Saturday, October 13, 2007

Two Poem Drafts


The whisper of a wind that curls beneath the stars
brushes my cheek; the rain of light is constant
while the galaxies, all rushing, their presence withdraw
as though, from some primeval atom, they burst,
soared into life, and never stopped.
Round and round the stars speed along a crease
some strange black thing has drawn,
a symphony of circles, well mingling with well.
And I, who know no star but home,
sail in the ceaseless black of night,
no light for my path save the singing suns.
I wish no other life, this alone I love,
this alone I cherish as a dream and as a task:
to sail the dark Septentrion amid the quiet stars.

The Long Sedan

The Devil drove up in a long sedan,
its color jet and its windows night,
from which shade no hint of light
could escape, nor any man.
He stepped outside in a cunning style
of jacket, his motion smooth like silk,
and he wore, as do all his ilk,
the gloss of a fashion smile.

He took me up to the Temple-tower,
up to the highest judgment-seat,
and laid the world before my feet,
and promised success in endless shower
if I would but recognize
the gods of this world, and mammon's power,
and earthly wisdom, the mind of the hour,
and see the world through worldly eyes.

"For," said he, "escapist dreams
will not change the simple fact
that matter is needed to ground each act;
your hopes may whisper, your need will scream.
If you follow upon the sign of my way,
great good you'll do, and have great might
and shine in the world a blazing light,
as clear as the sun at bright noon day.
It's easy enough, no special charm
is required, just to sign your name
in a pact that says you will play the game;
there is no pain, nor any harm,
no Walpurgis night to shock the eyes,
no sacrifice, no dirty hands,
just living in full the life of man
as it always is lived beneath the sky."

Then said I, "That may be true,
but well I know that the Devil sells
only one thing, a house in hell,
where what you want is what you rue.
Your voice has enchantment for hte heart,
and it well may be the course of fate
that without your aid no glory waits;
but I will take the petter part.
Even if all is as you say,
and in every thing I must then fail,
and fall from out of every tale,
yet I accept the lesser way."

He stood a monent in the bright full moon,
pensive, but with burning eyes;
and I said, "I know the Devil lies
and makes a bond seem like a boon."

Then he smiled, his teeth like ocean pearls.
"You speak quite bravely and for show,
but in the end we both do know
that I am coiled around the world
and around your heart. For you are not so wise
as never to have served me, nor sought gain,
nor failed the good to avoid its pain;
and while my offer you may despise,
it but makes explicit the present pact,
the understanding we have kept
since you long before in Adam slept,
the convention of your thought and act,
which belies your words and shows the lie
to your height of mind; my rule you fight
when I make it plain; but in the quiet
you accept its terms, and hide it by."

And in my shame I hid my face;
his word was true; in that bright moonlight
I could not hide what was plain to sight.

"Then," said I, "God give me grace."

And with sardonic salute and knowing smile,
he stepped back in and the long sedan
drove on; but he shouted, "So long, O man;
we will meet again in but a little while."

The blood was pounding in my brain,
and a mist came up and obscured the day;
my eye could not see my intended way,
and as I wept, it began to rain.

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