!
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!
With happiness oozing out of every breath,
With nectar like hopes,
And thirst eternal;
Clasping light luminous to his heart!
Cosy lies the moon on the star-spangled carpet!
 MOON LIGHT
Giving herself airs the moonlight approaches me,
Knowing me alone, the moonlight beguiles me ever!
Slowly on the parapets comes down the moonlight,
Lovely and sweet song sings the queenly moonlight!
On my roof and tin-shade spreads the moonlight,
With my hands and face openly plays the moonlight!
Sleeps not herself nor allows others, the moonlight,
At dawn, nobody knows where flees the moonlight!
This moonlight speaks not to me none knows why,
Fills the heart with strange nectar of love this moonlight!
 NO GRIEVANCE
No grievance have I against you today!
The helpless eyes conceal the whole secret
The pleasant pictures of our meeting
Are enshrined in the heart,
I think over and over again,
Far far away a new path search I!
No habit though have I of forgetfulness Dear!
No grievance have I against you today!
Willingly or unwillingly sweet dreams
I sometimes enjoy;
Thus intoxicated I conjure up your image
No harm if I smile,
And create a new world of my own;
No mischief indeed is this!
No grievance have I against you today!
Sometimes even a tree embraces a creeper lone,
The tired Lotus also takes the Bee in the cosy petal-fold
When she shields and shrinks
Your memory torments me all the more
Beauty of the universe is nobody's pawn!
No grievance have I against you today!
 LUST FOR LIFE
The man lives on
By the cravings of love!
The lightnings crash near him,
The tornadoes roar and rage around him,
But a faith mysterious
Over brims his heart,
And sleeps he cosy and comfortable
In the shade of dreams and visions splendid!
The man lives on by the cravings of love!
In front of him mountain peaks dizzy,
Around him yawn chasms deep
But fired with faith divine
The man moves on
To get comrades genial
On his way eternal!
The man lives on by the cravings of love!
The death's orchestra plays on,
The mango-groves once jubilant and gay
Are silent and deserted now;
But with faith divine
In the midst of tears and sighs
The man laughs on!
The man lives on by the cravings of love!
Wet and heavy is the night,
And far away is sleep!
A deep murkiness is all around,
And a long way off is the crimson morning,
All sounds are still,
At such a time, why are you silent,
Do share a secret with me!
The fog rains quietly,
Cooled has been the sky's heat,
Silently meet the earth and sky,
At such a moment be with me,
Or else, the cold body will shiver!
Only the silence reigns
Trees sway beyond the fields,
Unexpectedly do the doors rattle,
Do not open the window and peep out,
There is intoxicating wind lies in wait!
All through the night!
An ice-cold silence
Shields the sleeping earth,
On leaves and flowers danced
The love-puppet night,
The artist mist
Constructed a canopied dwelling!
Here, there and everywhere,
Like scattered diamonds are drops of water,
Stealthily prowl about
The gusts of wind,
Like a guard
Woke the waterfall ringing!
Lively is the gathering
Presided over by the night,
Her lover tightly held in her arms,
Wakes and sleeps the beloved,
Is the frightened dawn!
 O WIND!
Come, tuning a song,
Shaking the boughs
Come, raising the dust!
Lovely fragrance filled
O vital Eastern Wind!
Over the distant mountain-peak!
Mad and over-brimming with youth
These new green leaves
Come, humming a tune,
Come strewing the shreds of cloud!
Drunk and forgetful of mind,
Drunk and forgetful of body,
With laughter bubbling
Sweet and vivacious,
Vibrating the heart strings
 NEW LIFE
Man's life is filled with helpless moments;
The days and nights are all dark and dreary
And the stale talk of those dire needs
Rap my heart —
How long will it take the rains to come?
The song of life is left half-sung — never done!
The same old dreams deceive as yet,
And the heart is filled
With those very lusts, throbs and commotions —
How long will it take a new world to bear?
My life is filled with dreary moments!
The hot winds blow
Howling at the nests,
Scaring me to wonder —
How long will it take the spring to bloom?
My life is fading amidst autumn's dead leaves!
My fatigue-intoxicated body aches
And my heart is rendered
Weak, helpless and demoralized —
How long will it take to beam a smile?
My life becomes a show of skeleton!
Man's morrow is bright and gay,
Be it though not a better path,
Strewn with thorns, an intractable path,
But he tramples down the thorns
Alleviating adversities comes then
the New Life beaming smiles!
Mitigating darkness comes then
the New Life showering light!
 WE KNOW IT WELL
We'll march removing hurdles,
Cleaving the dark
For, we know it well —
That lightning flashes not in the blaze of noon!
Awake, incessantly shall we proceed
Erecting an edifice anew.
For, we know it well —
That youth falters not — no, never!
The opposing gales will gaze in wonder,
And the adversities will then quickly end;
For, we know it well —
That the breaths of the undaunted
are wasted not — no, never!
 KEEP AWAKE
Keep awake, in this world till dawn!
There is terror all around,
The wounded humanity weeps
Bear the strokes, till people are united!
Let each man be free from bondage
Fight against the current
Till the people's strife to victory rages!
Do not give up
Move towards the goal, do not stop
Till the savages are broken and defeated!
till it is morning the world over!
Fear frowns everywhere,
hurt humanity is wailing,
bear the brunt
till organized protests ensue!
Let every man be free from confinement,
contend against the tide,
till the flaring up of
the victory war of masses.
Fight death, feel not tired,
march unto the end, stop not
till the tormenters cower and crumble!
If life is pain,
Then bear its pangs
If life is a secret,
Then remain silent
If there is no harbour
Then row on
If life is a calamity
Then be washed away
If fire surrounds us,
Then burn constantly
How terrible is truth!
Then utter every falsehood
 ONE NIGHT
Like a flash of lightening
You came in the dark sky of my life!
In my arms you swung
When swayed freely the month of sawan1!
Like a shruti2 tune you rang
When the kajali3 was heard outside!
Like the music of anklets you chimed
When the tri-yama4 became fragrant!
Standing near the tulsi5 in the courtyard
You shone resplendent, O the only one!
Like a flame you glowed
Coming in my forlorn home and courtyard!
1 The fifth month of the Indian Calendar (rainy month)
2 A minute part of a musical note produced at the time of carrying one musical note to another.
3 A type of folk-song sung by ladies during Bhadon (a rainy month) festival.
4 Third part of the night — a time of union of husband & wife.
5 A famous basil plant. It is considered holy by Hindus and worshipped in their courtyards.
Today I remembered you,
My heart resounded with song!
As if the sound of Anhad1 echoed in my heart!
O, after years!
Your company was the only truth,
Your hand the only protection,
Everything has disappeared, but
The ecstasy of each lived moment remains!
Ages have entered oblivion,
Sowing dreams in nights,
But those sweet images
Have always inhabited my life!
1The inner sound of the heart which can be heared by yogis.
Your memory flashed up today
and titillated my mind,
was a palpable fact,
your hand a handy armour.
Every thing is lost in the past
frequent infatuation persists.
Ages have gone by
nursing dreams every night,
but those sweet kaleidoscopic pictures
have been the inspiration of life.
The blooming orchid in my yard
strews a multi-shaded grandeur sweet.
Her soft and silky tangled tresses
have a perfect shiny gloss.
She has snugness in her arms
and an insight in her eyes.
Naively she squeaks like a sparrow
and warbles dulcet notes.
Lanky and fresh
as if dangling from a tree twig
she feels bestowed upon the riches divine
and seems gloating over all her lot.
She appears thoroughly satisfied
adorned as she with trinkets fine.
The orchid is blooming
the beauteous blossom in my yard.
(To my grand-daughter baby Ira)
 PASSION AND COMPASSION
You create music [rhythm] in heart,
I will sing the song of life!
In this way
Let our age go on dwindling,
Let the throbbing breaths in our hearts
Let the waving wick of love
Go on burning in both of our hearts!
Let the mutual emotion and compassion
Of our living souls
Go on cherishing!
You tell a story
Of enchanting love,
I can sleep peacefully,
for a while!
And lose myself
In sweet and charming dreams
Forsaking my entire grief!
You make your tears of love
Overflow towards me,
I will make
The splendour of heaven
To stoop down
At your feet!
It's Not So Much
It's not so much the darkness
that bothers me
it's just that at these depths
the sea forgets how to dream.
And being a lamp unto yourself
where the darkness is so naive
it doesn't run from the light
isn't as much fun
as watching stars
try to imitate spiders
in the eleven dimensional corner
of my left eye
like cut-out constellations.
I'm not one of those who go looking for meaning
because they want to mean something themselves.
I listen to the hissing
of olaceously black rain on the asphalt
as the cars go by under my window
and the streetlights run like blood
in the gutters of their hemorrhaging swords.
The physicians must heal themselves
when the shadows of their grails fall ill.
I'm just singing
without seeking anything
like a nightbird in a secret grove
or a busker on a streetcorner
playing for nothing
because I don't know what to ask for anymore
that isn't just another version
of everything I've already had.
I'm just casting my voice like a ventriloquist
to overcome the loneliness
of the return journey home
only to discover
no one lives there anymore.
Illusory cures for illusory diseases.
Struggling not to be void-bound
is like a mastodon
trying to swim in quicksand.
You sink like the cornerstone
of a pyramid with a tilt.
You become the architect of a museum
your skeleton built
bone by bone
out of your minerally preserved
And it isn't quite pain.
And it isn't quite despair.
I'm wholly here and awake
but here isn't anywhere
and there's no road to take.
but there's no longing
in the austere geometry of the windowpanes.
And if love were to come again
at this late date
what could that be
but more of the hysterical history
of the mystery of beauty and pain?
The moon running its tongue
along the edge of a sacrificial knife
to taste the wounded divinity
in the festive blood
of a willing victim?
That knife was long ago
blunted on me
like the moon
trying to retract its claws
like the first and last crescents
out of a stone heart
it broke its fangs on
trying to maul it like a strawberry.
I still enjoy the flesh and spirit of women
and even if love is just
the effusion of an enzyme
that weighs the dealer
in the scales of his own delusion
and finds a feather's weight missing
from the baggie he sold his soul
I told myself lightyears ago
in a narcotic cul de sac of the sixties
when I was more radical than Mephistopheles
that if it hasn't got a root on it
don't do it
but women can take a weed like me home
growing wild in a roadside ditch
and burying me deep
like someone they cherished
like the king of the waxing year
embedding my body parts
in a wound in the earth
If I am to be offered up as a tribute to love
I would still rather be harvested
than preyed upon.
But I fear what's left of the garden
is just a few sunflowers for the bluejays
and a handful of scattered seeds for the smaller birds.
A rusting scythe under a blue moon
and an inspired scarecrow
to the autumn crows
who don't have the ear for it
or an eye for anything that isn't
And what of fame
that dirty word in an unclean mouth
that algae bloom in a crystal ball
that clouds it like a brackish aquarium
until the prophetic fish is lost
in the smog of its own unknowing
like Venus in the soot of a factory nightshift
when she beds down with Vulcan?
Who wants to be a name
bigger than their book
laid out like a gravestone
in the literary cemetery
of store-front windowpanes
that traffic implausible afterlives
among the dead
like hyperbolic pyramids
to mummified mannequins
with hype for breath
and social fashionistas
trying to make revolutionary statements
by using cosmetic accessories
as a dietary substitute for brains?
Who wants to shine on a starmap
when they've got the whole sky before them?
Who would choose
to fly like a kite on a leash
when they've got the wings of a bird?
Fame is like trying to take
the whole alphabet for your name
but you can tell it's just a little hell
a poppy of fire
by the way it goes out like a candle
and any gust of time
can deflower its eternal flame.
Better to let your name thrive
like alien life
on an undiscovered planet
than become a tourist attraction.
At the moment of conception
who needs an audience in the womb
and at the leaving of life
maggots in your literary corpus
even before you're in the tomb?
Why mark your remains with a pyramid
when any blade of grass will do?
Created out of starmud
it's natural to want to shine
like flowers stars and mirrors
to let your light wake the worlds up
like the roar of tigers in the valley
but fame is a false dawn
and an unworthy witness
to your solitude.
Better to let your legend grow
and shed its own skin
like the moon or a snake
and start again naked
than dress up for your art
in the farce of a public wardrobe.
Some shine like a phoenix of desire.
Some write their name
like the light ricocheting off of water
but who takes a star
and imprints it like a fossil in cement
and walked and spit upon underfoot
expects to be pointed out
like one of the radiant highlights
of a mythogeneric firmament?
Catch a falling star
and put it in your pocket
never let it fade away.
Two minutes with a hook
isn't the lyric of a book
that's much of a rocket.
I'd rather be spaced out on my own
like the wavelength of a flying carpet
swimming like a sign of serpentine intelligence
written like a hieroglyph for time
on the tides of sand
in this desert of stars
than try to live up to the afterlives
they will tell about me
like lies about a pyramid.
Excellence is a darker affair than success.
I'm as lunar as any wolf I've ever run with
but that doesn't mean
I'm howling my heart out
to be the man on the moon in a spotlight.
I'm just up alone in the middle of the night
in an agony of insight
trying to keep from going mad
when the muse renews her virginity in my blood
like the craziest affair I've ever had
with the moon in my solitude
breaking through the clouds
as if she were rising from her bath.
Let your name be a leaf on the mindstream
of the path you're on.
Your fame a whiff of smoke
from a fire rising among the trees
on a distant hillside.
Fame is a highway
but it's the rivers
that will remember your name.
The life of the mind
doesn't keep secrets from the heart
but fame will make you a stranger to your art.
It's a new creation in every moment
flashing in and out of the abyss
like the occult semaphore
of a ghost ship in distress.
Excellence keeps success behind it
like a star keeps its light in its wake.
Everything is dark before it
and keeping up with the times
means being a day late
for your own arrival.
Yesterday can't prophecy
what will be true about tomorrow.
Only today can lie like that.
Better the lonely bliss
of anonymous dark matter
making the world up
as it goes along
like something homeless
whistling its way through the night
like the nameless lyric
of an unknown road
it's been following for years
than the crowded sorrows
of a mirror that weeps
unenlightened tears in a spotlight
that fall like fake jewels
from the last take of the third eye
on the opening night of a braille television.
Get behind me Satan.
Get behind me A Dajal the One-eyed Liar.
I'm not looking for distractions
and I'm not asking for the truth.
I'm not setting leg hold trap line experiments
to capture the facts
or lamplighting in the groves of knowledge.
The only body of wisdom I appeal to
is my own
and I get up
and wash its face every morning.
I don't take the high or the low place.
I take the no place
and things come to me
like poems sailing down the Yang-tze
like swans following
a trail of feathers shed by the moon
or heretical autumn leaves
washed down the world mountain
by disbelieving mindstreams
purged by the more
religiously conservative evergreens.
The truth flowers out of its own root
for each of us
like a waterlily out of a swamp
or a chandelier of columbines
out of the moss pate
on a granite skull.
The minute you go looking for it
it leaves home.
I am that I am.
Sit still and know.
So why go around
overturning everybody's heads
what abides in you
like the apple abides in the seed?
Everyone's a false idol
in the shrine of their mirroring consciousness.
But fear isn't the beginning of wisdom
anymore than courage is.
Life doesn't cast a shadow
like the terrible aftermath of the light
if you don't get it right.
The best thing is
to sit down
on the ground of your being
in the absence of God
and have a good laugh
at finding reality up your own sleeve
when it wasn't the answer
but the enlightened question
that set you free.
That what you find
sad mad bad about the world
is the shadow of your own lucidity.
And if God is missing from your life
what could that be
but her original refusal
to impose herself like a prison
on your liberty?
Beyond delusion and reality.
The absolute clarity of the abyss
looking into the mystery of me
with my own eyes
like someone watching me in a dream
that wakes up with me when I do.
I have given of the gifts I was given
in full measure and a bit beside.
Water back to water.
Breath back to space.
To live is to give.
It's the nature of the place.
And you don't need a Zen master
on a tatami mat
or a blue Sufi on a prayer rug
to understand that.
Your face is the blossom
of your body fruit
and your hands and feet
are its leaves.
You're a rootless tree
standing in the midst
of your own luminous windfall
and the worlds are humming
with bees at your feet.
Your heart sweetens
in the ageless autumn sun
and at night
your mind is a riot of stars.
Though my life may have been broken
like a toy in the hands of an intense muse
I have lived openly in her fire
without any skin on
and walked barefoot for lightyears
with the ashes of a phoenix in an urn
to deposit on the unswept stairs
of one of her ancient shrines
all that was left of my heart.
I've made a firewalk of the stars.
I've tasted the honey of life
in her hive of bliss
and drunk the black elixirs
when she dances like a snakepit
and makes a grail of my skull
and fills it full of the abyss
and says here
drown all of this
in a single gulp.
I have kissed the serpent on the head
like the sun the green bud of a daffodil
and it was me that bloomed
like the solar flare a cobra.
I have been her lover
and she has been my will.
I have been her garden
and she has been
the secret flower
that arises from my decay.
And the only road I've ever taken
that led me up to her threshold
was the one I made through the starfields
by wandering off the path.
Only the lost pilgrim can find his way to her.
He can tell by the light in her eyes
that he's only chasing fireflies
in all directions at once
but that's more than enough to encompass
the whole earth
and beyond the veils of Isis
in the heavens above
feel the stars streaming through your blood
like one fix of love she knows
even in the depths
of your eyeless solitude
will keep you high forever.
I'm her fool
and she's the muse of my folly.
Her tongue draws blood
like a thorny leaf
and I bleed beads of holly.
In her voice
I can hear the name
of every woman
I've ever been apprenticed to
like an echo of the sound
of one hand clapping for an encore.
She's been the geni
and I've been her magic lamp.
She's tied me to a stake
like the first rule
of an unprincipled heretic
who burns like midnight oil
in a school
because he thinks it's sexier
to be a taboo
than a threshold
and applied herself like fire
to my education.
She's been my funeral pyre
but I've been the keeper of the flame.
She's never given me the key to her place
but she's never
not left the door ajar
or an open window
for me to enter
like a thief of fire
approaches a furnace
knowing he will be consumed
in the fulfilment of his own prophecy.
The washed-up starfish
turns into a galaxy.
I live to suffer
what I rejoice in the most.
So that every love poem
I ever wrote her
was a fresh wound
not an old scar.
An ageless flame on an aging lamp
I have been a traveller
and she has been the star
that has filled the field
of my enraptured vision
with worlds within worlds.
Her inspiration has not deceived me.
I have received what she has given
Now I want to be
what the genie wishes for.
Dangerous To Love Things That Perish
for Louise and Morgan
Dangerous to love things that perish
but cowardly not to.
You weren't just a cat.
You were Morgan.
as when I first saw you as a kitten
cupped in Louise's hands
a whiff of incense
a gust of stars
someone in love had breathed out.
And we loved you.
And now you're dead.
And there are two more people in the world
who can't stop weeping.
Because there is no now
in the suddenness of death
and it's colder in our hearts than it is outside
because your absence
like your body
doesn't have a temperature anymore.
And there's a dagger of darkness
that's thrust through everything
as if God were an assassin
in some kind of video killing game
that put black holes to shame.
Or is it just the impersonality of life
that it seems to derive a cheap thrill
from killing the things it creates
without knowing their names?
Morgan the Cat.
A work of genius.
And you'd be a whole lot wiser than you are
not to forget it
because she was a goddess in her own rite.
She was the auroral shapeshifter
that was born a kitten
but grew up to be more than a human
because we always wished
we had more of her characteristics
than the ones we had as a superior species
and we worshipped her
and paid her the attentive kind of tribute
that was and is the natural due of her magical virtues.
And Morgan though it's doubtful you can hear us now
where you can breathe easy out in the open
like the cool breeze you always were
among the wildflowers that look like stars
and copulate with Orion
the only cat who ever loved you back
as much as you like
without any one throwing cold water on it
because humans have learned to live like prophylactics
we want you to know somehow in some mysterious way
our species hasn't discovered yet
how much you did to improve our innocence
by watching you live your life
as if you were born
knowing how to live
and didn't have to work at it as we do.
You were tenderness with claws.
A female buddha with the eyes of a warrior
that were the envy of the moon.
A boddhicatva who didn't answer to anyone
if you can forgive a bad pun
but showed us the way in
to the feline felicity of a paradise
that was as open as space to everyone.
You were the embodiment
of an affection and gentleness
that lingered like smoke in the air
above the cat's eye flame of a candle
that God just blew out.
And the stars mourn as we do so deeply
even the darkness is panicked
that it will be turned inside out
like an absolute certainty from an absolute doubt.
There's a blackhole in the heart of the light
that can't be eclipsed by insight
and the reality of you in your flesh and your fur
no longer sitting by us on the floor
listening in with your eyes closed
as if even when you were sleeping
your ears were always awake
is a wound so deep
a rip in the sky so irreparable
that nothing that pours out of it by way
of tears and stars
thoughts or feelings
though blood pour from our eyes
could ever be worthy of it.
Thank-you for the love
that always fell into our laps like you.
Like an unexpected reward
for just being us.
Thank-you for teaching us
how to love you unconditionally
and knowing like a quiet healer
just when to apply your presence
like a soothing herb
to the hurts and fevers that afflicted us.
Sad and alone in the dead zone of an unanswerable room
you'd rub your tiny skull
with its walnut sized brain
against my leg
and I'd realize
that it was you not me
with my three and a half pounds of neocortical starmud
for all the lightyears I've been searching
that had found the philosopher's stone
the moment you opened your eyes as a kitten
and you could work miraculous transformations
with the slightest touch of affection
or the nudge of a small wet nose.
When even God and Lucifer couldn't move me
if they were to try and change my mood
as easily as Morgana la Fay moved Merlin
with her felicity for emotional alchemy.
So many times when all I thought I could do
to save the situation
was let go
you flowed like water around my legs.
Sometimes it takes a river
to remind the bridge
what it stands for
and keep its spirits up.
Sometimes the thread of life
passes through the eye of a needle
in the form of a cat
and the rip in the sky
where all the stars were pouring out
is patched up
with a single act of seeing
when a cat looks at you a moment
and then closes its eyes in contentment
like the new moon in the old moon's arms.
You were Louise's child.
You followed her around like a third eye
that could see into the future
like the front door you sat beside for aeons like a sphinx
waiting for her to come home
with the blue bag of salmon-flavoured cat treats.
I never saw you as her shadow.
You were more
a mirror with a mind of your own
that could look deeply into her spirit
and see your own reflection.
You were her affable familiar.
Her talismanic charm
against the obscenity of human lovelessness.
Her emergency exit.
Her fire alarm.
You were the whiff of smoke that woke her up.
If she were the long hard art
of learning how to be mastered by love.
You were the discipline
waiting on the other side of the door
that made her trudge to the store in the snow
to be sure you got your treats.
And when she returned
you'd study everything going on in the room
as if you were looking at it all for the first time
but the more I looked at you looking at us
the more I realized
you weren't the student
you were a school
that compassionately exempted fools like us.
And now sweet one
what is it
that you want us to learn
from your perpetual absence?
As you once sweetened our lives
are you now trying
to sweeten death?
Are you trying to teach us how to see in the darkness?
To let go of our grief
as if that weren't the only thing we had left to hold on to?
The silence in the house is a lot lonelier
for the lack of your whisper
to confide in
like a secret you kept to yourself
when no one else was home.
The birds and the windows keep waiting
for you to jump up at them any moment now
but it's beginning to dawn on them you can't anymore
and it isn't just the rain
that's making the glass cry.
Who's going to stare at the plaster for hours
like Bodhidharma meditating in his cave
listening to the baby squirrels
learning to crawl through the walls
now that you're not sitting there
tense as an archer
and as attentive as a Zen master?
You had a C-spot under your neck
close to your jugular
that could make you purr
when anyone pampered it like Cleopatra.
Now who's going to know how
wherever you are
to make you stretch your claws out
like crescents of the moon
and make the green honey of your eyes
ripen into gold?
There's a darkness in the heart of grief
that burns like a black fire
all these tears can't seem to put out.
It's a measure of the love you inspired in us
that we'd rather let the pain of missing you
consume us in the flames
some tender eccentricity of your cathood
even in the midst of trying to let life
get on with us without you
than ever let death make you a stranger to us.
You were Bast the Egyptian cat goddess among us in the flesh.
We learned to read your eyes like a Druidic Ogham
like phases of the moon as it waxed and waned.
One glance and I knew what you wanted.
You were a rose with retractable thorns
and we'd watch you for hours
wondering what you were dreaming
under your twitching eyelids.
And the tenderness that people are afraid
to expose to each other
because they haven't learned to walk through life skinless
we showed to you
without feeling that even the slightest gesture of it
was ever wasted
or that the spirit didn't recognize its own
whether it was embodied by a cat or a human.
you're among the stars now
like a gust of light on the road of ghosts
like a hurricane that found rest in the eye of it own turbulence
like a cat-muse among these words
that can feel you watching them like birds
from your perch in the cosmic window
at the foot of the bed in Louise's room.
though there's this black hole
your absence has left in the middle of everything
it's not an exit.
It's an entrance.
It's the way you taught us
how to diminish the darkness
by growing bigger eyes
to get the most light out of it
even when we think
as we do now
that there's nothing left
in this starless night
that could shine.
That the winds of time
have swept the last of the blossoms away
like phases of the moon
and even our tears
are the one-way tides
of the heart-numbing farewells
the whole of our lives seem.
Did we have the dream
or did the dream have us
or is it only the nightmares
that wake up screaming out in their sleep somewhere
where the pillows are wet
and the mothers come running
to reassure them
that what they thought they saw in the dark
was not real?
It was just another human
summoning some lost joy from the past
like the ghost of a watershed
that keeps recalling things
as if it were alone at night in a dark museum.
But an abyss isn't just an abyss.
It's also a fountain.
Everything reveals its emptiness
in the fullness of life
like the depth of the valley
is revealed by the height of the mountain.
The sweet brief life of the blossom
is the bright vacancy
rooted in the dark abundance
of the indelibility of the way we change.
To be here once
should be enough
to prove to anyone
that they've been here forever.
Life leaves signs
that anyone can follow back to themselves
like leaves on the mindstreams of their flowing.
They had to let go of the tree like maps
to know which way they're going.
It's the same with humans and cats.
Life breathes on the ashes of the starstreams
and everything starts glowing
like the eyes of a cat in the dark.
it hurts not to see you
mesmerized by the turning water in the toilet-bowl
or sleeping in the bottom of the tub
or the end of my bed
or across the top of the easy chair
like a strategic adornment
keeping one ear open
to everything that was going on around you?
It hurts to wonder
what Louise is going to use for an alarm clock now
that you're not there
to lick her eyelids awake in the morning
and where are the candles
where are the plants
that could ever take your place in the windowsill
watching for her to come home
as if you were one of the streetlamps?
Sometimes it's hard to know
which hurts worse.
Never to have known love
or realize at times like this
how vast and excruciating the abyss is
how sad and foregone
the sad effusions of sorrow
the begrudging smiles of acceptance
that feel like the scars of an assassin
who doesn't know who to get even with
when even the least atom of something we've truly loved
like the cosmic beginning of everything
in large and small
in the petty and profound alike
in the mystical and the earthbound
in what is different and what is not
in the star and the candle and the phoenix and the firefly
in Louise and her cat
you've left a hole in the light
as big as the universe
and all the stars are pouring out of it
as if the light could cry
for the passing of your radiance
no more than the pupil of an eye
blocks the light from getting in
does the hurt of your death
qualify the dangerous rapture
of having loved you in this life
as well as we knew how to love anything.
We're all on the same journey
though sometimes we change bodies
like forms and shoes along the way
or walk barefoot awhile on stars
along the Road of Ghosts
talking to shoeless angels
about how mysterious it is
that every step of the way
where we come from
is where we're going
and it's not the destination
but the journey itself
that enshrines what is most sacred about life.
Not the arrival.
Not the fulfilment.
Not the completion.
Not the consummation that exhausts us wholly
and leaves us beseeching heaven
or pleading with emptiness
for a clarification of death
like the air we breathe out
leaves us longing for breath.
Our beginnings go on forever without end
and Morgan like you
if we wind up chasing our tails around
it's only because of the great delight we take
in knowing nothing's ever over
and everything is looping
like a snake with its tail in its mouth
or the horizontal eight of eternity
that keeps falling over
like a Bodhidarma doll
and righting itself like spectacles
worn by someone lying down
whose eyes go vertical
whenever they're dreaming.
It's not the farewell of the guest
but the welcome of the host
that we treasure most.
It's not the finding
but the seeking
that's the jewel of our quest.
That's why you stuck your nose into everything
and learned to see with your ears
and hear with your eyes
the wings of the stars and fireflies
that hovered just outside your window
when what was always wild about you
answered the Zen savagery of the night
like an austere summons to life.
Morgan you're gone
but there's no imperative
in why you had to go.
No harsh god.
No assassin cloaked in light.
No doors close
our senses and our hearts
to the earthly delights of loving you.
No gates open
like a cats' eyes
that will not see us return like insight
to the faces of the living creatures
we live to behold in our own features
and touch most gently
Collection of Poems 2009-2011
Butterfly, sing to me a lullaby
Of the wonders I placed in a box
I am in the middle of time
In the middle of theft and crime
Take me away to the fantasy
Of living in truth and honesty
I'll listen to your whisper
Carefully and attentively
Why would I do otherwise?
You know I try to be wise
I am open to your lullaby
Can you see it in the depth of my eyes?
Sing to me about the place I dreamt of
Bring me the true message of love
Take with you a message of my own
To the skies you fly in
That I expected my wings to have grown
By this time in my life
How come I feel glued to the ground?
With hungry wolves all around
They want to take everything
Even your beautiful sound
In Four Walls
In the pit of my stomach…
I hold my chest
My hands hold nothing else
I go forward with my bed ready
To embrace me when I pull back
I know I can't make it
My tank has been emptied
The love and care and understanding
Somehow flew out the windows
And now I keep them shut
I can't stay with myself anymore
I've seen too much of how I am
And too much of who they are
Nothing but a big bore
Being either rich or poor
Everyone seems to fly carelessly
Into the soft clouds
They smile so endlessly
My voices are too loud
Maybe yours is too
Just like I fake
You do too
What is the point really?
To live on a beautiful street
If money is all you need
To stay on that street
Work to survive
In a cubicle I claimed mine
In a state I call fine
With a screen that shines
Oh, sanity is a fake
Scattered on my resume
And they take
Yes, you may
America is home of the frozen
Frozen meals, frozen hearts
I no longer wonder if
Human-like robots have been made
I see them every single day
Keep the gardens clean
Throw away the garden leaves
Ethics made into a need
Humanitarianism is already a bought seed
I was meant to miss the bus
Not made out of schedules
I despise time
My clock has the tic
But does not toc
I like to be late…
Just to prove my point
Money has put me in a cage
It's grown to full rage
Money is my enemy
Money is my friend
Money consumes me
Money helps me mend
I hate your color
There's nothing green about you
I'm in a routine
I'm a fucking rat in your lab
I gotta stay clean
While you stay dirty
But you give me what I need
To shake hands with society
Thank you money
For the glass window in my cage
Help me understand
I have been helped all my life
Don't know how to stand
Without your help
I have been told all my life
I was as dumb as a door
And cursed for having light hair
I was just happy
Now I'm asking for help
Because I'm all alone
And I don't know how to trust myself
Because I have let you down
Too many times
And my brain sits on a shelf
Close to your books
I am nothing without it
But I know you're keeping it safe
I'm trying to find a place
To hang my pretty body
I just washed it
And I've been waiting for it to dry
So I can wet it again with my heavy green eyes
And there I go looking at the gray skies
Brainless and colorblind
What Am I?
Am I what I believe to be?
Or am I just a reflection of what you see
Am I full of clichés?
Or am I just new to shame?
I was told not to wait for your hand
They said I'd understand
But I did not
They want me to stop
Awaken with my soul in reality
Do dreams only keep our sanity?
Are we still the smartest species…
…when blinded by egotistical little pieces?
Fast and easy
The American way
Industries fly on dollar carpets
The carpets for which we pay
We spend our money
On ways to kill ourselves
For some it's funny
And others sit on covered shelves
Win with no respect
Swim in your dirty grass
As we find time to pass
In Mid Air
As money is wrapped around handcuffs
Grabbing my wrists too ruff
I tap dance with my feet
In mid air in a dream
When plausible explanations become old
Care more for wishes than gold
I intend to fly on white paper
Just seems safer
Use the breath to blow
My wish to the people I know
They can wave goodbye with the certainty
That the money will flow down towards their feet
And I will be free…
B anging my head on the wall
With the only strength left
See if the answer falls out
Of the mind that's been set
I believe that when I fell
It was in a different hole
Swallowing everything I knew so well
Made me polish my young soul
I tell you so unethically
That you don't see what I see
You laugh so arrogantly
Since when do I know of what I speak?
It's been a while since I felt wonderful…
That lasted more than a couple of hours
I guess this place is too full
With pretty flowers
In the attempt to heal myself
I feel as if I never knew anything at all
But when I reencounter with reality
I once again open my eyes and fall
The familiar feeling of being in a place
Where pages are covered in front of my face
Brings the same joy a girl has
Who listens and smiles and believes
Foolish of me to throw myself in disappointment?
Maybe it is and I can't dwell in foolish sentiment
But my days of loneliness push my hands to pages
And I find the truth one sees without distraction
Do you think that if I
Fight with my weapons
That after my last cry
I'll come to love all seasons?
Is it unreasonable to want…
And get them all?
If I have a real gun
I'll even shoot up after the fall
Why would my desires
Be left in the dark?
If I have the right wires
To create spark
It's only sensible
To exchange my ammunition
For something as simple
As genuine sensation
Entertainment is here for you
Open your ears and eyes
And leave your mind behind
Let me conduct the show
Who needs ideology?
This is so new and fresh
The norm and expression crash
So many ways to let you know
That I am here just to exhibit my show
The founding fathers
Just peak, don't look
It'll blur your vision
Let me put on glitter and shine
This stage is only mine
You stay there in your seat
Let me distract you from the world
Let me distract you from the world
Let me distract you from the world
You will not want to have another place to go
Because dreamland is already made
And you don't have to fight or complain
You don't have to cry or feel empty
You don't have to be disappointed and unhappy
Just sit down
Just sit down
You think you know everything
But no, I am not the clown
Looking out the window through the stains
Wondering if I'll ever get used to change
It comes and goes
It hides, then shows
Trying to like the boys that are good
Hoping I am still understood
Taking steps to change…
To stop and know that it's the same.
You know I kissed my hands for luck
Before I kneeled and dared to pray
Talking to myself, I meditate
Closed eyes inside the church's gate
I wanted change
Pretty me wasn't good enough after I could see
Change, still the same
Glass window always with unwanted stains
I Crave to Write
I crave water on my lips
Nourish all my body
And the taste of lipstick
Right before a kiss
I crave moments I will never forget
To serve as remedy when I'm lonely
I long for the good to outweigh the bad
In all of you, in all of me
I crave the touch of your hands
In the most sincere manner
To feel completely worthy
I crave to live...
I crave to be
I know I will acknowledge
Sometime in my life
That I was always the best I could be
In the given circumstances
And I will rest in that assurance
Even all the tears I wept
All my life
Will only have me remember
That my soul was good
And that all that pain
Was merely one side of my life
The other side, where genuine laughter laid...
...Was only waiting patiently
One day I will know
That my life was always meant to be short
That even one hundred years
Would not make sense of anything
Our place, the world, the universe
Too big to contain in our simple lives
And maybe that is why we have love
It fits perfectly in our lives…
I'm glad one day I'll know
That even if I felt lost most of the time
I was only searching
And I'll see that my searching
Was a beautiful, endless process
Full of good intent
I'll remember once more
That my soul was kind
Experiencing life with all others
And I'll realize that they were all part of me
And I a part of them
Ride Inside the Ride
On a bus seat
A girl plays the piano
Her fingers playing in mid air
Not for us, not for me
Inside her mind
She can hear the sound of each key
And across from where I am
A beautiful woman stands
Spills her drink on the floor
Embarrassed and apologetic
She leaves at her stop
Wishing she still had that straw in her lips
Mirrors everywhere to help the driver see
But sometimes he opens the door
Even when there's no one going out
'Have a good day' - he always says
As his words travel from the breath of his mouth
Through the empty air and out the door
Oh the satisfaction
To be dumb while young
Oh the horror vision
Of a mind waking up
Oh the contemplation
To going back and being young
Oh why do we keep living just for fun?
Why do we not wanna grow?
Why do we never take time to look for our soul?
Oh, why do we keep living blindly until the end of the show?
My skin might be disintegrating
But that doesn't mean I'm fading
A young body
Full of energy
Used for nothing
What a shame
Our lives full of days
Trapped inside a maze
Not enough of us at the gate
What a shame
Where's the energy?
In you and me.
Wake Up the Mind
Oh my, oh my
Grandiosity is a lie
When attached to a television, hi-fi
Becoming estranged with the insides
What goes on behind the walls
Apparently is none of our business
Our business is to work for the business
Awaiting a nice little compliment
For a well done fucking job
When instead you should sob
Take the hair out of your face
Do you see a little clearer now?
Well, who am I?
Another imagination of the world
What is this thing that carries me?
These pounds of flesh…
I have the obligation to feed it
To clean it
To satisfy it
But my mind is another entity
Our minds float around
Next to one another
A never satisfied being
Diminished to little use
By useless fucking shit!
Oh, well…as long as it's temporarily satisfied
As long as it still hasn't...died
Neither Here Nor There
Inside of pages
Inside of glasses
Inside of herbs
Inside of masses
Reach for the mind
Alleviate the pain
That comes from shallow world
The doubts they created for you
While life is all you have
It is only close to your reach
Like the animal you are
You want to chew it with your teeth
But you never will
Life is all you have
Life is behind the logic you create
One is dry
One is asleep
Both created by the stars
Both with minor scars
I wake up
And wonder where I am
I am walking down the street
And I wonder where I am
I am sitting in my chair
And wonder where I am
Who I am
The hands I type with
The wine I drink
Poured into an irrelevant glass
I could have an irrelevant kiss
At this very moment
But for now
I kiss the empty smooth glass
While the TV is on
I slowly slip down the couch
And feel the cold floor
No more, no more
Do I wish to listen to the screen
It sends my heart into an inferno
That burns into hopeless ashes
Down then come the tears
Tasteful in my lips
As pure as water
Nourishing so gracefully
Waking me up
Having a little hope
Might be worse than not having it at all
We walk, we cope
Examine a tree
And you'll see it all in the right order
That's all we long for
Dancing in the night
To fairy tale lyrics
The taste of life
Swallowed and digested
Looking for more after sunrise
An invisible line
A little white lie
It sits there in the darkness of your mind
Comforting your nights
Attempts to strengthen you in the morning
And never seems to vanish
The face of hope is blank
Feel free to paint it as you wish
Past the Hair
Cut through the thin skin
Observe your veins
Flash your blood
Pour into the tallest glass
Drink it over and over
Again and again
And let your heart pump
A Tedious Job
There was a bucket of paint on the floor
I picked it up and aimed it at you
The color was dripping from your chin
And your hair, all over your face
And the brush was in your hand
You finished the painting looking into a mirror
Your hair was beautifully painted
Your face was beautifully painted
So I come close to you and whisper
That you are ready to go out there
This color is in now, don't you worry
My little plastic creation
I eat hearts
They are so tasteful
Touching my lips
I digest them quite well
Allow me to eat yours
It won't hurt
Where do you keep it?
On your sleeve
Or tucked in your chest?
I want to get to it
Is it intact?
Those are the best
I eat hearts
Just for fun
Allow me to eat yours
It won't hurt
And you're so beautiful
So beautiful honey...
Well, not so much anymore
Your face has become pale
Your hands so frail
Your eyes empty
Oh my little honey
I was just so
Realistic view with a touch of hope
Ballistic behavior hangs you with a tight rope
Too much serenity paints your garden green
While you walk on it forgetting the unseen
Searching for the right move
And the appropriate mood
Takes time and takes sacrifice
I could just smile all day
Or I could give in all the way
But I'm still concerned about the price
It's terrifying to know it's in our hands
Emotional earthly creatures
One dropp of water, one grain of sand
So concerned about our future
So knock off the label I have on my back
The one that is glued to my skin
And take me off the store rack
Before they place my heart in a bin
Chair in Shade
Sound of heartbeat
In the darkness of the shade
I grab my broken seat
Wanting the pain to fade
Quiet is a loud sound
Fills in each part of the air
My body and all around
Seems like I do not care
My mind deteriorating
Right in front of me
The hands are begging
To set my soul free
And I cannot escape
From the chill in my bones
From distorted shapes
And I carry them all on my own
You are a beautiful illusion
Perfect in a flawed world
You never let me fall in confusion
Entering my mind in nights that leave me cold
Sentimentality never to extreme
I admire your talent
And strange as it may seem
I crave your perfect scent
You take me out of this quiet misery
In sneaky perfection of my memories
By my permission only
I have created too many perfect stories
With your beautiful complexion
It makes it that much easier
To believe you are made of perfection
The untouchable, seems so much prettier
Help those in Need
Why are the depressed getting medical help?
Shouldn't the medical assistance go to those in need?
The ones who harm others to gain power
The ones who do not help in order to stay in power
The ones who only seek out a path for monetary gain
The ones who lie in the face of a man in pain
Since when is being depressed a medical issue?
One is depressed because it is part of them
One is depressed because their eyes are open
One is depressed because it feels
No longer help the depressed
Help those in need
But a Dream
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
Using my senses
To make sense of it all
But I always come back
To this dark hole I tend to fall in
Going around again and again
The streams seem to be spinning
What an embarrassment
To feel this way
While the world lives
And doesn't give a shit
I fall behind and type as I sit
Am I just an idiot
Taking it too seriously?
And putting myself in a coma
I can't wake up
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
Life is but a dream.
Life is but a dream.
My right hand is dry
I can see lines with blood
This hand is only mine
The bone, the flesh, the skin
Food for a hungry animal
And it's still writing food for thought
For hungry souls
Giving Up My Empty Castle
Is there space?
A small little place…
Where I can create my life?
But tell me now
How can I forget about you?
Just live on and walk away from you
Is there enough time for me to stay numb?
What happens when I wake up?
I'll remember I just…
That I just gave up
There's your sad face
And I'm trying to find a little place
To hide and live my life
Heavy conscious on my shoulders
Pacify it with pop culture
I don't want to imagine what you could be
If I decided to try to make you happy
It seems like an obvious decision
If I wasn't so compelled to have my own space
And live up to the dream
And build the confidence to rule my little place
While you cry and die
I would be ignoring you
You'd be in the back of my mind
Only in the back of my mind
And I would know that wouldn't be enough
Walking to my doom
You are surviving yours
I feel compelled to be
So selfish and uncaring
How could I?
Why would I?
Because your face should be resting
In my soft hands
Wiping your tears, Wiping mine
With your rough hands
I should be holding your face
I should be holding your hand
There's no more time to stay as strangers
The world is screaming
The world is weeping
And I will tell her
To make it better
Lessen her pain
That I love her
So she can rest in her skin
I will kiss her heart
With every moon light
So she feels alive
I will only look at her
As a protector and companion
To shield her from darkness
I will bring her to my chest
With care, with love
I will let her see
My vulnerability to her smile
So she knows it holds much more power
Than I can ever comprehend
I will whisper to her softly
To hold my stained hand
So she never forgets
Love will carry her way
Time for Party
Using my feet
To carry me
Around this city
Shoulders heavy or not
Ready? I'm not
But we walk like we are
Maybe it's not a race
But we don't want to be late
For the party
Where we all meet
And display our feet
Who has the best shoes on?
But I just came here
You didn't think that I really cared
Let's see who rose
Let's see who fell
Let's see who built their own little jail
As my soul gets heavy
Tears try to get rid of the load
And if the intensity
Would somehow be too much
I'd use my warm smile…
That seems to sooth your mood
And it makes me look good
Should I stop feeding my soul, dear?
The answers are never quite clear
An overdose of senses
Makes me see clearer
But does it make me look abstract to you?
I don't wish to seem unclear
That was never my intention
Shaping my soul is what I went for
And my perfectionism is quite strong
I can't get enough of a genuine feeling
An expression of a breathless artist
Carrying the burden of a heavy soul
But, dear, I want to dance
Feel the rhythm flow through me
And I want to sing
Feel my lungs go empty and fill up again
I want to write
Feel the heaviness go down a little…
…if just for a moment
Wonder if I'm in the journey to greatness
Or if I'm drenching myself in foolishness…
…Believing to have a beautiful soul
Am I just going with the flow?
Whatever this is…
In my body
In my lungs
In my writing…
It feels almost orgasmic
And so genuinely frightening
This urge beneath my skin
Crawls the art supply
I want to spill it all
I'm sure my cry is your cry
Salty tiny tears
Full of tiny fears
Here she comes
That face I've seen before
With all that self assurance
The sidewalk might crack
A pose after her last step
She touches my face
And I know exactly what she wants
To rest her body in a warm place
So I stare into her eyes
And I ask
Don't we complement each other?
'Whatever you say'
She says right to my face
Because all she wants
Is to rest her body in a warm place
You come and go
You come and go
You come and go
So we can go on
With the show
Her pretty face
My warm heart
Her slim body
Her smooth skin
My hard work
All of you
All of me
I say we are perfect for one another
You say you could easily find another
All you want, all you want, pretty face
Is to rest your body in a warm place
Ruins of Rome, by Bellay
Ye heavenly spirits, whose ashy cinders lie
Under deep ruins, with huge walls opprest,
But not your praise, the which shall never die
Through your fair verses, ne in ashes rest;
If so be shrilling voice of wight alive
May reach from hence to depth of darkest hell,
Then let those deep Abysses open rive,
That ye may understand my shreiking yell.
Thrice having seen under the heavens' vail
Your tomb's devoted compass over all,
Thrice unto you with loud voice I appeal,
And for your antique fury here do call,
The whiles that I with sacred horror sing,
Your glory, fairest of all earthly thing.
Great Babylon her haughty walls will praise,
And sharpèd steeples high shot up in air;
Greece will the old Ephesian buildings blaze;
And Nylus' nurslings their Pyramids fair;
The same yet vaunting Greece will tell the story
Of Jove's great image in Olympus placed,
Mausolus' work will be the Carian's glory,
And Crete will boast the Labybrinth, now 'rased;
The antique Rhodian will likewise set forth
The great Colosse, erect to Memory;
And what else in the world is of like worth,
Some greater learnèd wit will magnify.
But I will sing above all monuments
Seven Roman Hills, the world's seven wonderments.
Thou stranger, which for Rome in Rome here seekest,
And nought of Rome in Rome perceiv'st at all,
These same old walls, old arches, which thou seest,
Old Palaces, is that which Rome men call.
Behold what wreak, what ruin, and what waste,
And how that she, which with her mighty power
Tam'd all the world, hath tam'd herself at last,
The prey of time, which all things doth devour.
Rome now of Rome is th' only funeral,
And only Rome of Rome hath victory;
Ne ought save Tyber hastening to his fall
Remains of all: O world's inconstancy.
That which is firm doth flit and fall away,
And that is flitting, doth abide and stay.
She, whose high top above the stars did soar,
One foot on Thetis, th' other on the Morning,
One hand on Scythia, th' other on the Moor,
Both heaven and earth in roundness compassing,
Jove fearing, lest if she should greater grow,
The old Giants should once again uprise,
Her whelm'd with hills, these seven hills, which be now
Tombs of her greatness, which did threat the skies:
Upon her head he heaped Mount Saturnal,
Upon her belly th' antique Palatine,
Upon her stomach laid Mount Quirinal,
On her left hand the noisome Esquiline,
And Cælian on the right; but both her feet
Mount Viminall and Aventine do meet.
Who lists to see, what ever nature, art,
And heaven could do, O Rome, thee let him see,
In case thy greatness he can guess in heart,
By that which but the picture is of thee.
Rome is no more: but if the shade of Rome
May of the body yield a seeming sight,
It's like a corse drawn forth out of the tomb
By Magick skill out of eternal night:
The corpse of Rome in ashes is entombed,
And her great sprite rejoinèd to the sprite
Of this great mass, is in the same enwombed;
But her brave writings, which her famous merit
In spite of time, out of the dust doth rear,
Do make her idol through the world appear.
Such as the Berecynthian Goddess bright
In her swift chariot with high turrets crowned,
Proud that so many Gods she brought to light;
Such was this City in her good days found:
This city, more than the great Phrygian mother
Renowned for fruit of famous progeny,
Whose greatness by the greatness of none other,
But by herself her equal match could see:
Rome only might to Rome comparèd be,
And only Rome could make great Rome to tremble:
So did the Gods by heavenly doom decree,
That other deathly power should not resemble
Her that did match the whole earth's puissaunce,
And did her courage to the heavens advance.
Ye sacred ruins, and ye tragic sights,
Which only do the name of Rome retain,
Old monuments, which of so famous sprites
The honour yet in ashes do maintain:
Triumphant arcs, spires neighbors to the sky,
That you to see doth th' heaven itself appall,
Alas, by little ye to nothing fly,
The people's fable, and the spoil of all:
And though your frames do for a time make war
'Gainst time, yet time in time shall ruinate
Your works and names, and your last relics mar.
My sad desires, rest therefore moderate:
For if that time make ends of things so sure,
It also will end the pain, which I endure.
Through arms and vassals Rome the world subdued,
That one would ween, that one sole City's strength
Both land and sea in roundess had surview'd,
To be the measure of her breadth and length:
This people's virtue yet so fruitful was
Of virtuous nephews that posterity
Striving in power their grandfathers to pass,
The lowest earth join'd to the heaven high;
To th' end that having all parts in their power
Nought from the Roman Empire might be 'quite,
And that though time doth Commonwealths devour,
Yet no time should so low embase their height,
That her head earth'd in her foundations deep,
Should not her name and endless honour keep.
Ye cruel stars, and eke ye Gods unkind,
Heaven envious, and bitter stepdame Nature,
Be it by fortune, or by course of kind
That ye do weld th' affairs of earthly creature:
Why have your hands long sithence troubled
To frame this world, that doth endure so long?
Or why were not these Roman palaces
Made of some matter no less firm and strong?
I say not, as the common voice doth say,
That all things which beneath the moon have being
Are temporal, and subject to decay:
But I say rather, though not all agreeing
With some, that ween the contrary in thought:
That all this whole shall one day come to nought.
As that brave son of Aeson, which by charms
Achieved the golden fleece in Colchid land,
Out of the earth engendered men of arms
Of Dragons' teetch, sown in the sacred sand;
So this brave town, that in her youthly days
An Hydra was of warriors glorious,
Did fill with her renownéd nurslings praise
The firey sun's both one and other house:
But they at last, there being then not living
An Hercules, so rank seed to repress,;
Amongst themselves with cruel fury striving,
Mow'd down themselves with slaughter merciless;
Renewing in themselves that rage unkind,
Which whilom did those searthborn brethren blind.
Mars shaming to have given so great head
To his off-spring, that mortal puissance
Puffed up with pride of Roman hardy head,
Seem'd above heaven's power itself to advance;
Cooling again his former kindled heat,
With which he had those Roman spirits filled;
Did blow new fire, and with enflaméd breath,
Into the Gothic cold hot rage instill'd:
Then 'gan that Nation, th' earth's new Giant brood,
To dart abroad the thunder bolts of war,
And beating down these walls with furious mood
Into her mother's bosom, all did mar;
To th' end that none, all were if Jove his sire
Should boast himself of the Roman Empire.
Like as whilome the children of the earth
Heaped hills on hills, to scale the starry sky,
And fight against the Gods of heavenly birth,
Whilst Jove at them his thunderbolts let fly;
All suddenly with lightning overthrown,
The furious squadrons down the ground did fall,
That th' earth under her children's weight did groan,
And th' heavens in glory triumphed over all:
So did that haughty front which heapéd was
On these seven Roman hills, itself uprear
Over the world, and lift her lofty face
Against the heaven, that 'gan her force to fear.
But now these scorned fields bemoan her fall,
And Gods secure fear not her force at all.
Nor the swift fury of the flames aspiring,
Nor the deep wounds of victor's raging blade,
Nor ruthless spoil of soldiers blood-desiring,
The which so oft thee, Rome, their conquest made;
Ne stroke on stroke of fortune variable,
Ne rust of age hating continuance,
Nor wrath of Gods, nor spite of men unstable,
Nor thou oppos'd against thine own puissance;
Nor th' horrible uproar of winds high blowing,
Nor swelling streams of that God snaky-paced,
Which hath so often with his overflowing
Thee drenched, have thy pride so much abased;
But that this nothing, which they have thee left,
Makes the world wonder, what they from thee reft.
As men in summer fearless pass the ford,
Which is in winter lord of all the plain,
And with his tumbling streams doth bear aboard
The plowman's hope, and shepherd's labor vain;
And as the coward beasts use to despise
The noble lion after his life's end
Whetting their teeth, and with vain foolhardise
Daring the foe, that cannot him defend:
And as at Troy most dastards of the Greeks
Did brave about the corpse of Hector cold;
So those which whilome wont with pallid cheeks
The Roman triumphs glory to behold,
Now on these ashy tombs show boldness vain,
And conquer'd dare the Conqueror disdain.
Ye pallid spirits, and ye ashy ghosts,
Which joying in the brightness of your day,
Brought forth those signs of your premptuous boasts
Which now their dusty relics do bewray;
Tell me ye spirits (sith the darksome river
Of Styx not passable to souls returning,
Enclosing you in thrice three wards forever,
Do not restrain your images still mourning)
Tell me then (for perhaps some one of you
Yet here above him secretly doth hide)
Do ye not feel your torments to accrue,
When ye sometimes behold the ruin'd pride
Of these old Roman works built with your hands,
Now to become nought else, but heaped sands?
Like as ye see the wrathful sea from far,
In a great mountain heap'd with hideous noise,
Eftsoons of thousand bilows shouldered narre,
Against a rock to break with dreadful poise;
Like as ye see fell Boreas with sharp blast,
Tossing huge tempests through the troubled sky,
Eftsoons having his wide wings spent in vast,
To stop his wearie carrier suddenly;
And as ye see huge flames spread diversly,
Gathered in one up to the heavens to spire,
Eftsoons consum'd to fall down feebily:
So whilom did this Monarchy aspire
As waves, as wind, as fire spread over all,
Till it by fatal doom adown did fall.
So long as Jove's great bird did make his flight,
Bearing the fire with which heaven doth us fray,
Heaven had not fear of that presumptuous might,
With which the Giants did the Gods assay.
But all so soon, as scorching Sun had brent
His wings, which wont to the earth to overspread,
The earth out of her massy womb forth sent
That antique horror, which made heaven adread.
Then was the German raven in disguise
That Roman eagle seen to cleave asunder,
And towards heaven freshly to arise
Out of these mountains, not consum'd to powder.
In which the fowl that serves to bear the lightning,
Is now no more seen flying, nor alighting.
These heaps of stones, these old walls which ye see,
Were first enclosures but of savage soil;
And these brave palaces which mastered be
Of time, were shepherds cottages somewhile.
Then took the shepherd kingly ornamnets
And the stout hynde arm'd his right hand with steel:
Eftsoones their rule of yearly presidents
Grew great, and six months greater a great deal;
Which made perpetual, rose to so great might,
That thence th' imperial Eagle rooting took,
Till th' heaven itself opposing 'gainst her might,
Her power to Peter's successor betook;
Who shepherdlike, (as fates the same forseeing)
Doth show, that all things turn to their first being.
All that is perfect, which th' heaven beautifies;
All that's imperfect, born below the moon;
All that doth feed our spriits and our eyes;
And all that doth consume our pleasures soon;
All the mishap, the which our days outwears,
All the good hap of th' oldest times afore,
Rome in the time of her great ancesters,
Like a Pandora, locked long in store.
But destiny this huge Chaos turmoiling,
In which all good and evil was enclosed,
Their heavenly virtues from these woes absolving,
Carried to heaven, from sinful bondage loosed:
But their great sins, the causers of their pain,
Under these antique ruins yet remain.
No otherwise than rainy cloud, first fed
With earthly vapors gathered in the air,
Eftsoones in compass arch'd, to steep his head,
Doth plunge himself in Tethys' bosom fair;
And mounting up again, from whence he came,
With his great belly spreads the dimmed world,
Till at last the last dissolving his moist frame,
In rain, or snow, or hail he forth is hurl'd;
This City, which was first but shepherds' shade,
Uprising by degrees, grew to such height,
That queen of land and sea herself she made.
At last not able to bear so great weight.
Her power dispers'd, through all the world did vade;
To show that all in th' end to nought shall fade.
The same which Pyrrhus, and the puissance
Of Afric could not tame, that same brave city,
Which with stout courage arm'd against mischance,
Sustain'd the shock of common enmity;
Long as her ship tossed with so many freaks,
Had all the world in arms against her bent,
Was never seen, that any fortune's wreaks
Could break her course begun with brave intent.
But when the object of her virtue failed,
Her power itself agains itself did arm;
As he that having long in tempest sailed,
Fain would arrive, but cannot for the storm,
If too great wind against the port him drive,
Doth in the port itself his vessel rive.
When that brave honour of the Latin name,
Which bound her rule with Africa, and Byze,
With Thames' inhabitants of noble fame,
And they which see the dawning day arise;
Her nurslings did with mutinous uproar
Hearten against herself, her conquer'd spoil,
Which she had won from all the world afore,
Of all the world was spoil'd within a while.
So when the compass'd course of the universe
In six and thirty thousand years is run,
The bands of th' elements shall back reverse
To their first discord, and be quite undone:
The seeds, of which all things at first were bred,
Shall in great Chaos' womb again be hid.
O wary wisdom of the man, that would
That Carthage towers from spoil should be forborn,
To th' end that his victorious people should
With cankering leisure not be overworn;
He well foresaw, how that the Roman courage,
Impatient of pleasure's faint desires,
Through idleness would turn to civil rage,
And be herself the matter of her fires.
For in a people given all to ease,
Ambition is engend'red easily;
As in a vicious body, gross disease
Soon grows through humours' superfluity.
That came to pass, when swoll'n with plentious pride,
Nor prince, nor peer, nor kin they would abide.
If the blind fury, which wars breedeth oft,
Wonts not t' enrage the hearts of equal beasts,
Whether they fare on foot, or fly aloft,
Or arméd be with claws, or scaly crests;
What fell Erynnis with hot burning tongs,
Did grip your hearts, with noisome rage imbew'd,
That each to other working cruel wrongs,
You blades in your own bowels you embrew'd?
Was this (ye Romans) your hard destiny?
Or some old sin, whose unappeased guilt
Power'd vengeance forth on you eternally?
Or brother's blood, the which at first was spilt
Upon your walls, that God might not endure,
Upon the same to set foundation sure?
O that I had the Thracian Poet's harp,
For to awake out of th' infernal shade
Those antique Cæsars, sleeping long in dark,
The which this ancient City whilome made:
Or that I had Amphion's instrument,
To quicken with his vital note's accord,
The stony joints of these old walls now rent,
By which th' Ausonian light might be restor'd:
Or that at least I could with pencil fine,
Fashion the portraits of these palaces,
By pattern of great Virgil's spirit divine;
I would assay with that which in me is,
To build with level of my lofty style,
That which no hands can evermore compile.
Who list the Roman greatness forth to figure,
Him needeth not to seek for usage right
Of line, or lead, or rule, or square, to measure
Her length, her breadth, her deepness, or her height:
But him behooves to view in compass round
All that the ocean grasps in his long arms;
Be it where the yearly star doth scorch the ground,
Or where cold Boreas blows his bitter storms.
Rome was th' whole world, and all the world was Rome,
And if things nam'd their names do equalize,
When land and sea ye name, then name ye Rome;
And naming Rome ye land and sea comprise:
For th' ancient plot of Rome displayéd plain,
The map of all the wide world doth contain.
Thou that at Rome astonish'd dost behold
The antique pride, which menaced the sky,
These haughty heaps, these palaces of old,
These walls, these arcs, these baths, these temples hie;
Judge by these ample ruins' view, the rest
The which injurious time hath quite outworne,
Since of all workmen held in reck'ning best,
Yet these old fragments are for patterns born:
Then also mark, how Rome from day to day,
Repairing her decayéd fashion,
Renews herself with buildings rich and gay;
That one would judge, that the Roman dæmon
Doth yet himself with fatal hand enforce,
Again on foot to rear her pouldred corse.
He that hath seen a great oak dry and dead,
Yet clad with relics of some trophies old,
Lifting to heaven her agéd hoary head,
Whose foot in ground hath left but feeble hold;
But half disbowel'd lies above the ground,
Showing her wreathéd roots, and naked arms,
And on her trunk all rotten and unsound
Only supports herself for meat of worms;
And though she owe her fall to the first wind,
Yet of the devout people is ador'd,
And many young plants spring out of her rind;
Who such an oak hath seen let him record
That such this city's honor was of yore,
And 'mongst all cities flourishéd much more.
All that which Egypt whilome did devise,
All that which Greece their temples to embrave,
After th' Ionic, Attic, Doric guise,
Or Corinth skill'd in curious works to 'grave;
All that Lysippus' practick art could form,
Appeles' wit, or Phidias his skill,
Was wont this ancient city to adorn,
And the heaven itself with her wide wonders fill;
All that which Athens ever brought forth wise,
All that which Africa ever brought forth strange,
All that which Asia ever had of prize,
Was here to see. O marvelous great change:
Rome living, was the world's sole ornament,
And dead, is now the world's sole monument.
Like as the seeded field green grass first shows,
Then from green grass into a stalk doth spring,
And from a stalk into an ear forth grows,
Which ear the fruitfull grain doth shortly bring;
And as in season due the husband mows
The waving locks of those fair yellow hairs,
Which bound in sheaves, and laid in comely rows,
Upon the naked fields in stacks he rears:
So grew the Roman Empire by degree,
Till that barbarian hands it quite did spill,
And left of it but these old marks to see,
Of which all passersby do somewhat pill:
As they which glean, the relics use to gather,
Which th' husbandman behind him chanced to scatter.
That same is now nought but a campion wide,
Where all this world's pride once was situate.
No blame to thee, whosoever dost abide
By Nile, or Ganges, or Tigris, or Euphrate,
Ne Africa thereof guilty is, nor Spain,
Nor the bold people by the Thame's brinks,
Nor the brave, warlike brood of Alemagne,
Nor the born soldier which Rhine running drinks;
Thou only cause, O civil fury, art
Which sowing in the Aemathian fields thy spite,
Didst arm thy hand against thy proper heart;
To th' end that when thou wast in greatest height
To greatness grown, through long prosperity,
Thou then adown might'st fall more horribly.
Hope ye, my verses, that posterity
Of age ensuing shall you ever read?
Hope ye that ever immortality
So mean harp's work may challenge for her mead?
If under heaven any endurance were,
These monuments, which not in paper writ,
Put in porphyry and marble do appear,
Might well have hop'd to have obtained it.
Na th' less my lute, whom Phoebus deigned to give,
Cease not to sound these old antiquities:
For if that time do let thy glory live,
Well mayst thou boast, how ever base thou be,
That thou art first, which of thy Nation sung
Th' old nonor of the people gowné long.
Bellay, first garland of free Poesy
That France brought forth, though fruitful of brave wits,
Well worthy thou of immorality,
That long hast travail'd by thy learned writs,
Old Rome out of her ashes to revive,
And give a second life to dead decays:
Needs must he all eternity survive,
That can to other give eternal days.
Thy days therefore are endless, and thy praise
Excelling all, that ever went before;
And after thee, 'gins Bartas high to raise
His heavenly Muse, th' Almighty to adore.
Live, happy spirits, th' honour of your name,
And fill the world with never dying fame.
THROUGH the long hall the shuttered windows shed
A dubious light on every upturned head;
On locks like those of Absalom the fair,
On the bald apex ringed with scanty hair,
On blank indifference and on curious stare;
On the pale Showman reading from his stage
The hieroglyphics of that facial page;
Half sad, half scornful, listening to the bruit
Of restless cane-tap and impatient foot,
And the shrill call, across the general din,
'Roll up your curtain! Let the show begin!'
At length a murmur like the winds that break
Into green waves the prairie's grassy lake,
Deepened and swelled to music clear and loud,
And, as the west-wind lifts a summer cloud,
The curtain rose, disclosing wide and far
A green land stretching to the evening star,
Fair rivers, skirted by primeval trees
And flowers hummed over by the desert bees,
Marked by tall bluffs whose slopes of greenness show
Fantastic outcrops of the rock below;
The slow result of patient Nature's pains,
And plastic fingering of her sun and rains;
Arch, tower, and gate, grotesquely windowed hall,
And long escarpment of half-crumbled wall,
Huger than those which, from steep hills of vine,
Stare through their loopholes on the travelled Rhine;
Suggesting vaguely to the gazer's mind
A fancy, idle as the prairie wind,
Of the land's dwellers in an age unguessed;
The unsung Jotuns of the mystic West.
Beyond, the prairie's sea-like swells surpass
The Tartar's marvels of his Land of Grass,
Vast as the sky against whose sunset shores
Wave after wave the billowy greenness pours;
And, onward still, like islands in that main
Loom the rough peaks of many a mountain chain,
Whence east and west a thousand waters run
From winter lingering under summer's sun.
And, still beyond, long lines of foam and sand
Tell where Pacific rolls his waves a-land,
From many a wide-lapped port and land-locked bay,
Opening with thunderous pomp the world's highway
To Indian isles of spice, and marts of far Cathay.
'Such,' said the Showman, as the curtain fell,
'Is the new Canaan of our Israel;
The land of promise to the swarming North,
Which, hive-like, sends its annual surplus forth,
To the poor Southron on his worn-out soil,
Scathed by the curses of unnatural toil;
To Europe's exiles seeking home and rest,
And the lank nomads of the wandering West,
Who, asking neither, in their love of change
And the free bison's amplitude of range,
Rear the log-hut, for present shelter meant,
Not future comfort, like an Arab's tent.'
Then spake a shrewd on-looker, 'Sir,' said he,
'I like your picture, but I fain would see
A sketch of what your promised land will be
When, with electric nerve, and fiery-brained,
With Nature's forces to its chariot chained,
The future grasping, by the past obeyed,
The twentieth century rounds a new decade.'
Then said the Showman, sadly: 'He who grieves
Over the scattering of the sibyl's leaves
Unwisely mourns. Suffice it, that we know
What needs must ripen from the seed we sow;
That present time is but the mould wherein
We cast the shapes of holiness and sin.
A painful watcher of the passing hour,
Its lust of gold, its strife for place and power;
Its lack of manhood, honor, reverence, truth,
Wise-thoughted age, and generous-hearted youth;
Nor yet unmindful of each better sign,
The low, far lights, which on th' horizon shine,
Like those which sometimes tremble on the rim
Of clouded skies when day is closing dim,
Flashing athwart the purple spears of rain
The hope of sunshine on the hills again:
I need no prophet's word, nor shapes that pass
Like clouding shadows o'er a magic glass;
For now, as ever, passionless and cold,
Doth the dread angel of the future hold
Evil and good before us, with no voice
Or warning look to guide us in our choice;
With spectral hands outreaching through the gloom
The shadowy contrasts of the coming doom.
Transferred from these, it now remains to give
The sun and shade of Fate's alternative.'
Then, with a burst of music, touching all
The keys of thrifty life, — the mill-stream's fall,
The engine's pant along its quivering rails,
The anvil's ring, the measured beat of flails,
The sweep of scythes, the reaper's whistled tune,
Answering the summons of the bells of noon,
The woodman's hail along the river shores,
The steamboat's signal, and the dip of oars:
Slowly the curtain rose from off a land
Fair as God's garden. Broad on either hand
The golden wheat-fields glimmered in the sun,
And the tall maize its yellow tassels spun.
Smooth highways set with hedge-rows living green,
With steepled towns through shaded vistas seen,
The school-house murmuring with its hive-like swarm,
The brook-bank whitening in the grist-mill's storm,
The painted farm-house shining through the leaves
Of fruited orchards bending at its eaves,
Where live again, around the Western hearth,
The homely old-time virtues of the North;
Where the blithe housewife rises with the day,
And well-paid labor counts his task a play.
And, grateful tokens of a Bible free,
And the free Gospel of Humanity,
Of diverse sects and differing names the shrines,
One in their faith, whate'er their outward signs,
Like varying strophes of the same sweet hymn
From many a prairie's swell and river's brim,
A thousand church-spires sancify the air
Of the calm Sabbath, with their sign of prayer.
Like sudden nightfall over bloom and green
The curtain dropped: and, momently, between
The clank of fetter and the crack of thong,
Half sob, half laughter, music swept along;
A strange refrain, whose idle words and low,
Like drunken mourners, kept the time of woe;
As if the revellers at a masquerade
Heard in the distance funeral marches played.
Such music, dashing all his smiles with tears,
The thoughtful voyager on Ponchartrain hears,
Where, through the noonday dusk of wooded shores
The negro boatman, singing to his oars,
With a wild pathos borrowed of his wrong
Redeems the jargon of his senseless song.
'Look,' said the Showman, sternly, as he rolled
His curtain upward. 'Fate's reverse behold!'
A village straggling in loose disarray
Of vulgar newness, premature decay;
A tavern, crazy with its whiskey brawls,
With 'Slaves at Auction!' garnishing its walls;
Without, surrounded by a motley crowd,
The shrewd-eyed salesman, garrulous and loud,
A squire or colonel in his pride of place,
Known at free fights, the caucus, and the race,
Prompt to proclaim his honor without blot,
And silence doubters with a ten-pace shot,
Mingling the negro-driving bully's rant
With pious phrase and democratic cant,
Yet never scrupling, with a filthy jest,
To sell the infant from its mother's breast,
Break through all ties of wedlock, home, and kin,
Yield shrinking girlhood up to graybeard sin;
Sell all the virtues with his human stock,
The Christian graces on his auction-block,
And coolly count on shrewdest bargains driven
In hearts regenerate, and in souls forgiven!
Look once again! The moving canvas shows
A slave plantation's slovenly repose,
Where, in rude cabins rotting midst their weeds,
The human chattel eats, and sleeps, and breeds;
And, held a brute, in practice, as in law,
Becomes in fact the thing he's taken for.
There, early summoned to the hemp and corn,
The nursing mother leaves her child new-born;
There haggard sickness, weak and deathly faint,
Crawls to his task, and fears to make complains;
And sad-eyed Rachels, childless in decay,
Weep for their lost ones sold and torn away!
Of ampler size the master's dwelling stands,
In shabby keeping with his half-tilled lands;
The gates unhinged, the yard with weeds unclean,
The cracked veranda with a tipsy lean.
Without, loose-scattered like a wreck adrift,
Signs of misrule and tokens of unthrift;
Within, profusion to discomfort joined,
The listless body and the vacant mind;
The fear, the hate, the theft and falsehood, born
In menial hearts of toil, and stripes, and scorn!
There, all the vices, which, like birds obscene,
Batten on slavery loathsome and unclean,
From the foul kitchen to the parlor rise,
Pollute the nursery where the child-heir lies,
Taint infant lips beyond all after cure,
With the fell poison of a breast impure;
Touch boyhood's passions with the breath of flame,
From girlhood's instincts steal the blush of shame.
So swells, from low to high, from weak to strong,
The tragic chorus of the baleful wrong;
Guilty or guiltless, all within its range
Feel the blind justice of its sure revenge.
Still scenes like these the moving chart reveals.
Up the long western steppes the blighting steals;
Down the Pacific slope the evil Fate
Glides like a shadow to the Golden Gate:
From sea to sea the drear eclipse is thrown,
From sea to sea the Mauvaises Terres have grown,
A belt of curses on the New World's zone!
The curtain fell. All drew a freer breath,
As men are wont to do when mournful death
Is covered from their sight. The Showman stood
With drooping brow in sorrow's attitude
One moment, then with sudden gesture shook
His loose hair back, and with the air and look
Of one who felt, beyond the narrow stage
And listening group, the presence of the age,
And heard the footsteps of the things to be,
Poured out his soul in earnest words and free.
'O friends!' he said, 'in this poor trick of paint
You see the semblance, incomplete and faint,
Of the two-fronted Future, which, to-day,
Stands dim and silent, waiting in your way.
To-day, your servant, subject to your will;
To-morrow, master, or for good or ill.
If the dark face of Slavery on you turns,
If the mad curse its paper barrier spurns,
If the world granary of the West is made
The last foul market of the slaver's trade,
Why rail at fate? The mischief is your own.
Why hate your neighbor? 'Blame yourselves alone!
'Men of the North! The South you charge with wrong
Is weak and poor, while you are rich and strong.
If questions, — idle and absurd as those
The old-time monks and Paduan doctors chose, —
Mere ghosts of questions, tariffs, and dead banks,
And scarecrow pontiffs, never broke your ranks,
Your thews united could, at once, roll back
The jostled nation to its primal track.
Nay, were you simply steadfast, manly, just,
True to the faith your fathers left in trust,
If stainless honor outweighed in your scale
A codfish quintal or a factory bale,
Full many a noble heart, (and such remain
In all the South, like Lot in Siddim's plain,
Who watch and wait, and from the wrong's control
Keep white and pure their chastity of soul,)
Now sick to loathing of your weak complaints,
Your tricks as sinners, and your prayers as saints,
Would half-way meet the frankness of your tone,
And feel their pulses beating with your own,
'The North! the South! no geographic line
Can fix the boundary or the point define,
Since each with each so closely interblends,.
Where Slavery rises, and where Freedom ends.
Beneath your rocks the roots, far-reaching, hide
Of the fell Upas on the Southern side;
The tree whose branches in your northwinds wave
Dropped its young blossoms on Mount Vernon's grave;
The nursling growth of Monticello's crest
Is now the glory of the free Northwest;
To the wise maxims of her olden school
Virginia listened from thy lips, Rantoul;
Seward's words of power, and Sumner's fresh renown,
Flow from the pen that Jefferson laid down!
And when, at length, her years of madness o'er,
Like the crowned grazer on Euphrates' shore,
From her long lapse to savagery, her mouth
Bitter with baneful herbage, turns the South,
Resumes her old attire, and seeks to smooth
Her unkempt tresses at the glass of truth,
Her early faith shall find a tongue again,
New Wythes and Pinckneys swell that old refrain,
Her sons with yours renew the ancient pact,
The myth of Union prove at last a fact!
Then, if one murmur mars the wide content,
Some Northern lip will drawl the last dissent,
Some Union-saving patriot of your own
Lament to find his occupation gone.
'Grant that the North's insulted, scorned, betrayed,
O'erreached in bargains with her neighbor made,
When selfish thrift and party held the scales
For peddling dicker, not for honest sales, —
Whom shall we strike? Who most deserves our blame?
The braggart Southron, open in his aim,
And bold as wicked, crashing straight through all
That bars his purpose, like a cannon-ball?
Or the mean traitor, breathing northern air,
With nasal speech and puritanic hair,
Whose cant the loss of principle survives,
As the mud-turtle e'en its head outlives;
Who, caught, chin-buried in some foul offence,
Puts on a look of injured innocence,
And consecrates his baseness to the cause
Of constitution, union, and the laws?
'Praise to the place-man who can hold aloof
His still unpurchased manhood, office-proof;
Who on his round of duty walks erect,
And leaves it only rich in self-respect;
As More maintained his virtue's lofty port
In the Eighth Henry's base and bloody court.
But, if exceptions here and there are found,
Who tread thus safely on enchanted ground,
The normal type, the fitting symbol still
Of those who fatten at the public mill,
Is the chained dog beside his master's door,
Or Circe's victim, feeding on all four!
'Give me the heroes who, at tuck of drum,
Salute thy staff, immortal Quattlebum!
Or they who, doubly armed with vote and gun,
Following thy lead, illustrious Atchison,
Their drunken franchise shift from scene to scene,
As tile-beard Jourdan did his guillotine!
Rather than him who, born beneath our skies,
To Slavery's hand its supplest tool supplies;
The party felon whose unblushing face
Looks from the pillory of his bribe of place,
And coolly makes a merit of disgrace,
Points to the footmarks of indignant scorn,
Shows the deep scars of satire's tossing horn;
And passes to his credit side the sum
Of all that makes a scoundrel's martyrdom!
' Bane of the North, its canker and its moth!
These modern Esaus, bartering rights for broth!
Taxing our justice, with their double claim,
As fools for pity, and as knaves for blame;
Who, urged by party, sect, or trade, within
The fell embrace of Slavery's sphere of sin,
Part at the outset with their moral sense,
The watchful angel set for Truth's defence;
Confound all contrasts, good and ill; reverse
The poles of life, its blessing and its curse;
And lose thenceforth from their perverted sight
The eternal difference 'twixt the wrong and right;
To them the Law is but the iron span
That girds the ankles of imbruted man;
To them the Gospel has no higher aim
Than simple sanction of the master's claim,
Dragged in the slime of Slavery's loathsome trail,
Like Chalier's Bible at his ass's tail!
'Such are the men who, with instinctive dread,
Whenever Freedom lifts her drooping head,
Make prophet-tripods of their office-stools,
And scare the nurseries and the village schools
With dire presage of ruin grim and great,
A broken Union and a foundered State!
Such are the patriots, self-bound to the stake
Of office, martyrs for their country's sake:
Who fill themselves the hungry jaws of Fate,
And by their loss of manhood save the State.
In the wide gulf themselves like Curtius throw,
And test the virtues of cohesive dough;
As tropic monkeys, linking heads and tails,
Bridge o'er some torrent of Ecuador's vales!
'Such are the men who in your churches rave
To swearing-point, at mention of the slave!
When some poor parsons haply unawares,
Stammers of freedom in his timid prayers;
Who, if some foot-sore negro through the town
Steals northward, volunteer to hunt him down.
Or, if some neighbor, flying from disease,
Courts the mild balsam of the Southern breeze,
With hue and cry pursue him on his track,
And write Free-soiler on the poor man's back.
Such are the men who leave the pedler's cart,
While faring South, to learn the driver's art,
Or, in white neckcloth, soothe with pious aim
The graceful sorrows of some languid dame,
Who, from the wreck of her bereavement, saves
The double charm of widowhood and slaves!
Pliant and apt, they lose no chance to show
To what base depths apostasy can go;
Outdo the natives in their readiness
To roast a negro, or to mob a press;
Poise a tarred schoolmate on the lyncher's rail,
Or make a bonfire of their birthplace mail!
'So some poor wretch, whose lips no longer bear
The sacred burden of his mother's prayer,
By fear impelled, or lust of gold enticed,
Turns to the Crescent from the Cross of Christ,
And, over-acting in superfluous zeal,
Crawls prostrate where the faithful only kneel,
Out-howls the Dervish, hugs his rags to court
The squalid Santon's sanctity of dirt;
And, when beneath the city gateway's span
Files slow and long the Meccan caravan,
And through its midst, pursued by Islam's prayers,
The prophet's Word some favored camel bears,
The marked apostate has his place assigned
The Koran-bearer's sacred rump behind,
With brush and pitcher following, grave and mute,
In meek attendance on the holy brute!
' Men of the North! beneath your very eyes,
By hearth and home, your real danger lies.
Still day by day some hold of freedom falls
Through home-bred traitors fed within its walls.
Men whom yourselves with vote and purse sustain,
At posts of honor, influence, and gain;
The right of Slavery to your sons to teach,
And 'South-side' Gospels in your pulpits preach,
Transfix the Law to ancient freedom dear
On the sharp point of her subverted spear,
And imitate upon her cushion plump
The mad Missourian lynching from his stump;
Or, in your name, upon the Senate's floor
Yield up to Slavery all it asks, and more;
And, ere your dull eyes open to the cheat,
Sell your old homestead underneath your feet!
While such as these your loftiest outlooks hold,
While truth and conscience with your wares are sold,
While grave-browed merchants band themselves to aid
An annual man-hunt for their Southern trade,
What moral power within your grasp remains
To stay the mischief on Nebraska's plains?
High as the tides of generous impulse flow,
As far rolls back the selfish undertow;
And all your brave resolves, though aimed as true
As the horse-pistol Balmawhapple drew,
To Slavery's bastions lend as slight a shock
As the poor trooper's shot to Stirling rock!
'Yet, while the need of Freedom's cause demands
The earnest efforts of your hearts and hands,
Urged by all motives that can prompt the heart
To prayer and toil and manhood's manliest part;
Though to the soul's deep tocsin Nature joins
The warning whisper of her Orphic pines,
The north-wind's anger, and the south-wind's sigh,
The midnight sword-dance of the northern sky,
And, to the ear that bends above the sod
Of the green grave-mounds.in the Fields of God,
In low, deep murmurs of rebuke or cheer,
The land's dead fathers speak their hope or fear,
Yet let not Passion wrest from Reason's hand
The guiding rein and symbol of command.
Blame not the caution proffering to your zeal
A well-meant drag upon its hurrying wheel;
Nor chide the man whose honest doubt extends
To the means only, not the righteous ends;
Nor fail to weigh the scruples and the fears
Of milder natures and serener years.
In the long strife with evil which began
With the first lapse of new-created man,
Wisely and well has Providence assigned
To each his part, — some forward, some behind;
And they, too, serve who temper and restrain
The o'erwarm heart that sets on fire the brain.
True to yourselves, feed Freedom's altar-flame
With what you have; let others do the same.
Spare timid doubters; set like flint your face
Against the self-sold knaves of gain and place:
Pity the weak; but with unsparing hand
Cast out the traitors who infest the land;
From bar, press, pulpit, east them everywhere,
By dint of fasting, if you fail by prayer.
And in their place bring men of antique mould,
Like the grave fathers of your Age of Gold;
Statesmen like those who sought the primal fount
Of righteous law, the Sermon on the Mount;
Lawyers who prize, like Quincy, (to our day
Still spared, Heaven bless him!) honor more than pay,
And Christian jurists, starry-pure, like Jay;
Preachers like Woolman, or like them who bore
The faith of Wesley to our Western shore,
And held no convert genuine till he broke
Alike his servants' and the Devil's yoke;
And priests like him who Newport's market trod,
And o'er its slave-ships shook the bolts of God!
So shall your power, with a wise prudence used,
Strong but forbearing, firm but not abused,
In kindly keeping with the good of all,
The nobler maxims of the past recall,
Her natural home-born right to Freedom give,
And leave her foe his robber-right, — to live.
Live, as the snake does in his noisome fen!
Live, as the wolf does in his bone-strewn den!
Live, clothed with cursing like a robe of flame,
The focal point of million-fingered shame!
Live, till the Southron, who, with all his faults,
Has manly instincts, in his pride revolts,
Dashes from off him, midst the glad world's cheers,
The hideous nightmare of his dream of years,
And lifts, self-prompted, with his own right hand,
The vile encumbrance from his glorious land!
'So, wheresoe'er our destiny sends forth
Its widening circles to the South or North,
Where'er our banner flaunts beneath the stars
Its mimic splendors and its cloudlike bars,
There shall Free Labor's hardy children stand
The equal sovereigns of a slaveless land.
And when at last the hunted bison tires,
And dies o'ertaken by the squatter's fires;
And westward, wave on wave, the living flood
Breaks on the snow-line of majestic Hood;
And lonely Shasta listening hears the tread
Of Europe's fair-haired children, Hesper-led;
And, gazing downward through his hoar-locks, sees
The tawny Asian climb his giant knees,
The Eastern sea shall hush his waves to hear
Pacific's surf-beat answer Freedom's cheer,
And one long rolling fire of triumph run
Between the sunrise and the sunset gun!'
My task is done. The Showman and his show,
Themselves but shadows, into shadows go;
And, if no song of idlesse I have sung,
Nor tints of beauty on the canvas flung;
If the harsh numbers grate on tender ears,
And the rough picture overwrought appears;
With deeper coloring, with a sterner blast,
Before my soul a voice and vision passed,
Such as might Milton's jarring trump require,
Or glooms of Dante fringed with lurid fire.
Oh; not of choice, for themes of public wrong
I leave the green and pleasant paths of song,
The mild, sweet words which soften and adorn,
For sharp rebuke and bitter laugh of scorn.
More dear to me some song of private worth,
Some homely idyl of my native North,
Some summer pastoral of her inland vales,
Or, grim and weird, her winter fireside tales
Haunted by ghosts of unreturning sails;
Lost barks at parting hung from stem to helm
With prayers of love like dreams on Virgil's elm.
Nor private grief nor malice holds my pen;
I owe but kindness to my fellow-men;
And, South or North, wherever hearts of prayer
Their woes and weakness to our Father bear,
Wherever fruits of Christian love are found
In holy lives, to me is holy ground.
But the time passes. It were vain to crave
A late indulgence. What I had I gave.
Forget the poet, but his warning heed,
And shame his poor word with your nobler deed.
Griselda: A Society Novel In Verse - Chapter V
Griselda's madness lasted forty days,
Forty eternities! Men went their ways,
And suns arose and set, and women smiled,
And tongues wagged lightly in impeachment wild
Of Lady L.'s adventure. She was gone,
None knew by whom escorted or alone,
Or why or whither, only that one morning,
Without pretext, or subterfuge, or warning,
She had disappeared in silence from L. House,
Leaving her lord in multitudinous
And agonised conjecture of her fate:
So the tale went. And truly less sedate
Than his wont was in intricate affairs,
Such as his Garter or his lack of heirs,
Lord L. was seen in this new tribulation.
Griselda long had been his life's equation,
The pivot of his dealings with the world,
The mainstay of his comfort, all now hurled
To unforeseen confusion by her flight:
There was need of action swift and definite.
Where was she? Who could tell him? Divers visions
Passed through his fancy--thieves, and street collisions,
And all the hundred accidents of towns,
From broken axle trees to broken crowns.
In vain he questioned; no response was made
More than the fact that, as already said,
My lady, unattended and on foot,
(A sad imprudence here Lord L. took note),
Had gone out dressed in a black morning gown
And dark tweed waterproof, 'twixt twelve and one,
Leaving no orders to her maid, or plan
About her carriage to or groom or man.
Such was in sum the downstairs' evidence.
The hall porter, a man of ponderous sense,
Averred her ladyship had eastward turned
From the front door, and some small credit earned
For the suggestion that her steps were bent
To Whitechapel on merciful intent,
A visit of compassion to the poor,
A clue which led to a commissioner
Being sent for in hot haste from Scotland Yard.
And so the news was bruited abroad.
It reached my ears among the earliest,
And from Lord L. himself, whose long suppressed
Emotion found its vent one afternoon
On me, the only listener left in town.
His thoughts now ran on ``a religious craze
Of his poor wife's,'' he said, ``in these last days
Indulged beyond all reason.'' The police
Would listen to no talk of casualties,
Still less of crime, since they had nothing found
In evidence above or under ground,
But held the case to be of simpler kind,
Home left in a disordered state of mind.
Lord L. had noticed, now they talked of it,
Temper less equable and flightier wit,
``A craving for religious services
And sacred music.'' Something was amiss,
Or why were they in London in September?
Griselda latterly, he could remember,
Had raved of a conventual retreat
In terms no Protestant would deem discreet
As the sole refuge in a world of sin
For human frailty, grief's best anodyne.
``The Times was right. Rome threatened to absorb us:
The convents must be searched by habeas corpus.''
And so I came to help him. I had guessed
From his first word the vainness of his quest,
And half was moved to serve him in a strait
Where her fair fame I loved was in debate,
Yet held my peace, nor hazarded a word
Save of surprise at the strange case I heard,
Till, fortune aiding, I should find the clue
My heart desired to do what I would do.
And not in vain. Night found me duly sped,
Lord L.'s ambassador accredited,
With fullest powers to find and fetch her home,
If need should be, from the Pope's jaws in Rome.
Gods! what a mission! First my round I went
Through half the slums of Middlesex and Kent,
Surrey and Essex--this to soothe Lord L.,
Though witless all, as my heart told too well;
The hospitals no less and casual wards,
Each house as idly as his House of Lords,
And only at the week's end dared to stop
At the one door I knew still housing hope,
Young Manton's chambers. There, with reddened cheek
I heard the answer given I came to seek.
Manton was gone, his landlady half feared
He too, in some mishap, and disappeared,--
Proof all too positive. His letters lay
A fortnight deep untouched upon the tray.
She could not forward them or risk a guess
As to his last or likeliest address.
He was in Scotland often at this season,
``But not without his guns''--a cogent reason.
And leaving, too, his valet here in town,
Perplexed of what to do or leave undone.
Abroad? Perhaps. If so, his friends might try
As a best chance the Paris Embassy.
He had been there last Spring, and might be now.
Paris! It was enough, I made my bow,
And took my leave. I seemed to touch the thread
Of the blind labyrinth 'twas mine to tread.
Where should they be, in truth, these too fond lovers,
But in the land of all such lawless rovers?
The land of Gautier, Bourget, Maupassant,
Where still ``you can'' makes answer to ``I can't.''
The fair domain where all romance begins
In a light borderland of venial sins,
But deepening onwards, till the fatal day
Vice swoops upon us, plead we as we may.
Griselda's bonnet o'er the windmills thrown,
Had surely crossed the Seine ere it came down.
And I, if I would find and win her back,
Must earliest search the boulevards for her track.
And so to Paris in my zeal I passed,
Breaking my idol, mad Iconoclast.
There is a little inn by Meudon wood
Dear to Parisians in their amorous mood,
A place of rendezvous, where bourgeois meet
Their best beloved in congregation sweet;
Clandestine, undisturbed, illicit loves,
Made half romantic by the adjoining groves,
So beautiful in Spring, with the new green
Clothing the birch stems scattered white between,
Nor yet, in Autumn, when the first frosts burn
And the wind rustles in the reddening fern,
Quite robbed of sentiment for lovers' eyes,
Who seek Earth's blessing on a bliss unwise,
And find the happy sanction for their state
In nature's face, unshocked by their debate,
As who should say ``Let preachers frown their fill,
Here one approves. 'Tis Eden with us still.''
Such fancy, may be, in her too fond heart
Had led Griselda--with her friend--apart,
Yet not apart, from the world's curious gaze,
To this secluded, ill--frequented place:
A compromise of wills and varying moods,
His for gay crowds, her own for solitudes.
Manton knew Paris well, and loved its noise,
Its mirthful parody of serious joys,
Its pomp and circumstance. His wish had been
To flaunt the boulevards with his captured queen,
And make parade of a last triumph won
In the chaste field of prudish Albion,
Outscandalising scandal. Love and he
In any sense but of male vanity,
And the delirium of adventures new
In the world's eye--the thing he next should do--
Were terms diverse and incompatible.
Griselda, to his eyes was Lady L.,
The fair, the chaste, the unapproached proud name
Men breathed in reverence, woman, all the same,
And not as such, and when the truth was said,
Worth more than others lightlier credited.
It all had been a jest from the beginning,
A tour de force, whose wit was in the winning,
A stroke of fortune and of accident,
The embrace he had told of for another meant,
While she stood grieving for a first grey hair
(A psychologic moment) on the stair,
And, kneeling down, he had adored her foot,
The one weak spot where her self--love had root,
And laughed at her, and told her she was old,
Yet growing tenderer as he grew more bold.
And so from jest to jest, and chance to chance,
To that last scene at the mad country dance
Where she had played the hoyden, he the swain,
Pretending love till love was in their brain,
And he had followed to her chamber door,
And helped her to undo the dress she wore.
Then the elopement. That had been her doing,
Which he accepted to make good his wooing,
And careless what to both the result might be,
So it but served his end of vanity.
It all had been to this vain boy a whim,
Something grotesque, a play, a pantomime,
Where nothing had been serious but her heart,
And that was soon too tearful for its part.
He wearied in a week of her mature
Old maidish venturings in ways obscure,
Her agony of conscience dimly guessed,
The silences she stifled in her breast,
Her awkwardness--it was his word--in all
That love could teach; her sighs funereal,
And more the unnatural laughter she essayed
To meet the doubtful sense of things he said.
She was at once too tender and too prim,
Too prudish and too crazed with love and him.
At a month's end his flame had leaped beyond
Already to friends frailer and less fond;
The light Parisian world of venal charms
Which welcomed him with wide and laughing arms:
There he was happier, more at home, more gay,
King of the ``High Life,'' hero of the day.
Griselda, in her sad suburban nook
Watched his departures with a mute rebuke,
Yet daring not to speak. The choice was hers
To stay at home or run the theatres
With her young lover in such company
As her soul loathed. She had tried despairingly
To be one, even as these, for his loved sake,
And would have followed spite of her heart's ache,
But that he hardly further cared to press,
After one failure stamped with ``dowdiness.''
That too had been his word, a bitter word,
Biting and true, which smote her like a sword,
Or rather a whip's sting to her proud cheek,
Leaving her humbled, agonised and weak.
Poor beautiful Griselda! What was now
The value of thy beauty, chaste as snow
In thy youth's morning, the unchallenged worth
Of thy eyes' kindness, queenliest of the earth;
The tradition of thy Fra--angelic face,
Blessed as Mary's, and as full of grace;
The fame which thou despisedst, yet which made
A glory for thee meet for thy dear head?
What, if in this last crisis of thy fate,
When all a Heaven and Hell was in debate,
And thy archangel, with the feet of clay,
Stood mocking there in doubt to go or stay,
The unstable fabric of thy woman's dower,
Thy beauty, failed and left thee in their power
Whose only law of beauty was the sting
Lent to man's lust by light bedizening?
What use was in thy beauty, if, alas!
Thou gavest them cause to mock (those tongues of brass)
At thy too crude and insular attire,
Thy naïvetés of colour, the false fire
Of thy first dallyings with the red and white,
Thy sweet pictorial robe, Pre--Raphaelite,
Quaint in its tones and outré in design,
Thy lack of unity and shape and line,
Thy English angularity--who knows,
The less than perfect fitting of thy shoes?
Griselda, in her flight, had left behind
All but the dress she stood in, too refined,
In her fair righteousness of thought and deed,
To make provision for a future need,
However dire. She was no Israelite
To go forth from her Pharaoh in the night,
With spoils of the Egyptians in her hands,
And had thrown herself on Manton and on France,
With a full courage worth a nobler cause,
Grandly oblivious of prudential laws.
Her earliest trouble, marring even the bliss
Of love's first ecstasy, had come of this,
Her want of clothes--a worse and weightier care
At the mere moment than her soul's despair
For its deep fall from virtuous estate.
How should she dress herself, she asked of Fate,
With neither maid, nor money, nor a name?
It was her first experiment in shame.
Now, after all her poor economies,
This was the ending read in his vexed eyes,
And spoken by his lips: her utmost art
Had failed to please that idle thing, his heart,
Or even to avert his petulant scorn
For one so little to love's manner born.
And thus I found them, at the angry noon
Of their ``red month,'' the next to honeymoon:
Two silent revellers at a loveless feast,
Scared by hate's morning breaking in their East--
A dawn which was of penance and despair,
With pleasure's ghost to fill the vacant chair.
I took it, and was welcomed rapturously,
As a far sail by shipwrecked souls at sea,
An opportune deliverer, timely sent
To break the autumn of their discontent,
And give a pretext to their need grown sore
Of issue from joys dead by any door.
Manton, all confidential from the first,
Told me the tale of his last sins and worst,
As meriting a sympathy not less
Than the best actions virtuous men confess.
He was overwhelmed with women and with debt--
Women who loved him, bills which must be met.
What could he do? Her ladyship was mad--
It was her fault, not his, this escapade.
He had warned her from the first, and as a friend,
That all such frolics had a serious end,
And that to leave her home was the worst way
A woman would who wanted to be gay.
``For look,'' said he, ``we men, who note these things,
And how the unthinking flutterers burn their wings,
Know that a woman, be she what she will,
The fairest, noblest, most adorable,
Dowered in her home with all seraphic charms,
Whom heaven itself might envy in your arms,
A paragon of pleasure undenied
At her own chaste respectable fireside,
Becomes, what shall I say, when she steps down
From the high world of her untouched renown?
A something differing in no serious mood
From the sad rest of the light sisterhood;
Perhaps indeed more troublesome than these,
Because she keenlier feels the agonies:
A wounded soul, who has not even the wit
To hide its hurt and make a jest of it;
A maid of Astolat, launched in her barge,
A corpse on all the world, a femme à charge.''
``'Tis not,'' he argued, ``our poor human sins
That make us what we are when shame begins,
But the world pointing at our naked state:
Then we are shocked and humbled at our fate,
Silent and shamed in all we honour most--
For what is virtue but the right to boast?
A married woman's love, three weeks from home,
Is the absurdest thing in Christendom,
Dull as a ménage in the demi--monde
And dismaller far by reason of the bond.
All this I told my lady ere we went,
But warning wasted is on sentiment.
You see the net result here in one word,
A crying woman and a lover bored.''
So far young Manton. She for whom I came,
Griselda's self, sweet soul, in her new shame
Essayed awhile to hide from me the truth
Of this last hap of her belated youth,
Her disillusion with her graceless lover.
She made sad cloaks for him which could not cover
His great unworthiness and her despair,
All with a frightened half--maternal air,
Most pitiful and touching. To my plea,
Urging her home, she answered mournfully,
That she was bound now to her way of life,
And owed herself no less than as his wife
To him she had chosen out of all mankind.
'Twas better to be foolish, even blind,
If he had faults, so she could serve him still--
And this had been her promise and her will.
She would not hear of duties owed elsewhere:
What was she to Lord L., or he to her?
I need not speak of it. And yet she clung
To my protecting presence in her wrong;
And once, when Manton's jibes made bitterer play,
Implored me with appealing eyes to stay.
And so I lingered on. Those autumn days,
Spent with Griselda in the woodland ways
Of Meudon with her lover, or alone,
When his mad fancies carried him to town,
Remain to me an unsubstantial act
Of dreaming fancy, rather than the fact
Of any waking moment in my past,
The sweetest, saddest and with her the last--
For suddenly they ended. We had been
One Sunday for a jaunt upon the Seine,
We two--in Manton's absence, now prolonged
To a third night--and in a steamboat, thronged
With idle bourgeois folk, whom the last glory,
Of a late autumn had sent forth in foray
To Passy and St. Cloud, from stage to stage
Had made with heavy souls our pilgrimage;
And homeward turning and with little zest,
The fair day done, to love's deserted nest
Had come with lagging feet and weary eyes,
Expectant still of some new dark surprise,
When the blow fell unsparing on her head,
Already by what fortunes buffeted.
How did it happen, that last tragedy?--
For tragedy it was, let none deny,
Though all ignoble. Every soul of us
Touches one moment in death's darkened house
The plane of the heroic, and compels
Men's laughter into tears--ay, Heaven's and Hell's.
How did it happen? There was that upon
Their faces at the door more than the tone
Of their replies, that warned us of the thing
We had not looked for in our questioning;
And our lips faltered, and our ears, afraid,
Shrank from more hearing. What was it they said
In their fool's jargon, that he lay upstairs?
He? Manton? The dispenser of our cares?
The mounteback young reveller? Suffering? Ill?
And she, poor soul, that suffered at his will!
A sinister case? Not dying? Pitiful God!
Truly Thou smitest blindly with Thy rod.
For Manton was not worthy to die young,
Beloved by her with blessings on her tongue.
And such a cause of death! She never heard
The whole truth told, for each one spared his word,
And he lay mute for ever. But to me
The thing was storied void of mystery,
And thus they told it. Hardly had we gone
On our sad river outing, when from town
Manton had come with a gay troop of friends,
Such as the coulisse of the opera lends,
To breakfast at the inn and spend the day
In mirthful noise, as was his vagrant way.
A drunken frolic, and most insolent
To her whose honour with his own was blent,
To end in this last tragedy. None knew
Quite how it happened, or a cause could shew
Further than this, that, rising from the table,
The last to go with steps perhaps unstable--
For they had feasted freely, and the stair
Was steep and iron--edged, and needed care;
And singing, as he went, the selfsame song,
Which I remembered, to the laughing throng,
He had slipped his length, and fallen feet--first down.
When they picked him up his power to move was gone,
Though he could speak. They laid him on a bed,
Her bed, Griselda's, and called in with speed
Such help of doctors and commissioners
As law prescribed, and medicine for their fears.
'Twas his last night. There, in Griselda's hands,
Young Jerry Manton lay with the last sands
Of his life's hour--glass trickling to its close,
Griselda watching, with what thoughts, God knows.
We did not speak. But her lips moved in prayer,
And mine too, in the way of man's despair.
I did not love him, yet a human pity
Softened my eyes. Afar, from the great city,
The sound came to us of the eternal hum,
Unceasing, changeless, pregnant with all doom
Of insolent life that rises from its streets,
The pulse of sin which ever beats and beats,
Wearying the ears of God. O Paris, Paris!
What doom is thine for every soul that tarries
Too long with thee, a stranger in thy arms.
Thy smiles are incantations, thy brave charms
Death to thy lovers. Each gay mother's son,
Smitten with love for thee, is straight undone.
And lo the chariot wheels upon thy ways!
And a new garland hung in Père la Chaise!
Poor soul! I turned and looked into the night,
Through the uncurtained windows, and there bright
Saw the mute twinkle of a thousand stars.
One night! the least in all time's calendars,
Yet fraught with what a meaning for this one!
One star, the least of all that million!
One room in that one city! Yet for him
The universe there was of space and time.
What were his thoughts? In that chaotic soul,
Home of sad jests, obscene, unbeautiful,
Mired with the earthiest of brute desires,
And lit to sentience only with lewd fires,
Was there no secret, undisturbed, fair place
Watered with love and favoured with God's grace
To which the wounded consciousness had fled
For its last refuge from a world of dread?
Was his soul touched to tenderness, to awe,
To softer recollection? All we saw
Was the maimed body gasping forth its breath,
A rigid setting of the silent teeth,
And the hands trembling. Death was with us there.
But where was he? O Heaven of pity! where?
We watched till morning by the dying man,
She weeping silently, I grieved and wan,
And still he moved not. But with the first break
Of day in the window panes we saw him make
A sign as if of speaking. Pressing near--
For his lips moved, Griselda deemed, in prayer--
We heard him make profession of his faith,
As a man of pleasure face to face with death,
A kind of gambler's Athanasian Creed,
Repeated at the hour of his last need.
``Five sovereigns,'' said he, steadying his will,
As in defiance of death's power to kill,
And with that smile of a superior mind,
Which was his strength in dealing with mankind,
The world of sporting jargon and gay livers.
``Five sovereigns is a fiver, and five fivers
A pony, and five ponies are a hundred--
No, four,'' he added, seeing he had blundered.
``Four to the hundred and five centuries
Make up the monkey.'' From his dying eyes
The smile of triumph faded. ``There, I've done it,''
He said, ``but there was no great odds upon it,
You see with a broken back.'' He spoke no more,
And in another hour had passed the door
Which shuts the living from eternity.
Where was he? God of pity, where was he?
This was the end of Lady L.'s romance.
When we had buried him (as they do in France,
In a tomb inscribed ``à perpétuité,''
Formally rented till the Judgment Day),
She put off black, and shed no further tears;
Her face for the first time showed all its years,
But not a trace beyond. Without demur
She gave adhesion to my plans for her,
And we went home to London and Lord L.,
Silent together, by the next night's mail.
She had been six weeks away. The interview
Between them was dramatic. I, who knew
Her whole mad secret, and had seen her soul
Stripped of its covering, and without control,
Bowed down by circumstance and galled with shame,
Yielding to wounds and griefs without a name,
Had feared for her a wild unhappy scene.
I held Lord L. for the least stern of men,
And yet I dared not hope even he would crave
No explanation ere he quite forgave.
I was with them when they met, unwilling third,
In their mute bandying of the unspoken word.
Lord L. essayed to speak. I saw his face
Made up for a high act of tragic grace
As he came forward. It was grave and mild,
A father's welcoming a truant child,
Forgiving, yet intent to mark the pain
With hope ``the thing should not occur again.''
His lips began to move as to some speech
Framed in this sense, as one might gently preach
A word in season to too gadding wives
Of duties owed, at least by those whose lives
Moved in high places. But it died unsaid.
There was that about Griselda that forbade
Marital questionings. Her queenly eyes
Met his with a mute answer of surprise,
Marking the unseemliness of all display
More strongly than with words, as who should say
Noblesse oblige. She took his outstretched hand,
And kissed his cheek, but would not understand
A word of his reproaches. Even I,
With my full knowledge and no more a boy,
But versed by years in the world's wickedness,
And open--eyed to her, alas! no less
Than to all womanhood, even I felt shame,
And half absolved her in my mind from blame.
And he, how could he less? He was but human,
The fortunate husband of how fair a woman!
He stammered his excuses. What she told
When I had left them (since all coin is gold
To those who would believe, and who the key
Hold of their eyes, in blind faith's alchemy)
I never learned. I did not linger on,
Seeing her peril past and the day won,
But took my leave. She led me to the door
With her old kindness of the days of yore,
And thanked me as one thanks for little things.
``You have been,'' she said, ``an angel without wings,
And I shall not forget,--nor will Lord L.;
And yet,'' she said, with an imperceptible
Change in her voice, ``there are things the world will say
Which are neither just nor kind, and, if to--day
We part awhile, remember we are friends,
If not now later. Time will make amends,
And we shall meet again.'' I pressed her hand
A moment to my lips. ``I understand,''
I said, and gazed a last time in her eyes;
``Say all you will. I am your sacrifice.''
And so, in truth, it was. Henceforth there lay
A gulf between us, widening with delay,
And which our souls were impotent to pass,
The gulf of a dead secret; and, alas!
Who knows what subtle treacheries within,
For virtue rends its witnesses of sin,
And hearts are strangely fashioned by their fears.
We met no more in friendship through the years,
Although I held her secret as my own,
And fought her battles, her best champion,
On many a stricken field in scandal's war,
Till all was well forgotten. From afar
I watched her fortunes still with tenderness,
Yet sadly, as cast out of Paradise.
For ever, spite her promise, from that day,
When I met L., he looked another way;
And she, Griselda, was reserved and chill.
I had behaved, her women friends said, ill,
And caused a needless scandal in her life,
--They told not what. Enough, that as a wife
She had been compelled to close her doors on me,
And that her lord knew all the iniquity.
And so I bore the burden of her sin.
What more shall I relate? The cynic vein
Has overwhelmed my tale, and I must stop.
Its heroine lived to justify all hope
Of her long--suffering lord, that out of pain
Blessings would grow, and his house smile again
With the fulfilled expectance of an heir.
Griselda sat no longer in despair,
Nor wasted her full life on dreams of folly;
She had little time for moods of melancholy,
Or heart to venture further in love's ways;
She was again the theme of all men's praise,
And suffered no man's passion. Once a year,
In the late autumn, when the leaves grew sere
She made retreat to a lay sisterhood,
And lived awhile there for her soul's more good,
In pious meditation, fasts and prayer.
Some say she wore concealed a shirt of hair
Under her dresses, even at court balls,
And certain 'tis that all Rome's rituals
Were followed daily at the private Mass
In her new chauntry built behind Hans Place.
Lord L. approved of all she did, even this,
Strange as it seemed to his old--fashionedness.
He, gentle soul, grown garrulous with years,
Prosed of her virtues to all listeners,
And of their son's, the child of his old age,
A prodigy of beauty and ways sage.
It was a vow, he said, once made in Rome,
Had brought them their chief treasure of their home.
A vow! The light world laughed--for miracles
Are not believed in now, except as Hell's.
And yet the ways of God are passing strange.
And this is certain (and therein the range
Of my long tale is reached, and I am free),
--There is at Ostia, close beside the sea,
A convent church, the same where years ago
Griselda kneeled in tears and made her vow;
And in that shrine, beneath the crucifix,
They show a votive offering, candlesticks
Of more than common workmanship and size,
And underneath inscribed the votary's
Name in initials, and the date, all told,
Hall--marked in England, and of massive gold.