Saturday, March 11, 2006

XXXVI


Good virtuous son, adviser to the poor,
Getter of children on your father’s dower,
Usher at weddings, and at churches too,
Chairman of clubs, and Madam here’s your pew;
Uxorious simple sensuous and impassioned,
Rebel for once, when drunk, but now old-fashioned;
Remember how you took the harlot´s hand,
And saw one instant hell’s dark hinterland.


All’s relative: the slow at last make haste:
Rash friends of rebel days have gone to waste;
Blackballed by clubs in which your voice is power,
And cut down like the clover in its hour.
While you, from state to state, move on in pride
With your lubricious madam at your side;
Upright and right, and freshly bathed, and pure;
Insurance paid, and god outside you door.

Remember that fierce atom in your blood
Which bade you stand in hell, where once you stood;
Remember the good friend who stands there still,
And thinks of you, and smiles, and thinks no ill.
Let the dark flame come once again between
Hypocrisy and hell’s bright Sabbath-green;
There will dance once more, and in one hour
Worship the god who honors our poor floor.


XXXVII


Come let us take another’s words and change the meaning,
Come let us take another’s meaning, change the words,
Rebuild the house that Adam built, with opals,
Redecorate Eve’s bedroom. We were born
With words, but they were not our words, but others’,
Smacked of the kitchen, or of gods, or devils,
Worn and stained with the blood of centuries,
The sweat of peasants, the raw gold of kings.
Shall we be slaves to such inheritance?
No; let us sweep these skeleton leaves away,
Blow them beyond the moon; and from our anger,
Our pride, our bitterness, our sweetness too,
And what our kidneys say, and what our hearts,
Speak with such voice as never Babel heard;
And bring the curtain down on desolation.

Was this rich tongue of ours shaped by our mothers?
Has it no virtue of its own? says nothing
Not said before at church or between sheets?
Must Shakspere, with his phrase for the stormed heaven,
Hot midnight veined with lightning, babble only
Such mother’s milk as one time wet his cheek?
Then let’s be dumb: Walk in the little garden:
Watch the wise thrush delight as once in Egypt;
And hear the echoes of Thermopylae.

And this is peace; to know our knowledge known;
To know ourselves but as old stones that sleep
In God’s midstream of wreckage, worn as smooth.
All’s commonplace: the jewel with the rest.
The demon truth, sharp as a maggot, works
His destined passage through the Absolute.


XXXVIII


When you come back from Memnon, when you come
Into the shadow, the green land of evening,
And hear the leaves above you, and the water
Falling, falling, in fountains;
When you remember Memnon, and the sand,
The stone lips crying to the desert, the stone eyes
Red with the daybreak not yet seen by you;

When you shake out the desert from your shoes
And laugh amongst you, and are refreshed,
And go about your business, now secure
Against the mockery of the all-changing moon;
And most of all, oh sly ones, when you sell
So dearly to the poor your grains of wisdom,
Or barter to the ignorant you belief;

Oh think of this belief and think it evil,
Evil for you because you heard it only
From a stone god whose prophecies you mocked;
Evil for them because their hunger buys it;
Evil for both of you, poor pitiful slaves,
Who had no heart, when chaos came again,
Who had no love, to make the chaos bright.

Go back again, and find the divine dark;
Seal up your eyes once more, and be as tombs;
See that yourselves shall be as Memnon was.
Then, if you have the strength to curse the darkness,
And praise a world of light, remember Memnon-
Stone feet in sand, stone eyes, stone heart, stone lips,
Who sang the day before the daybreak came.


XXXIX


Came down by night with voices in his heart,
Came down from the high altar of the mountain
Where the white eagle clutched the sheep, and stones
Rattled dislodged by wind; there the wet rock
Had burned before his eyes, so bright the angel
Who beat upon it many-wondered wings,
Beating his wings, yet moveless in that place;

So that the grass a little space about
Was lighted as by lightining, and he saw
The mountain flower at the angel's feet,
The drops of water on the hanging fern,
The daisy like a star against the moss,
A circle of pale green about the rock;

And he came down again, but had heard nothing;
Nor heard the village bell, no heard his friend;
But entered his own house; and in the dark
Stood by the window, looking out at darkness;
Looking again toward the mountain altar,
Where now was darkness also; but his ears

Were filled with voices, filled with a sound of singing,
The wind's voice from the mountain, and his heart
Radiant in his breast was like a lamp....
And from that time his house was dark no more,
But housed an angel who was silent there,
Beating bright wings, yet moveless; and the light
Went forth from him; although he said no word.


XL


I
And this, the life-line, means-why, you are brief;
Briefer than Shakspere's candle; like the fly
You know one sunrise only. Here's the grassblade-
But maybe too the spider-and i'ts gone,
And you too gone; a drop of dew as huge
As Deneb to a fly; and you are gone.
Did you remember much? You saw a sparkle,
You saw a wing that made a shadow; crept
Under a hooked leaf like a scythe; dropped then
Against as acorn cup; lay still; curled feet;
But all in vain, the shadow got you. Thus
Good butcher destiny must knife us all.
And this, the heart-line, means-


..........................................................Romeo, Romeo,
And wherefor art thou Romeo? Not for love,
Which takes but gives not, gives but takes not, lends
At such a usurer's rate as ruins the heart.
Generous, yes; magnanimous, sometimes; greedy,
Ah far too often; cautious, too, but not
When caution saves you; fool, fool, always fool,
Grasper at nothing, when the grassping nothing
Might well have saved you for another nothing;
And so to bed.... Alas, and so to bed.

The head-line? It is deep. Deep, very deep.
You have thought west and north, and northwest too,
And boxed the compass of the smaller notions;
Scanned the far clouds with sextants, lacking sun;
Caught the faint star in mercury at midnight,
Pursued magnetic Poles. You have seen heartbeats
Beating in light in the plethismograph-
Was this in Camberwell? At Brooklyn Bridge?-
And found the scream and whisper much alike.
But truth is truth, although it change its time.



II
And let it change its time, and let us come
To rich dishevelment of truth, and find
A multitude of Pole Stars in its fall.
Here's on in Denmark Hil, so bright, so bright
That hatred melts like frost; and here's another
Plucked like a crocus on the hill at Belmont;
And here's a third, a slow and creeping truth,
Which swins along the bloodstream to the heart.
Oh god, let us move backward from this thing-
Truth is a lie when worshipped as the truth;
The lie a truth when worshipped as a lie.

So, let the venom swin toward the heart
And Romeo hold his breath. Ah here you have
Poor wretch, poor wretch, the essence of it all:
Catch here in agony the golden fragment:
Be conscious, for a fraction of the world:
Hate, love, desire, suffer with mouth and eye;
Bruise the poor body that is soon to die;
And so to bed....Alas, and so to bed.

And this, the life-line-means-what does it mean?
Why, you are brief; you have no meaning; you;
The clock's tick on the mantel; the heart's heavy
Dictatorial tick that guides your thought;
The world beneath the heart that makes you die....
Come, let us hold our hands out to the cloud,
And ask him if our destinies are just.


XLI


Or daylong watched, in the kaleidoscope,
While the rain beat the window, and the smoke
Blew down along the roof, how the clear fragments
Clicked subtly inward to new patterns, seeming
To melt from rose to crystal, moon to star,
Snowflake to asphodel, the bright white shrinking
To let the ruby vein its way like blood,
The violet opening like an eye, the pearl
Gone like a raindrop. Never twice the same,
Never remembered. The carpet ther, the table
On which the dog's-eared Euclid with fixed stars,
The cardboard battleship, the tops, the jackstones,
And the long window lustred with changing rain,
And the long day, profound and termless.

...........................................................................Or
The ship's wreck, midnight, winter, and the stars
Swung in a long curve starboad above the mast,
And bow-ward then as the sea hoists the bow,
And back to port, in the vast dance of atoms,
Poured down like snow about you, or again
Steedy above the mast-light, the wide span
Of brilliant worlds, not meaningless, watched bravely
By him who guards the lighted binnacle, and him
Dark in the swaying crow's nest, who beats his arms
Against the cold. What mind of stars is this?
What changing thought that takes its ever-changing
Patter in burning worlds, worlds dying, named
Sirius or Vegas or the Pleiades?
What voyage this beneath them, termless, but
Not aimless wholly, trackless in the trackless
Changing of thought in the wide wind of stars?


Back from the bitter voyage to this moment:
Where the clock's tick marks hunger from disgust,
And the hour strikes for laughter, causeless, caused
By one strayed particle, unseen, between
The heart's Nile and the brain's unknown Sahara:
Rolando's fissure and the Island of Reil.
Who watches here, oh mariners and surgeons?
What Pole Star lights these shores? The atom grows,
If so it will, much like a tree, its light
Orion's now, and now the Bear's, the clock
Seeking in vain its time. We will go on,
Since go we must, bending our eyes above
The little space of light we know, watching
Thought come from news, love come from thought, desire
Come to fulfilment or defeat; and all
Swinging beneath us like that mind of stars,
Which alters when it must, alters for nothing,
In the long night that guides the ship to death.


XLII


Keep in the heart the journal nature keeps;
Mark down the limp nasturtium leaf with frost;
See that the hawthorn bough is ice-embossed,
And that the snail, in season, has his grief;
Design the winter on the window pane;
Admit pale sun thorugh cobwebs left from autumn;
Remember summer when the flies are still;
Remember spring, when the cold spider sleeps.



Such diary, too, set down as this: the heart
Beat twice or thrice this day for no good reason;
For friends and sweethearts dead before their season;
For wisdom come too late, and come to naught.
Put down "the hands that shakes," "the eye that glazes";
The "step that falters betwixt thence and hence";
Observe that hips and haws burn brightest red
When the North Pole and sun are most apart.

Note that the moon is here, as cold as ever,
With ages on her face, and ice and snow;
Such as the freezing mind alone can know,
When loves and hates are only twigs that shiver.
Add in a postscript that the rain is over,
The wind from southwest backing to the south,
Disasters all forgotten, hurts forgiven;
And that the North Star, altered, shines forever.

Then say: I was a part of nature's plan;
Knew her cold heart, for I was consciousness;
Came first to hate her, and at last to bless;
Believed in her; doubted; believed again.
My love the lichen had such roots as I,-
The snowflake was my father; I return,
After this interval of faith and question,
To nature's heart, in pain, as I began.


XLIII


Not with despair,nor with rash hardihood,
And yet with both, salute the grassblade, take
The terrible thistledown between your hands, assume
Divinity, and ride the cloud. Come bodly
Upon the rock and count his scars, number
The ants that raid the pear, and be yourself
The multitude you are. We are destroyed
Daily. We meet the arrows of the sun,
Corruption, ruin, decay, time in the seed,
Usury in the flesh, death in the heart.
This band of sunlight on the frost-mistrust it.
This frost that measures blades against the sun-
Mistrust it. Look with meanest scrutiny on
This little clock, your slave. You, yourself-
Put up your plumes and crow, you are a clock
Unique, absolved, ridiculous, profound,
The clock that knows, if but it will, its tick
To be a tick, and nothing but a tick.
Walk then among the shadows with your measure
Of long and short and good and evil, mark
The come and go that leaves you-as you think-
Much as you were, or as you thought you were;
And when the spring breaks, stop.

............................................................Divine time-heart
That beats the violet to fragance, turns
The planet westward to his fruitful death,
Gives the young sun his season, or compels
The hand to seek the cheek-

............................................................I saw the evening
Giving her daily bread, and heard the prayers
Of proud weeds answered, saw the ritual
With which indifferent moss and the tree were married,
The steeples pointed to the absolute,
Man avoided man, star avoided star,
The rocks were single in hard humbleness;
And thought alone it was in its weakness
Sought answering thought.

..............................................................Divine time-thought
That brings the dead man home to underground,
Blessing the resurrection for no reason;
Giving the child his candlelight of love,
Briefly and snatched away, that he be wise-
And know in time, the dark-


............................................................I saw the morning
Promise his daily bread, heard the Lord's Prayer
Whispered by sea-grass for the Lord himself:
That thought be thought no more, that heart be heart
Henceforward, timeless; and I was deceived,
Wishing to be deceived; and wise in this;
And touched a rock; and became rock forever.


XLIV


When you have done your murder, and the word
Lies bleeding, and the hangman's noose
Coils like a snake and hisses against your neck-
When the beloved, the adored, the word
Brought from the sunrise at the rainbow's foot
Lies dead, the first of all things now the last-

Rejoice, gay fool, laugh at the pit's edge, now
Heaven is come again, you are yourself
As once you were, the sunrise word has gone
Into the heart again, all's well with you,
Now for an instant's rapture you are only
The sunrise word, naught else, and you have wings
Lost from your second day.

..............................................Wisdom of wings,
Angelic power, divinity, destruction
Perfect in itself-the sword is heartshaped,
The word is bloodshaped, the flower is a coffin,
The world is everlasting-

............................................But for a moment only,
The sunrise sunset moment at the pity's edge,
The night in day, timeless for a time:
Childhood is old age, youth is maturity,
Simplicity is power, the single heart
Cries like Memnon for the sun, his giant hand
Lifting the sun from the eastern hill, and then
Handing it to the west-

......................................And in that moment
All known, all good, all beautiful; the child
Ruling his god, as god intends he should.


XLV


The dead man spoke to me and begged a penny,
For god's sake, and for yours and mine, he said,
Slowly under the streetlamp turned his head,
I saw his eyes wide open and he stared
Through me as if my bones and flesh were nothing,
Through me and through the earth and through the void,
His eyes were dark and wide and cold and empty
As if his vision had become a grave
Larger than bones of any world could fill,
But crystal clear deep and deeply still.

Poor devil-why, he wants to close his eyes,
He wants a charity to close his eyes,
And follows me with outstreched palm, from world to world
And house to house and street to street,
Under the streetlamps and along dark alleys,
And sits beside me in my room, and sleeps
Upright with eyes wide open by my bed,
Circles the Pleiades with a glance, returns
From cold Orion with a slow turn of the head,
Looks north and south at once, and all the while
Holds, in that void of an unfocused stare,
My own poor footsteps, saying


.....................................................I have read
Time in the rock and in the human heart,
Space in the bloodstream, and those lesser works
Written by rose and windflower on the summer, sung
By water and snow, deciphered by the eye,
Translated by the slaves of memory,
And all that you be you, and I be I,
Or all that by imagination, aping
God, the supreme poet of despair,
I may be you, you me, before our time
Knowing the rank intolerable taste of death,
And walking dead on the still living earth.

...I rose and dressed and descended the stair
Into the sunlight, and he came with me,
Staring the skeleton from the daffodil,
Freezing the snowflake in the blackbird's whistle,
And with that cold profound unhating eye
He moved the universe from east to west,
Slowly, disastrously,-but with such splendor
As god, the supreme poet of delight, might envy,-
To the magnificent sepulchre of sleep.


XLVI


But there were houses in the intermediate
Voyage from dark to dark, resting-places
Known to his homeless child that is the spirit,
Something remembered, something dearly loved,
The well known door, the doorstep, the small window,
The face behind the window, the clock clacking
Comfortable time, time for sleep,
Time for the coming of the beloved's footstep,
Time for the firelight on the wall,
For the simple voice that says-

...................................................Here I am,
Here is the letter from the other world,
Here is news from the land of everlasting,
Here is the yellow nasturtium picked in the garden, with purple
Bloodstains in its throat, the marks where the bee
Plunged in the pollen, remember these, take them
With you when you set out again, this flower
Wiil be your passport-

...........................................And so this little room
With four wall and a ceiling and a floor,
A picturebook in which myself am picture,
The clock that strikes at a minute past the hour,
Moth in the carpet, corruption in the doorpost,
The visitor who comes and sits too long,
Angels who come too seldom, the little box
Worn down with affectionate use, and the air
So always, so particularly, in this place,
My own, my spirit's-

.......................................Come, it is time to move,
There are so many places we must see,
So many other houses we must visit,
Doorsteps and windows, so many faces too
Behind those windows, other clocks with other
Errors in time, other carpets, others chairs,
And we must hurry, or we will miss the ship
With clearance papers for the Milky Way-


Deluded sentimentalist, will you stay
In this one room forever, and hold only
One withered flower in your withered hand?...
This is the ship that goes to No Man's Land.


XLVII


O Daughters of Jerusalem, weep for me;
Weep for yourselves, and for your children's children;
Weep for the world, that it should still bear fruit,
The fly that still it breeds, the oak that still
Lets fall its acorns on the prophet's breast;
Weep for the weed and campion, that they bloom, despite
The priest's anathema. The day has come
Which impotent and dying men desired.
Blessèd they cried, the barren, and the wombs
That never bare, the paps that give no suck;
Blessèd to die, thrice blessèd the unborn.

O pitiful servants of a servant's servant,
Eaters of myth, devourers of filth, cowards
Who flee the word's edge as you flee the sword,
Slaves of the clock's heart, serfs of history,
Low minions of the worm-


.........................................Children, forget them,-
Forget the proud in wisdom, those who fear
To know the things they do. We are the sons
Of that bright light that knows no turning back;
We the prometheans who never die;
The crucified, who scorn our crucifixion,
Because we know our fate was in ourselves;
We are the Jesus and the Judas too.


Nor will we be in paradise together,
To-day, to-morrow, or in other years;
Nor eat of milk and honey, save of that
Which now we have in seeing what we have.


Our mothers know us, and we know our mothers;
Our fathers got us, and we know our fathers;
No gods abandon us, for we are gods;
We thirst not, nor are finished, nor commend
Our spirits to another's hands,

....................................................But walk
Upright, unholy, graceless, swift and proud,
From cloud to sunlight and from sun to cloud,
And take our ease in death....O slow of heart,
O fools that still believe the half-dead prophets,-
Move south, avoid the North Star, shun the frost.


XLVIII


Pawn to king four; pawn to king four; pawn
To king's knight four-the gambit is declined.
The obvious is declined; and we adventure
For stranger mishap than would here have fallen.
Where would the victory have led us, what
New square might thus have witnessed our defeat?
The king is murdered in his counting-house;
Or at the table, where he carves a fowl;
Stabbed by his light-of-love; drowned in his bath;
And all that he might know-

.................................................Why, something new;
Such sport of nature as deforms a leaf
Or gives the toad a wing. Thus we find
The afternoon, for all its honeyed light
On gilded lawns, is monstrous grown, profound
Induction to such hell as Blake himself
Had never guessed. Suddenly comes the Queen
Dressed like a playing-card; a wind of fear
Flutters the courtiers; and the garden strewn
With the blown wreckage of our flimsy world.
And the poor king, bewildered, stop his heart
On the loud note of doubt.

............................................Yet, let us risk
This tame avoidance of the obvious.
Inward or outward, let the maze invite
The poor mind, avid of complexities,
And wrap it in confusion. It is here,
When tearing web from web, that we most answer
The insistent question of the will-to-be;
The eternal challenge of the absolute;
And it is here


............................most brightly comes false nature in a mask,
The mincing queen of loveliness, and smiles
Witchery, through her painted smile of hate.
Shall we succumb? or through the garden gate
Make such an exit as no trumpets sound?
Shall we be mannered, and let manners lead us
Through nimble mockery and dance of wits
Which we know well that only death will end?
O take her hand, poor king, make love to her;
Praise her false beauty, which is richly true;
Walk in the coverts with her, kiss that mask
Whose poison kills the subject it inflames;
And when you feel the venom chill your blood,
Then look about you, then with leisure smile
At all denied you and at all you know;
Count the bright minutes; pick a flower and smell it;
Observe the lights and shadows; theorize
Magnificently of life and death; propound
The subtle thesis of pure consciousness...
And bow, and leave the world one wit the less.



XLIX


But in you search in vain the book of words,
And Christ and all his prophets beat their wings
Vainly before you-if the word of words
Set down in gold by fiery seraphim
Means nothing, less than nothing, to your heart-
Then take your heart out and devour it, mortal,
Eat out its shreds of bitterness, and taste
The god you were before dishonor hid you.
Jesus is not the spokeman of the Lord:
Confucious neither, nor Nietzsche, no, nor Blake;
But you yourself. Hold out your hand, and stare
At fingers, palm and fingernails, the wrist
Supple and strong, and wonder whence it comes,
And what its purpose is.

...........................................Its aim is murder:
Murder in fact, in effigy, or both.
Kill what you hate: hate what you will: love
Only what you would kill. And if you love,
Kill slowly, subtly, O invoke the power
Of Shakespere, nimblest murderer, for your art.
He was a "a man of wax"-moulded and melted
The things he loved and hated, lest he melt
His own heart's tallow....

.............................................Yet, despite his skill,
Perished, in the fierce furnace of his will.
Emulate Shakspere, then, in all but this;
Prorogue your murder, and protract your bliss.



L


The world is intricate, and we are nothing.
The world is nothing: we are intricate.
Alas, how simple to invert the world
Inverting phrases! And, alas, how simple
To fool the foolish heart to his topmost bent
With flattery of the moment! Add, substract,
Divide or subdivide with verbs and adverbs,
Multiply adjectives like cockatoos
That scream lewd colors in a phrase of trees;
Or else, with watery parentheses,
Dilute the current of your pain, divert
The red Nile´s anguish till at last it waste
in sleepy deltas of slow anodyne:
Turn, with a word, the haemorrhage to a glacier;
And all that-fools!-we may enjoy (this moment).
Precisely what we are.


......................................Despair, delight,
That we should be thus trapped in our own minds!
O this ambiguous nature in the blood
That wills and wills not, thinks and thinks not, hates
What it most loves, destroys what it desires,
Dissects, with skeleton's algebra, the heart!
Which will we keep? the heart? the algebra?
Will Euclid guide us safely to our tombs?
Must we renew man's venture round the Poles-
Seek, thorugh the brain, some colder Northwest Passage-
Reason our way by inches to the frost
And frozen die in triumph? This were death
Noble indeed, enjoined of god, for those
Who think it noble and enjoined of god.
Thus let us perish. We have been round the Cape
With Freud, the sea-gull, Einstein, and the Bear;
Lived on the sea-moss of the absolute;
And dies in wisdom, and been glad to die.


But let us die as gladly for such reasons
As have no reason: let us die as fools,
If so we will; explore the rash heart's folly;
The marshes of the Congo of the blood.
Here are such wisdoms-who knows?-as pure wisdom
Knows nothing of. Such birds of Paradise,-
Delusory,-as Euclid never knew,-
Colors of our own madness, and of god's....
O humans! Let us venture still, and die,
Alternately, of madness and truth.



LI


O god, that down the shaftway of the sun,
Or down the mistway of the moon, should come
As in the ghost miasma of the marsh
Or in the dream that haunts the swaps of sleep
Or in those waking thoughts of gleaming madness
Disowned as soon as owned-that we should see
Such wonders, such wonders-

.........................................................What did you see?
Was it a shape that has no shape in words?

Time has no terror, and space no delight,
The sense of horror, and the pulse no stop,
Reason no Chinese Wall-

.............................................Yet you have paused
Here at the northeast corner of the world
To ask a question of the goldenrod.
Here's quartz, to sparkle in the sun; here's clover
Which sometimes has four leaves; and here the dream
And here the marsh, above which Hiroshige
Has drawn his ghosts of fog, and in the fog
The kingfisher- You hear his voice? You know
The flash of blue that is the flight of god?
Here, where you pause to ask your foolish question,
Here at the turning of the wind, here
Where somewhere leads to nowhere, and the wind
Blows north and south at once-

.....................................................Here I remember-
Wait, wait, I have forgotten- I remember-
Everything....And everything is nothing.
Your father's whisper in the garden. The evening
Light through the bedroom window, the slow sound
Of steps on the stair-

............................................O it is more than this
It was a house-it was a face-


.............................................What did you love?...
It was a shape that has no shape in fact.



LII


Stood, at the closed door, and remembered-
Hand on the doorpost faltered, and remembered-
The long ago, the far away, the near
With its absurdities-the calendar,
The one-eyed calendar upon the wall,
And time dispersed, and in a thousand ways,
Calendars torn, appointments made and kept,
Or made and broken, and the shoes worn out
Going and coming, street and stair and street,
Lamplight and starlight, fog and northeast wind,
St. Mary's ringing the angelus at six-

And it was there, at eight o'clock, I saw
Vivien and the infinite, together,
And it was here I signed my name in pencil
Against the doorpost, and later saw the snow
Left by the messenger, and here were voices-
Come back later, do come back later, if you can,
And tell us what it was, tell us what you saw,
Put your heart on the table with your hand
And tell us those secrets that are known
In the profound interstices of time-
The glee, the wickedness, the smirk, the sudden
Divine delight-do come back and tell us,
The clock has stopped, sunset is on the snow,
Midnight is far away, and morning farther-

And then the trains that cried at night, the ships
That mourned in fog, the days whose gift was rain,
June's daisy, and she loved me not, the skull
Brought from the tomb- and I was there, and saw
The bright spade break the bone, the trumpet-vine
Bugled with bees, and on my knees I picked
One small white clover in the cactus shade,
Put it in water and took it to the room
Where blinds were drawn and all was still-

.......................................Neighbors, I have come
From a vast everything whose sum is nothing
From a complexity whose speech is simple,
Here are my hands and heart, and I have brought
Nothing you do not know, and do not fear.
Here is the evening paper at your door-
Here are your letters, I have brought the tickets,
The hour is early, and the speech is late.
Come, we are gods,-let us discourse as gods;
And weigh the grain of sand with Socrates;
Before we fall to kissing, and to bed.


LIII


Nothing to say, you say? Then we'll say nothing:
But step from rug to rug and hold our breaths,
Count the green ivy-strings against the window,
The pictures on the wall. Let us exchange
Pennies of gossip, news from nowhere, names
Held in despite or honor; we have seen
The weather-vanes veer westward, and the clouds
Obedient to the wind; have walked in snow;
Forgotten and remembered-

................................................But we are strangers;
Came here by paths which never crossed; and stare
At the blind mystery of each to each.
You've seen the sea and the mountains? taken ether?
And slept in hospitals from Rome to Cairo?
Why so have I; and lost my tonsils, too;
And drunk the waters of the absolute.
But is it this we meet for, of an evening,
Is it this-

................................O come, like Shelley,
For god's sake let us sit on honest ground
And tell harsh stories of the deaths of kings!
Have out our hearts, confess our blood,
Our foulness and our virtue! I have known
Such sunsets of despair as god himself
Might weep for of a Sunday; and then slept
As dreamlessly as Jesus in his tomb.
I have had time in one hand, space in the other,
And mixed them to no purpose. I have seen
More in a woman's eye can be liked,
And less than can be known. And as for you-

O creature of the frost and sunlight, worm
Uplifted by the atom's joy, receiver
Of stolen goods, unconscious thief of god-
Tell me upon this sofa how you came
From darkness to this darkness, from what terror
You found this restless pause in terror, learned
The bitter light you follow. We will talk-

But it is time to go, and I must go;
And what we thought, and silenced, none shall know.




LIV


As if the child goes out at evening, stands
Cold in the cobbled street, and claps cold hands
To frighten pigeons, so that they will fly
Against the sunset-

......................................And the sky is red,
The hills are blue, the pigeons black-

If, from an opended window, music falls
And touches him with hands, stroking his hair
Gently, as if to say Why here we are,-
The ivy leaves are green, the earth is brown,
The sky is red, but darkens-and if hearing
Suddenly he is frightened-for no reason-
Something mysterious has chilled him, left
Somewhere an open door to darkness-

..............................................Bells have pealed
For smaller things than this, for battles lost
Far out at sea, kings dead, weak princes born,
Republics frowned in blood-thunder has clapped
His clouds together over fields of wheat-
Tree cracked in lighting and died slowly-


...................................................Close the door
Against the sunset and the flying pigeons,
Against the child who brings his terror home,
Against the music in the vines, that asks
Questions we cannot answer, against the night
That eats the blood of worlds poured in the west,
And all the terrible doubts that rise like smoke
From evening fires-

.......................................We will shut ourselves
Into such darkness as we know is ours;
We'll warm our hands above our private terrors;
And whisper to our hearts.

.....................................................Which whisper back-

Go, clap your hands against the sunset, children!
Invoke dark memory; the witch will tell you
How god was frightened, when a pebble fell:
Covered his eyes, because the plum-tree blossomed;
And weeps for you, his sons, who fear to live.


LV


Indulge your terror: let him have his claws,
His goblin snout, his fangs, his huge grimaces
Which eat the fog, your house, your heart, yourself;
Entice him; let the cold mist creep upon you;
Let him lie down beside you in your bed
And stretch his foul and sweaty reptile body
Against you, hip and thigh, and close cold hands
About your thoat; feel well his scales and horns;
And the wet marsh-breath on you cheeks. So only
You'll keep the little candle of your wits,
And rise at daybreak-

..........................................To another terror;
And this is better still. This is the prince,
The prime, the very fashion-plate of horrors;
The ghost that walks by day; the unpaid debt
Which time himself presents, with interest,
And space collects, with spades. You must go
A slow mile with him; he will tell you much;
Is learnèd in the lore of seasons, knows
The dogwood from the daisy; entertains you
With dates and measurements of kings and comets,
And syzygies of satellites long dead,
(But still an object-lesson) and all such.
A necromancer, too-for he will change
An acorn to an oak tree in a twinkling;
An oak-tree to an ash; and laugh, and say
"What's dead to-morrow is not dreamed to-day."

It is our terrors that delight us, lead
Downward to such Golcondas of soft gold
As warm the thought with thinking. It is these
That light the dogwood in the spring, the daisy
When summer dries the roof, the aster
When autumn kills the fly.... If we have made
Contract with time and space, and with the spade,
Had ourselves measured with the falling leaf-
We'll snap our thumb-bones, then, at frost and rime,
And be, like wise men, ghosts before our time.


LVI


Rimbaud and Verlaine, precious pair of poets,
Genius in both (but what is genius?) playing
Chess on a marble table at an inn
With chestnut blossom falling in blond beer
And on their hair and between knight and bishop-
Sunlight squared between them on the chess-board
Cirrus in heaven, and a squeal of music
Blown from the leathern door of Ste. Sulpice-

Discussing, between moves, iamb and spondee
Anacoluthon and the open vowel
God the great peacock with his angel peacocks
And his dependent peacocks the bright stars:
Disputing too of fate as Plato loved it,
Or Sophocles, who hated and admired,
Or Socartes, who loved and was amused:

Velaine puts down his pawn upon a leaf
And closes his long eyes, which are dishonest,
And says "Rimbaud, there is one thing to do:
We must take rhetoric, and wring its neck!..."
Rimbaud considers gravely, moves his Queen;
And then removes himself to Timbuctoo

And Verlainde dead,-with all his jades and mauves;
And Rimbaud dead in Marseilles with a vision,
His leg cut off, as once before his heart;
And all reported by later lackey,
Whose virtue is his tardiness in time.

Let us describe the evening as it is:-
The stars disposed in heaven as they are:
Verlaine and Shakspere rotting, where they rot,
Rimbaud remembered, and too soon forgot;

Order in all things, logic in the dark;
Arrangement in the atom and the spark;
Time in the heart and sequence in the brain-

Such as destroyed Rimbaud and fooled Verlaine.
And let us take godhead by the neck-

And strangle it, and with it, rhetoric.




LVII


One star fell and another as we walked.
Lifting his hand toward the west, he said-
-How prodigal that sky is of its stars!
They fall and fall, and still the sky is sky.
Two more have gome, but heaven is heaven still.

Then let us not be precious of our thought,
Nor of our our words, nor hoard them up as thought
We thought our minds as heaven which might change
And lose its virtue when the word had fallen.
Let us be prodigal, as heaven is;
Lose what we lose, and give what we may give,-
Ourselves are still the same. Lost you a planet-?
Is Saturn gone? Then let him take his rings
Into the Limbo of forgotten things.

O little foplings of the pride of mind,
Who wrap the phrase in lavender, and keep it
In order to display it; and you, who save your loves
As if we had not worlds of love enough-:

Let us be reckless of our words and worlds,
And spend them freely as the tree his leaves;
And give them where the giving is most blest.
What should we save them for,- a night of frost...?
All lost for nothing, and ourselves a ghost.

The dead man spoke to me and turned a page
Wide as the world, with stars upon its forehead,
And Genesis and Kings and Acts in gold,
And Chronicles and Numbers; and he said-
Slowly as in the lamplight turns my head,
Slowly as in the starlight turns the world,
So slowly comes the end.

..............................................And then he turned
Another page,- the moon was on its margin,-
Another with a golden crab outstretched,-
A third with twins of granite,-and a fourth
Where Alpha was at war with Omega,
The world on fire; and there stood Socrates,
Disputing with a walnut for the world;
The pros and cons were hacked like arms and thighs;
The hewed worlds bled their vowels. Socrates
Perished for truth; the walnut throve and grew.
Where wisdom was, now grew a walnut grove.
Then Jesus sowed the dragon's teeth, and then
The dead man turned again-

...............................................And Jesus, dead,
Became the star-tree, became Igdrasil
That murdered all mankind with powerful roots;
Only the rock lived, and unblemished still
Smoothed its brow in the sun.

..............................................The dead man said-
More pages have I yet, more worlds to come.
Resist this little frost of evil! turn
To death more dreadful than the death of flesh.
Turn now, and drink time's posion, before time
Drink you; and learn the alphabet of change
Before the omega has come, and know
Leviathan himself; and be himself;
And rage, no larger than a leaf, against
The world that's smaller still-


.....................................................Here is the page!
Here, look! the wing is written of that word
Not spoken yet,- O angel still unborn.
Come turn it. Thought! and see the splendor there,-
The emptiness that knowledge cannot dare.


LIX


This biped botanist, this man of eyes,
This microscope with legs, who turns the seasons
Under his lens, one grassblade to another,
Pursuing god from leaf to spore, and seed
To calyx, all his world become a world
Of chlorophil as green as any greenfly-

With daffodils mad footnotes for the spring,
And asters purple asteriks for autumn-
Reads the vast page of idems and quem vides,
Confers, collects, collates, compares, concludes;
And one day walks, his pocket full of seeds,
Into the forcing-bed prepared for him.

Where, like a bulb, he swells, and grows, and thrusts
Inquiry upward, and inquiry downward,
To find if light is lighter than the dark,
Or dark less dark than light; to watch the worm
Crawl on small hands and kness between the rootlets;
Or see the sun unfold his flower at dawn.

O peeping god, what secret would you have?
Here on spring's margin sings the daffodil,
Such precious nonsense as no god foresaw.
Pick it, dissect and analyze its root:
It is your heart; then laugh, with fool's delight,
That heavenly folly made this world so bright.




LX


He smiled, remembering this simple thing.
Forgot the book, which had recalled it. Smiled
At floor and ceiling and the four good walls,
The window and the sun. It was a notion
As gentle as a primorose. And he felt
As gentle too as if he too had leaves
And made the most of what poor light there is
In iron December.

////////////////...And at this moment,
She chose to speak her hate. Thereat the angel,-
That had been he, smiling at morts and trifles,
Preening its silver feathers in delight,
Remembering little and forgetting much,
As love intend we should, -as her first word,
Became as foul a tomb as hoards a worm.

That day, he read no more.




LXI


Shall we, then, play the sentimental stop,
And flute the soft nostalgic note, and pray
Dead men and women to remember us,
Imaginary gods to pity us?

Saying
We are unworthy, father, to be remembered,
We are unworthy to be remembered, mother,
Remember us, O clods from whom we come-

Shall we make altars of the grass and wind
Implore the evening:
Shall we make altars of water and sand
Invoke the changing:
ShaLl we desire the unknown to speak
Forget the knowing?

We came together through the meadows of shadows,
Clouds crossed us, birds sang above us, grasshoppers
Chirred though the warm air, the southwest wind
Brought the hot smell of goldenrod, you found
Four kinds of goldenrod, all in one field,
Hornets sang in the orchard, the painted turtle
Straddled the dry rock by the river-

O Christ, and are we drowning men, to clutch
At straws and leaves? must we remember each
Frolic of dust along the road that led us
From there to here? Idiots, must we ask
The cobweb to recall just where we sat-
Are we Caligulas, that we command
Even our privies to remember us?
Here is a letter with a cancelled stamp-
Decipherably dated. Must it weep
Black tears of ink because it bears our name?
Or must our calendars abase themselves?
Shakspere would spit on this: let us spit also….
Good god, we are not come to such weak softness
That we must beg our very origins
To bless us from the past! What we remember,
Why that’s ourselves; and if ourselves be honest,
We’ll know this world of straws and leaves and hearts
Too well to give it power.



LXII


I read the primrose and the sea
......................................... and remember nothing
I read Arcturus and the snow
......................................... and remember nothing
I read the green and white book of spring
......................................... and remember nothing
I read the hatred in a man's eye
......................................... Lord, I remember nothing.



Scorn spat at me and spoke
......................................... I remember it not
The river was frozen round the ship
......................................... I remember it not
I found a secret message in a blade of grass
......................................... and it is forgotten
I called my lovers by their sweets names
......................................... They are all forgotten.

Where are my lovers now?
......................................... buried in me.
The blades of grass, the ships, the scorners?
......................................... here in me
The haters in the spring, snow and Arcturus?
......................................... here in me
The primrose and the sea
......................................... here in me.



I know what humans know
......................................... no less no more
I know how the summer breaks
......................................... on Neptune's shore
I know how winter freezes
......................................... The Milky Way
My heart home is in Limbo
......................................... and there I stay.



Praise Limbo, heart, and praise
......................................... forgetfulness
We know what the tiger knows
......................................... no more no less
We know what the primrose thinks
......................................... and think it too
We walk when the snail walks
......................................... across the dew.



I was rash man in my time
......................................... but now I am still

I spoke with god's voice once
......................................... now I am stillbur
Evil made my right hand strong
......................................... which now is still
Wisdom gave me pride once,
........................................... but it is still.



Lie down poor heart at last
......................................... and have your rest
Remember to forget
......................................... and have your rest
Think of yourself as once you were
......................................... at your best
And then lie down alone
......................................... and have your rest.



These things are as time weaves them
......................................... on his loom
Forgot, forgetting, we survive not
......................................... mortal bloom
Let us give thanks, to space,
......................................... for a little room
Sapce is our face and time our death
......................................... two poles of doom



Come dance around a compass
......................................... pointing north
Before, face downward, frozen,
......................................... we go forth.


LXIII

Thus systole addresed diastole,-
The heart contracting, with its grief of burden,
To the laz heart, with grief of burden gone.

Thus star do dead leaf speaks; thus cliff to sea;
And thus the spider, on a summer's day,
To the bright thistledown, trapped in the web.

No language leaps this chasm like a lightning:
Here is no message of assuagement, blown
From Ecuador to Greeland; here is only

A trumpet blast, that call dead men to arms;
The granite's pity for the cloud; the whisper

4 Comments:

Blogger Inaachus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Inaachus said...

"Then came I to the shoreless shore of silence,
Where never summer was nor shade of tree,
Nor sound of water, nor sweet light of sun,
But only nothing and the shore of nothing,
Above, below, around, and in my heart:"

Thank you so much for posting this.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Matt Cudmore said...

"what you might have been" has a convoluted meaning which is very exciting to me. it means:
- what you could have been now or in the future, if something had happened differently in the past.
- what you could have been at a time in the past: I'm not sure what you were.
- what you could have been instead of a human being, or instead of yourself. this is a thought experiment: what if you had been born a dog; what if you had been a tree instead.

might, as past tense of may, brings the additional meaning of what you would have been allowed to be, which is no longer accessible to you.
lost opportunity -- you were presented an opportunity and you dismissed it.
it is a sour comment from someone who would have loved you, and would have offered you every opportunity and resource that they could.
you might have been a sparkle of clear sand.
...you might have been a dream...
I don't know; were you only a dream?
you might have been a God; you might have been my star,
which would inspire my furthest reach.

4:26 PM  
Blogger अश्वमित्रः said...

So is this actually the end of the poem? Doesn't seem so.

8:52 PM  

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