Dedicated to the memory of my best friend Georgina, (1942-74) and to her husband Alex Burns and their children Nulles laides amours ne belles prison —Lord Herbert of Cherbury In the Egyptian legend, Isis was the sister of Osiris. The cult of Osiris was distinguished by the expenditure of powerful emotion. Initially, Osiris was a king who ruled over Egypt in an idyllic order. This was broken by Seth, his wicked brother, who dared Osiris to lie in a coffin. The chest was then thrown into the Nile. All sources agree that Seth tore up Osiris’ body and scattered the pieces. Isis seeks her husband's body, who is her mystical brother, and eventually finds all the parts save one—the organ of generation—and with the help of her sister Nephytys puts him together again. She is unable to bring him fully back to life. There was in Egypt, surrounded by desert, great anxiety that the earth be fruitful, and in the story of Isis’s search for her husband’s body this anxiety is given coherence and meaning.
When Alexander conquered Egypt to found the city which was named after him, there came together Greek thought models and Egyptian practice, which gave birth to alchemy. Precious texts were lost at the Library of Alexandria in 46 BC when Julius Caesar set fire to the city. Thus we will never know the inner truth that informs the myths and the great pyramids of Egypt. Christianity incorporated mythic elements of the early religions while the rational Greek mode of thought developed alchemy into science. With the Enlightenment, and the elevation of reason, came the final blow to the inner order in which religion and the earlier esoteric forms had sought a correspondence. With the acceptance of verification through entirely objective means, an inner lack of wholeness became the hallmark of our civilisation. A modern Isis finds herself on the same search as her precursor in Egypt almost five thousand years ago. CANTO 1 Mai non t’appresento natura o arte Piacer, quanta le belle membra inch’io Rinchiusa fui, e sono in terra sparte. Dante Purgatorio Canto XXXI 1 I climbed up a hill in Tuscany 2 Where illuminati set my seal in time 3 To wonder at the spirit I set free. 4 I didn’t know mendacity, nor crime— 5 I was the innocent at Heaven’s gate 6 Beholding beauty, sacred and sublime. 7 My boyfriend with the powers couldn’t wait 8 Until he was exhausted intimate 9 And took from me the goblet of my fate, 10 And as he couldn’t then penetrate 11 The mystery of my body, he grew jealous 12 And spent his lust on me to perpetrate 13 Not the purity of wholeness in a zealous 14 Love in tune with Nature and with conscience, 16 Which split philosophy and science— 17 Discourse which was pallid substitute 18 For my mystical experience. 19 My commune with nature was made destitute 20 This fragment of the wildness of my speech 21 Is history’s reckoning to its broken root. 22 The maid is waiting by the manor’s reach: 23 Betrayed twice over, she ran around the town 24 Naked in the truth she had to teach, 25 And liberty is palsied in her gown, 27 Her love has gone, the gutter shows a crown 28 Rolling in mire, a headless twin to win her— 29 The centuries, a broken necklace in her hand 31 In the bad-lands of myth, like canned 32 Music making her dance bizarre, meet 33 No wings, find feeling has been banned. 34 Her true love is not able to greet 35 Her when he comes, instead 36 A mossy paradigm under fleeing feet: 37 In the locker photo near her bed, 38 She keeps his secret, unsayable name 39 As the townspeople put curses on his head, 40 And she is left, as if alone, in shame. 41 They tell him lies, lies everywhere the same CANTO 2 The City is of Night, perchance of Death, James Thomson The City of Dreadful Night 42 The radios scream it must be raw to reach, 43 But my heart’s a feather, it’s not made of paste. 44 My lover was a lover, love’s law to teach. 45 “Romance!” cries the vendor of the paper waste: 46 Romance is the bread that’s sold by chunk, 48 A hero in chains like an honest punk 49 Bursts into manhood, not allowed to feel— 50 Life is doled out in slices, hunk by hunk. 51 I dreamed of him last night, it was a steal 54 My own dream gone to sail the ocean raw 55 Of eternity—he left me, his wife and sister: 57 Of promise, to wake him with the glister 58 Of my tear, to re-member, to call him to life 59 For a proper leavetaking. The Twister 60 Stole an expensive myth—I, his wife 61 And he remembered me not. With outstretched arms 62 I comb this world of the dead, so rife 63 With the unravelling of my charms, 64 Who told black lies, I had been untrue? 65 My love, you went to death with false alarms 66 But I will find you, so I can be beside you 67 You sail in your eternal boat without my truth 68 I loved you, and I did not betray you— 69 I was faithful, lover of my youth! 70 Among these hopeless faces I might find 72 Is guide to your spirit. I’m blind 73 With the constant search in rubble and cement 74 Broken alleys, broken bottles, the unkind 75 Spirits throw down their litter to dement 76 The possible, they want to deny the brood, 77 Railing and grating will not relent 79 A green tide, a seasonal faithful lurch, 80 For your body is a temple of the good 81 Now I remember, your body was a church! 82 A broken chancel lodges in my heart 83 In the broken glass underfoot, I search 84 The way of nature, the whole inside a part, 85 And each part has its spin in history, 86 The earth itself the sun god’s loving dart 87 His eye the universe and full of mystery! 88 Even these walking wounded hopeless dreamers 90 But in love’s absence they’re all screamers 91 In a dry silent land, and wasted 92 Living corpses who are their own redeemers; 93 Worse than that their rationale is pasted 94 Not with ointment, but with blood, the spirit 95 Of the living dead upon their heart has feasted, 97 Devouring endless widowhood in boredom— 99 Spirit’s dead, and all living is a whoredom! 100 My husband gone without a proper funeral, 101 A dead city remnant of his heirdom, 102 A citadel where love is corporeal, 103 The holy centre’s gone, the world a shroud 104 A culture fossilised, supposedly liberal, 105 A winding sheet to re-collect this crowd! 107 Eternity lay behind us—I vowed 109 Upon these walls the wording of our splendour 111 Art set down so the gods can wonder— 112 That I win your soul back for this last farewell 113 To put the proper seal on what was rent asunder 114 And write the truth, as I know, in speedwell 115 Ink and lotus flowering, belling 117 The truth, our love did not begin by telling: 118 For before I met you, as virgin deflowered 119 In a lunar landscape, so my sad welling 120 Into womanhood, now with love empowered 121 I feel this pilgrimage just like my thirst, 122 For my heart with meteoric stones is showered! 123 When you held me in your arms, you were the first. 124 For this you’re dead and it was my father’s curse! CANTO 3 Well, honour is the subject of my story I cannot tell what you and other men Think of this life, but for my single self I had as lief not be as live to be In awe of such a thing as I myself. William Shakespeare Julius Caesar I.2 125 There is a pearl of water, that is wife 126 That whitens laws and shops cold syllogism 127 And grammar of love is wound with strife: 128 Like knotted plaited hair it is a blossom 129 Of ordered wealth for viewing and for use 131 And sister-wife carries in her loose 132 Garment an amulet to revive the dream. 133 A girl neophyte to the classics can peruse 134 In vain the lineaments of her scheme, 135 Failing to find her true love’s form—galling— 136 (Not in the library or the football team!) 137 Her boy. His dark raven curls falling 138 Into the lake where he disappeared 139 To tap memory while his sister’s calling 140 Out to him in dreams. It was weird 141 The way she caught him in the alcove’s lamp 142 And of the wall made a tiered 143 Wedding cake for her record’s amp 144 In which the symbol swords announced 145 The demise of love, the outlaw, and the camp. 147 As a ball between players, which she, sole 148 Goddess, overcame and trounced, 149 But the schoolgirl vision sees him whole 150 And does not even notice his will to dismember— 151 Through her life, gradually, a flaky soul 152 Whose chips are her own, will ask her to remember 153 As each dishevelled dream hits the rocks, 154 That she had loved this god, a dry ember 155 Now of her most rapt being. She washes socks 156 And scours the pub, shakes the pillow 157 But he doesn’t fall out. Instead, he blocks 158 Up the chimney where a burning willow 159 Sends smoky signals he is in particle 161 Where a bishop’s protests were branded with the sickle 162 In this small American town manufacturing bomb 163 To turn the world to ash and icicle— 165 Stranger and sadder than brokenness, the sap 166 Of a torn tree, a bleeding willow’s maelstrom 167 In a desert of shame and guilt. Her lap 168 Holds the one between—their child— 169 Her apron forms the useful pap 170 Yet this girl refused the role. Wild 171 As the last lament of Isis, poured 172 Honey on her throat and men beguiled 173 While she loved only one. He, hoard, 174 Where image was the god, the all, the Lord. CANTO 4 Come ye forth Fallen fiends of heavenly birth That have forgot your Ancient love And driven away my trembling Dove For you shall bow before her feet; You shall lick the dust for meat; And though you cannot Love, but Hate, Shall be beggars at Love’s Gate. William Blake The Everlasting Gospel 175 Dawn. City of the dead. Graffiti 176 Scrawled on grey cement tell the legend 178 Without her consort. For a white second 179 Pregnant, she is held among the giving 181 As a wreath at the funeral of the living— 182 But they’re shut in, hopeless, wry-eyed 183 In your artist’s scrawl, write misgiving; 184 The only release, death. Dry eyed 185 Born into a broken myth, an onion 187 As the happy somnambulist is disproven 188 In the marks on his skin, now worn 190 And the delivery vans blow the horn 191 Frozen nursery rhymes render to the deaf— 193 How can he be punished, who left her bereft 194 Left her stretched, as if a preying bird 195 Had fed on her heart, and her spirit cleft? 196 Her true love writing in hieroglyphic word 197 Teeming creation mastered the stylus grip 199 His cosmic humour, and his astral trip, 200 One eyed king in the country of the blind, 201 Is he hiding in a comic strip 202 Or pop song, this stripling? But to find 203 Putrefaction, where living dead 204 Die from pride of a bacon rind 205 When supper refused? Who has bled 206 Inwardly through the ages, word-bound 207 Orisons in millennia who led 208 Sister search for his corn body, round 209 As the men who walk now, chipped 210 Into portions like each raw piece found 211 While he dismembered and his sister shipped 212 On the banks of the Nile, searching 213 For trace and fragment, and her heart tripped 214 Each time a red corner showed, and she lurching 215 In reddish sands for the real story— 216 Her soul failed at melody, at churching. 217 Still, in the wincing fragments of the whole glory 218 Of the song that trembled on the still river 219 And when she heard chords darken, saw the gory 220 Field and seeping hut, their sundering, and the quiver 221 Of herself alone in the almost ochre 223 Took hold of her, and lamentation. Some joker, 224 He who jerked his wet dream of existence 225 Into fullness, tore her apart and woke her 226 To the separation of the night and the persistence 227 Of division and the eternal other 228 Where one must choose love, or else subsistence, 229 And on that choosing, die for love of brother! 230 So wept, and she a fragment found 231 At each tear, and as a new-made mother 232 Is enraptured in creation’s love and sound 233 She sang a song to Osiris, her true formed 234 And only love, her half, her round 235 And in her vestigial tear an image firmed 236 Which remains now in the dream of every girl 237 Who first sees her true love. Confirmed 238 By pop song and the dancing whirl 239 Of a young imagination in a famine, 240 He has the immortality of a pearl, 242 To mirror microscopically the web of life, 243 He is pearl, shell-pearl, and her man. 244 “I wept tears, the shape of my eye. I, his wife 245 And he remembered me not, yet his nod 246 Was my eye, and truth and I were life!” 248 True love, first, only and last, 249 He would be a fraction of a god— 250 For her God was broken on a cross and past 252 That was not filled with pain, so cast 253 Each mode into the day of eternal 255 In tingeing with the miraculous the kernel 256 Of truth, which lay broken into scintillating pieces; 257 So the lovers’ beauty drew the pieces in 258 Each golden fragment was a coin for Jesus, 259 Or Jesus’s poor: to keep earth clean, to pin 260 A glance on healing, and beauty 261 Sealed up the magic jar of sin. 262 Such pennies shall be given as a duty 263 To kick the Devil, and to pester him forever 264 Until he disappears from the cutey 265 Pie notions of evil, his dust must never 266 Touch us, he took down the tree 267 The fruit, and love and God did sever. 268 In the act of creating there was me 269 Born, and you. And we are since apart 271 Under the stone he is rolling from his heart, 272 Inscribed by Lucifer who once loved light 273 And stole from Egypt their good destiny: 274 Geography and astronomy, a test of sight 275 Never inscribed on stone, and still he lurks 276 To render into ashes the alchemy of light 277 The arches of ages, and God’s works. 278 Until such time as he can be rolled 279 Up, and made to do without his perks 280 Let him be sealed up, and as is told 281 He will be cast into fire, forever burnt 282 Giving God energy for what is foretold. 283 So, the light-bearer loved night and sunburnt 284 The hopes of young girls, and the icon 285 Of love had to be painfully unlearnt. 286 Love in action is when he has his bike on, 287 The will to romance can make good turn ill; 289 Dissonance, an addict’s desire, in the mill- 290 Race of being a sojourner is pert 291 Postponing of the inclination of the will 292 To latch on to sensuous pleasure in the hurt 293 Of being ground to nothing in an also-ran 294 Drama of sex, not love: curt 295 Like a doorbell summons and the tables then 296 Laid, and forgotten, a hasty meal 297 Leaving objects strewn outside the pen 298 Of domestic cage desiring what must be real. 299 We never can desire what others can desire, 300 We can never fully accept what they feel, 301 And so it ends when love dies in the fire 302 And dreams a butchery of what is becoming, 303 Because others fasten on the widow’s pyre 304 Of burnt up useless love, in that summing 305 Up there greens a dream of honour, 306 Away from the useless history, the coming 307 Of those who hate women as lover, 308 Who can only imprint their lust on broken 309 Daydreams, and stamp the seal of summer 310 In a hidden cache where sentiment is token 311 To take away a father’s curse, a lyric 312 Fresh as her stress, unspoken: 313 As before her first kiss a rainbow empiric 314 -al lit the page, put flesh on love’s emotion 316 Dance of the first explosion and commotion 317 The billionth, billionth, billionth second before matter 318 Formed in the universe, and frozen action 319 Whose epitaph was beauty, and honour the latter 321 Spirit was. Before fusion and the batter 322 Of time and space stretched galaxies to thin 324 Fizzling on existence like discarded skin 325 Of God’s first protracted impulse and reels 326 Of love in His fishing rod and net 328 So this moment before love began. Yet 329 There was honour, resplendent, pure and bright 330 Before even the mind began to get 331 Drunk with pain. Forget, beget, plain get, the blight 332 Of her father’s curse a harpoon to inertia, the task 333 Of naming separation, discrimination, in dark night. 334 Still honour stood fast, in time, in galaxies to bask 335 With all the soul’s intention upon God 336 To tear from the soul’s demeanour the mask 337 Of material being, to be a shining rod 338 Where goodness is measure, sole 339 Impulse, measure itself, and pod 340 To hold the deeds in, like the whole 341 Green case where peas bed down together 342 Separate, heads in a bed, yet whole; 343 As the certainty when the feather 344 Was weighed against the heart, a universe— 346 Of imagining, but love, then, to disburse 347 Throughout the ages infinite largesse. 348 Between will and creation, came a curse 349 To fall upon the plans. Yet his caress 350 Was sent to mend separation, and the night 351 That followed day, a love to bless 352 Unite division between seen and sight, 353 Man and woman, ugliness and beauty 354 To bring to creation a unity in right; 355 But such love depends on chance, is no duty 356 And when we see our partners, we may choose 357 To love or leave them, mask our sooty 358 No. We may embrace, or choose the blues— 359 Be dissident, seek husband, wife, whether 360 To pour into one person our aspiration’s cues. 361 In the hanging shadow of this tether, 362 The preference for the real glitters, 363 Constantly homeless, a desert tribe, rather 364 Like a sacred story whose bitters 367 Who burn the texts and cry a bogus 368 Holiness, who shirk the real encounter, 369 Are more interested in gesture than in focus. 370 The curse of her father an old counter 371 Flip side madonna, B side whore, 372 Dropped into darkness, who would count her: 373 A physical being where matter was the core? 374 Sweet form by the candle, true self by the door. CANTO 5 Poi cerchiaro una pianta dispogliata Di giore e d’alatre fronda in ciascum ramo. Dante Purgatorio Canto XXXII 375 An eye of the all-god appeared on the tree, 376 An eye of the all-god appeared on the date-palm, 377 A powerful god was going to be. 378 A powerful one, who might subdue like calm 379 A powerful one, he raged until he was burnt 380 Yet supreme, his eye kind as a balm. 381 He created Time that darkness might be learnt 382 Slowly, he curbed the dark demons 383 While angels cheered the heart with referent. 384 Light grew like an orange, paled like a lemon, 385 Good as a midge’s belief in my mouth 386 His tongue blessed the real, the tough, the leaven. 387 “I am the spirit eternal, North and South 388 East and West, I make air to breathe and sing 389 My soul is creator of the world, a youth 390 Loved by the other is my mystery and my ring. 391 I create order by thinking that I live— 392 Evil is underfoot, I do not see a thing: 393 Only the whole, and my order can give 394 Law to the world, to shape reality 395 Out of my mouth come images that sieve 396 The shape of genius it is good to see, 397 The shape of goodness that there is no separation, 398 The shape that makes perfect love of you and me. 399 There is no evil in the heart: 400 No matter how small the flock 401 I, the Lord, will care for each part; 402 But in troubled times such faith will rock, 403 Be destroyed by those who do not understand: 404 Bad men lived, and I cursed not their stock! 405 I would have destroyed the heirs by my hand, 406 But my own seed! How I wept to see 407 The evil of my own making the world bland. 408 I wept, for such sickening perfidy 409 A whole generation came to harm, bidden 410 The real nature of things to break harmony. 412 The men of violence had a wish to kill, 413 So goodness became secret, became hidden, 414 The constant shifts concealing in the mill 415 Precious stones, waiting for bright water 416 When the banks will crumble, stopping ill.” 417 And the tongues of heaven crying, “O daughter 418 Down the ages we have seen you dark, 419 The real story we would hear, so laughter 420 Can break free again, from the bark 421 Of the hounds of hell, free from the abominable 423 Into a golden age now past imaginable. 424 We who have chopped our lives into token, 425 Is it possible that this daily, interminable 426 Calling away of our images, to broken 427 Dreams, is the brick housing of our spirit 428 The real pain is that we live in the unspoken, 429 Forever finding fragments only which inspirit 430 Us, who search in the ruin of our past, 431 Yet each finding asks the question, we inherit 432 What? We are heirs to plaster cast, 433 Plastic molding, moving statue, neon crib, 434 At each electric dawn we are enthusiast, 435 By sunset realise we’re built upon a fib: 437 Through which we stumble blindly, to ad-lib. 438 But imagine that every day is like an air-drop, 439 Creation in a grain of sand a rhyme— 440 The whole day a god! Religion non-stop! 441 Each movement of the eyelid a mime! 442 And every action a sacred ritual. 443 No one would ever dare to talk of time 444 Passing, but each word weighed and spiritual, 445 And in each name hidden the secret soul, 446 A holy name for all that is habitual— 447 Like the babe imagines the world entirely whole! 448 Each casual sound charged with meaning, 449 Mother a goddess, father no token role! 450 Each breath significance, no mask demeaning, 451 Putting the whole spirit into creation, 452 Making each though a very greening, 453 The secular world a poor outmoded station: 454 Each person a mystery without name, 456 Reeling through space like a weird computer game, 457 Or rampant satellite with nodes a quiver, 458 The centre’s missing, the feelings just the same. 459 So kids press buttons. But they never shiver 461 Their elders have sold them down the river 462 Like Osiris long ago was sold by Seth 463 Two brothers who became each other’s rival: 464 The soap opera of the Egyptian jet set. 466 At puberty, no child for her predicted 467 Naturally concerned about survival, 468 She felt her father, the god, had derelicted 469 Duty, so that she should not bring forth. 470 He dreaded being supplanted, was afflicted: 471 So rained his curse on her—henceforth 472 She would be barren to the end—odd. 474 The god of wisdom, and the moon god, 475 Challenged him to chess, and won this: 478 Five extra days to the solar year, 479 Five days of silver for a golden kiss, 480 Five extra days, and the showy spear, 481 The absolute crown, the universe, was shattered. 482 The mother’s eye began to shape like a tear. 483 She kept her silence, none of this mattered, 484 The secret mime behind the veil still held, 485 And not an ounce of holiness was scattered: 486 But five splendid beings the god beheld. 487 He got older, he dribbled at the mouth— 488 Isis and Osiris longed to wed 489 And have a child, but could not do without 491 Fashioned a cobra to warn of drought, 492 So when Ra saw the cobra not a whittle 493 He cared, so hurt with the wound of the snake, 494 “Tell me your secret name, for marital 495 Purpose, I need to transfer the take. 496 I’ll breathe it to no-one, 497 There’s differ between the real and the fake.” 498 Down the ages fake children fool no-one 499 But real girls often go amiss 500 Looking for their true love, someone 501 Who will be lover and brother, who will kiss 502 Away modernity and the illusion of the human, 503 Who will take them through the window, to miss 504 The cosy domestic life imprinted on the besom, 505 The quiet coupling that is a quiet pain— 506 The life that’s dead to everything save the blossom 507 That promises the spirit eternal life again; 508 But search too hard beneath the balcony, 509 The wolf may find her first, in the dark rain, 510 And in her chordless virgin euphony 511 Try to kill her before she meets her hope, 512 Before she can cast away the litany 513 Of fresh dreams, knitted like a rope, 514 To help her over the balcony, into the realm 515 Where down below, he’s dead from too much dope. 516 From the beginning, life is such a game. 517 Bound to lose. Her mother was the same. CANTO 6 Love bade me welcome yet my soul drew back, George Herbert "Love" 518 Those evenings by the dim lamp of the street, 520 And dreamt a future husbanded and neat. 521 The gangly arms of boys were not around her 523 The gloss on happiness could still confound her, 524 For in the family’s transcript from their race, 525 A hidden beauty lay inside the dream 526 Of aspiration. There was distance in her face: 527 A possibility that could hurt the scheme. 528 A frozen virgin by the window pane, 529 A dent in ‘perhaps’ to blur the ‘seem’. 530 Her childhood gifts of quickness, and a brain 531 Provided she did not use it, quite a farce, 532 Making her life troubled in the main. 533 No matter if she were the smartest in the class, 534 The nuns made her wait last to take her prize 535 —An honours student made for a pass— 536 In case she might be vain, the size 537 And fount of every sin was pride, 538 As the Devil is the father of all lies. 539 Reared with music, her father’s side 540 Were bards, and prophets with truths to tell 541 In a country were faith had never died. 543 Consigned outside the lavatory where each boy 544 Could stick his tongue out at her. Spell 545 Words she might, yet she was their toy; 546 To the fixed notions she must be sacrificed 547 So learning must be painful, not a joy. 548 She stood there, and eternity spliced 549 At the centre was her soul: 550 She was with God, and she had diced 551 Against the formless shadow of the whole 552 World, and in its transient state 553 She felt the terror of the flesh roll 554 Against each protruding tongue, and hate 555 Poised itself on the windowsill of her heart, 556 Begging to be admitted and be accounted fate, 557 To vindicate a child. Truth an art 558 She would not let it be, but instead 559 Refused the poison of the liar’s dart. 560 But there was one little boy who said 561 No. In her dreams he wore a kilt 562 And cuddled her when she was sad in bed: 563 She would dream each night that he would lilt 565 With songs like this her heart would never wilt 566 But kept her going through the dark ages, leapt 567 Like a giddy phantom over the abyss 568 That was her youth, when she often wept 569 For ideals reduced to rubble, and a kiss 570 Of lust could turn her heart to ash, 571 An insect king atop the anthill bliss. 572 And yet, her emblematic hero—no rash 573 And token admiration—but daring to say no 574 Gave her the hope that truth was no lash, 575 But beauty, too. And she would grimly sew 576 Her squares of cotton, token stitches 577 Like elephants’ teeth—booty long ago 578 Made domestic. And the wild ditches 579 Rife with blossom. She herself kept 581 With the past. Then how she wept, 582 For her treasures on the clothes line 583 One night in a fairy gale were swept 585 On pitched domesticity gone awry, 586 While other girls showed neat squares—nine 587 Stitches in a row, ironed like a cry 588 Of suppressed rage, where the latches 589 Of information left many a why, 590 And neat thread bitten off. Her patches 591 Left unanswered questions at the hem: 592 The farmyard where the hen scratches 593 For food was closed forever from them. 594 Ladies not to shrink from washing up 595 Would be frozen in the requiem 596 That was history’s verdict on their coming up 597 To flower in mid-century. They’d be wives 598 Trained to use their talents for the sup 599 History could pour on their heads. Quiet lives 600 For their ruler, undoubtedly male. In a few 601 Of these girl-children, though, the dream revives. 602 In church, Mother pinned her to the pew 603 With rough nails. Four red crescents 604 And the cross remaindered by the churchyard yew. 605 Throughout all this, remaining quiescent 606 Praying for the souls on the brass plaque, 607 Enjoying purgatory and the incandescent 608 And kindly rage of God. Mother’s back 609 Bent in her new coat. It was ‘forty-seven 611 Of love as a giant man in heaven 612 Empty and sick of what he gorged upon, 613 Envious in the threshold of being riven 614 Between earth and hell, still a pawn 615 Between spirit and matter—the eternal tussle 616 Of daisy, and grass, and sunlight on the lawn— 617 A summer’s day where filaments can rustle 618 Like angel’s wings beating out a hymn 619 And their flight in the magic and puzzle 620 Of being. So Mother’s fists, the rim 621 Of a physical whole abandoned 623 A prayer-book with light. A marshland 624 Of exotic blooms grew inviolate 625 And their lush beauties would be hard to husband. 626 Her young swelling breasts reprobate 627 Her mother called the nurse, it must be cancer 629 The nurse smiled gently with the proper answer: 630 “Normal development”, and her smile benign 631 Lit up the darkness. A Spanish dancer 632 Making colourful dresses swirl upon the line 633 In motion, yet stillness had possibility 636 On the verge of adolescence, limbs quite sleek, 638 But Mother forced the door open so she could peek 639 At the showing forth of what to her was least 640 The putting on of womanhood, as if in meek 641 Acquiescence to Nature’s purpose and her feast 642 Mother still felt the whole thing was vicious, 643 Tearing women between the angel and the beast. 645 Sleight of mind drew picture so repugnant, 646 There was no meeting point between delicious 648 Which nightmare furnishes as she. Unnourishing 649 Yet she, became she, and what was tender, poignant, 650 In spirit, mind and body hoped for flourishing 651 But soul was condemned to hunger amid sweetmeat: 653 And so she sought the dark, ever sweet 654 Through a glass, a young man not so coy 655 Whose black hair made her grind her feet 656 Inside her shoes, oh he was such a joy, 657 A waif, born in freedom’s evanescence 658 And she would dream she’s love this boy, 659 Until time threw a figurative essence, 660 A Greek vase with real flowers entwined 661 In their hair and in their heart’s incandescence. 664 With a thick spoon of mistrust the lined 665 Calls of the popular song. And a blur 666 Like a flame warmed by two hands 667 Left civilisation like a tamed cur 668 Inside the walls of culture, and bit the bonds 669 Of love and friendship till they were a snare. 670 Songs were forgotten. In the native lands 671 Maybe a snatch of melody, like a hair 672 Unloosed from a headband, would lightly fall 673 Into the spaces where once lived a prayer. 674 How can a dream of despair be all? 675 Lighting is cigarette in the dark, 678 —definite refusal to acknowledge 679 That learning was anything but the bark 680 Of mad dogs in the abyss, and that College 681 Conferred respectability on the fake 682 Conferred authority upon the spoilage: 683 She would have gone with him, gone under 684 The hill like the dancers in the song 685 And he refused to take her. Torn asunder 686 Her faith in him misplaced and she was wrong 687 Both to love learning and despise its use, 688 Especially to think, that for her the gong 689 And knell of history would let loose 690 A chime of freedom in this underworld, 691 When repetition of chilled fate was the ruse 692 By which the gods defeated innocence, and hurled 693 Into the blood and thunder of the race. 694 A flag to show that destiny unfurled 695 On grim silence. And face to face 696 The words dropped, crumbs at a feast 697 Inedible, and poisoned with a trace 698 Of hope. All would turn bitter 699 Her least twinge of liberty, palsied, still 700 In the ravening maw of the great beast 701 Who swallowed the universe like a pill, 702 Before the babe could stutter now: “I hope,” 703 Choking before he brought to birth: “I will.” 705 Quenched by definition in his class, 706 Boxed, strait-jacketed, couldn’t cope 707 With the social strata. He couldn’t pass 708 Examinations as she did, but could only feel, 709 Like a wish disappearing in a well, a lass 710 As lithe as he in body, and he could peel 711 The layer of education off her like a shroud 712 And dance. (At her father’s wedding feast the reel 713 Had sealed up magic in the stamping heel.) Proud 714 He couldn’t bend to undo her enchanter, 715 Instead, he held her gently while the loud 716 Music told him he was king. The banter 717 Of centuries’ untruth sealed his lips. Measured 720 Perfection like a fly in amber 721 A single dance expression, and leisured 723 Of straitened maidenhood the faulty tower 724 He would not scale, and would only clamber 726 The intimation that the past was reborn 727 When she was handed to the ancient dower 728 Of grace in servitude, what he could only scorn. 729 Since he too was bound in space and time, 730 The living out of love would be forlorn, 731 So he rejected her. Her crime— 732 Intelligence. And her love for rhyme. CANTO 7 Il faut de la religion pour la religion, de la morale pour la morale, comme de l’art pour l’art: le beau ne peut être la voie ni de l’utile ni du bien, ni du saint; il ne conduit qu’a Victor Cousin—lecture at the Sorbonne (1918) on truth, beauty and the good 733 So, spurned and virginal, she bounded off to greet 735 That she should meet him showed that fate was neat. 736 He offered explanation, and she was free 737 Of love, perdition and the gargoyle hope: 738 Instead of hope, endless cups of tea. 740 Of history was a shrewd conniver, 741 Trying for conversion, he would grope 743 He scorned honest effort and a job, 746 Off the inquisitors at the Gates of Doom, 747 Poetry was the matter of the mob 748 And in his Credo there wasn’t any room 749 For individual vision, nor personal feeling— 750 They were woven in the capitalist loom 751 And if she mentioned love, he hit the ceiling. 753 Where discourse of this kind was peeling 755 Where plants wilted and were soon forgotten, 756 And carried like shrapnel buried in the head 757 From which regular nightmares were begotten. 758 And day turned into night, and year to year, 759 And still they argued till the core was rotten: 760 The last egg thrown at an orchestra, fear 761 Remaining to fill a vast emporium: 762 A wasted youth that finally cost dear. 763 They had their last real argument in the Forum 765 And were roped in to make a quorum 766 On the question—what is love’s doubt 767 But that authenticity doesn’t exist? 768 —a rapier thrust that ran in and out. 770 And she shouted and she ran away to the dark 771 Alley where real lovers kissed. 772 She came upon jazz music—as a lark 773 Might greet a nightingale in hell, 774 She entered in: here she might find her mark. 775 Here all lovers gathered, before the bell 776 Could summon them from paradise and show 777 The world the bliss which they could scarcely tell. 779 Here was a place she might be herself 780 Vestige of her first love would row 782 Of history glittered with evil brain: 784 Inheritance in exile, and this stranger to the main 785 Formation of her being, asked her to dance awhile. 786 He was agreeable, tanned, and very sane. 787 He danced with her, and beamed his toothy smile 788 He asked her if she’d like to have a Coke, 789 And spoke about the flooding of the Nile. 790 Concerned, a gentleman, and afraid to poke 791 An elbow in the wrong place, he showed respect 792 Expressing laughter when she told a joke. 793 He gently said that she should reflect 794 Carefully before travelling home solo: 795 He had a car, which she might like to inspect— 796 White and shiny, the maker’s metal logo 799 He understood, nodded: an imaginary line 800 Lay between them as they rode the night. 801 She remarked on the pale quiet moonshine 802 That was nothing in his face. It was all right. 803 He was a gentleman, all she could ask, 804 Given as she was to ravages and blight. 805 Then, as she looked, she perceived a mask 806 In the murky reflection of the glass: 807 —a speedy exit then became her task. 808 He sensed fear, and put his foot down on the gas. 809 The countryside loomed like a mad raven; 810 Clawing the rope of truth to find it pass 812 Outside a deserted house. There was no one 813 Not even a ghost of what was home and haven. 814 It was the place of rape. There was no gun 815 But the final clicking of the lock 816 Which said, “the sooner over, sooner done; 817 And what will happen will forever mock 818 Your dreams of loving and joy, 820 You with the idea of bliss. A toy, 821 Trifle, thing—your inside, and your trust 822 Violated for ever. Don’t be coy— 823 You asked for it. You are a woman, must 824 Know how things are. If you hurt, 825 If you say you’re wounded by my lust, 826 —I don’t even want you. I’ll be curt 827 This half an hour of painful sex 828 Will prove woman is just a piece of dirt, 829 And I am here to show you that you vex 830 Me, and all men, with your pretension. 833 Destroyed at the centre of your being, 834 You might enjoy it but for the tension 835 Of your being degraded. Now you’re seeing 836 It all happen like a strange inversion. 837 Your love of beauty a fleeing force 838 But subject to my perversion.” 839 Finally he crumpled to a tissue 840 As if he had proven his assertion. 841 He drove her to the Marxist, CANTO 8 The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar, All now was turned to jollity and game To luxury and riot, feast and dance. Milton Paradise Lost XI. 713 843 To be in pain is to feel a different 844 Metaphor for the seeking of one’s dream 846 So cracks the heart, and Irish blessings seem 848 Running downstream like a faulty beam 849 Cracked from a cathedral, and in the gloom 850 Of the middle ages and the sanctuary bell 851 Tolls a truth where women have no room 852 So, brought up in father’s shadow, who can tell 853 If paradise is meant for girls and daughters, 854 When so many feel they’re a present he must sell 855 To the highest bidder, so the dark waters 856 Close around her head like a barque forbidden, 858 And subterranean, she comes bidden 859 To erotic fantasy like a plague of guests, 861 A rape is her fault. Those pests 863 Those blood wounds on her head—crests 865 She was his to master and possess, 867 Now she belongs to no-one, and a caress 868 From her is the prerogative of many 869 And what she has left to give no one can bless 870 The next time she meets a man she’ll be more canny, 871 She won’t look for a broken god between his eyes 872 Even if he starts to act quite zany, 873 Her gaze will dart away, and a disguise 874 Of hardened liberation will be her attraction. 875 She chooses no disguise, she can’t tell lies, 876 And in her life account book makes subtraction, 877 Leaves out like a black hole solemn gifts 878 Of self to self, honour, and abstraction. 879 And so in her heart there grows a rift 881 Hers and not hers becomes a place where lifts 882 To the soul take place, for a kind of healing. 883 Romance, capitalist romance, is the chief bait 884 And from shop to shop, soon she’s reeling 885 From lecture hall to launderette, consumed with hate: 886 The most ideal child in the school becomes 887 The plaything of the furies and the fates. 888 She gets a buzz from scalding desert bums 889 Who mix up love and commerce, profit and work, 890 Soon her life with material rhetoric hums 891 And she does not, she finds, shirk 892 From tea, or love in the afternoon, 893 Her self absent. As if her soul can lurk 894 Among cheap volumes of a reckless swoon, 895 Where librarians issue volumes on a kiss 897 Lies, lies. Marxists speak of postponed bliss— 898 Jargon, a currency to shape the world 899 Until every truth was a dumb and broken hiss. 900 The story nestles with her makeshift herald, 901 As a bird, headless, seeks to gather ruin. 902 The rhetoric span while her cries whirled 903 In the air like tongueless feathers. To win 904 An absentee landlady with a pen 905 Is easy when false prophets pay to spin 906 And hate starts at home. Here’s a den 908 And new beginning a diviner for a fen 909 Of stagnant waters though life was holy: 910 She was a vessel for her life’s mission’s sake, 911 And she could feel the hurt of not being wholly 912 Human, just as the foetus swims in dark lake 913 Of amniotic fluid, and was blind 914 To the registry office, the wedding with no cake, 915 Flowers, nor prayers—a borrowed ring. Not a kind 916 Thought passed between the unfortunate pair, 917 As spinster became matron, and the book was signed. 918 A pub like a long hall in the West End, the snare 919 Closing in, a horrible noose. A peck 920 From the vulture, and a missing prayer. 921 And so, the craft of herself is now a wreck, 922 Spread-eagled on the future she has truck 923 With all the notions that a soul can speck 924 Before she yields herself to cosmic muck 925 She must refuse her honeymoon, try to wedge 926 Herself between the squandering and the luck 927 Of a divided goal. He had the edge 929 And had thrown the mother off a window ledge 930 Back in the USA. And he could bolster 931 Her in her eye’s defiance, firmly fix 932 Death on her like a six-gun holster. 933 At the wedding feast, his cautious licks 934 At the cake would make it thin, and he fatter— 935 In the rented room, there was a crucifix 937 Of all the Marxist’s scorn and use. 938 She left the feast because she felt the patter 939 Of raindrops on the skylight to fuse 940 Into a dance with the bandsman—a troubadour. 941 He brought her to the sea, so she would lose 944 And returned to the hotel as to a corridor 945 Of pain. They passed by a hot-dog stand 946 And she ate a sausage and it hurt 947 The rubbery meat was a physical band 948 That mocked her being. She threw it in the dirt 949 Watched a dog devour it and felt sick— 950 Eat or be eaten, the world’s command was curt. 951 And when he asked her to take her pick— 952 A life with music, or a ceaseless natter— 953 Was there a choice? She left behind real quick 954 Her groom at the wake of spirit and matter. 955 In the hotel there were waiters buzzing. 957 And a new sound invented, here a dozen 960 The mood of the generation, and his beard 961 And curls a prophecy of rage, 962 As if the Bible could be writ without the Word, 963 So had she, as if he’d left a page 965 The name for the nameless hurt each age 966 Tries to pin on its artists, and despite tome 967 On tome, the libraries of official truth, 968 The miles of books, the authority from Rome, 970 Which isn’t spoken but is felt by youth. CANTO 9 The atrocious crime of being young I shall neither attempt to palliate or deny. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham 971 Being young is understood by Indians who followed 972 Mother Nature as goddess and friend, 973 Letting good fall into the everyday hallowed 974 By intimate secret ritual, who can bend 975 Back the dark as he is in the streets’ guts, 976 The virgin’s paramour whose love will never end? 978 In big kitchens who nourish the world, 979 Past the familiar, into the ruts 980 And lane-ways of the intricate wood, 981 Where the pastures of clover are forsaken 982 For sweet drenching darkness and dry mud 983 And countless leaves reaching the taken 984 Fall, and falling into infinity as rotten 985 As the material barn where their shaken 986 History stops and cannot pass like cotton 987 Seed into the testicles and generate new life— 989 To the future, unremembered to the past strife; 990 Sweet and infinite with the need of their existence; 991 The ground below them is anguished and rife 992 With insects who burrow with persistence 993 Into the neat order of chaos and construe 994 A meaning for their life’s fall, an assistance 995 To the stone philosopher who will spew 996 Out of his brain a web of words 997 Most being “I”, and sometimes, “you”. 998 He is as closed to the transmission of surds 999 As those leaves falling in a concrete well, 1001 But stiffens his ear to misspell 1002 The aural transcript of Nature’s way, 1004 So her cardboard groom, love gone astray 1005 Had left meaning out of the parlour game 1006 Had levitated, because there was nothing else to say. 1007 Hope was gone, and her auspicious name, 1008 A navel cord torn out, would give her trouble, 1009 She was the wild, who had become the tame, 1010 Would she ever find her double? 1011 What twin spirit would love her with delight 1012 Be glad to consume this dream’s rubble? 1013 So she spun out existence like a night 1014 Invading her soul in peerless squalor, 1015 And she gave in because she had lost the fight 1016 To begin with. Put to the pin of her collar, 1017 Virginity’s demise proof of her corruption, 1018 One sin too many, and no matter that the dollar 1019 Fluctuated on the stock exchange, wealth’s eruption 1020 On the carcass of society, that was no sin 1021 In the ownership of people, the irruption 1022 Into slavery, the buying and selling in 1023 Of women to men in matrimony, 1024 There was virtue, and virtue’s prudent skin. 1025 But outside the state of compulsory honey 1026 There was no redemption, blessing or boon, 1027 There is no value save the power of money: 1028 Married, but having passed no honeymoon 1029 Where was her real self, just to recover 1030 Her lost soul, lost self, that still tune 1031 In all the songs would be accounted for, discover 1032 Male supremacy, stopping the power of women. 1033 She found herself completely out of cover 1034 Craving affirmation, love in a famine 1035 As food to the starved. If she was OK 1036 In bed, she was a true feminine specimen. 1037 But who would win her in an ideal’s bouquet, 1040 What impeccable lover be allowed to shove 1042 Whom she would call her only turtle dove? 1044 Who had been dishonoured by a clerk 1045 Betrayed to the consortium she was no diviner 1046 Of accident than that horrid jerk 1047 Who proved by force she was desirable 1048 By the genus, man. Earned his trademark 1049 And thereby showed that she was reducible 1050 To a body, who could view the motions 1051 Even making the wind and rain impenetrable. 1052 And so for thirteen moons, the salty oceans 1053 Heaved in answer to her silenced cries 1054 Pain more of pebbles, and the notions 1055 The man had, that he could win the sighs 1056 Of the trees, the sun’s charioteering in the sky 1057 The moon turned to stone with his lies, 1058 And the music was a three-chord why. 1059 She lost early friends, deep in sensation, 1060 She blocked off dream with a loveless tie. 1061 Mute save in the explosion of condensation 1062 On the window pane which showed the heaving heart 1063 You could say she envisaged compensation, 1064 He was human, she was human, part 1065 Of the whole of humanity which should be knit 1066 Their limitation was a form of art, 1067 And art that reduces art, a life to wit 1068 Upon, the dance and dancer gone berserk 1069 In a ritual that was denial of the bit- 1070 Part of romance—personal love a jerk 1071 Of the kneecap denying common good, 1072 And setting choral angels out to work 1073 In the factory of immediate returns for blood. 1074 Payment was like crimson blobs in light 1075 Revolving for not being what they should, 1076 So angels wept blood tears, a sight 1077 God the Son nailed on the cross envisaged 1078 When he saw the chalice of the human blight. 1079 So angels turned their back on two marriaged 1080 Only by skin and moon, owning no fear 1081 Are angels scabs, and love sacrilegious? 1082 Have words reality? At last no tear 1083 Disfigured her as she strove the thing to finish 1084 Her heart had been deadened for over a year— 1085 And why should I another sad tale embellish 1086 With aught but words, when life itself is stopped, 1087 As cry is torn when cry is but a blemish 1089 To meet a spermatozoa it should not: 1090 Tempt the genes to mend a foolish slop 1091 Of passion on lives’ overkill, and spot 1093 And block a human being because of a knot 1094 Where there was no legal existence? Stardust 1095 Cringed in the heavens at the murder of a lie 1096 That was not matter. Death is a form of trust, 1098 No matter that the wrenching of a man 1099 Can be predicted by astrology in the sky, 1100 So when the child is unborn, the planets scan 1101 Horizons for a speck of life, disappearing, mute 1102 As the stars falling in the silver pan 1103 And shoals of asteroids, that comets shoot 1104 Only to discover what they miss is love, 1105 And children can’t get born without a root 1106 Of tenderness, caring, a creation-centred shove 1107 Of gravity at the nipple of the world 1108 A leaf in the mouth, and the flying dove. 1109 When she left, his rage finally curled. CANTO 10 The first casualty of war is truth. Hiram Johnston—speech in US senate 1917 1111 How often longing, and her dream, a band 1112 Around her head, tears begged, shed us, let us go 1113 Scorched without rain like a desert land 1114 A stubbled cheek he could plough and sow 1115 In her heart plantation’s wildest grief 1116 Of human loss, her bitter task to know 1117 Death. Death of one’s child a loss, a leaf 1118 Of a person never to be tree or wood 1119 So she, that her head in a brief 1120 Second signed a death warrant. Mood 1121 Rose with the sun each day to damn the earth 1122 Destruction rained upon her, like the hood 1123 Of the eagle faces the abyss. A dearth 1125 On creation. And survival, 1126 Birth of oneself. For with this marriage 1127 Came shock. Still, refusing to the day 1128 Its joys, its flowers, to finally discourage 1129 All celebration. Her heroes gone away— 1131 Ethic. Scandal in the press. Who would pay 1132 Informer’s blood to redden the Mississippi? 1133 Who would befoul blue river with rag of war? 1134 Who would call peace lovers part of a recipe 1135 For national disaster? And the slur and scar 1136 Of this innovative generation never faded. 1138 Fields grew green again. But secret agents raided 1139 Private intimacies for scandals about drugs— 1140 Public interest was avid, then jaded. 1142 Off a child’s terror at a rifle? 1143 The pain haunts still. And all the hugs 1144 Children give, each sweet arresting trifle 1145 Of human love, of course 1146 End in a cry that will not stifle 1147 Human cruelty. Every risk in love, and worse 1148 Nightmare is part of loving one another 1150 The betrayals of lovers, all the bother 1151 Of unrequited passion, pale to less 1152 Than a mouth in that child’s scream “Mother”! 1153 And then, I am lacking. When I confess 1154 That I am the child, the scream, the killer 1155 Such tangled pain is not for me to bless 1157 Of forgetfulness, wreathe my head, 1158 In the act’s interval, life is just a filler— 1159 A song in disarray can mean a thing 1160 Beyond believing, a sweet inheritance 1161 To puzzle out the secret of the ring 1162 Of life and death, and love’s munificence 1163 In denying to all but the most detached 1164 An understanding of its last admittance 1165 Into the community of hope. Watched 1166 By the vestal virgin of incompetence 1167 Trusting in Nature’s blueprints hatched 1168 From the first explosion’s transmittance 1169 Of quintillions of atoms ready for the dance 1170 The human offer to creation is a pittance 1171 For the lease we call life, and every chance 1172 Attends a history of a feeling 1173 And every hope’s a dust upon the lance 1174 Of opportunity, or moving ceiling 1175 Where death can wait, a figure in a balcony 1176 Tossed on the human mob, and keeling 1177 Over in the dance of life. Like alimony 1178 Paid to the divorced—on a marble slab 1179 He has the inscription and the testimony 1180 And how he lusts at life. Like angels grab 1181 Back the curtains of the world on Mondays 1183 And touch, after the ecstatic Sundays 1185 Go to the Zoo, and sip upon a sundae— 1186 But they are angels, and they won’t rush in 1187 And they often sit on shoulders, and they weep 1188 They turn their faces away at a sin. 1190 But we don’t hear, we carry on with fervour 1191 And a rustle at our elbow, a creep 1192 Across the doorway. No human observer 1193 Can match with scientific test the loss 1194 Of an angel’s presence on the favour 1195 Of Holy Grace. A dialogue with the Boss 1196 Reveals a show, mutely suffering 1197 We are imaged in the figure on the Cross 1198 And our materialist dream buffering 1201 In itself the pennies of the whole 1202 As they thud in the brass box with a clatter 1203 Fleeting golden moments in the role 1204 Of truth, and jailed because in matter 1205 There’s no transference save in energy 1206 —Who is going to set the coins to splatter 1209 A burst of flame, a raving liturgy? 1210 A free expression in the right transcendence 1211 Where object, subject, matter and mind and spirit 1212 Are as one in a single splendid instance? 1213 But history is slow progress. To inherit 1214 The past is the burden of the dreamer 1215 Who must disrobe at noon: the merit 1217 Where one dissects the passions of the race 1219 Considered unsuitable for mortals—to face 1220 Head on, one’s moral limitation 1221 Is in the interest of a story’s pace— 1222 The moral fibre and heartbeat of the nation 1223 Fixed in the culpability of an image 1224 A goddess face in a woman of poor station 1225 At the barricades. Her lost lineage 1226 Shows the inversion of a once proud people 1228 To defend the gold tongue and the iron steeple 1229 The bell with iron clappers never mute 1231 Energy, source, and female power, to boot. 1232 But who has seen a figure on the cross 1233 With breasts and belly, and a flower’s root? 1234 So write upon this page without a gloss 1235 Only an angel understands the toss. CANTO 11 Set me as a seale upon thy heart As a seal upon thine arme For love is as strong as death Jealousy as cruel as the grave. The Song of Solomon 1236 The broken chancel of her karma did not fade: 1237 She left the pad with its instant passion, 1239 It would finish the materialist off in his fashion: 1240 She hopped onto a fresh landing, went to college 1241 Found mind food in conversation, just a ration. 1242 The second day spat out the germ of knowledge. 1243 It flowered into a sheaf of poems, the owner 1245 His name, and number. Though he was a loner, 1246 His verses read like smiles in deepest night, 1247 A bird singing in the city said he’d 'phone her 1249 Beneath the arches, their heads were put together 1250 The old broken arches of the centuries’ blight. 1251 Now their heads were weighed against a feather, 1252 They went to the cinema, where they viewed a rape 1253 Two choristers who couldn’t stand the weather 1254 Of violent fact. They could no longer gape, 1255 And outside told each other the whole story 1257 How long they had been separate, the gory 1258 Trail of hurt that dreams were put on sale, 1259 Their cities that were devoid of glory, 1260 So, like silver, their words fell into the pail 1261 Of their rapt attention, sitting on the stair 1262 Outside the cinema. A loud wail 1263 Inside, the villain binding in his lair 1265 She remembered she could no longer dare 1269 They spoke in silences that held the hints 1270 Of agony they knew—no easy guess, 1271 And it cost them—new to love—what must evince 1272 Signs of recognition so they would bless 1273 The diligence of the Creation for the declension 1274 To human pain when life is such a mess. 1275 For him, the years of suicidal intention 1276 In New York slums like a fallen king were fenced 1277 Into a life of poverty with no subvention— 1278 The treasure hunt in books of lives intense, 1279 The unselective philosophy when the truth, 1281 And they gave away their precious youth, 1282 Perusing legend for a clue of honour, 1283 Debased and cynical and without ruth 1284 Everyone they talked to full of rancour— 1286 Rather than be big business anchor. 1287 To be honest in a century when the soul 1288 Had no existence save in illuminated script, 1289 To love beauty, when everyone denied the whole, 1290 The miraculous shimmer in the shape to shift, 1291 The luminous centre at what could not be heard. 1292 At the banks they rarely caught the drift 1293 But dirtied beautiful rivers so the bird 1294 Of history sank below the tide to kill 1295 Any possible becoming of the word. 1296 They walked as dreamers into the beautiful day 1297 The hours passed and they were making hay. CANTO 12 In the land of Egypt where we sat by the fleshpots And when we did eat bread to the full. Exodus 16.3 1298 Now, nothing could separate the pair: 1299 A blissful night together, when for ever 1300 They were bound in one mystical prayer 1301 As their skins touched, as if never 1302 Again thread be boundary, or field 1303 Be mapped and still not sever 1304 The golden rain that fell. They wheeled 1305 Together in a sacred dance, his first 1306 Faith in woman restored, and healed. 1307 Who would think that next, a thirst 1308 From a patriarchal opposition would betray 1309 This night of tender loving, and burst 1310 The skin of romance as a pecking jay 1311 Worries ripe fruit until he engorges 1312 The autumn’s blessings in a single day? 1313 Even a minute of complete love enrages 1314 Serpents and devils and raging queens 1315 Who in each encounter, masquerade forges 1316 A hole in their balcony of dreams, 1317 Leaving prejudice on the windowsill, like crumbs 1318 For stranger to finger as they hide their fears. 1320 Of life, who despise talking, and feast 1321 On the offering snatched away by thumbs 1322 Of the agile boy whose laughter is creased 1323 In the ridicule of angel’s heart-stopped 1324 Blithe encounters when devil’s tricks have ceased— 1325 But to spoil a young love! Here is cropped 1326 Just after sowing time, to burn 1327 Its credentials, its flower head lopped 1328 By diligent cunning, planted lies, to turn 1329 A young man’s heart to cinder. 1330 First, get him away from the cairn 1331 Of pebbles he has strewn around her tender 1332 Breasts, where their sweet scents 1333 Were mingled. And the breath of slander 1334 To disturb the lovers, like the unpaid rents 1335 Of the basement apartment pounding on the walls, 1336 Make them rise with guilt. Their clothes like tents 1337 Confining the rash hang-ups to the calls 1338 Of love and endearment, swopping places, 1339 They surface in the sacred hall of halls, 1340 Amid graffiti, tins, and traces 1341 Of drunks, pungent, inarticulate 1342 At the unspoken promises, and graces 1344 With the time they have been given— 1345 Aeons and eternity never to obliterate 1346 Every last vestige of one another. Riven 1347 No more, their breath in their fire. 1348 They are one, they cannot in their oblivion 1349 Ever go back to being separate, but higher 1350 Than earth’s visible choirs they sing 1351 Quietly of love, and self on the funeral pyre. 1352 The motor bike outside, a chariot whose wing 1353 Needs kicking to start the motion, she, astride, 1354 Asks him to wait until she starts the thing. 1355 She sits, pert, on the saddle, her skirts wide, 1356 Hitched up and out of the wheel’s way. She broods 1357 Quietly on his past. Have angels lied? 1358 Don’t look back, but quietness is a mood 1359 That begs the past, stay! If I am alone 1360 Time is not consonant with good. 1361 She brings her bike to life, why should she moan 1363 A good-looking exterior out to her on loan 1364 On the contempt of the crowd, a silver lining 1365 Which jealousy always has, she is their equal 1366 Her man loves her, and she’s not resigning. 1367 “Don’t look back, our love must have its sequel 1368 For the mob at my elbow, their dart must be of rue 1369 A destiny will be lost among those dreadful people 1370 Or is it your voice, speaking of the Zoo? 1371 Therefore, my past, I call you! I felt blue 1372 Among the animals, and talked of me and you 1373 But I’m woman! And we nearer, too, 1374 Than animals, to angels. On the bike 1375 I’ll survey the scene again, to find clue 1377 Of arm and shoulder pressing, there! there! 1378 Woman or man, is it love or is it like?” 1379 “This feeling is so strong, what do I care? 1381 Can the universe enter in, do I dare 1382 Put myself into the world, not like a cat 1383 Playing with a ball of wool, but a man 1384 Who finds his half missing, and that 1385 His all he has searched for. If I can 1386 Look into her eyes once more, I’ll be sure. 1387 But how the past beckons. If I ran 1388 Straight on to this bike, would I endure 1390 A world well lost for love. A cure. 1391 I’ll jump—reflection makes me blind.” 1392 The bike moves. He is left behind. CANTO 13 All progress is based on a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to Samuel Butler Notebooks "Life" 1393 Catastrophe did not at first strike her. 1394 A sense of missing something far out 1395 As she rode on through the beckoning psyche 1396 Of the morning, and the sun shone out! 1397 Her frail wrist brushed her forehead, she was swept 1398 On with the traffic, and policeman’s shout, 1399 And through the lights, she could not have leapt 1400 From her saddle, as with a carnival of noise 1401 She led the traffic for two miles, and wept. 1404 Endured the whistling and the shouts of boys, 1405 And entering in, through the darkened porch, 1406 Saw before the altar, a groom, a bride 1408 And brushed her tears away. She could not hide 1409 Now, her sense of doom and despair, 1410 A crown of thorns on her head, stitch in her side; 1411 And the space around her like a vanished fair 1412 Where joy had disappeared and the scene 1413 Condensed, in essential and eternal pain— 1414 A transfiguration of what might have been 1415 Became the epitaph of pain and sorrow, 1416 Their living love transformed into a mean 1417 Parody where religion and love borrow 1418 From stuffed reality a foothold on tomorrow. CANTO 14 I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone: My soule failed when he spake; I sought him but could not find him: I called him, but he gave me no answere. The Song of Solomon 1419 She was not ready for fate. Back into rain 1420 Now falling, she ran, leapt upon the saddle, 1423 A lone fisherman, to strain the night’s passion, 1426 No sign of him netting daytime’s truth, 1427 He wasn’t on the pavement, in a session 1429 Harking at the bus-stop for the beat 1430 In traffic of passing skin and ruth. 1431 He had gone. Her acrobatic feat 1433 Of fate, so destiny could clamp the meat 1434 In the trap to accommodate and use 1436 To eat the fare of romance. Give their views. 1439 In the deepest waters, where no light 1442 Would be lost for love, in a river? 1443 Man-made, by a mortgaged city, 1444 With banks and tower-blocks and railways too, 1445 Did they look forward with reptilian pity, 1446 Or close pitiless eyes to the Zoo 1447 Where her lover had gone, perhaps 1448 Asking the original dumb animals who 1449 Probably were more faithful than the chaps 1450 Bustling around in suits and loving women 1451 Instead of mating yearly, taking naps 1452 All the rest of the time? Who saw her comin’ 1454 Dismounting, and pretending to be humming? 1455 Truth was, she felt bitter-sweet 1456 With mood and madness, meaning and moon, 1457 Drunken as a rainbow sorrow on a beat 1458 Of wilful forgetting, her everlasting noon, 1459 Anxiety, that their love was over soon. CANTO 15 What is honour? A word. What is that word, honour? Air. ‘Tis insensible, then. Yea, to the dead But will it not live with the living? No. William Shakespeare 1 Henry IV V.1 1460 In the recesses of the bar, the mean 1463 Inhaling of the fetid air. They dipped 1464 The day’s newsprint into the squalor of mind, 1466 Until the daylight raised the blind 1468 Where scorn and impudence can find 1469 Dull fiction. Internecine wars between 1470 Themselves and the shabby suits they wore, 1471 The elbows shining and the pant seats mean. 1472 They looked forward to the core 1473 Of the spectacle, young love being destroyed. 1474 When they saw her, there was a roar. 1475 In the seamy recesses despair was buoyed 1476 On alcoholic bets of poison liquor— 1477 Their dimmer on so hope could be annoyed. 1478 So squander feeling in this ticker CANTO 16 His honour rooted in dishonour stood And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true. Alfred Lord Tennyson Lancelot & Elaine 871 1480 It seemed as if the secrets they had shared 1482 He looked at her, too desperately cared. 1483 “You are the first, and the only girl 1484 I have ever loved. And yet you went, 1485 Making me feel I was a foolish churl.” 1486 The crowd looked on, amused at his keen vent, 1487 Their boring day transformed into a game. 1488 She knew the conversation should be spent 1489 Somewhere quite else, but so deep her shame, 1491 To deny her love, why it was just the same. 1492 How to explain she must go to the clinic, 1493 For dangerous to love it was, if love they must, 1494 Yet rational planning made her feel a cynic? 1495 And so right there love crumbled into dust 1496 Before the paraphernalia, a wizardry fated 1497 To programme passion, turn it to plotted lust. 1498 How explain she’d been with one she hated 1499 Had wedged herself hopelessly in type, 1500 A granite child of probability, sated 1501 On hunger that was nothing but a hype? 1502 Now, before true love, they felt their loss, 1503 The years behind so empty, how to wipe 1504 Away the tawdry past and so emboss 1505 On their hearts the solemn pledge a monk 1506 Feels in his nightly sacrifice to the cross? 1507 Silence. So he turned to her: “I’m drunk! 1508 You left me, you rode into the sunset, 1511 Of my broken dreams, where the castle 1512 Crumbled, and you deserted, circumspect. 1514 Of words to suture live my head 1515 And heart. This almighty hassle— 1516 Life was easier then, in the bed 1518 Cold. For five friends dead 1520 A grave watery, and echoing, a feeling 1521 Which manipulates the living in a sham 1522 Advertising of life’s extras, like a healing 1523 That came with love. But this death 1524 And five-fold dead!” Here he is, reeling 1525 From pub to alcoholic taxi, where the breath 1526 Of ancient ritual is flayed to a drop 1527 Of cold moisture on the window. Seth 1528 Expiring on the plains of reason, can hop 1529 Over an old grave and a sacred vow 1530 And he sees in nationhood a sop 1531 To people’s dreams, rather as the cow 1532 Worshipped in twilight plain could be in youth 1534 To find in drunken embrace, a truth, 1535 A twist of notes in a fingered pocket 1536 Nightmares in taxis, and a sleuth 1537 Host to interesting theories, rocket 1538 Off offending daydream, palatial lusts 1539 Take off, like the eye within its socket 1540 Flies on the unsuitable love object, crusts 1541 Of admiration banquet where the dawn 1542 Chorus sets a poem a-flutter with musts. 1543 Such a youth, a blade of grass in a lawn 1544 Of broken glass. A beautiful form 1545 That yet seeks to break his image, pawn 1547 Queen for a lad, servant for a master, 1548 Whatever your fantasy, he’s the norm. 1549 But as they sat on the bench, the castor 1550 Wheels of the drunks’ table slid and glided 1551 Now, shaking like reluctant pastor 1552 Whose submission to the divine will elided 1553 Self, ego, ambition, whole lives’ aim, 1554 Sheep shorn whom the mob derided, 1555 He bowed his head. Simplicity. The same 1556 Head had lain blissful on her breast, 1557 And in a tender moment breathed her name, 1558 Now asks for severance. The test 1559 That fate so cruelly set has proven 1560 Circumstance would undo lovers, of the best 1562 To accident, and counting its cost 1564 Of witches brooded on infidelity, and tossed 1565 Indiscretion before the lovers, a tourniquet 1566 Ill-made and bursting heart embossed 1567 For throwing to the mob, an ill-made bouquet 1568 Of faithless flowers, and indiscriminate affection, 1570 But she could only say his name, perfection. 1571 He turned pale, and denied the power of love, 1572 The past too heavy in a predilection 1573 To deny the flight of the dove. 1574 A thorn in his ringless hand, hard to fit. 1575 No challenge to the known. Should she shove 1576 Recent excavated feelings, spit 1577 Out passionate words which now were hollow 1578 Before his personhood? Better split. 1579 Why demean herself and stay? Would she wallow 1580 In entreaties, imploring a second if. 1581 Her fault, the motor bike a shallow 1582 Interpreter of space before they had a tiff. CANTO 17 His flight was madness: when our actions do not Our fears do make us traitors. William Shakespeare Macbeth II.3 1584 The idea of a possible world where peek the given 1586 Enfolding the hair, like a cherished leaven 1587 To all imaginings, and desiring lift 1588 To Paradise, but remaining until now 1589 In a seamless garment where no rift 1590 Occurs. But he, in the breaking, would least allow 1591 He has been broken. In that breaking 1592 Now complete, self wrenched away, any how. 1593 Despite the adjusted tears in her aching 1594 Heart, the parting was irrevocable, 1595 Fated, ordained in their forsaking 1596 Of each other. He ran, as if unaccountable 1597 To the door. “If,” he shouted, “you felt 1598 Like leaving on your motorbike—understandable! 1600 Weighed against my heart, did not make compact, 1601 If the morning sun crept in and dealt 1602 Me a strange look, do you suspect 1603 Me after my wordless star 1604 Rested in you, inviolate, perfect? 1606 With the greatest joy I have ever known, 1607 Simply because we were not what we are? 1608 Go then, go then. And betray the grown 1609 Woman in you. You feel so free, so free 1610 Riding away on your bike on loan 1611 From your domestic self. You left me, 1613 Outside the magic mound where children see 1614 Forever the Pied Piper of their rambling 1615 Natures, and dance for charity 1616 Forbidden their futures. Is it worth gambling 1617 For the music of the pipes, posterity 1618 Is music that is revved up, 1619 To throw the same glance backward, for clarity?” 1620 “I heard only the honking of horns. Fed up 1621 With the screeching cacophony, I tried to stop 1622 But was carried forward, nearly threw up 1623 With the stink and fumes, emissions. A cop 1625 Feeling like a sorcerer’s dancing mop, 1626 Waiting for the magic word to load on 1627 My anxiety, jerk me to a halt. 1628 In the escapade, there was no code on 1629 Which I could rely. Was it my fault 1630 I was new to the bike, quite afraid?— 1631 The makers’ instructions needed a pinch of salt 1632 I’m not an automaton. But the unpaid 1633 Motor bike sent into reverse 1634 Last night, when we two laid 1636 Language made easy. Confident 1637 We could be different, we were not worse 1638 Than those who make public commitment 1639 And behind closed doors carry on charade. 1640 We were the fullness of ourselves, indifferent 1641 To the sweet honeyed tracts of trade 1642 Brandished in magazines in bright illustration— 1643 The surface only, and the smooth tirade. 1644 What matter if I, the soul of a nation, CANTO 18 The watchmen that went about the citie, found me they smote me, they wounded me the keepers of the walles to away my vaile from me The Song of Solomon 1646 Yet, as she looked askance, at the handsome 1647 Tearful face, she saw a shadow fall. 1648 An aged poet loomed, trying the air to sweeten 1649 With his incongruous shadow, greyer than a pall. 1650 His ashen face with ragged beard looked cursed 1651 He pulled the protesting Adonis to the wall. 1652 Here is a way a she-poet might be worst, 1653 Here was a way her beauty be undone, warp 1654 With feigned love a trembling boy, with pursed 1656 And quieten feeling with a drink of sympathy, 1658 Spike the young forms verging on fertility. 1660 A prodigal nature he hated so to see. 1661 Glad that the worst was happening, grouped 1662 Outside, three women kept up appearance, a taxi 1663 Ticked over for a ride on poetry, the muse pooped 1664 For the night of the flesh carnival. A waxy 1665 Effigy, their common hatred of excellence. 1667 Lest she bloom, have a lovely efflorescence, 1668 Become a poet of note and lasting fame, 1669 —Jealous of the beauty of transcendence; 1670 While he, with five friends dead, was lame, 1671 Like the boy in Hamelin, and quite unaware 1672 His destruction of himself held no shame. 1673 For life for him had never been very fair. 1675 The old grey bard knew how to tap young despair 1676 And on the polluted waters of life, he was free 1677 To embrace with drunken arm the wilted shoulder 1678 Support him to the taxi. The three women’s glee 1679 At a young girl poet defeated in love was colder 1680 Than the embrace of death. Dare be dream Queen 1681 A crowd of three or four is always bolder 1683 That Spanish ale would give her hope 1684 (while he could have the boy for self-esteem). 1685 The magic incantatory song became soap 1686 Opera with his traditional martyr’s whinge 1687 Which sneered at her efforts to cope 1688 Now that the magic love undid the hinge 1689 On respectable behaviour, a patriot’s proband 1690 Flourished in the drinking and the binge 1691 Of sentiment and violence, that was love of land. 1692 The girl, flayed whole in her alcove 1693 Was debased, as she saw the bard’s wandering hand 1694 Insult her lover with caress of mauve 1695 Suggestion, and away they drove. CANTO 19 I charge you, o daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved; That you will tell him I am sick of love. The Song of Solomon 1696 His last shout: “Witch! Go exchange 1697 Reality for dreams. Just get my message: 1698 In my pocket there is the loose change 1699 Of the decade’s debate, and love’s suffrage. 1701 Love, here there is no refuge.” 1702 He clasped a whiskey bottle, scarf askew 1703 Peered out of the taxi. Stained glass 1704 Shimmered as the smoke withdrew 1705 And the fresh air let her pass 1706 Invited guest to the evening’s beauty, 1707 The skies of Dublin like the robes at Mass, 1708 When the priest falls in awe and piety 1710 For himself and the world, a duty 1711 Felt keenly by the worshippers. Her love pays 1712 Now, on the profane sacrilege of youth. 1713 He pulls his red scarf, and he lays 1714 Two fingers on his cheek—no ruth. 1715 “Witch!” He stamps his foot, a mundane 1716 Goodbye to years, greets varnished truth. 1718 Darkness her face, and she can’t believe 1719 What’s happened. Plays the reel again. 1720 But he’s gone, and she goes home to grieve 1721 Falling asleep on the divan bed 1722 A tree in Spring that refused the leaf. 1723 Morning comes like the silver head 1724 Of a stranger probing strange fears, 1725 She jerks awake, goes over what he’s said. 1726 She can find no relief, not even in tears, 1727 Pulls on her clothes. The bike is parked 1728 In the pub yard. She goes back amid leers 1729 And jeers from men who feel marked, 1731 That destiny has left others unmarked, 1732 Squalor and bad accounts of women! 1733 They stare while she beseeches the bar 1734 —Was he really here? The love of my bosom? 1735 She feels naked, like a vivid scar 1736 In a young face, with promises life will mar. CANTO 20 Quai fossi attraversati o quai catene trovasti, per che del passare innanzi dovessite cosi spogliar la spene Dante Purgatorio Canto XXXI 1737 How keep the faith? The years a crescent 1738 Moon that awaits like the first hope 1739 A light before the abyss, before its descent. 1740 So, what is real? She doesn’t know how to cope 1741 Joins a rock band, the first girl drummer 1742 And spins a fantasy of human life; a dope 1744 Of each false pendulum swing into barbarism— 1746 I can no longer break myself, a prison 1747 Of truth, beneath your wheel of life, 1748 I can no longer give myself a schism 1749 Between truth and lie, and be a wife 1750 And widow to the shadow of your promise— 1751 I can no longer run in the streets, rife 1752 With the false truth of the mob, be remiss 1753 To my own true self, and to the tears, 1754 I can no longer love without the premise 1756 Are lapping with the footsteps of the holy 1757 While I spendthrift time, with seers 1758 Who are corrupt as idols, are wholly 1759 Given to pleasing, who smile when gold 1760 Is panned before them. I, solely, 1761 Plant my graveyard and yours. Bold 1762 With the stench of decaying lilies 1765 Pouring out, out of the milk churn at night 1766 Change into nightmare horses, into fillies 1767 Who canter forever to fill the blight 1768 Of time and space, the black void 1769 Where tenderness is off duty, where the right 1770 To be loved may never happen. Best to avoid 1771 All chance, hope. To rest undetermined, 1773 Throw to the raincoat brigade, in vermined 1774 Cinemas for society’s bashes, 1776 For destiny, who will not be outdone. Lashes 1777 Of fate on sale, a cat o’ nine tails— 1778 Who looks on lovers after car crashes? 1780 Sordid limp lives, just going out 1782 And a last curse (of minor doubt): 1783 Reason quenches love, when love’s a sin. 1784 Honour, dimmed through the centuries, gives a shout 1785 In the streets, just as if skin 1786 Were the gateway of trust. But it’s a word, 1787 A name, how undo the curse, free her to win 1788 For a short time again that quiet bird 1789 Of peace, between breast and breast, like a flower? 1790 How come their time was short, more like a surd 1791 A mathematical possibility only. The loan 1792 On her spirit increased its weight 1794 And the whole future was a skate- 1795 Board over the cliff. Her hair 1796 Fell out in handfuls, for her mate 1797 Had disappeared, and she went to her lair, 1798 A hut in the bottom of the garden. 1799 Each night she prayed the curse into a prayer 1800 And prayed with mind and books and body’s burden 1801 To shrivel the noose of a dark devising, 1802 And through her tears she begged pardon 1803 Of every show of love, and revising 1804 Her look at herself, she took some matches 1805 To set fire to the words, that were the baptizing 1807 Through which the hum of love had sounded 1808 She burned her notebooks, sang songs in snatches. 1809 She spurned philosophy; which her heart confounded 1810 With her disjunctured brain, all were set aflame, 1811 The hopes in beauty that tormented her, rounded 1812 With the one poet who loved, who would tame 1813 Curiosity like a lamp a moth, 1814 Dictionaries that would largely take the blame 1815 For confusing divination, and the behemoth: 1816 The web of reality, spun and discarded 1817 Into the tired shells of words, the aftermath 1818 Of exploded experience were like dreams carded 1819 Into notebooks, and were tossed upon the blaze— 1820 Thus did I dream my nights, Osiris. Recorded 1822 Without you, soggy remnants of city lighting 1823 And spectral shadows your eyes, your death stays 1824 Even lonelier through our in-fighting. 1826 Pin you into wholeness on my sighting. 1827 Now, in flames, you are one with the blotters 1828 Of history, who wipe out legend with rationale 1829 And leave us cultural desert, dirty rotters! 1830 In this hot blaze my soul unites with you, special 1831 Marriage of the contingent, that met the poets’ ban— 1832 Take heed, flames, we are one! Who will cavil 1833 Now that cohesion has this plan! 1834 Our formless foolishness will once more perish 1835 Into a perfect shape that loves to scan, 1836 This genius of mine a dervish 1837 Dance of the timeless brain, so burn away 1838 Those who thought our love they would ravish 1839 A cinder trace will form another day, 1840 A banished love the secret and the mystery, 1841 And they will never find another way 1842 In which our private moments make up history. 1843 If they invade like leprous germs our passion 1844 They cannot destroy what is our own consistory, 1845 And if they try to decipher in their fashion 1846 Our secret wording locked into our clay 1847 A hieroglyphic conundrum is their ration! 1848 Why did she not with him stay? 1849 Why did she go on the highway with her bike? 1850 Across the Styx I’ll take you one fine day 1851 And no remorse attend our pyre. To like 1852 Romance impossible, now he was a goner; 1854 Some months hence to be born. To the end a loner 1855 She tossed on the flame the flower of honour. Notes 15] entellus: on the one hand, a Greek term, enteles, from entelechy, a fully-realized essence; and on the other, the name of an East Indian monkey. Here and elsewhere in the poem there is "a split between a priori and empirical philosophy, the apotheosis of which is Darwin and his monkeys, which impacted hugely on religion, and therefore, the spiritual or inner life" (poet's note). Back to Line 30] Polyxena: from the Greek roots poly `many' and xena `foreign', the youngest daughter of Priam, king of Troy, and beloved of Greek Achilles, chief warrior of the Greeks who would destroy Troy in Homer's Iliad. Back to Line 96] canopic: Egyptian jar holding the body's entrails. levirate: Jewish custom, that the next of kin to a dead man might marry his widow. Back to Line 108] diptych: pair of facing leaves or tablets. Back to Line 110] hieroglyphic: characterized by ideographical symbols. Back to Line 116] Osiris: principal Egyptian fertility god, the son of Ra, married to Isis, who bore him a son, Horus. After his murder by Seth, Osiris ruled the underworld until Isis partly resurrected him to life. See the poet's introductory note. Back to Line 146] Isis: wife of the Egyptian god, Osiris, who avenged his murder by Seth. Back to Line 164] coulomb: "the quantity of electricity conveyed in one second by a current of one ampère" (OED). Back to Line 177] Nefertiti: wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV or Akhenaten. Back to Line 192] "Green Sleeves": Renaissance ballad about a beloved of that name. Back to Line 241] stamen: male fertilizing organ of a flower; also "The thread spun by the Fates at a person's birth, on the length of which the duration of his life was supposed to depend" (OED). Back to Line 254] Creosus: king of Lydia in the sixth century BC. Back to Line 270] Sisyphus: a Grecian punished by the gods by having to roll a huge rock up a hill, watch it roll down again, and descend again to it only to repeat this futile feat of strength, eternally. Back to Line 288] Reichian: characteristic of Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), an Austrian psychologist who proposed a novel form of energy, the orgone, that contributed to health and sexual potency. He died in a US prison where he was serving a two-year sentence for selling orgone accumulators in defiance of a prohibition by the Food and Drug Administration. Back to Line 315] Pyrrhic: a victory only in name, or gained at too high a cost; also a metrical foot with unstressed syllables. Back to Line 320] entropy: the thermodynamical process whereby everything becomes, in energy, indistinguishable from everything else, tending to the so-called "heat-death" of the universe. Back to Line 345] wether: male sheep. Cf. Shakespeare's "I am a tainted wether of the flock, meetest for death" ( The Merchant of Venice IV.i. 114-15). Back to Line 366] cataleptic: characterized by seizures or paralysis. Back to Line 436] coin-op: something operated by depositing coins. Back to Line 473] Thoth: ibis-headed Egyptian god who acted as Ra's spokesman. Back to Line 477] Harmachis: the god-like sphinx standing protectively in front of the pyramid now at Giza. Back to Line 490] Ra: principal god of the Egyptian pantheon. Back to Line 519] She shored up what fragments: cf. the last words of the fisher king in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, "These fragments I have shored against my ruins / Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe. / Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata." Back to Line 522] Euclid (Pass): a general (or pass) course in the basic geometry of the Elements of Euclid, an ancient Greek mathematician who lived in Egypt in the reign of Ptolemy I (323-283 BC). Back to Line 542] Angelus bell: a bell rung, morning, noon, and night, at the ceremonial repetition of Gabriel's words of greeting to Mary at the incarnation ("Hail, Mary, the Lord is with you"). Back to Line 564] “Lord Gordon”: a ballad entitled "The Duke of Gordon’s Daughter," about Jeanie Gordon's happy love and marriage with a soldier, one Captain Ogilvie; and a reel played by Irish traditional musicians. Back to Line 584] the Inspector: "Irish schools were monitored by Inspectors from the Department of Education who visited schools and assessed pupils and students" (poet's note). Back to Line 610] The famine: 1847, the height of the Irish potato famine, which killed a million Irish and forced as many again to emigrate. Back to Line 628] extenuate: thin, make meagre, diminish by explanation. Back to Line 634] duende: "a passionate spirit" (poet's note). Back to Line 635] proband: a person chosen to be the subject of an genetic examination. Back to Line 637] saraband: a stately Spanish dance in triple time. Back to Line 652] dervishing: whirling (an invented word, from "dervishes," muslim friars who show their devotion by wild dancing and cries). Back to Line 662] factory hooter: steam whistle or horn that sounds the start or the end of the work-day. Back to Line 676] Teddy Boy: young rowdy, hooligan—after the affected clothes of a fashionable gentleman in the reign of Edward VII (1901-10), side-burned, "strait-jacketed"—a term revived in the 1950s in Britain. Back to Line 722] ruck and camber: quarrelsome archness, perhaps insolent standoffish behaviour. Back to Line 725] fern: tall plants that tend to obscure and surround. Back to Line 744] Royal Liver: assurance company founded in 1850 that supports the arts. Back to Line 745] hocked: pawned. fob / Off: put off, get rid of with little or nothing. Back to Line 764] Forum / Of Earl's Court: Earls Court Exhibition Centre (1991-), one of Britain's largest venues for shows and concerts, in west London. Back to Line 778] Café des Artistes: famous Bohemian restaurant in New York originally frequented by artists—or a place of that kind. Back to Line 781] Styx: the river of the classical underworld across which a ferryman would take one into hell. Back to Line 783] Guelph: medieval Italian aristocratic line, "represented in modern times by the ducal house of Brunswick and the present dynasty of Great Britain" (OED); and here a reference to Dante's exile. Back to Line 798] had ideas: both inappropriate ones (such as science versus nature) and perhaps a design on the relationship that might lead, say, to a one-night stand. no go: not going to happen. Back to Line 819] dances on vases: cf. Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn." Back to Line 845] referent: equivalent, or thing that quite corresponds to it. Back to Line 862] putting out: an easy lay, sexually promiscuous and willing. Back to Line 866] Prince Charming: the handsome lover of the Cinderella faery tale. Back to Line 880] thirteen moons: the number of lunar cycles in a calendar year. Back to Line 896] denoument: revealing part, from French dénoûment, end. Back to Line 907] own-goalie: a goal that one scores on one's own goal-tender. Back to Line 928] Ulster: Northern Ireland, still held by the British. Back to Line 936] gambolled in: sported out with, alive with. Back to Line 943] Shiva: Lord Shiva, the principal, creating-destroying God in Shaivism, a sect in Hinduism. His dance is "death." Back to Line 958] Beatles: 1960s Liverpool rock band, the most successful in history. Back to Line 959] Bob Dylan: American folk singer (1941-). sussin': figuring out. Back to Line 964] Watted: powered (after James Watt, developer of the steam engine). cut-out: fuse, power-breaker. Back to Line 969] uncouth: literally "unknown," but also "impolite." Back to Line 977] sleazy: filthy, disreputable. sluts: ragged, slatternly, dirty women. Back to Line 1038] A black hole: literally, a cosmological entity, a "region within which the gravitational field is so strong that no form of matter or radiation can escape from it except by quantum-mechanical tunnelling, and thought to result from the collapse of a massive star" (OED); but in this context, a universe without love. Possible sexual double entendre; cf. "jet liner" (below). Back to Line 1041] jet liner: used to blacken around the eyes. Possible double entendre. Back to Line 1092] saltire: coat of arms "in the form of a St. Andrew's cross, formed by a bend and a bend sinister, crossing each other; also, a cross having this shape" (OED). Back to Line 1097] spancelled: a spancel or span, a yoke of a horse that impedes movement ("spalcined" in 2002). Back to Line 1110] “News of the World”: tabloid newspaper specializing in scandal, sex, sports, and celebrities. Back to Line 1130] Hendrix: Jimmy Hendrix (1942-70), American jazz-blues-rock musician, accidentally died in London from a drug overdose. Joplin: Janis Joplin (1943-70), American blues-rock singer, accidentally died from drugs and alcohol. Back to Line 1141] My Lai: site of a massacre of unarmed Vietnamese, mostly women and children, by American soldiers on March 16, 1968. Back to Line 1149] par for the course: business as usual (golfing phrase). Back to Line 1156] Byzantine: "tortuous discourse not remembered" (poet's note), from the medieval empire whose capital was Constantinople and whose gifts to civilization include civil law. Back to Line 1184] AWOL: away without leave (military phrase). Back to Line 1189] bleep: a mid-twentieth-century word for a high=pitched squeek made by electronic equipment. Back to Line 1208] existence … essence: two concepts distinguishing existentialism (man makes his essence in the course of existing) and Christianity (man's nature precedes his begetting). Back to Line 1216] cyclorama: "A picture of a landscape or scene arranged on the inside of a cylindrical surface, the spectator standing in the middle" (OED). Back to Line 1218] Karma: in Buddhism and Hinduism, "In Buddhism, the sum of a person's actions in one of his successive states of existence, regarded as determining his fate in the next; hence, necessary fate or destiny, following as effect from cause" (OED). Back to Line 1227] scrimmage: a fight (sports term from football). Back to Line 1230] Patrick: St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, was believed to have rid the island of snakes. Back to Line 1244] pollage: "his contact details" (poet's note). Back to Line 1248] "The Catacombs": a Dublin locality where Bohemians met, from the ancient subterranean cemetery, as in Rome and Egypt. Back to Line 1266] crammer: a student who studies intensively at the last moment. Back to Line 1267] epistomelogy: the study of what it is to know. Back to Line 1285] dole: unemployment insurance, a public charity. Back to Line 1362] tear drop petrol tank: a gas tank shaped like a dropping tear. Back to Line 1421] dithered: dilly-dallied, irresolutely occupied. Back to Line 1422] vroomed: made the :roaring noise of a motor vehicle accelerating or travelling at speed" (OED). Back to Line 1425] Adonis: handsome youth god, worshipped as a cult in classical times, supposedly beloved of Venus and killed by a wild boar's tusks. Back to Line 1428] post coitum tristum sunt: after intercourse [males] are sad. Back to Line 1438] trilobite: arthropod, with a segmented exoskeleton and jointed appendages, thought to be extinct until a specimen turned up off the coast of Africa in the 1930s. Back to Line 1453] Grafton Street: main shopping street in Dublin. Back to Line 1490] hauteur: haughtiness. finick: affectedness. Back to Line 1510] parapet: military earthwork or stone rampart. Back to Line 1585] quiff: "curl or lock of hair plastered down on the forehead … a tuft of hair brushed upwards over the forehead" (OED). Back to Line 1612] Hamelin: the Pied Piper of Hamelin, betrayed by townsfolk, left one lone lame boy behind, of all their children that, in revenge, he took away with him. Robert Browning's poem is perhaps the best known version of this story in English. Back to Line 1657] agit-prop: agitation propaganda, manifesto writings. Back to Line 1666] doxy: "Dublinese for `a learned girl'" (poet's note). Back to Line 1682] "Dark Rosaleen": a love ballad by James Clarence Mangan (1803–49). Back to Line 1709] transubstantial host: the bread of the mass, transformed into the body of Christ. Back to Line 1730] a hair of the dog [that bit them]: the liquor that gave them their present hangover. Back to Line 1743] Abraxas: "the end of good and evil" (poet's note); from the horse that drew the chariot of Helios, the Greek sun god. mummer: mime. Back to Line 1763] sepal: leaf of a flower's calyx, the bud's envelope. Back to Line 1764] tillies: additional articles or amounts "unpaid for by the purchaser, as a gift from the vendor" (OED; Irish). Back to Line 1772] Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Austrian psychiatrist, the founder of psychoanalysis, who coined the phrase "Oedipus complex" for what he believed to be a common but repressed human desire to commit incest. Back to Line 1779] Lilliputian: miniature (from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels). Back to Line 1781] synchronicity: Carl Jung's concept, "the phenomenon of events which coincide in time and appear meaningfully related but have no discoverable causal connection" (OED). Back to Line 1793] koan: Buddhist paradox, such as "what is the sound of one hand clapping?" Back to Line 1821] tenebrae: "The name given to the office of matins and lauds of the following day, usually sung in the afternoon or evening of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in Holy Week, at which the candles lighted at the beginning of the service are extinguished one by one after each psalm, in memory of the darkness at the time of the crucifixion" (OED). Back to Line