Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Four Poem Re-Drafts

Holy Dormition

A man in dream may fall asleep
and dream dissolve away,
for sleep may fade to waking light
as glory fills the day;
the dream within the dream will flow
to some bright, wakeful joy
as sleep itself will fall asleep
and, sleeping, be destroyed.

Faithless Summer

Fly from me, faithless summer, fly,
and give me no more alibis,
but flee my wrath, and take your lie
to some sad soul more like to cry.

You shall not turn me, though you try;
I care not for your whats and whys;
your soft, persuasive arts go ply
on some sad soul more like to cry!

You said you'd love me till you died,
but sought to give me cuckold's sighs;
now fly, you trothless summer, fly,
to some sad soul more like to cry!

Half Asleep in a Thunderstorm

I lie in bed at night,
a fan above my head;
my mind whirls round and round.
I dream that I am dead.

Darkness all around me
is a blanket on the brain,
my heartbeat in my ears
is the pounding of the rain;
I watch the world go by,
mere leaves upon the gale,
visions of lost time
untallied by a tale.

Darkness thunders softly
as I drift here in my bed,
half in the world and of it,
half out of it and dead.

Ashes and Clay

When the wordly wise seem to conquer,
when they scoff at the words on your tongue;
when they treat as though they were nothing
the chants your forefathers had sung;
when they speak as if Delphi's oracle
had told them of all secrets and ends,
as if each word their forked tongues were hissing
did from great Apollo descend;
then cast off their sophists' deductions
and of their white noise learn to say:
Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses, defenses of clay.

They may take for their fashion the pompous,
or the dismissal of every decree,
or lace every word with a scorning
of things they don't bother to see.
They may boast of their goodness and virtue
or rejoice in their love of the poor
(whom they ignore every day in the passing
but as an abstraction adore).
They may contrast your life with disfavor,
but remember when hounds start to bay:
their maxims are proverbs of ashes;
their defenses, defenses of clay.

They will speak at great length of true justice;
they will condemn you for faults beyond ken;
they will hold you to standards of greatness
beyond the attaining of men.
And when it is done will they love you?
No, they hold you alone to the blame;
for you never did think as they think,
and your name was never their name.
When they do this, be strong and have courage;
a mirror hold up to their way,
for their maxims are proverbs of ashes,
their defenses, defenses of clay.

But beware when you speak to another;
beware of your word and your thought.
For you are not so wise in your knowledge
as never unwise to be caught.
You may speak with great understanding;
you may speak with the wisdom of years,
or know all the paths that the world takes,
or the grounds of each hope and all fears;
but always be mindful of danger,
how someone might face you to say:
"Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses, defenses of clay"!

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