Poetic Writings
       by Mike Cleven



Introductory Fragments:


Why do I sing arcane, you say?
      Why dare rhyme and rhythm's beat? Why not??
For doggerel's more than verbal play,
      and my scope, I'd say, matches modern rot!

(from Enconium II)



And so, we know not more than this:
All men's redes are but cold artifice

(from Rede)



All the songs are sung; the dances danced, the vessels poured-out of all their wine.

(from Time and Death, 1991)




Poems on this page (to be found below the commentary)


Time and Death       The Fever       Oracle       The Far Lands       The Refuge       The Nevernight       Lightning (Zeus)       Bellerophon's Song       Canticle
Testament       Homage to Delos      Minerals III      Dusk      Journey to the Cayoosh      Yukon Journey      Bridge River Memories     
The Bards of Babyon - Babylon Epilogue I - Babylon Epilogue II       In Worldbane Wood I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII (The Fortress)

The above fragments are perhaps core thoughts called upon to introduce the small selection which follows, even though the poems the first two are drawn from are not reproduced here.  The last one, from a short piece of anguishment called Time and Death written in early 1991, is one of my last poetical writings, and maybe an epitaph to the lot - something like the Oracle of Delphi's famous last lines announcing its own retirement.  Not because the fires which drove my poetic output have been extinguished, but because they have turned in different directions and reshaped and reformed, and the gift of golden tongue I had for a brief, furious few years in the early1980s has long since been burnt away - or maybe stunted by harsh realities which did not permit it to flourish, as may have been the case had I been born into, say, an upperclass family in late 19th Century England, in a society and culture where "being a poet" was not seomething entirely disreputable, and had an actual audience. 

As alluded to in the quatrain above, my style as it was manifested was - especially at the time, the early '80s - considered archaic and out-of-step with "modern poetry", and I had no interest in reading from salon to salon or bookstore to bookstore, sucking up to the officially-approved poets of academia and government grants.  I wrote because I had to, because the words and verses came full-born, no doubt influenced or echoed in style as a result of my choice of preferred readings of those times - Yeats, Sir Philip Sidney, The Metaphysicals, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Swinburne, William Everson and his master Robinson Jeffers, the German poets, Franz Kafka's parables etc.  (I had not yet come across Seamus Heaney, perhaps the sole poet in English nowadays who sends chills down my spine).  Those "official" poets who "reviewed" my materials generally slagged me, in at least one harsh-memoried case with dire personal attack, criticizing me for the use of rhyme, the invocation of the ancient mythologies, the employment of cliches and paraquotes as poetic ideom, and so on....all these things have come full-circle now and, as with "classical music" and its return to tonality and melody, all that I had been criticized for is now "permissible" again, with mixed and generally uninspired results.  For to me, poetry and poetic creation (film, music, etc.) is about the inspiration, the meaning or spirit or purpose of the work, not the self-conscious crafting of content-vacuous works of heavily-doted style which is all I see in most modern English-language poetry, particularly in Canada.

I did not mean to write a lengthy description of the meaning of my works here, or to engage in a diatribe against other poets or the arts establishment, so I will desist.  The previous version of this page was an index of a full set of nearly all my poetical writings - not put up on the web out of personal vainglory but in something like humble prostration of my entire nakedness - for poetry involves a nakedness of mind no matter how arcane or cryptic the text - but there was simply too much there.  And of the many cryptic and symbolic works there was much that needed extended footnotes, and even the more straightforward texts included references of philosophical allusions/statements which required further commentary that was not possible within the dense language of the poem.  Some of the material was direly personal or even intimate in nature, and some of the landscape writing was so place-specific that it was almost more of a sketch for a painting or short film than for a published poems.

The remaining selection, following below, is a sampling of both more "recent" works (late '80s-early '90s) and the overtly hardcore rhyming period that first engulfed me and in which I nearly drowned; or rather, which had no outlet and no nourishment, and so withered as a plant overgrown for its flowerpot.  The last piece, quoted in its seven-item cycle, In Worldbane Wood,  is drawn from a much longer piece tentatively titled The Dark Giant, which was written during the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980; the last item, entitled The Fortress, was one of my first writings, a month or two before the volcano-driven works, perhaps an omen of their coming.  The work preceding it, The Bards of Babylon, was the expansion of the first two lines, which were noted to me by my then-classics professor, the late Richard L. Sullivan, who encouraged me to "do something more with them"; it was the success of the result that maybe gave me the confidence to assay the longer Nordic-flavoured work from which In Worldbane Wood was drawn. 

As with much of my apparently-mythological writings, the meanings hidden within these lines discuss contemporary events (as well as their connectivity to ancient ones) and the endtime-flux which is the hallmark of our age, using the Celto-Nordic paradigm as the language of expression.  It is some of my best rhyme, if not my clearest.  Written around the same time is the quatrain above, it is from a much longer set of quatrains over living as a hungry poet in rich times which has no taste or value for the gift with which I had been cursed (cf Bellerophon's Song, below), unless it can be packaged and sold.  I should add also that all of my works are in a sense more scripts than poetry, as they are meant to be read aloud and the particular semantic weight of certain words cannot be expressed simply by letters on a page alone; the voice in which the rhyming material was spoken was a ringing, deep and slow voice; the later material very dark, perhaps almost angry, rising to brilliant, meaningless grandeur, as in the case of The Fever  (the 2nd poem below).

I have changed much since all of this writing - I am "not him anymore" - and focussing my creative energies on acting, screenwriting and possibly film-making, and disciplining my musical abilities....so that, indeed, I can be "packaged and sold".  I did not want to take all my poetry down off the internet, as it is something of a "credential" for me - a definite and very real part of who I had been, if am not now - and I have no reason to deny or be in shame of it.  Read into it what you will, but do not presume to find truth in it, for I cannot - and I am the one who wrote it down....

There is no particular order below, except that newer material tends to come first.  Some annotations have been added which I had not bothered to clarify before but feel necessary now if the context of the passage is otherwise misleading.  Items which previously untitled retain that appellation in brackets for the working title, which was created to allow the indexing of the links above.

Mike Cleven



Time and Death


Time and death and love and fate; what else is there that maps us out
with such brutal force and fervent faith?  Is there a path upon which
there are no such stones?  Is there a tree that does not bear this fruit?

On some nights we are alone; utterly, without reprieve, even if a dearest one has just bid us adieu.
On some nights we are in grief; utterly, without reprieve, even if a dearest one has given us embrace.
On some nights we are dried-up, without reprieve, even if a dearest one has left us filled with comfort.

All the songs are sung; the dances danced, the vessels poured-out of all their wine.

c. Jan 1991

Other than its obvious personal tone, this was an effort - somewhat subconscious - to resist the modern-day penchant for short, tense lines in favour of a longer metre and line-length, emulating the French alexandrine and the dactylic hexameter used by Homer. 


The Fever

(Eros I)

What beauties have we squandered,
what gifts spoilt and ruined
by forcing too hard the hand of destiny!

Amid the flotsam of these latter days,
amid the strewn glories of our ancient Empire
that made the blood of Poets
and the deaths of all our Kings -

Did we love less that we knew Love no more,
or made greater Loss of all our Victory,
for but to reckon with our Deeds?
Waking from Dream within the Flesh
we found a Knowing too strong to face,
too Great to fear. Passion cast our burden
out before the eyes of Fate, Love
tumbled with the mountains of the Night.

Yea, that we might walk this way no more!
That all our Trying's but a foil,
to starve the World with Surfeit
and bitter Loneliness. The Gods of Anger
and of Love, and of the madness that is Song,
stride forth into the rosy-fingered Dusk.
The horses of the Sea mount and rear, in foamy mane,
ablaze with Virtue and with Might,
the tune of Heaven chording through the Sky:
Light, and Life, and Love the lash
to idle hearts aggrievened by the Weight of History.

Touch me now, and bring here your side to me:
cleave me to the Knowledge of your Form.
Grasp me in the sweetness of thy sylvan strength -
Show mine eyes the Thunder; thy Skin, the Armour of my soul.

(Eros, fevered, awakes)

(1991 or 1992)


Oracle (Untitled)

Lo, I have been long upon this Earth. I have felt the rain
run upon my scalp like cold blood; I have seen the fire
and ruin in more hearts and minds than I now can count;
I have seen and known the doom of love, the liberation
that is in desolation and despair and loss, the folly
that happiness and pleasure can wreak upon unwary souls.

Do you see my mind? Can you know my thoughts?
Would you tell me that all I have learned is naught
and I am bitter without cause, that all is sunlight
and rejoicing and fat life - like cattle chewing grass
contentedly in a slaughterhouse's fields? That sorrow
only falls on those who earn and deserve its pain,
that blithe ignorance is the surest cure for destiny
and loud and false vulgarity the best antidote for knowledge?

How many years of life are lived
before purpose flowers and fruits,
the heavy load of duty finding seed?

I walked in mountain dales where greed has scarred the land;
I roamed the streets of cities seeking reason and a friend;
I rode the great highways to fill out the boundaries of my span;
I swam the coldest rivers, burned a fire to name the end.

.....there is so much noise - disquiet is a bane
for thoughtful speech.......

(August 1995)



The Far Lands

Desolation: the far lands,
unbidden, swarming into you,
and farther in, to undo their
long history into the entwinings
of your hands, broken
by your glance and changed
forever by your tread.

They are unmade - those ancient
hills are crumbled by the will of Man.
Maps enchart their mystery, their
fierce blood tapped to feed
our ravened hordes;
no more mountains twist
into a far never, where
none may longer go.
their gates are closed
by the taking of their names.

Dreams of plateau starlight, canyons
in the hidden moonshadow; even winds
that sweep the mountain lakes,
pines roaring at the end of day.




Refuge (Untitled)

The wind howls around our refuge,
shakes the burning dark with thunder.
The earth presses above our heads;
We grasp the shadows with our hearts.

Do you love me still, my long-lost one?
Do you want me in the winter night,
wake dreaming of my kiss on summer morns?
Would you be swallowed again into my love?

Mountains rear above the sheltered sea
winding deep into the monstrous land
hand breaks on rock, storm freezes on crag
Dry and drier and the lands beyond.

Do you feel my remembrances?
Do you wonder at our stranged ways
and hope to find my face again
upon where your shoulder meets its nape,
                    your leg thy loin?

The world around is is made end,
The forest falls to feed time's fire.
The sky opens to yet sharper stars -
yet no world outlasts even a long-lost love.



The Nevernight

Take me back to the nevernight: light
the dew diamond with rainbow-burned fires.
Let me traipse wild on the yonder's far side: guide
me 'tween world and other with the darkling day's chance.

How safe I have been on this pale of men: When
I came hence I fell fourty leagues and ten souls.
But give me now a new mystery: history
is moot: my life is bored dull and waste.

I would rather be made than not: hot
are the flames of the puritan's hell.
I venture into the folds of change: strange
I would more risk that than a cage.
 

(1985)


Lightning (Zeus)

The fire of heaven, the fire in man,
the fire that grasped a burning brand,
singed raw meat, and smote an eye,
then raised a fist, burned, and tore the sky.



Bellerophon's Song

   I

I never asked to be born into this age
   or saddled with this tongue;
I never asked for an avenger's rage,
   or lust, the glory of the urgent young;
I never made cunning song or rhyme
   that cast in other than mortal time;
I never made my flesh's weight
   or the burden of man's mystery;
I never chose a fatal fate
   or the terror of a history:
I have worn a hundred names,
   have lived too many foreign fames -
This, this, is just a passing face,
   a madness to drive the mortal day,
a rift-closed time, a gap-filled space,
   a rotten carcase to be thrown away -
I'd fain be unharnessed of this dreadful task,
   riding whipped by a muse without being asked;
but I shudder to see a cancer spread,
   my form is pounded by the angered dead
who ride my roads on high wingéd horse
   - would I beg this golden bridle, these spurs,
                           these furies' force??   *
 

 II

And Pegasus, fair Pegasus, is dead!
   That shining mane, flashing wings, and silver-bright head
struck asunder and smashed by great bolts of light
   hurled down, hurled down, by heaven's murderous might!
Pegasus, Pegasus, my proud-pinioned steed -
   Did I waste the last of your fabulous breed?

(February 1982)

* The original form of Part I of Bellerophon's Song I cannot remember, nor find the manuscript for (although it still exists, somewhere in my jumbled belongings).  At a "working poet's" behest, I made an attempt to "edit" these overtly-found/uttered works and reversed a pair of couplets with another pair of couplets; either to "improve" the rhyme scheme or the sequence of thoughts expressed.  Its gait limps now in the middle area of the poem, and ultimately I will restore the original manuscripted form.  Interestingly, when critiqued as part of a small local poetry competition in Victoria, where I was living at the time, the presiding judge (whose name was concealed and remains so, but I suspect may have been Robin Skelton) commented on this lapse of poesis, even pointing directly to the lines involved.  Which serves as an example to me of the dangers of "workshopping" poems away from their original genesis towards something more "edited" and "professional".  The shape of the last closing couplets I have never been happy with, by the way, not from their original writing-down; like the ending of Canticle, the ultimate words that should be here I may never find.



Canticle

Much was said, and much was done
   when all the streets were bled
that the whole thing'd been but posed for fun -
   for wine, for song, for bed.

But when that glory's gilt was doffed
   the days still burned on bright;
the rocks still laughed, the stones still scoffed:
   the desert sat hot with light.

Much was done, and much was said
   down all the roads of History
Of plague, of war, of the need for bread -
   the Reason still was Mystery.

Of pestilence I dare not speak:
   my own blood is of that scourge
whose legacy is cursed upon the weak
   and whom the earth to fire shall forge.

(c. spring 1984)  The last lines here, as in the closing of Bellereophon's Song and certain other works, I have never been happy with an may never find the energy/inspiration to find.  They are, to me, cloaked in mystery.


Testament

All the private hymns that pass unwritten;
All the quiet hours that bless unbidden:                                                 bless - harm, wound as well as the usual meaning
These, these, are my legacy and my lot
the snare of a life in which I have fought,
Suffering thoughts that I dared to think -
bitter are the wines I consented to drink.
And what in song or on page have I caught
that is my own, yet need not be hidden,
nor spewed into folly or spun into naught? -
The shadows of souls by which I've been bitten.

But of my own life, my intimate self -
the one that is neither mage, bard, god, giant, nor elf,  *
the one that was born and walks in earth's flesh -
what is its fate's web, its destiny's mesh?
For though it yet lives, to age, and to death,
it still wonders what urge drives the will to achieve,
what strings bind its heart and shatter calm breath,
wonders why the world was made to deceive.

Dizzy with dreams, drunk with desire,
made with fatigue, burned out by fire.
Rage falling stupid, tears blurring eyes -
Some days are different: deep are the skies,
silent are stones, strong are waves on the beach
but these hours, my own, are beyond my mind's speech.

Believe in a faith, stir up the young,
Raise my hand, open, and raise up my tongue?
I'm really beginning to feel it's absurd
to try and forge worlds with the weaving of words.
Down from my heights on rhyme's horse have I ridden
away from the peace that passes, private, unwritten.

Farewell, once-friend, for What's been said here
can never be said full when you are too near;
a special moment, a warm smile, a feverous touch -
these are the things that I can't let mean much
for they're nothing to the Art by which I to live;
they're nothing of the love that I tried to give.
 

(Spring 1982)         * - the reference here is not mythological, but more along the lines of the six states of being of Tibetan philosophy - the god state, the titan/asura state, the superhuman state. the human state, the hell state, the preta loka/hungry ghost state; although not in that order, or with the meanings of the Tibetan paradigm intended.



Homage to Delos


For what else could Death be
than the completion of Life itself? -
Knowledge of the One:
the release from Experience into Knowing?

Unbound, unbeing, unmade;
Eternity become visible
all Sorrow merged to Joy
all Days into Endless Light

Who can quail at this
but those who live Untruth?
Who can fear the Light
that illuminates all Unknown?

Faliro/Mykonos July 7/8/00
 

Delos waits, serene and bright
an island blessed by Light
a vessel made to hold the Day
and wrought of Song and Prophecy

where Shadow cannot rule
and Suffering's forbade:
a blue-girt, sunlit Jewel
of love and splendour made
 

(Mykonos July 8/00)


Minerals

The sound of cinnabar; I smelt white agate
bearing gold black along the riverbottom, grinding.
Purple-red high-country bluffs
toned to acid grey, and chemical blue:
   molybdenum.
I bit into a boulder of stony jade
that fell cool from out the lofty earth -
it tasted sweet and hard, black-green
and spiced with granite heavy-quartzed.
Drinking dust: the mountains' browned
             and age-ground bones.

Vermilion.

(1984)




Dusk

Dark goes over, beyond, into the endless west
This last of all lands falls into night -
starlight, the sunglow a-boil in the ultimate sea
Green mountains deepen into purpure,
the bay hues empyrean blue, evenlight
fills the coast's forest walls, clouds gilt-roofed
above an island gulf. Violet night draws in.

(Date unknown; c. 1985 maybe)

Journey to the Cayoosh (Untitled)

In the season of the Crucifixion,
   cold snows upon the high Cayoosh *
   and ten thousand trees made nameless:
We are reborn into spring through the pain
   of our sins.
Is it any wonder the deeper mountains
   feel safe and legend from the wild vortices
   of love and time?
 

(Easter 1985)    *" The Cayoosh" - a 'small' mountain range running from Pemberton-Mt Currie BC northwest towards Lillooet, and also the name of the stream defining the SE side of that range and also the pre-colonial name for the village of Lillooet; meaning "Indian pony" or "mountain pony".  The moment described in this poem was written while approaching the Pemberton area from Whistler after departing that resort town in the course of a difficult personal matter; the Cayoosh become visible in the area of Rutherford Creek and while climbing a short hill between that area and Pemberton, and loomed over the frosty morning bedecked with fresh ice and snow, calling me home to the country beyond....it was Easter weekend, hence the allusion to the Crucifixion and, not incidentally, my own frame of mine.
 

********

Five years gone: the rains dissolve
all traces of the winter's turn.
We leave our homes returned to Truth:
Our shelter broken, but our dreams set free.

(Spring 1990)  * written in some kind of resolution to the emotional trauma of the  prevoius lines.


Yukon Journey

We roamed the road to Eldorado
north, into the golden dream.
Days on end we drove
into the arctic's ancient sky
asleep, awake, amazed
at the wideness of the world.
Night turned light, the lostling found,
the golden sarcophagus a frozen muck
amid mountains shorn of wild.

We spoke of shadows, talked of flesh,
drank apart the days
and worked the Yukon night
to feed our hungry souls with cash.

I left before the winter fell;
you stayed to feel the first cruel snow,
to bid Dawson a final farewell
before the Arctic's deadly darkling sleep
could seize your heart
and command you stay.

The angry decade unfolds upon us.
Fists, knives, clubs, and guns; cold malice
vented on the burdens of the world -
the truths of hate and war and lust,
the lost glories of long-plundered gold.

The Yukon locked by freeze-up,
the Klondike's dales deep in new-blown snow.
Two thousand miles of wilderness
from the horrors of the raging world.




Bridge River Memories
(For my father)

For you
I tried to map the roads to Eldorado
I struggled with the dusty trails that fade
out into the bush, into the dying pines

For you
the stormwind at a cold canyon's gate
recalled to me the grey stone songs you sang
that came cold, and colder out the moutainous rift
that cuts between the desert and the sea

For you
I ran behind the midnight train
fleeing back to the arc-lit streets of town
from the darkness of your valley's air
that hindered me from rest
at being home.

I dream awake in shadow
of the flower of those gold-buttressed peaks,
the rosy snows of their summer dusk.
For you, I hark to their passing's lonely wail.

(1984)




The Bards of Babylon

in memoriam Richard L Sullivan

The bards of Babylon, the harps of Ur,
Great-galleried Nineveh's lore -
Ten thousand years of human stir
lit many lights, extinguished more.

The fires that burned on Uruk's heights
were like the glory of its kingly throne:
The beast that burned the mountain nights
consumed the dark where Earth had dwelt alone.

Names and hearts, unwrit, uncarved,
are the grains on Fortune's grinding-wheel -
This grist-mill's flour baked a bread that starved,
yet made longing taste like sweet, rich meal.

Vanished is the green and fertile earth,
Vanished are Sumer's youthful lords,
Dwindled is the wide world's girth,
Dwindled are the nomad hordes.
   
(c. March 1980)


(Epilogue 1)

Silent are the fuming cracks, the boiling stones;
Silent are the screaming giant's bones.
Empty are the once-harp-filled halls;
Empty are the idols' eyes and statues' stalls.

(late 1982)

(Epilogue 2)

Continuation of this contemplation, alas, halted -
the city's roar and epic hunger took their toll.
My situation called for incantations less exalted -
I turned to sing for patronage, an old necessity, as goal . . .



The Bards of Babylon crystallized one drizzly afternoon in downtown Vancouver, in the district known now as Yaletown (in fact, I know I was just off the SW corner of Davie and Richards Streets - I can see it clearly as I can this screen)  and the four verses as they are poured out of me intact, as I squatted, desperately scribbling them on a small pad of paper held against my knee as the writing-table.  There may have been another few hundred, perhaps few thousand, were waiting in the wings, and then a city bus rumbled by, a horn honked (as alluded to in Epilogue 2), and I was brought back to the mundane realm of noise and disconten that is modern urban life.  The epilogues were from years later, as the memory of this moment came back and I dared to exhort the muse who had brought the lines to me (and failed).  The poem is about all that has been unwritten in human experience; the days of oral history and long-vanished musics and epics that were either unrecorded or burnt in fires, lost in sea, or used up by time and folly.  It is also about ordinary lives, or hidden lives of greatness, that have gone unrecorded, and is also a lament for the passing of simpler times and the waning of our Earth.

Other quatrains related to these themes may be added to this section at a later time.....

In Worldbane Wood

   I

In worldbane wood, a small plant grows
    in twisted spine and rotten root;
a fool's careless foot green's gripping mows
    and stomps and crashes with dancing boot.
In chasm spin, in chasm fall,
Little poor plant, in pain for all
Sickled sweet, and berries brassed
The guilten race ends green at last

In worldbane wood, a small plant grew
    on oak, ash, thorn, and yew
In worldbane wood, a small plant grows
    on crumbled walls, grows mistletoe. 


II

It has begun:   bang loud drum, baned;
the elves turn their eyes away
from the greater doom   to a tranquil end
in a sombre wood   and a green grass bed

The song of hearts sad-passioned   quickens pale
and grey veils   flow silk on grass
The fevered sweat of fairy frost
glazes elven eyes, greyed and lost

Flute and drum, and gold-throated harp
birded hands held   flutter hope faraway
- and there is a star-vaulted vein in towering sky:
The deep, out there, the darkness on high

On the darklit beach of sparkling sand
are strewn starsongs old and open
The oceans of time, the deeps of space
the waves of darkness lap with elven grace

Shadows tile and bend in the ending wind
The light-eyed dancers in high-clung wood
traipse glowing trails in deepdewed grass
to the tune of the elfsong,    sung with hearts
                         of glass.

Flute and drum,   goldthroated harp -
sing the song of the greater dark!
Bang loud drum, baned,    and blow fairy horns!
Nine worlds collide,    and the elves dance their scorn.

It has begun:    bring wine and feast
for the elves turn their eyes away
from the greater doom    to a tranquil end
in a sombre wood,    and a green grass bed. 


III

The greymaned horse, with sable flanks,
careens riderless through wet twilit glade
in spiral course through old shadows dank
to run free and fresh before the last light fades

The goldmaned horse, with silver shanks
cavorts to thrill above the precipice
Heed not the steps, prance out the dance -
run ouu the dege and coltish cold frisk

From shining mane and flaxfrosted tail
spray morning and night, glistening in trail

The greymaned horse, with sable flanks
the goldmaned horse, with silver shanks

Unridden and loose, fair heads high-tossed
they ride in twilight, above the abyss of frost
In a highwooded cliff between shadow and shade
wend the heedless tracks, by so many long ages made
that yet feel the lighthammered hooves of the horses
running wild at the edge of the world
                     and around, spiralled in glee,
                     the frames of finality's forces

The greymaned horse, with sable flanks
the goldmaned horse, with silver shanks

Ride long this eve, on worldsend edge
for sweet fair dawns are long-off yet
The wind blows breath
from the worlds beyond Death's
and two horses ride hard
into the night, dark-starred
Ride long this even, on worldsend edge
for sweet, fair dawns, are long, long-off yet

The greymaned horse, with sable flanks
The goldmaned horse, with silver shanks 


IV

The rocks are chanting, the mountains dance
the wind whirls black and bright
on cool lost summer night
Strange range, the clouded lance
prods the middle worlds of life
Wheels spin and spark, blades of blackened knife
carve and cleave the present past:
The cycle throes, at last, at last . . . . .

The rocks are chanting, the mountains dance
the wind whirls black and bright
on cool lost summer night
The loom of fate looms clouded crags
Far fire, burn bale and bold
Destiny forge, new hammers mold
to blast and bind the present past:
The cycle throes, at last, at last . . . . .

The rocks are chanting, the mountains dance
the wind whirls black and bright
on cool lost summer night
Worldgate wide, above worldsend gap,
rainbow ruins from olden world -
flex chaos cave and fluxing curl
crave to crush the present past:
The cycle throes, at last, at last . . . . .

The rocks are chanting, the mountains dance
the wind whirls black and bright
on cool, bleak, last, lost summer nights . . . . .

V

Darkmoon in blackbrazened void
hightwinned the sun's pulled craze
from the nipping pack, scorching heels
Above it all, flies starry dance, in reels

Infinity, infinity,the end begins
the mountain child dances ending rims
Cauldron boil and bubble black
Nothing's fold, zeroed back to back

Drum, drum, dooming dance
Ships in nightsea steer entranced
to tryst at, to, with, the blue orbed curse
Water parts, all things immerse

Mattermount and timespace bend
Spear hard the heart, the ready's end
Sunset burn, and dark fires send
the testing flags, the ways to wend

Grey cold sun, grow ashen pale
fall down in sunset old, and fail
Bridge's horn, the hosts to hail
The rainbow cracks, darkness bloats, prevails, 


VI

The elfin host rides in black
  ( ; ;swarming cosmic chaos wide to gaping everywhere
     no roads ever ever lead to far-off neverwheres - )
to name the day, which comes in dirge, and sombre elegy
and voids the gap bridged not with pain
nor light, nor sound, nor starry rain
nor rainbow bridge of frozen night
but with, in gleaming silver tack
the elfin host, which rides in black

(All six previous written in May-June 1980)

These are not so much the elves of Tolkien's works here, although his have the same source- the Aelfir of the Eddic world of Norse mythology; a divine race who separated themselves from the toils of the worlds and the wars between the gods and between the gods and the giants, who refused to take part in the deathplay of Ragnarok;  in this rendering of the myth they were black to mourn the carnage of Ragnarok, the ending of the Kali-Yuga, but remain serene from it.


VII   The Fortress

Heaven is an angry fortress
of silent rooms and empty halls
and canyons cold that fall
before uncarven mirror walls.
What faring foot has never fell
on paved floor, on portico,
to wander in the heights of hell?

Each night fall deeps the roof of snow
that lays onto the high blue tiles
and mimes itself, to mock, beguiled
the witching white of face
that frost on mirror can only trace.

Love is a ram of gold . . .
 

(Late Winter, 1979)






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