Saturday, September 01, 2007

Another Poem Draft


The Starmaker on an everlasting throne
whirls the sky, orders stars with law;
the moon, now full, sunfire-dressed,
in borrowed light makes stars dim in awe;
now she pales, her light dispersed,
the evening star shines coldly;
eve turns to morrow, the star bows out,
the sun leaps up, shines boldly.


Going through some old papers I came across a good number from my high school and undergraduate days -- jottings about philosophy and theology, and a truly enormous number of extraordinarily bad poems. For most of them the decent thing to do is just to shred them. But some of them are OK enough that I thought it would be interesting to put them up. At least, I find it interesting to see my strange younger self on some of his better days, managing to be insightful and to miss the point in the same sentence, or writing some lines of poetry that are in some ways decent enough even if clumsy and flawed. It's also a bit uncomfortable to see that my poetic sensibilities have not greatly improved since then; although I have certainly become more consistent. ("Visuddha," for instance, is so exactly the sort of poem I tend to write even now, that it's startling to come across it; I would make different poetic choices now, but it's still a very Brandon sort of poem.) A sign of the limits of whatever talent I have for poetry, I suppose. I have also become less venomous in my bite, or else am just less likely to bite. In any case, here are a few of the poems; "Blue" seems to have been one that I particularly liked at the time, because instead of being scrawled it is carefully written in my best hand.


This thing called love is some strange chemical,
That, by electric impulse in the brain
Is given by some gland through running blood
To every part of me, that is, my flesh;
And it is nothing more, tho' songs protest.
And this strange process, if even strange it be,
Is but the brain's reaction to a scent,
That, subtle on the nose, does sit on us,
Or else to some eye's vision which we today
Are taught by conditioned process to conceive
To be attractive, and so we change.
And true, who this will feel, shall feel with speed,
And this, the hormone's kiss, is like a drug,
But this is merely accidental work.
And if you ask me why we have this change,
I say it is a consequence of time
Wherein is added randomness and codes
Of certain elements whereby we're made.
This is all love is, and nothing more.
This code has settled down in such a way
Because it makes the species to survive,
Thus sex is all for children, and all love
Is but a code for sex, and this is how
The species does go on, and whence derives.
And so you you see, although I love, I know
That this is all a chemistry inside
That grew from events most physical
According to a process wholly known,
And love is nothing more than this,
And I know it all; this is all it is.

The Juggernaut's Child

All space is an ocean with currents of iron
That whirl in their pathways and roll through the void,
Bearing in procession the mad adorations
of evil, of devils, of fools, of the tower.
Lightning from heaven the balance deposing,
Black syncopations like coils of snakes
Twist through the systems and through human lives,
Major misfortune with minor collides.

The stars in their courses are battling madly,
Insane in their flowings and dark in their light.
Where is the widow who once was a lady?
Here in the darkness, in the depths of the night.

And wild stones rolling, ever faster and faster,
Slide down the slope at a frightening speed.
We are the stones in avalanche falling,
Rushing headlong, sans hope, without heed.

Oceans are heavy, they crush all the light,
But they are as nothing to fate on its throne,
Who is a mad fool on the day of dissension,
Broken and breaking, almost random in being,
Giving out rings to those undeserving,
And here, in the shadow of death and decay,
Children are born and this is their life.
We are those children, as are our children.
Our world is the birthing of the Juggernaut's child.

Reflection on Paddington Station

In life, the course of which we never quite foresee,
There yet are mighty junctions where we choose our next divide
And shift from train to train to take another ride.
And if we have no willing, then other folk may be
So kind as to take us in, and kind enough to guide our way,
That we shall get to somewhere by the ending break of day.
But one small question rises, teh problem of our aim,
For the riding on life's underground is more than simple game,
And 'tis no use going one way when you need the other side,
And not every point is best to be when we have somewhere died.

Scholared Academics

Let us analyze our illness and calculate our death,
Let us talk in pure convention until we lose our breath.
Let us bow in adoration to an image on the shelf,
Which we in all our learned madness crafted from ourself.
Let us take away the truth and live a life on dreams
That, not even showing truth, deceive by all that seems,
And if we do not like the real, cast it to the night,
For we are scholared academics who spread the subtle light,
And our opinions in this era outrule the endless sages
Who drew from life in endless pattern the wisdom of the ages,
But if they happen with ourselves most sweetly to agree,
Let us give them credit for such wise felicity;
While if they contradict ourselves in prose, in speech, in song,
Then we castigate their minds, because they are then wrong.
And never shall we acknowledge that we may have a flaw
For we divinity itself in our own image draw.
All these have no education who with us disagree
And every student who has learned will with our own eyes see.
You ask, is this not all against all for which we stand?
This shows that you have missed the point, and do not understand.
We are scholared academics: 'tis we who make the real
And documents in ink on paper are our shield and steel.

Trajan by Baptism

The rule of the lion is rule over pride,
where killed is the evil which gnaws one inside,
where found is the godhood which in one has died,
where blood washes all, and one's death is new life.

The wolves in their howling long for their dream
in packs where they bind sweet alliance's seam,
where wonder is lost in an infinite stream,
where blood washes all, and one's death is new life.

For never is given to man's mortal eye
by wings of his own to sunny vales fly
or else he will fall with Icarus' cry--
but blood washes all, and one's death is new life.

And only by others is blood gladly shed,
And only by one who most painfully bled
can ever arise the soul of the dead,
when blood washes all, and one's death is new life.

In the Street

The clowns in the street begging for bread
are but the shrouds that cover the dead,
or else the sheets on which sick are lain,
and so without fault are covered with stain;
and all around them a city does fall
with crumbling decay like a ruining hall.


Like running currents swiftly flowing
by the sunset early breaking
on the hills of far away,
I passed onward in my journey
through the box they put me in
to where the wind in gusty blowing
nudges all the leaves to waking
in the cool of singing day,
which made the seer merely be
in ways the mortal has not been.

With darkness in the hindways falling,
light before me, now I stride,
and bless the rising of the coolness
(which the guessing thinkers lose),
freed from chambers dark, imposing,
to walk with angels in their calling,
purged of envy and of pride,
crushed with realness of all trueness,
in existential paths I choose --
and choosing, all the wide ways closing.

Yet doors that open, open inward,
and the laugh of wing-blessed singer
is like rose's scentings dreaming
every day new paths to yield,
or else like the kisses of the stream,
and though I seek not to discard
all my hope, it does not linger:
is it all a pleasant seeming
or do I realms and kingdoms build --
as this is real and yet a dream?


Destruction and burning, wherein there is life,
Slashing and slaying, perpetual strife,
Resolved in a moment to infinite peace,
Might from the burning, and joy without cease.

Slashing and slaying in fountains of blood,
The riving of heaven unto the good,
Leaps up like a salmon to death in the night --
The deepness, the darkness, of life and of light.

Visuddha: the purging, the drawing in dust
With blood from bright swords long put to rust--
This is our living, the hope of our eye,
For no god shall live unless it first die.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Does anyone know of any good, accessible (for undergrads), short, and (preferably) recent essays on feminist theory or, indeed, any aspects of feminist thought? I have one or two in mind, but I wanted to find out if any of my readers had come across some recently that I might not have.

Monday, August 27, 2007


The Philosophers' Carnival LII is up at Philosophy, et cetera, where it began on August 23rd three years ago. It's been three years, over fifty posts, and quite a splendid set of links. Here's wishing many more!

A Poem Draft


The moon is full tonight,
as is my mind:
memories of another life,
another time.

On the river-water
boats ripple as they glide;
each ripple is half-remembered
as it rises up, then dies.

Posting is likely to be light this week. In the pipeline: the final posts of a number of series (on formal typology of argument, on Hume's Dialogues, etc.), a discussion of the tractability of moral disagreement (you read it right), and a 'Philosophy 101' series of posts, some juvenilia, and more.