Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste
Section 8

Corinth, in splendid beauty, sparked pristine in the sun; 
Tall and white the columns, stately the formal gardens; 
To the river did run spacious avenues; gorgeous blooms did gun 
Their perfumes, so that the air did almost seem to harden 
Now in this balmy sweetness, this dreamy atmosphere 
"Meckelle" a voice did whisper, "why are you not here 
Where dreamers do proliferate upon the many tiers?"

This place shamed Babylon with all its hanging marvels: 

In Corinth there's the multi-hued and all the purest marbles, 
Making fine palaces from the humblest dwellings, 
The pregnant earth so happy swelling 
With fruits and berries, flora, fauna. 
Along the river banks did run, nymphs and naiads every one. 
A toast to wisdom, all mysterious things 
To corridors, to avenues, enclosures, many wings.
A river delta spilled great silken floods, 

Flanking the Corinth coast were fleecy scuds. 
Here Meckelle ran aground, of ropes and anchors free, 
Brought in on a friendly tide from the vastness of the sea; 
He was lifted to a ledge, made faster 
Than any mooring made by man. 
He went to weary rest, upon a plateaued slab all gold and tan.

Ah! To dark slumbers he was drawn in such a beauteous place. 

The charcoals burned, flared and died: 
Then he saw Prometheus' face.
Chained he became upon a basalt cliff, 
He hung, spreadeagled, parched, 
His heart did writhe in agony, his very soul seemed starched 
As time and time again, a vulture scythed and stooped 
'Midst echelons of loving birds, then down the vulture swooped 
With carrion lunges, talons splayed; 
His liver all exposed, displayed, 
Again and again with searing force 
The sky demon sought its bloodied source. 

Was this penalty imposed because he missed 

The dark-spawned fang of deepest sea?
Must he now undergo the same ordeal 
As like Prometheus he became, 
On and ever-turning wheel? 
That fire which had been stolen by Man's friend,
Now Zeus's enemy, his criminal eternally: 
Was this fair, between Immortal and Mortal? 
With what fire he had absconded, what the fact? 
Stealing from the tree of knowledge, or some other act? 
So why should he incur primeval wrath? 
Perchance his very being menaced bridges 
Between the gods and mortals, what the totals?

Meckelle a parallel ordeal must suffer, 

Though spatially unbound, sent on the dolorous quest, 
He who had been born of fire and ice 
Who had not reckoned with behest 
His exile interwoven with his freedom: 
Then suddenly it was gone, thing past, a thing beyond. 

He woke, the hard thongs shrivelled, he could rise:

Before him, luscious verdure: beatific surprise! 
From its midst he could deflect, for in a pink streaked cloud o'erhead 
Fair Aphrodite's splendid light all over him was shed, 
Calling him to encounter and to treaty; he heard not: 
An aperture to Acheron still seemed his lot; 
He threaded between boulders, struggled, blind - 
Misty remembrances clouded his mind: 
And then a flash! An awful iridescence stopped his tracks: 
A ghostly array above him, vulture row. 
Eumenides from other days - what judgement? Was he guilty? 
Was he slave? 
Or was he noble, young and brave?

Meckelle thought he heard the words: 

"The scales have now been levelled; the done-by now has done" 
These words he heard, amidst a massive flock of flying birds 
"And each effect has gained a causal strength: 
Now seem fulfilled your functions for each other 
As mother, son, sister, father, brother . . ." 
He listened to their whisperings with half an ear and dread. 
"Do not try to mix your functions, or you may end up dead."

Their voices faded: sweet Corinth's airs were magnified 

Once more he glanced to heaven, saw fair Aphrodite's eyes; 
He was awake now: break of sea, loud crashing brought him life. 
He stood upright the sun full bright; as though by perfumes drawn, 
Followed a river: that city, Corinth, was from marble hewn. 
He needed no guide, wide had been his experience super-real; 
The jostling town, the gaiety, did not overly impress him.
The gown he wore was that of authority: eyes scanned him with surprise. 

Then said Meckelle in a commanding tone: 

"Take me to a place where I might trace 
Some history and mythology!" 
A youth most radiant and dark 
Pointed mutely to a palace stark; he led Meckelle 
Three paces ahead, his face cast down, 
Perhaps a frown upon a superior one, 
Meckelle of fire and ice and sun. 
Amidst the jollity, the fun, Meckelle strode on, 
Oblivious of all but the one thing he desired: 
To travel the corridors of Time: 
Through Space, Pace, Years and Hours.
The entrance to the palace opened wide: 

There, bride-like, seven maidens stood aside, 
Each holding lilies in alabaster hands; 
Somewhere the music of angelic bands. 

Seven corridors there were at first; then thirteen opened, 

Like an astrological verse: Which to choose? 
One, five, seven, six, three, eleven, or the unknown quantity? 
As spider spun, he felt the Minotaur, some race to run; 
The Bull Age he encountered, 
With leaping maids and gallant youths, 
And Ariadne, cast from all known horoscopes, 
She of the midnight hour, yet of perpetual hope. 
He watched their antics, prancings, play 
Unconvinced by those the Minotaur did slay. 
Dust, grime and gilded dewdrops fell, 
And so he turned away;  chose Seven for his neat array 
Of  mystery and magic; he had nothing to betray.  
He saw them clothed with veils of moonlight, 
Wearing shafts of gauze; 
Beneath the temples of their triple-faced goddess 
He watched their attitude and pose: 
His nose perceiving, beyond believing, 
The perfume of a starlit rose: 
High was the pearly moon in heaven hung,
Loud was the hunt, Diana had begun, 
Softly the turtle doves did coo, and from the bulrushes 
The dew of fertile Nile 
O'erflooded him with Pharaoh's benign smile.

From the crab's pincers to the scales' arms 

He went, soothed on his route by breezes' balms 
With light from cotton wool to coal in shade, 
The golden scales did glow, 
But neither gold not cross-piece studded held to him allure, 
Of likes now past, his memory sufficed. 
Mountains a-topped with ice, burning zones with desert heat: 
He was of fire and ice, his being near-complete. 
Suddenly the colours changed, the rainbow arc re-opened. 
Then, with Mercury his messenger, he fled across the stars, 
Passing Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mars. 
From Mars to Mahra his thoughts fast flashed:
A lovely girl with a sheaf of corn, 

Impunity and nonchalance with which she was adorned. 
But from her hair red poppies fell, the damsel faded 
Into the blue: for whom is the tolling bell?

A star bright, seven-pointed shone, 

Meckelle looked, and looked again 
To the island place, the twins he saw 
Who were as one, but two in all: 
A girl, a boy, a man, a woman? 
Who could tell: what was the Summons? 
Undecided as their age, 
So could Meckelle really turn the page? 
On many a page and story they danced: 
For life in its duplicity, they knew it all inherently. 
They were two, pretending to be one, 
Or was it one, pretending to be two? 
Masculine and feminine - this was their residue.

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