Tag Archives: Imagery

“The ‘Once’, the ‘Ever'”

…dedicated to Hermann Bloch
1 November 1886– 30 May 1951
“”I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.”

“The ‘Once’, the ‘Ever'”

The once, the ever, standing in the atrium must burn;
The nexus of the meeting of the feeble lamps are lit as Virgil sits alone,
The flint stone at the confluence of the rivers; a tone
Once heard, a trace no more than words. Ever then discerns
A wisdom in the lengthening of days on end;
A reconciliation of the first sun’s now within
The pale of the last night’s then and all its many-eyed kin;
The End, scintilla of a notion’s distant toast:
“To Cæsar!” Distractions in the movement defer to mortality, defend
The pattern as it is, the peoples’ choice, a proud
Morbidity based in universal song on this, a night of leaving, joy
On this, a day of meeting. Stars and verses, voids,
A universe of empty consummation never executed while clouds
Obscure the moon, as ever toils below;
Perspicuous, yes! the once and only suns express,
So dark a night as never and one more day of less.

.

Block’s Death of Virgil had to be the most ambitious reading of any single novel I have ever read with James’ The Ambassadors right up there with it, but a close second. The stimulus of both novels, however, is incomparable in value and I can suggest that anyone who values the language should read both of them at least once before death simply because they exist; as Everest has been for the mountain climbers, so both novels have been to anyone who reads and loves the language.

Block’s “Virgil” is not fun to read, but it represents an incomparable challenge and once conquered, a kind of badge of honour having braved the greatest storms of both prose and poetry that could be imagined short of blowing out the circuits of both.

With the James novel, it was said that it was his favourite, but apparently almost impenetrable to some readers of his time. To one “Lady ‘whomever’” who complained of this, he advised sticking with it and that once having arrived at a certain point in the narration, the specific gravity or gravitas of that novel would hit and the worth of the whole vindicated. And so it was; I had to read that novel page by page, reading each several times to get anything near clarity in what was being said or where the action of that novel was going. Then, one late afternoon, while cooling off from a very hot shower in preparation for going out for the evening, I decided to sit on my bed, pick up that novel and continue plugging away at it. Suddenly, there it was! A catharsis of unimaginable majesty that hit so hard that I almost cancelled my evening out in order to continue reading to the end. Great works are like that.

For me, there is no “fun” involved in reading, but the rewards are everlasting, something that is rare in the reading of secular prose. Block’s work is a combination of poetry and prose in a mixture I never thought possible until reading “Virgil,” and I cannot imagine now, an equal to this. My sonnet alludes to but one of the thoughts that seem to dance throughout that work in spite of laborious, endless poetry, all of which may be beautiful, but only in small doses like genuine truffles; like chocolate, there are some things in this world that are “legal” but close to lethal in effects, and Block’s “Virgil” comes quite close to that.

 

“He Delights in Convenient Signs”

vintage_radio_by_jesse-d4xymyv

“He Delights in Convenient Signs”

He delights in convenient signs: the sun, the moon, the stars
The universe, and through illusion his eyes declares the day
And night are one. His view will see its way
Through symbols. He sees all points of value from within or far
Above their azure prison bars of graphs, these atmospheres
That parent all the earth, extending parts per million through to voids
Above, below, and far behind the splay of asteroids,
And solitudes in comets, sunspots, suspect planets, clear
Blue skies, and all twelve scions in the heavens and this
With ease and loving faith with no regard for certitude. Who
Is not taken with parades, grand processions,
Multiples of keen perception spliced with clear impressions,
Curtain calls for universes, wholes in which the paper defines the clues
To occupy the crude sophistication of our many-billioned eyes?
And after all, these cosmic nosegays raise all souls, and take us to the skies.

parallel_universe

…at top, photograph by Jesse on deviantArt.com…

“But That We All Are”

index

“But That We All Are”

But that we all are on the List and die
And once again appear on someone’s right
Or left-hand honoured roll in fame and light
And all that can be cherished, or idolised
Within a spectrum visible, allied,
Augmented well beyond the common sight,
Imagination rife with conjecture’s might,
A lunacy to thoughtful evidence, despised,
The greatest fear to those who would have it so,
Impediment to all that is the mind,
Bliss to hearts who bear the Holy Texts
Of all humanity; the choices grow
To what has sanctified the quest, the line
Of clear succession of life and what comes next.

Matt Adnate

…paintings above, Matt Adnate;  below, Michael Staniak…

“Questions”

Ambiguity_480

“Questions”

Questions mount in compliments, the third’s irrelevant:
To be or not to be, to seek the seen or unseen or not to see
at all; so, what’s a circus in a world without eternity?
Then, again, even if no one’s here still the monitor’s adamant
Unequivocal nothing has happened–so what’s the point?
And were you here beside me, would I then need sleep,
Awake but to open my mouth and sing? Would I seek another deep
Abyss within, impose a curfew on the thing or casually anoint
The latest impasse with a casual kiss? There’s a Judas in this;
His days are numbered with the dusts, the rust of wrinkled
Inevitability with excess housed in reliquaries of gold
Whence comes the latest least expected crop
Of shibboleths, coined and counted; there we’ll be atop the list
Some two branches on the tree, twin tokens found, no other sound,
And when I go you’ll miss the show, and who’ll lay me in the ground?

…art piece above by Robin Kranitzky & Kim Overstreet

“As the Sea”

Bahá’ís throughout the world celebrate this day [beginning at sunset] as the Day of the Covenant, the Celebration of the Eternal Covenant between God and Mankind through His Manifestations and Prophets, eternal in the past, eternal in the present, eternal in the future:

“His Holiness Abraham, on Him be peace, made a covenant concerning His Holiness Moses and gave the glad-tidings of His coming. His Holiness Moses made a covenant concerning the Promised One, i.e. His Holiness Christ, and announced the good news of His Manifestation to the world. His Holiness Christ made a covenant concerning the Paraclete and gave the tidings of His coming. His Holiness the Prophet Muhammad made a covenant concerning His Holiness the Báb and the Báb was the One promised by Muhammad, for Muhammad gave the tidings of His coming. The Báb made a Covenant concerning the Blessed Beauty of Bahá’u’lláh and gave the glad-tidings of His coming for the Blessed Beauty was the One promised by His Holiness the Báb. Bahá’u’lláh made a covenant concerning a promised One who will become manifest after one thousand or thousands of years. –`Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith

IMG_6562

“As the Sea”

As the sea swells, so the Covenant remains, promises fulfilled.
Through Abraham the Friend of God, and Moses, Giver
Of The Law; fruited and confirmed in Jesus Son of Mary given
In His Person more–the Love of God–and through His Will,
Submission under God in Hijáz through Muhammad, Seal of Prophets;
From the East, Lord Krishna of The Three, The holiness of Buddha in Purity;
The Fires of Zoroaster from the mountain; security from casuistry
Within the Witness of The Báb, and Justice in Bahá’u’lláh
`gainst the nursery rhymes of sophists
And the worship of Creation over He who did create
The whole with but a single Word, “Be!” Hosts exclaim and expiate
Their cavils at the Word through numbers, and the terror of the tribes.
Armies propagate
Their synergies against the tide of history, bow the knee to what they rape,
And call it truth. By God! The earth is weary of their weight.
The Word alone remains; the Covenant alone withstands this dreary freight.

“His Days In Office”

“His Days In Office”

His days in office draw him closer to himself;
He knows he’ll  finish what he long ago began,
And now? Well, now the dusts and sands
Sequestered in the hourglass run low, the shelf
Awaits, perhaps in this hall or on the other wall
Among the former Oval Offices eulogized
And honoured, and after all, who imagines perpetuity? No surprise
In this, and nothing to be done but heed the last election’s call.
He knows exactly what he’s  done, and he recalls
The early years when nothing hinted at the fall
Of institutions or what his fellows thought when one and all,
They outdid themselves before his very eyes. Wthal,
Their thoughts so tersely croaked upon the twigs of some fine November’s day,
Are odd reminders that values change, and curds dissolve in all that whey.

“My, My, So Come Now!”

masques

“My, My, So Come Now!”

My, my, so come now! We’re a busy man today.
Strange to see when, only yesterday I heard you say
You’d turned a leaf or two, induced a change
So greatly you could taste it

You’d packed her bags, and said you’d waste it,
Took a train (perhaps a plane), or took the cure
In no more likely place than tree rings, age,
Withal, sublime, and now the buffet’s on.

. . .You called my name?
You knew your time had come for sure.
You wanted me to take for granted all
Your best intentions, and forestall
. . .some rupture in the waterbed.

Was it something someone said, or were you that disturbed
With smirking, smugness, the perturbed. . . .

(They’d never think of this before
To beat you to the punch to make the score
Themselves before the world, and all that’s holy);

So you were first to burn, the burn so solely
For the good it’d bring in time for auld lang syne,
And all that’s wholly pure and good tonight.

You know, when after all is said and done,

And certain things which must be spun
Restrain the world, there’s yet time to spin
The thing, and youth’s enough to win,
(You must have sown a few yourself and let the rest be damned.)

You do know why you pressed this thing tonight,
This thing you do when fires are boiling light,
. . . come on, you fool!…
Oh come all that’s faithful in the light tonight.

You know you’re on, so leave the wrath
As exposed as stumps and what’s still in the tub, a bath
Or better in the shower. Got a better plan?
Hey mahatma; got a better thing to do than leave?

You really want to lead, and bless the soils with seed.
In an evening not unlike this night there’s yeast this affair.
You want the world to see your hair
And how you move it all and how you salt the soil,

How you shake doxologies, burn incense and holy oils
Replicating earthly cannon till the cows go home,
And once again, of course you’re all alone. . .
. . .did I say that?
. . .did you say that?  Did I say that?

“Sans Setting of the Sum”

“Sans Settling of the Sum”


Sans settling of the sum, no silent night;

The cold and darkest midnight, no brightest sun
Regained upon the freshness of a morning run
From first awakenings to the duties of the light.
Sans route and paths to shorelines, fishermen
Cast no net nor fruit upon the table there
Beneath the candle and the moonbeam; no joyful stares
Of wide-eyed eager mouths to take the bread, no beds
For doting families there to cradle and caress the children;
No willing intimacy in loving parents, no hopeful news.
And yet, of course, comes danger from the sea,
The stormy petrol cries in certain seasons that must be
Harbingers of hurricane and trial, what we choose
To call the birth pains in a loving mother: nature in herself brings waste.
Her ends must come before beginnings, her gifts but ballast tossed in haste.

“Disconnect the Vowels”

antistrophe

“Disconnect the Vowels”

Disconnect the vowels, then.  Glory in what’s left.
Within a simple strophe leave
Judgment by the door. Wear no sleeve
No packaged thing to sign a sentiment or star the shibboleth bereft
Of common sense, urgent cause
For precious ointments long ago
Nonplussed and unfit for use. Justly, as it should, in isolated slow
Progress through generations, the hoary stories’ pause
As literary cusps on scrolls between cycles’ broader strokes
To stoke what it is we think we know, or what all know as lies.
The verdicts will, of course, disguise themselves as scripture in the eyes.
And do you think so handsome gilded spokes
Of wheels as cycles’ pillars, circumferences to cover centuries of tears
So fragile that words ascribed to Lear can touch the hearts and quell all fears?

“Just What You Meant”

“Just What You Meant”

Just what you meant is not too clear today
While all the world feels indisposed but then, aside
From that, it seems the effort to decide
To see must equal if not dwarf the weight
Of longing to be done with this and out
The door and down the street, and gone.
You might well ask what siren draws me out along
A path to worlds away from you, when the route,
The melody we felt, inevitable as the juggernaut of dawn
And all we pledged through pale eternities in this
Fresh day still shone. Together, a certainty that ruled those early mists
Throughout the early morning’s night, what had drawn
Us so close with lightning’s grease to both our spirits’ light?
Instincts lost left walls of thought, but in the end,
all actions dulled as the sun rose and both of us took flight.