A star looks down on me each night,
A single, solitary light —
About so high. Its silver beams
Awake my thoughts to waking dreams
Of one whose everlasting face
Time’s roughening hand cannot erase.
Forgive me, Love — for love is blind,
And whoso shuns its power will find
Himself alone at last, without
Immunity from fear or doubt —
As I do now. —
Yet men are ruled by their emotions.
Their hearts, like spars on the world’s wide oceans,
Toss to and fro with each wave’s force,
In vain pursuing a favored course:
So also was my love for you
Determined by the storm that blew
So fiercely ‘gainst its favored course,
So often lost, to my remorse.
Life is Potential
Life is Potential, which is Energy,
Which can neither be created nor destroyed:
What we call ‘Life,’ therefore, is no brief term —
No measurement of mere Mortality —
But, rather, a progressive evolution,
Of which this carnal state is just a stage —
A metamorphosis from which, through death,
Divinity arises, newly-fledged,
From mortal ashes to Omnipotence.
This body is not ‘Life,’ for it was made
Of Water, Fire, Earth and Oxygen —
Bare, lifeless elements, sterile and weak —
And it can be created and destroyed;
Unlike the Self of man — pure, unalloyed
Quintessence of divinest Energy! —
That like Prometheus uplifts its eyes
To heaven, venting words of scathing hate
Into the face of God for injuries
Its fettered hands have not strength to avenge —
Not yet, at least; for there shall come a time
When weak and mortal things shall pass away,
And He will fear me then! —
-first published in Inverted-A Horn, No. 22.
Easter Hymn and Response
(Translated from H.Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, scene 4.)
Christ Jesus, having made amends
For sin in Death and Hell,
With hallowed body, now ascends
To Heaven’s citadel.
Yet as He hurries through the gate
His dutiful disciples wait
You too, Lord God, require us
To wait, in mortal sleep.
Our longing for the happiness
You have is why we weep.
But yet, let us believe that we
Will follow You one day,
When, with a shout of victory,
You call our souls away.
Oh, trembling heart! this gladdening hymn
Dispels dejection’s haze!
Weak faith revives, and brings with him
The peace of pious days! —
Of childish bliss, of prayerful hours,
Of blest oblivion,
While lying in a field of flowers
Beneath a summer sun!
Sweet aria of praise! you still
My heart, you foil its plots,
And banish every sinful, ill
Intention from my thoughts.
The Song of the Flea – A Ballad
(Translated from Goethe’s Faust, scene 5.)
Once upon a time, a flea
Lived among nobility.
He, adopted as the ward
Of a philanthropic lord,
Was (by this same lord) so coddled
That, says legend, he was swaddled
Head to toe in rich attire,
And inducted as a squire.
Monsieur Insect, much delight
Thus to see himself bedighted:
Silks and velvets, scarves, bijoux,
And silver buckles on his shoes,
Sent to Fleaville for his brothers,
Neighbors, schoolmates (and their mothers),
Who, by order of the prince,
Likewise rose to eminence.
Thus (to make a long tale short),
All the noblemen at court,
Too polite to make a fuss,
Scratched themselves to sores and pus!
Ah! infernal policies!
Fraught with nuisance and disease! —
So, when one begins to prick,
Pulverize the bugger quick!
I never lapped from cool Castalia’s streams,
Or set my mind on high, Romantic themes.
I never begged for Inspiration’s touch
To clasp my heart in its unyielding clutch.
Like rash Pygmalion, wary of a wife,
I never thought I’d lead a poet’s life;
And surely never dreamed that mankind’s wrongs
Should spark the raw ribaldry of my songs.
Hence, no unpruned bays of ‘deathless fame’
Need choke my exploits, or outlive my name.
The half-priced eulogies of flattery
Exasperate me to satiety.
I see myself (at most) an idle scribe,
Contented more to roast the scribbling tribe,
Than plague posterity with maudlin lays,
Or peddle trash unworthy of their praise.
I, once, despite advice, invoked the Muse,
Was once the very type I now abuse:
Robust, pretentious, ignorant, and rash,
I scrawled like mad notorious balderdash,
Broken every rule pertaining to the art,
Till virtue could no longer touch my heart.
Now, I would brush off Inspiration’s goad,
Resist its spur, shake off its sterile load,
Dispel all vain pretensions from this breast,
And cease to ape the role I so detest.
You ask, then, why I still would play the scribe?
Why I would still from Folly’s cup imbibe?
‘Why not?’ I ask. Were I to resign my pen,
And swear an oath to never write again,
All scraps of paper handy, pens, and ink
Would still be wasted, gallons at a wink.
For tell me, when was seem so brash an age
For Vice and Sin as this in History’s page?
Considering the art’s degeneration,
Who would not condescend to condemnation?
When blockheads prosper, fools thrive blushlessly,
Or imbeciles collect a salary?