THE BEAST IS ANCIENT
I saw Him first in a vision which was preserved
In some cavernous subterranean beneath the upper ground,
Where through fiery columns which men had made with their natures
I saw Him sitting.
The lesser devils at His command bid me to fornicate
And to commit acts upon the souls who languished there
Whose tormented faces circumscribed the limits of His dominion.
What was that trimorphous face I saw? What words can describe it?
A face which immortality had engraved
For nothing reached his eyes but boredom born of insatiable hatred.
His ears were mute to all beside the sound of human suffering,
And knew no music nor laughter nor the gentle songs of birds.
His scarred flesh bore the mark of His number
His teeth were whetted on the bones of genocide
His fingers scuttered like ten lizards in tandem around His phallus
Which he used to seed the world with violence.
No one word was voiced from that gaping mouth
But multitudinous hexes from His hundred babbling tongues.
And also there He uttered numbers
And by that black art which is mathematics
He spontaneously manifested thing upon thing upon thing
Until all men were swallowed up in them
And each held no meaning beside the accumulation of their numbers.
He planted abstraction in the minds of men who lust for wisdom
As he placed fire in the hands of men who hunger for power.
When I gazed down into the lower depths
I saw the colossal anthill of men.
They were His slaves, and his slaves were slaves also unto themselves
Through vice and secrets and fetish, and all other things that are of darkness
And thus are of Him.
I can tell thee that no light shone there
But that my visions were formed of the shadows of shadows.
I can tell thee too that God was absent there
And thus love was absent also,
And that everything man holds dear to his heart
Was trampled under foot before my aching sight
By hordes of blind and deaf souls that had been transmuted into dogs
Yanked along by chains and leashes—as the pets of devils.
When I awoke it was spring
And the southerly wind was fanning the soft green grass
Where the cows were dozing like cherubs in their cots
Where streams of beautiful sunlight were falling from the blessed blue sky
As if to intimate paradise upon the earth
Whispering to all men that the truth is here whosoever should heed it.
And so from that bleakest vision I emerged in wonderment
At how a man could imagine such a thing—
That the sun may not shine tomorrow.
A poem by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918).
Happy are men who yet before they are killed
Can let their veins run cold.
Whom no compassion fleers
Or makes their feet
Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.
The front line withers,
But they are troops who fade, not flowers
For poets’ tearful fooling:
Men, gaps for filling
Losses who might have fought
Longer; but no one bothers.
And some cease feeling
Even themselves or for themselves.
Dullness best solves
The tease and doubt of shelling,
And Chance’s strange arithmetic
Comes simpler than the reckoning of their shilling.
They keep no check on Armies’ decimation.
Happy are these who lose imagination:
They have enough to carry with ammunition.
Their spirit drags no pack.
Their old wounds, save with cold, can not more ache.
Having seen all things red,
Their eyes are rid
Of the hurt of the colour of blood for ever.
And terror’s first constriction over,
Their hearts remain small drawn.
Their senses in some scorching cautery of battle
Now long since ironed,
Can laugh among the dying, unconcerned.
Happy the soldier home, with not a notion
How somewhere, every dawn, some men attack,
And many sighs are drained.
Happy the lad whose mind was never trained:
His days are worth forgetting more than not.
He sings along the march
Which we march taciturn, because of dusk,
The long, forlorn, relentless trend
From larger day to huger night.
We wise, who with a thought besmirch
Blood over all our soul,
How should we see our task
But through his blunt and lashless eyes?
Alive, he is not vital overmuch;
Dying, not mortal overmuch;
Nor sad, nor proud,
Nor curious at all.
He cannot tell
Old men’s placidity from his.
But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
That they should be as stones.
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
The eternal reciprocity of tears.
THE BRIDGE OF GOLD
There is a bridge of gold shimmering across the sea
Which no man may walk upon, for men are faithless
And to them all truth is illusion, all beauty a suffering.
But what a grace it is to watch the waters dance,
To watch the white doves dive and sail,
To see the dusk bloom red like a lover's kiss upon the earth,
And to behold in a tender hour
How the golden bridge burns like a million lanterns,
Like a thousand perishing souls upon a hundred homebound ships
Voyaging, sinking unto the eternal West,
Where only Christ might lay his bare feet upon Her
On the day of Judgement when the Beast will rise
And by the tongues of false prophets
Will etch his mark on the breasts of nations.
But the righteous will be received upon that bridge,
Hand in hand with that same light and that same truth,
Rejoicing in warmth and love
Over the bridge of gold.
THE TRUTH’S NOCTURNE
It was her who first shone
Through that cheerless night
With silver gaze and mystery’s ring.
In the sea, in the deep bosom of her waves,
Where she first whispered;
Where, upon a thousand ridges
Shimmered sapphire’s gloom.
And what a beauty she was—
Enough to go mad.
Over her sea and her secret wisdoms
All my stones were skipped
Until I’d none besides my weary form.
How I danced alive across the moonlit waves,
Destined to drown beneath her raptures,
Singing to her: “Farewell, farewell, wild-eyed nights!”
And drowned I would have done in darkness,
If not for what truly shone there,
That rose again in that dark.
DRUGS FOR THE MONKS OF DESPAIR
We set foot on the peak at midnight,
Upon the withering summit of despair
Where even the distant lights of distant towns
Fell funny on our eyes like colourful pandemoniums.
We wonder here and get lost somewhere
In the wildernesses of depravity.
We follow cloven prints in the turf
Through myriad scenes and mirage of self
Unto the crumbling ruins of yesterday
Where monsters sleep queerly like insomniacs.
Medusa rises out of a dream like dawn
And spreads her whorish tendrils
Over our motley, unshaven heads,
As we tilt our faces in unholy prayer
Toward inglorious chemicals.
Half our brains are dashed in piss steeped rivulets
In sunless cubicles strewn wall-to-wall with sublime obscenities.
Midnight swallows night in transient roars
Escaping the hellish scapes of our heads.
We are the Monks of Despair, perusing this place
Like the devil upon the earth.
Night watches us and stalks us
Like a thousand lonely, unmanned lighthouses
Casting new constellations onto the starless sky.
Cocaine dries our throats like the Sun doth the desert
And no more words can come from us.
You will not hear us muttering inanely at the walls,
You will not see us—us who are mad,
As we follow those lights to our demise.
We are the Monks of Despair.
We escheweth truth and trusteth evil
And experience we shall consume unto the pitiless end.
For nothing exists but the pleasure of living,
And all that the universe contains falls under our dominion.
We shall fill it further with the fantastical contents of our minds;
Fill it and bury all in our subterrainicon,
And the children will have to eat, sniff and claw their way out
Without ever opening their eyes to the horror
For they would die of surprise.
Oh children of this world,
Divine in thyself a new Path!
Do not dine on the corpse,
Nor suckle at the barren roots
Like a lamb silly to be a tree.
I have lusted after the greatest lust and found only madness.
I have searched inwardly by the greatest vanity and found the same.
I was a Monk of Despair meditating like a lunatic in lunacy.
But I have escaped the temples they constructed for us
And come bearing an ancient truth like a stone:
Be careful, ye who seek, what you wish for,
For it will come true!
THE TRUTH BEFORE DAWN
How thin the walls are before the dawn,
When the flock, like a rain-clouds’ rise and fall
Resounds with a peal of maddened squawks.
Torrid with anger do they tear down what a thousand years made;
What a thousand souls perished over and a thousand hearts
Bled over through long, lamentable wars.
The truth is the wounds they suffered
That the idiots know nothing of—
The wounds that spilt a thousand rivers of blood
And roared through the geysers of Hell
So that men could know its sound.
The idiots who are sheep without meekness;
Who are lame for wolves’ easy gorging;
Who will stand naked and burn at the fiery Eastern Gate
Beside the emptiness of their words.
And there will be no water to save them but more blood,
And all the truth will vanish under our hatred like a dream
Before the Day breaks.
STRANGE MEETING by Wilfred Owen
It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand fears that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .”
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918).
From this lone arch do they bail
Tears of those sadly lost and tirelessly saved,
And for themselves never dwell in fear.
For us they mount the assault
On death’s indiscriminate demeanor,
And not for praise but kindness alone.
And the applause in our hearts from our homes,
Shall not fade in vain,
When on the eve of battle.
A BINYARD ECHOES
Can you remember the nights?
The cold sighs after shy conversation,
And playing at feeling old before a day.
The night that hardens like cement
Round a black kaleidoscope of noise.
Still hearing and trying to save
The moonlight slaves from freefall.
Babels made in the catacombs of memory;
The dereliction of a naked scream
As it drowns through the psychic drainpipe.
Remembering the flies in shit,
The eternal fag in the bottomless shift.
The concealed sunsets spent under crows,
Waiting by the electric lamp
For something else to glow,
And sketching out sad rhymes en cigarette
Just to forget.
The Master holds the scales at the roadside,
Main road through the desert;
Unto the Roman night, unto the wall
Of ambivalent stars; and hypnotic
Are the headlights of cars
That swerve through our gypsy court.
The blackness of the wall of now on.
Hopeless, endless, passionless road;
Where a black, lightless dawn suspends
Over the sinking metropolis of constant nothing.
There is only resignation here,
And no wonder anymore.
Great lights that light the passers-by,
Who won’t stop for a soul like mine.
What am I? Poor wayfaring child
Who deserves this. Won’t one of you