1. The Taste of the Leithe
Savory, rich and chilling;
That is the taste of the Leithe.
Clear is the water as the silver-laced gravel of its bed
And tasting it they say one loses desire for all but the bliss of the sunlit fields.
They–the ancients who,
On their great Odyssey,
Saw all lands and all rivers
And chose the Leithe for the glades of their eternity.
There, in farthest Elysium, I wish to be;
To dwell by the river Leithe in deep oblivion
And drink from its rippling flow;
To lie on its grassy banks
And know nothing but the sight before my eyes;
To sit, and sleep, and forget all the waste lands of the earth.
Such is my wish – those happy glades.
My life’s course run,
No more the future yawning out before me.
My children numbering among the stars of the sky,
Rivulets of my mind and blood spreading through the world.
All the energy of my spirit spent
And the taste of the Leithe my only desire.
[Leithe pronounced to rhyme with ‘teeth’]
2. In the most literal sense I am an atheist. I do not believe that God exists in a formal manner, in other words, I do not believe that God exists in the way you or me or this table my laptop is on exists: as existents, as beings. But in its own way atheism is just another manner of thinking about divinity and as such is just rich and diverse as theism. My atheism does not deny the usefulness of the notion of divinity, like, say, the atheism of Richard Dawkins, but rather looks at god a concept analogous to justice or the good.
This excerpt is the most profound articulation on the relationship between god and man I have read since Tillich last summer.
Mortals dwell in that they await the divinities as divinities. In hope they hold up to the divinities what is unhoped for. They wait for intimations of their coming and do not mistake the signs of their absence. They do not make their gods for themselves and do not worship idols. In the very depth of misfortune they wait for the weal that has been withdrawn.
- Martin Heidegger (Building Dwelling Thinking)
An untranslated prayer to the god of the Leithe
Panicky fear shear sweating leach of ache,
As you reach beneath your hopes,
Grope wildly and fall, dropping
Into a gaping bergschrund whose
Black stony mouth you know must shelter
Some things green and living but now
Emits a smell of dripping-cold-decayings-flowings
Like the rank wind out of an cave where some small
Animal has crawled to die.
You walk, you pace from
Chair to chair, you sit and stare,
And then from catatonic stillness, your catacombs enthrall,
You leap up and are away
To pay some half-remembered
Debt to some half-living sorcerer
Who will accept only the
Ash of the tree that was planted
On the day of your birth.
Like from granitic pain all your sense,
Shrinks and darkens like a migraine of a
Wild rose on a funeral pier.
And everything is grainy and blurred – an old convex screen
Caving at the corners, narrowing, mirroring the fragility,
The paucity, the poor and desiccated
Swell of the river’s forward bed revealed.
This is the fragile, your life in the evening:
You slept the day and now it is dimming and still warm
And your mouth has a coating of foul-taste
And your thoughts are a litany of
All that curdles in you – the horrible, the horror;
(the murderous gesture of blackening blood)
And the ceremony of forgiveness is that old apple
Tree, dying from the core,
As they build and re-build and plan to re-build and tell you
All their unwritten and unthought plans, in that little addict’s house,
Now a testimony to a different kind
Of grow light and a different kind
The ceremony is this – the rot seen
And unseen, the lot of that house: cramped,
Vibrant, stamped with fragility – to he who cannot forget
His own transgressions.
Fragile the hope and fragile the dread,
Fragile the fragility of the pen,
So that someday it might feel to be made
Of that leaden fright like your flesh when you are
Just beginning to be sick.