Thursday, December 27, 2018

Rik George writes & draws

The Alpha-Bestiary 

X is for Xenocrates, 
A xiphosuran from Xanadu 
Who excelled at exciting extraterrestrials. “Exceptional entertainment” some critics said.
“Expansive and exuberant” others expressed it. 
"How far I’ve come,” Xenocrates expounded, 
From the life so drab of a horseshoe crab 
To xiphosuran from Xanadu!” 


  1. Xiphosurans are sometimes called "horseshoe crabs."

    Liu Bingzhong, a Chinese monk credited with the ability to foretell the future, became an advisor to the Mongol prince Hubilai (Kublia Khan). Between 1252-1256 Liu designed Hubilai's residence, Kaiping, which became his summer residence and renamed Shangdu in 1264 when Hubilai visited the Daning palace in Zhongdu, the "Central Capital" of the Jurchen Jin dynasty that his grandfather Genghis Khan had destroyed in 1215; he was so taken by it that he decided to construct his new capital, Khanbaliq ("the khan's permanent settlement"), around its garden. Once again Liu became the chief architect and planner of the capital. It was also called Daidu ("Grand Capital" in Chinese). [In 1368 Zhu Yuanzhang toook it on behalf of the new Ming dynasty and renamed it Beiping -- modern Beijing -- and in 1369 the Ming torched Shangdu and renamed it Kaiping; it was abandoned for several hundred years.] In 1260 Hubilai became khagan of the Ikh Mongol Uls (the Mongol empire) and, in 1271, at Liu's suggestion, based on "qian," the 1st hexagram in the I Ching (the "Commentaries" on the "Classics of Changes" referred to it as "Great is Qián, the Primal") he renamed his dynasty the Da Yuan (Great Yuan).

  2. Marco Polo, a merchant from Venezia, visited Shandu in 1275 and gave a fulsome description, which Samuel Purchas elaborated on in "Purchas his Pilgrimes –- or Relations of the world and the Religions observed in all ages and places discovered, from the Creation unto this Present" (1614); his description of Shandu began, "In Xandu did Cublai Can build a stately Pallace...." According to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in his 1816 preface to "Christabel, Kubla Khan, and the Pains of Sleep," as he was reading Purchas in 1797, in "consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne [opium] had been prescribed," and he "fell asleep in his chair.... The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved." Unfortunately, he was interrupted and he was unable to recapture more than "some eight or ten scattered lines and images." The result was the poem, "Kubla Khan; Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment."

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.
    So twice five miles of fertile ground
    With walls and towers were girdled round;
    And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
    Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
    And here were forests ancient as the hills,
    Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

    But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
    Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
    A savage place! as holy and enchanted
    As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
    By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
    And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
    As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
    A mighty fountain momently was forced:
    Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
    Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
    Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
    And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
    It flung up momently the sacred river.
    Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
    Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
    Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
    And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
    And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war!
    The shadow of the dome of pleasure
    Floated midway on the waves;
    Where was heard the mingled measure
    From the fountain and the caves.
    It was a miracle of rare device,
    A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.


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