[And with a pseudo-georgic flourish I sound my last post on this blog! And my first in quite a while… Think of it as a postscript of sorts to all the other posts, if you like. Thank you to my followers, likers, commenters, browsers—all my visitors. Anyone looking for answers can simply consult the good book—Virgil’s Georgics. (Chapter and verse for the browsers: Bk IV, ll. 559–566.) Ave atque vale!]
—Thus I sang the fields of change, the flocks of self, While Tsar Trump thundered war across a continent, Offering walls to willing men, treading the way To white Olympus. I, Daniel, nursed by soft Hibernia, Pursued the peaceful paths of poetry, scribbling While Rome burned with rabid lust for better things And worse. Now you, patiently listening, won’t you sing The deep, besieging shade of your own being?
[My first blog post, back in 2009, was a far different version of the poem below. I removed it from the site when I started blogging again in 2013, and had no plans to revisit it. But for some reason, more than six years after I first wrote it, I have started writing it again—and have made it much shorter if not much else. So, gentle poem, welcome back to the internet. (And great Achilles will be sent once more to Troy!)]
The deepest past’s mere meters down, a lot of dust no doubt to those who made it, but even ground this trodden—boots, bare soles— is air to a bomb. A wall that rose, and was buried in time,
rises again, its surface glass- like rock, blue as movie-star-eyes. The weathered ones whose hands glossed the standing stone, like skies over Ur long watched for sterile signs of things to pass, have passed.
Colours, populous in nature, do not penetrate the iris, but glass can well invade her eyes, two dirt-red pebbles smoothed by salt water. Something happens with life, some stray contour
around the side of natural beauty shakes its skin and crumbles into want. A thimbleful of chancing chemicals falls in a careful mess, carelessness diluting the dead-still,
slow-dying purity of rock. The girl picks lapis lazuli from her eyes. Fired up and dropped, the shrapnel of history shattered her sight. Stop. Do not worry. Even walls cannot last.
[A storm arises at the port of Aulis, preventing the Greek fleet from sailing for Troy. Their leader Agamemnon consults the seer Calchas for advise on calming the storm.]
I watch my father. The timely winds of Thrace Augur hope for those who love him, Hope that he might not depart us at his brother’s whim. I see him hear with ashen face The council of the Seer—is it good News, no leaving? Or a solution to the storm, The suggestion of some warm Libation maybe, wine or blood?
He looks at me—I do not know that face. Is it one they know who meet Him in war? With halting pace Unknown before to striding, kingly feet He’s moving to the Altar. Ah! Some god will be appeased, The clouds will clear and father will go east, Leaving love behind for slaughter.
He calls to me, the men are quiet. I do not like their silence or their eyes, Following me to father. What insight Can they hope from our goodbyes?
The wind starts whipping harder, Screaming louder as I reach Him, screaming round the Praying Stone, screaming, screaming. Yes wise wind! Increase! Be greater Than men’s rashness—keep them beached.
We are embracing. “Ah father, Do not go to Troy— Ahhh! Father!” No! It can’t be… But my blood is really spilling, Without me tamely splashing, And all the men are watching As the screaming moans to nothing.
A mess of enemy light this cold Judean sky, Illuminating goats and the shit of goats. Why not just darkness when there’s nothing to see? Can I not lay down my spear and self and sleep And dream of that girl I took last night? She smelled of shit, some peasant’s whelp, And bleated like a goat, but by Mars I’d favour her again with Roman love.