Sing To Me Softly Of Earth - Part Two
Caitlin Wynne - Unsplash
© Copyright 1999 A. S. Kline All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
Past the abandoned pastures burnt in the sun,
past the indolent stream and the dead thorns,
on above the level of the uncivilised streets,
up the bare slope to the pale hedges of may.
Burning poisonous white in the afternoon
Burning pit of action, hope, desire,
of sense and memory.
White abyss in the inward of the eye
that seethes on nothing.
Burning of the body, of the mind.
The town sterile on its hill,
the blind houses looking back at abyss.
The vast stifling of a civilisation.
The future naked, offers no consolation.
Only the burning bonfire, only fuel,
the mephitic perfumes of decomposition,
the wild, slack, beauty of corruption.
White fires, white banners blowing,
and we too, living fires, we men and women,
still flesh, mind, spirit.
We live and are not defeated,
we the silent people.
And we shall be hedges of may,
white hedges of may.
What is there you do not doubt, the self, the line
of meanings taught knee-high, the purposes ?
A path in trees may take us who knows where,
despite all mapped imaginary symbols, air
of gold and pine-filled resin, dark and green,
unsure, a siren-space where men can be unlimned,
a stream with no grail-cup below the surface
below the neutral, iced, untainted grey.
A random walk, whose landmarks, curious,
impress on mind, the unbounded and unpurposed,
doubt's certain centre.
Paths do not end, and do not own, divide.
No possession is implied by your walking.
No knowledge of what you walk from, promised,
or what you hope, unpromised. This floor cares
for no betrayal. Dark, where a bird, unseen
softly calls, or riven with light, edge-brightening,
looking down, a path that climbed.
This silver-grey landscape is where limestone weathers
abandoned pastures petrify, stone crumbles.
Unpossessed abandoned land is best, unpossessed peoples.
Un-history of places, lingering life, the human
essence of inhuman spaces, a silence without centre.
Flower-shelves, dark overhangs, constituents,
molecular dead inheriting the soil, intensifying
the yellow of starlike flowers, the pale of turf.
An atom here or there must still be there. The mind
abrades, but time does not erode, erase all traces.
What we hold back is our particular power over death,
the private mind, the voice of the aftermath of talk,
of quiet places, the inner logic, the consonance
that other sounds fragment. This landscape also,
a continuous self, untouched identity,
the best of places, uncultivated, clear.
These shelves of rock are stands of light-filled leaf,
green water welling from stone, pale bays of air,
split flakes, unweathered, scattered on the grass,
sinews of silence, where the deep call of hidden birds
falls through lassitudes of air, and pine-tree height.
Here nothing demands our presence, breeze on breeze,
loses itself in showers of light on leaf.
Easy to vanish here, to evaporate outwards,
into the unknowable otherness of the earth,
into air, rock, soil, the insect labyrinth,
the darkness, lichen-lipped, of broken walls,
the undisturbed, unkempt, the undeclared,
the shelves of anonymous stillness.
World must miss us later if not sooner and if self-love
is what this love is, greater than human longing,
that makes some live more in the solitary mind
than in affection, though they love deeper or as deeply,
love that is also the losing of the mind in things
that are, that we must lose, their revelation,
which taken inwards is then carried inwards
speechless, dark, goes deepest in those least
well equipped to return its gift, through delight,
joy, feeling and affection, but still the prime mover
of that traveller who vanishes into self, into his own.
These shelves of rock nourish the isolate self,
its solitude - are loved for what they are, neutrality
and not indifference, having no stake in humanity
neither facing towards us nor away, unimplicated
undirected, pure of all intent. These bays of time
are like the miraculous curves of the sea, they
are filled with grace, are launchpads of the spirit,
and in them our profligate pulse of transient process
grows fainter, deeper, calmer, until it shades
into the mirror of space behind the skyline.
Not ours, but some other power digs down here
into the core of the self, creates as it destroys.
Behind the leaves, man in nature stands
the human staring out of living stone.
Reality resists knowing and remains
in mouths that strain, in Leaves that coil,
is curve, the singing flute, is Marsyas.
God of headlands and millenial light
heavy from his journey. God of masks.
saying god is not love, only presence,
a waiting in the moment, of the air,
heavy-leaved Orpheus of the foliate crown,
oak, laurel, birch, black poplar.
King of the dark, slave of this murmuring wood,
Janus bi-face who arrests the mind
with terror and with pity. What is between
an age that lives by vision, and this age ?
What tongue moves in the severed head ?