Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Three Poem Re-Drafts

Parmenides' Vision

Rapt, thrown upward, undone,
In ecstatic vision seeking vital clue,
I journeyed on a well-known path.
She came:
Great gold-winged goddess, chariot-driving,
More splendid than any Cyprian glory
On sands made manifest to mortal man.
She came,
And, speaking, said to my dreaming ears:
Two ways lie before you; one is true, one appears.
Both are gated, and above the former
The message of the gods shines forth
Like the words above the Delphic road,
What is, is, and is not what is not.
Upon that path lies your way, said she,
The way of truth and not of seeming;
What appears will pass, what is real remains;
wisdom's lover finds sweet relief
In what is.
Then that fleeting, swift-footed, golden goddess
Was gone, and I amazed.


at some distant Peniel face to face
  dimmed by shadows to our present sight
we perhaps shall come to see
  after dark and muttered wrestlings
the riddle faith has heard
  our syntax and letters reordering
  with the WORD's splendor bright
to lay bare the Enigma of Ages

Aridity and Consolation

I walked one day, a wanderer amid the trees,
singing out a song, the sun now hid from view
but hot was the air, with no whisper in the leaves
nor breeze to blow like balm to heal heat's wounds,
and I came upon a course that cut through sandy stone,
once widened by water as it wandered home,
now dry with dust, undamp, like ancient bone,
yet remembering mists and moisture long ago.

And it seemed that I could see in the silent wood
a phoenix, fireborn, that flew from bough to bough,
seeking the stream long slain by drought of old,
and, coming to the course, it cried so soft and low
even angels would but weep and echo it in dreams;
and hardly had my hearing found heaven in those strains
than the phoenix died by this drought-devoured stream
and lightly fell, finished, its fire stripped of glow.

Then, highing like a herald, a hind of silver-white
was brought with bitter haste, chased by baying hounds,
It vaulted, valiant with force and like silver moon in light,
itleaped beneath the laurel whose leaves were on it crowned,
and, taken by the dogs, it died and knew no more,
and, broken in its bones, its blood on forest floor,
it sank like sunset, thrice solemn in its woe,
a late moon: once alive, it at last was overthrown.

Then I wept, and from my eyes the water fled in grief;
it bore the salt of sorrow and sadness in my pain.
In gravest ruining it rained upon the leaves,
as mightily I mourned that the marvels I had seen
should die in death, no dawn at all in sight.
Overcome, I cried at the coming of the night
and with my breath embittered I broke with sob and sigh:
my ache, a yearning to recover, alone remained.

But wait! one whisper like the wind amid the trees
rose and rushed and roared with living force,
and wave, as in war an army like the seas
will arm and rise, did water again the course,
a pouring-out with power like thundering clouds of rain;
from furthest foreign-land a fountain broke again,
as though the gods of glory with grace, or even whim,
had compassion on the creek and carved out a living source.

First there broke a flood; then flame did burst to light
as, fire all around it, the phoenix winged in gold
did rise in ruddy glory with rays that blinded sight,
and winged up to heaven, the highest of high roads,
a scion of the sun, with shining in its wings,
so holy in its egress as to humble one who sins,
bring penitent to prayer, inspire seraphim to sing,
more glory in its going than bardic tales have told.

The blood pouring down in pools from the death of hind
with flood and flame was mingled, and force was imbued
into enveloping and flowing fire, which embraced in kind
the carcass of the conquered and, covering it with blood,
woke it to new life, washed its weariness away,
and death undid, a night undone by day,
and, leaping into life, as long ago it played,
the hind sped, a silver flash, a shot through primal wood.

The flood, I saw, was faith; the phoenix charity;
the hind was hope, the herald of new life;
and, filled with seeing vision and a flux of ecstasy,
I saw that what is saved is what is sundered, made to die,
and brought solemnly to burial to be born anew;
for all grow old, and, ancient, to awful death must go,
but then the cycle starts, and, like this shadow of the true,
new life then lives and springs up to taste the light.

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