Monday, November 2, 2009

The Boy and the Petrel

There once was a child born in the verdancy of a warm and gentle earth. And he slept on the shore of the sea. There came a time when he awoke and saw that all was askew, tasted that the water was salty and felt that the stones were rough. So did he flee into the woods and vales and dwelt among the people there, who lived their world a simple and unaltering path. He grew fat on their fare, sick with their drink, for he had not been born among them, though in the end of it they too could not stomach their being. So did he flee to the sea, to its wild ferocity and earthgrinding power. And into it he leapt and he swam until he came to a rock and there he rested and looked to the shore and saw that he had gone only a little way, and could have but waited for the tide to bring up a bridge of stone to his promontory. And he was cold and hungry and thirsty and above all else he was afraid, for he did not know where to go.
Seeing him there, so lonely and windblown, Ulmo, lord of the seas, sent to him a petrel, who alighted on the rock and spoke to him,
“Why are you here all alone?” it asked and he answered,
“None of the men of the valley would come.”
“And why was that?” the petrel asked again.
“Because they were cowards, they saw the sea and were afraid.”
“And you were not afraid?”
“I am, but I mastered my fear.”
“The why do you sit and weep?” At this the boy was angry, but he saw the lies of his soul. And he petrel spoke again,
“Did you think them utter fools, and yourself above them that you should search out what they fear? Do you know why they fear the sea? For it is why you too have not strayed from this rock”
And again the boy was angry and he answered,
“I stay only because I have not yet decided in which direction to swim.” To this the petrel said,
“The ocean is trackless, there are no paths for you to follow, swim north, west, south or east and you will either drown or be washed again upon this shore. You, who are young, should not scorn the paths of the forest men, for they live and pass their blood unto the generations to come and fear with good cause the deep waters of the world. you may live among them, or among others, but Ulmo may not spare you again if you cast yourself into the waves.”
And upon hearing this the boy wept one final time and took himself up and walked back to the forest and lived and died among the men of the wood.
And the petrel took flight and soared high above the stormy shore until it could see the light of Arien upon its dark feathers.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

London Poems

Westminster Crypt

Gothic halls and pilastered colonnades,
chapels cluttered with the tombs of vile Anglo kings.
Visages engraved in stone,
Latin blessings for the tyrants of the centuries.
And through it,
among ancient buttresses and underneath high rib vaulting,
sunlit by high clerestory windows,
a murmuring unholy mob,
faithless and faceless as the moldering.
Blaspheming this place as the dead stone pagans never could.

Cloisters where once walked Benedictines in their meditations
now lined with laymen fat and blabbering,
in whose sight this temple - a mausoleum.
Monument to a dead god and his slaughtered son,
to an age of dim ceremony and rituals whispered from sacred texts.
To a time and a place long since fallen into the earth,
so that this dwelling place of god is made a dripping crypt

Cathedral Light

The land here is flat,
far to the horizon without mountain or sea;
as if for not but the cloud wall my eyes could peer into infinity.

From high atop this byzantine spire I see all the paths of man,
cutting across the earth and sky.
And again, ringed by storms approaching,
sun swallowed up by that grey Olympus above the earth,
unto me there comes a hope.

Some divine love in the dim and reeking chambers,
searching me out and undoing all my barred gates.

That here he should come to me again,
that in this place should I see that by which the world is righted.
Mind and soul rent open and poured into the stone gutter
The sodden candle I was so desperately attempting to light
washed beyond Styx in a bloody flood.