Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste
Section 4

The winds did howl upon their isle -
Embraced, they fought fear with Hero's smile: 
He did not cast a backward glance 
Upon that isle that would entrance 
Most of the mortal kind: 
He did not see the lightning, 
Nor the black cloud that his path had left behind.

The seas were smooth and turquoise green; 

He feasted and drank, and in some dream 
He saw again, within the water's warm embrace 
That golden vision, that breathtaking trace 
Of molten sun, which was her hair: 
Oh Aphrodite! Oh Goddess of love so fair 
Oh Aphrodite! Whose tresses filled the seas, 
Whose perfume on the breeze 
Beguiled and overwhelmed him 
Into deep, ecstatic dreams.

With his sails set, no compass needed he; 

His passage yet was fixed without, 
Was set within, the stars had reason -
This was their season of mysteries. 
Within those dreams, he caught the sign 
Of a scheme worn thin. 
Not yet comprehending, he awoke early dawn: 
There, by the starboard side, 
He found a petal, shell and cone. 

'What are these?' he mused, 

The  morning sunlight in his eyes; 
"'Whence this perfume fair; it sets upon the air 
As sails upon the seas." 
Gently he lifted them, piece by piece 
A petal shining rare, a shell beyond compare 
And a cone, which unto his ear he lifted 
From right to left, some whispers it enshifted.

"Blossom, thou art fragile,
Palest snows about thine edges; 

But in thy heart, something crimson glows 
And with its spark, who knows?"

"Sea shell, from the ocean's depths: 

Cast me into other dreams; 
This sea shell sings of other things. 
Oh! Schemes and dreams of the impenetrable, 
Yet, sea shell, you force me to quest 
For that which is unfathomable." 
Then the cone to his ear he placed, 
To hear a voice, melodious, beatific, 
Without a face!

So entranced, he gathered in these three tangible things 

Somewhere in the silence was the sound of spinning rings. 
Little did he notice the cloud above the sails, 
Nor the dark-feathered bird that traumatised the whales, 
And caused the fishes to denude themselves of scales. 
Phelisias, like a cloud, had lowered, 
Permeated, with a malevolent power, Meckelle's heart: 
His expiration, Phelisias knew, 
Would become his, Phelisias's total salvation.

Meckelle, with gasps of wonderment and direct fear, 

Heard Phelisias, who spoke the word. 
"Death, Oh! Death. Life, Oh! Life: 
My total sum of strife I bequeathe to thee, 
Son of the Polar Reaches, Crown of the Sea."

About his boat thunder did crash, 

About him the waves did lash, 
Upwards and downwards, in troughs and peaks, 
Then, half-yelling, Meckelle did speak: 
"Who are you? Your mission yet -
I am begotten, forgiven and behest 
To do others' bidding, more than this whisper 
In the ear. I am as yet incomplete, 
But my destiny is clear."

For many a day and many a night, 

He sailed and sailed and sailed with might,
 But still a cloud did hover over his utmost point
(Philesias, who thought he knew the joint 

Of knee and ankle, thence to toe, 
Was as a darkened dove, a black-winged raven 
Soiling the snow, was thwarted in his goal.)

Then suddenly, in silence, for all things were still, 

Calm oceans and skies, storms down to nil. 
Meckelle arose, and draped over the side 
A frail net where fishes might gather.

'Who am I? Am I product of the earth, the air, the sea, the sky?' 

He looked slowly East, West, North and South, 
His eye lit on some glowing charcoals set upon the prow, 
His right arm he flung upwards, till it crossed his brow. 
Emaciated was his state, then to the side he looked; 
On both sides there were netted fish, 
Caught without spear or hook; 
Towards the prow he looked again, fires burning - unknown thing: 
Prometheus - thou of legend born - hast given to this youth 
As yet a child upon this storm, his sustenance for growth.

Meckelle, with a heart, touched the nets and gathered in the fish, 

Then smoking them upon the coals did find 
A meal quite fitting for one divine.

Sustained by this transubstantiation 

Meckelle did sail without trepidation 
Towards the setting sun, upon a setting sea, 
Dark ruby bands surrounded the dying sun, 
The stars hard-driven in their run, 
The moon was full and pearly white, 
Meckelle was stricken, Meckelle was well, 
Some being twixt Heaven, Earth and Hell.

Long burned the embers along the prow, 

The oceans carried him, he knew not how. 
All night he stayed awake . . . 
Then, at one hundred and eighty degrees 
He saw through the mistry morn 
An island, seat of a certain kind of kingdom 
Upon the vast and rolling sea.

White were the sails that, lit by sun's radiance, 

Firm was the wind which permeated them.
With anchors cast and strength unknown, he swam 

Unto an island, so magical and unbeknown: 
No-one there, no-one to hail him the greetings fair. 
With his footsteps on the sand 
He hummed a tune, unknown to mortal man.

Then, from woodlands, dells and hills appeared a throng: 

Were they nymphs, naiads, satyrs, gods, goddesses? 
He cast them, side by side, 
Turned his face to the morning sun, 
For nothing did he have to hide. 
These creatures in their garments white 
Did drag at his arms and legs. 
His footsteps magnetised by the early dawn 
He strode on, no fright for Meckelle 
Until he found a certain place: 
No form, and no discernible face. 
In the distance, the clamour rumbled on.

"You cannot enter here: you would never dare!" 

But to their cries he was oblivious, 
Sustained by things not obvious: 
A few trees first, and then a few trees more, 
Each hung with leaves - emerald, verdant, succulent, 
Till in his heart he felt the word 'adore'. 
Dreamily each leaf he kissed, said to himself: 
"Enter I must, or miss the mark of my voyage, 
My quest! Meckelle I am, 
Who knows not Heaven, Earth or Hell."

Into the grove  his footsteps - fast, then slow: 

This was a shrine - upon a tree, some symbol divine: 
He sensed a presence he knew not, 
But the spirits there had not forgot -
There is a guardianship, without heart or mind, 
Or soul, or thought. 
Branches stretched out, and roots too -
Up-tripped him; 
Shadowy forms from this opulence grew, 
A wind from the north that gathered in force, 
Stranger creatures, inconceivable, beyond the storms 
Of the wild and willful sea, chased Meckelle 
From this holy, but unholy ecstasy.

In panic he fled, 

A purple silken streamer round his head. 
Upon the beach were gathered those folk: 
In their arms he finally awoke -
A certain need, certain desire 
For had he not been gifted with golden fire? 
He knew not how the months did pass: 
The moons were quarters, halves, three quarters 
Full again.

His advocates avowed him as their Prince 

With strength to go where they had never dared, 
Affrighted at the snares of that forbidden place. 
Four months had passed, the fifth was due. 
Upon one night he knew 
That to his boat he must again repair: 
Older now, darker of hair, 
His complexion touched by the sun: 
He outshone its brilliance, one for one.

"Take me to where my vessel is kept, 

You dreamers, who have not yet slept! 
The dreams I have of nirvana, of mirth, of sadness, 
Of rejoicing, of a still and silent birth. 
Direct me, you who would call me prince, 
To my boat: Long it is 
Since my sails have been set: 
Whether it is evening or morning - yet-
I care not: appreciative or proud, 
I leave you with a blessing and a cloud.

Amidst the throng of candles bright 

And mournful faces, filled with light 
They led him to his steady craft: 
Meckelle, Meckelle had come to pass. 
Upon the waters gently rocking 
Amidst the turquoise and the blue, 
On board, he was again the captain -
No need for crew! 
With sun-browned legs he climbed aboard, 
And smelled the keen salt air he loved so much. 
The waters' fluctuating hue, 
Emerald, sapphire and darkest blue.
The sands beneath, he studied them, 

But there were none he knew.

With caution, and with measured stride, 

He paced his craft from prow to stern,
From port to starboard side. 
He turned towards the isle he'd left, 
Then turned again, as though 
By some invisible behest 
He found some gifts upon the deck, 
And embers glowing still, 
Which Prometheus had left.

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