Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Poem in "Second Sight"


A Vision of the Peak of Ben More
           (glimpsed from St Andrews)

Upon the ruin of that broken cone
Where an elide notion may pause and linger
And float a riddle there, sidelong
That broad ocean plain of running colors
Channeled in rivulets of wavering form
As cool and flowing as the inconstant sky
Ah, some trick of time, that three-side darkness
A form too geometric, could this be
The repercussion of mere erosion,
Broken stone condensed from sacristan fumes?
But there it stands, a portal nonetheless:
A scree triangle breaks wide to worlds ulterior,
A diadem glimmer of crag-hung moods
Drawn in the wake of swift sensation.
In that triangle gapes a deep
Knotted passage that sounds low
In tones unheard but full as chorus
Memory down through darkness plunging
To sway periodic, to swing and sweep,
Now decrescendo, now diminuendo
A pendulum moved by odd alignments,
Insight again, and sacred laugh,
The vision lights, the astral flights
That pleat against the spheres, then see
Susceptible henchmen run forth
To seize the heavens as they fall
Thus though dead as ordained life,
All that’s born wakes to crawl
Pushed between thighs of sleep
In visions bred or borrowed
Or fed upon Promethean liver, we
Grow as maps of blood vessels, webs
Of radiance condensed upon calcified bands
And on the opposite coast at the foot
Of St Rule’s Ruins, high church canticles
Casting tentacles like shore lights and sea glare
Beneath partial clouds and shrieking gulls—
Fagin rooks castle on crow’s step gables.
While alone the tale of empty cliffs
Where the martyrs’ marks in brick are set
Here on this spot the pole-stake was driven
The mad fire raised high, pacing smoke
Carried away the prayers and the cries
And what else but now only
Silent sorrow condescends a clue,
And reason with a furrowed brow
Takes a seat and repeats oblique
Syllogisms that speak of
Rebirth—the rune that spells
Return to the tale’s essentials….
Yet curtains will fall on this scene of passage
And bursting with dull elementals
Who turn out again and again, and reiterate
The cast of heaven eternal,
A troop beyond the millions
Like flint points condensed through thunder
From vapors that scud through a vision,
A horde of thoughts, a host of glimmers
To pinion the clouds that opinion round
A scree triangle against the azure.
"A Vision of the Peak of Ben More" is among my poems appearing in the first volume of Emanations.

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