Monday, January 18, 2021

Six Poem Drafts


The trees, which once were thick as waves
upon a spirit-laden sea,
are gone; the sea is like to glass;
no memory of storm remains,
of march of oak and elm and yew,
of tangle dark and forest thick.
No magic wells of fairy times
remain, no ghost of Merlin bound;
Melissa has long left  the shrine
where Bradamante heard future tales.
No Questing Beast remains to hunt,
no Corrigan with wicked wiles
leads men to doom; no Fairy Time
now runs with forelock men may seize.
Wace wept beneath woods desolate,
but longer still has earth revolved
since Norman days; the ancient lays
are silent like forgotten tombs.
The myth passed into legend's song,
the legend into fairy tale,
the tale into a rumor's breeze,
and rumor became a picture
in travel brochures for tourists,
or names for new five-star hotels.
But still in some such pilgrimage
a tourist may yet learn to dream
of Merlin by a magic well
beneath thick boughs of mystery,
and plant one tree, one little drop
that years may grow to forest-sea.

Blessed Joan Roig i Diggle

The men with guns are all about,
the blood shed by militia
is crying from the ground,
but I fear nothing;
I take the Master with me.

The men with guns have come;
I take communion swiftly
that bloodied hands may not defile
the sacred Host; I fear nothing,
I take the Master with me.

They take me and they bind me,
they take me out to shoot me,
five times do they shoot me.
May God forgive you as I forgive you!
Long live Christ the King.

Wind Song

North wind, north wind, where is your going?
Beyond the ice caverns the chill streams are flowing,
the ices in layers, above a great snowing,
and you a cold vision the seer-witch are showing.
Alas and away, on the bitter sea-road
a destiny calls and a life-debt is owed.

South wind, south wind, with wise, wistful moaning
you rush through bare lands beyond human owning;
what song from the witches is your mellow voice loaning,
away in the southlands for shadows' enthroning?
Alas and away, in the deserts will wait,
like a beast in the night-hunt, a merciless fate.

East wind, east wind, what words are you praying,
what truths are your angels in ecstasy saying,
what song do you carry from hell-houndlings baying,
with what trollish monsters in robber-lands playing?
Alas and away, a reverberant call
constrains every lifeline, encompasses all.

West wind, west wind, where are you flowing?
In Soria Moria is joy beyond knowing,
dawn beyond splendor where roosters are crowing,
where good life is had at the end of hard rowing.
Alas and away, away I must go
to desolate end in ice, storm, and snow.

Cleansing the Temple

The merchants of my senses sell
to cheat the hunger to do well
and turn to profit due to hell
even things of God.
With a whip of cords, with conscience, Lord,
cleanse the temple that is me;
undo, unmake, this den of thieves,
restore to godly purity
my heart; and to Your Father's house
Spirit send in sanctity.

Old Xenophanes

Epicurus said,
The real Olympus is a Garden,
splendor in interstices
where gods in tranquil pleasures
endure, converse, recline,
unworried by the troubles of the worlds.
-- But if cattle had gods, they would moo and chew cud.

And Zeno said,
The world is a living fire,
of reason and not desire,
a microcosm of virtue
that is logical and divine.
-- But if horses had gods, they would neigh in the herd.

And Aristotle said,
God is thought of thought,
the contemplative life in its peak,
the unrevolving thoughtful point
that every action seeks.
-- But if lions had gods, they would roar and hunt.

And Plato said,
The gods reflect the Forms
in perfection beyond decay,
as human minds reflect them
in ever-turning circles.
-- But if birds had gods, they would twitter and tweet.

And old Xenophanes said,
If dogs had gods,
the gods would bark and wag their tails.

But this is not an insult.

We human souls see ourselves quasi-gods,
and only know ourselves when we see,
as in an ideal picture, the gods,
each picture as it were a mirror
to some facet of the human gem.

And is it any accident that in restless days,
when people have thought there might be no gods,
they think human nature itself a fiction,
a misinterpretation, an illusion whereby we err?

For how can seekers of truth be otherwise
than something like the gods?

And old Xenophanes said,
One God, the greatest,
beyond mortals in form and thought,
immobile and all-thinking,
bodiless and free,
shaking all things,
known by virtue.
-- But if thieves had gods, they would steal;
but if adulterers had gods, they would philander;
but if liars had gods, they would lie;
and those who are nothing have gods who are nothing.

Melancholy Evenings

In shadowed dreams of solitude
I walked beside the silent stream;
the twilight stars in glint and gleam
reflected gloom and lassitude;
and lest I be the last to love
I gave a cry that echoed long.
Not even hint of swallow-song,
the gloaming would no comfort give.
The hounds of hell may voiceless bay,
the wind may sing in distant vale,
the stream one day might tell a tale,
but sounds I heard not on the way.
No sound, as though the air was still,
as though a deafness took my ear,
all calm. And as I could not hear,
I found I also could not will.
As when on edge of falling sleep
the body's powers slip away,
I could not move, try as I may;
my will itself knew slumber deep.
So far, the world so very far,
so distant from all touch and sight,
so dim, like swiftly fading light,
when thought is bound where shadows are.