Water and Music

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It is five in the morning. I stand on a beach and gather light in my yes and my mind. It is not a normal beach but rather one with a bed of small round stones. They have no color yet, but promise to gather some as the sun rises.

There is a hint of pink on the horizon but no real light. The stars remain visible above the sea. Among them is the phenomenon of the Milky Way. It rises from the sea; upward and to the right, continuing towards the heavens until it disappears. There is not a clear demarcation of its trajectory. The lower parts of the Milky Way appear as stars – – although a bit muted. As my eyes follow its path the stars join together and lose their granularity; they become a giant cloud. This cloud has upper and lower limits which define it

There is a cliff to my left. It also, like the beach stones, has little color. A minute passes and some light tends to make the cliff a brownish hue. Yes, I can now clearly see its outline. It is not a normal flat cliff but rather one whose geological lineage have given it character. There are fault lines rising from left to right; almost following the path of the Milky Way. The fault lines are irregular, no two separated by the same distance although following the same path. There are a few outcroppings that cantilever out into the night sky.

Out, sitting in the ocean, with its toes on the beach and its heals buried in the water, is a tall rock island. Its birth mother appears to be the cliff. They have the same fault lines and color. Mother and child are separated by eroded rocks that appear to remain behind as the result of the natal event.

There are beach stones that lay beneath my feet, and extend to the area between the cliff and the island. These stones seem to also have been left behind as a result of the birth of the island. However, these have been smoothed by Father Ocean who has given them a personality due to a continuum of waves of advice.

In the distance and to my right a small island appears in the muted sun. The pink on the horizon has turned to white and a thin layer of blue exists between this and the dark sky. The stars within this blue band have disappeared; yet my heart can still feel the Milky Way and my mind contemplates it.

The sea becomes silver as the sun rises farther. The islands and cliff in front of me remain dark and foreboding. I wait for the remainder of the musical and am not disappointed. The small rounded stones appear to gain in color and harmony. I wonder and this wonderment leads me to the memory of a visit I once paid to a mountain stream.

I had a lot of leisure time then. My weekly income from industry gave me time to do the things I always wanted to. One of my desires was to own my own automobile so that I could visit the countryside.

And I did.

I drove for miles and enjoyed every month of it. Some of the roads were unique. One was along an old canal bed. Another went up and down like a roller-coaster (but, of course, not as steep). My favorite mountain road was helical shaped that went around and around as well as up. I enjoyed the feeling of “Déjà Vu” each time I made a left hand turn (which was continuously).

But none of my trips would be as memorable as the one I was on at that moment. It was a two lane macadam road that followed a beautiful mountain stream. I saw an interesting dirt road to my right. A rickety bridge allowed me to cross the stream. The steep mountains closed in on each side as I followed my hood ornament.

Suddenly the mountains parted and I found myself at the edge of a large flat area. It must have been five hundred acres in size and as flat as a postage stamp. The whole plain was covered in grass. It was not normal grass; it was blue. Not the blue of oceans, nor turquoise blue, or the blue color of melancholy. It was not the blue of azure, nor sapphire, nor peacock blue nor the blue of despair. It was the blue of amethyst.

It had the same quality of an amethyst gem; translucent. I departed my car and studied the grass. When I stood up it looked like a dark hue of blue. When I lay down and looked across the top of the grass it looked like the amethyst of an apothecary jar. In either case it was a mesmerizing experience.

I removed my shoes and socks to enjoy the softness of this blue grass. I walked around the amethyst plain for quite some time before I noticed a stream along one side. I ventured down the bank and into the water. The stones on the bottom were all the same size; about the size of an egg. Yet they were rather flat and pleasant to walk on. The stones appeared to have spent quite a bit of time in a giant lapidary tumbler; they were polished.

I reached down and picked one up. It was onyx black with ivory colored large spots here and there. The spots were not clearly demarcated as on a polka-dot dress. They were more like the penumbraic spots on a brook trout.

“PUT ME DOWN” cried a voice from seemingly nowhere.
I looked around but there was no one there.
“Put me down before I die” cried out the voice again.
I scanned the blue grass but saw no one.
“Please, I beg you, put me back in the water or I will expire” came the voice for the third time.

I perceived that the voice might be coming from the stone. I carefully lowered my hand until the stone was under water. Nothing happened. No voice, no movement, no sign of life. After a minute or so I decided that I must have had a day dream in this strange place of amethyst grass and shiny stones with soft ivory spots. I lifted my hand out of the water so that I could once more inspect this strange stone.

“Thanks for putting me back under water” said the stone.
Without thinking I responded “Why sure! Sorry about not listening the first time.”
“Put me back in so I can take a breath” pleaded the stone.
I did as I was asked and then lifted the stone up again. “Are you a real stone or a turtle or a fish?” I asked.
“A stone” said the stone. “Now put me back.”

And so it went for the remainder of the next hour. I dipped the stone in and out of the water while trying to complete a conversation with it.

Finally the stone told me “Walk downstream and you will find a waterfall.”
I followed the stone’s instructions while holding him under water. When I reached the waterfall I lifted the stone up again to ask for farther instructions. The stone said “Hold me under the waterfall. That way I can get enough water to breath and enough air to talk.”
I followed instructions and soon realized why I had heard gurgling sounds at all the waterfalls I had ever visited. It was the sound of stones talking to each other. I wished that I had paid more attention to stones long before this.

“I can now complete what I wished I could have told someone years ago” said the stone. “It is a long story so feel free to ask questions; if you must.
The stone continued “This is the story of a blue grass festival and us who were once called caterwaulers.

“Eons ago in this flat amethyst plain,
Music existed whether in sun or rain,
It echoed on the mountains ag’ane and ag’ane,
While the red summer hawk was carnivorously preyin’.

People came from a’near and afar,
Some by bus, but mostly by car,
Two people brought elixir in a stone jar,
A wanna-be king and a Tennesee tzar.

So the blue-grass music played day and night,
While the clouds rolled by, dark or bright,
Eventually the moon played fiddle (out of sight),
And the night owl prowled in quiet stealthy flight.

The stream rolled by, oblivious of the noise,
Created by those grown-up country girls and boys,
With their banjos, harmonicas, and musical toys,
The audience had elixir and hookahs (their make believe joys).

Summer hawk and night owl with eyes e’spyin’,
Swooping talons exposed, in unison flyin’,
Picked up the singers and musicians (all cryin’),
Each and every one thought they were dyin’,

The winged ones deposited them in mountain stream,
And the caterwauling ebbed to a gurgling scream,
I was involved in that nightmarish dream,
For I was a caterwauler, or so it would seem.

Over the eons minerals invaded our bones,
And turned us into penumbrious stones,
Our caterwaulings are now gurgling moans,
The screeching songs melted into melodious tones.”

The stone then became quiet except for intermittent sobbing. Although I had previously intended to ask questions I avoided hearing any more of the sad story. I carefully placed the stone on the bottom of the stream and fled.

I never heard the voice of the caterwauler again.

©  2017        Copyright Waldo J. Tomosky

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THE NIGHTINGALE

Languages of people change,
but not the song of the Nightingale.
The red wine of Life awakens one’s mind,
one’s ability to think.

There was a time in my life when I searched for answers

(I still do).

Omar Khayyam wrote his poem “The Rubaiyat” in the year 1120.
I did not understand it and therefore had to arise at 5:00 AM every morning, for several mornings, to read – – reread – – and interpolate it. I did not have to translate it because Edward FitzGerald had done that for me in the year 1859.

My interpolation turned out to be satisfying, even if not exact. The reason for that was I had read it and reread it until I saw that Omar was talking about life and the necessity to ‘throw off ideals’ if one wants to enjoy life. Omar spoke often about enjoying ‘wine’ but he was really using wine as a metaphor for life; ‘Enjoy life, as if it was wine, until it intoxicates you.’

So, my interpolation was INCORRECT, when reading word for word, but EXACT when reading the Rubaiyat as a whole. To show my error (possibly, it was or was not) I now allow you to compare quatrain #6 above (my interpolation) to Khayyam’s/FitzGerald’s original version #6 which follows.

VI
And David’s lips are lockt; but in divine
High-piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!”–the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That sallow cheek of hers t’ incarnadine.

Therefore, if you throw off the cloak of idealism, no matter whether it is political, theological or those of the Sultan, life is waiting for no one; it marches on day by day, so make good use of it. I believe my interpolation of this sixth quatrain is much better than attempting to draw a conclusion of the sixth when isolating it from the remaining one hundred and one quatrains.

And I refuse to stop with my interpolation right here!

Let us inspect my interpolation about the Nightingale a little closer.

#6
Languages of people change,
but not the song of the Nightingale.
The red wine of Life awakens one’s mind,
one’s ability to think.

Languages of humans do change; if you take it word for word.

When someone changes cultures they eventually change languages. That is true for those who have different ideals. The Muslim’s thoughts differ from the Christians. The Conservative’s language differs from the Progressive’s. The metaphysical thinker’s language differs from the realists.

The astonished person’s language differs from the frightened.
The ill person’s language differs from the vigorous person’s.
The delighted person’s language differs from the revolted.
The joyful person’s language differs from the obnoxious.
The cheerful person’s language differs from the morose.
The calm person’s language differs from the enraged.

I am not here to tell you who is right and who is wrong. I only ask that you enjoy your life before it disappears.

And now I must allow you to compare my Rubaiyat against the original. It surely isn’t as beautiful as that of Kayyam and FitzGerald. But it is nevertheless, an easily understood version.

My version.

1

It is early morning and the stars have started to disappear. The Sultan’s tower is a shadow amongst shadows. I attempt to waken you.

2

I sit here before the sun shows itself and wonder why, when the Temple of Life calls for enjoyment, mediocre worshippers do not enter.

3

As the rooster awakens their early Life they wish to partake     – but –   realize the church will call them away.

4

A Spring festival renews the call to Life’s enjoyment but those who follow the popular ideology or theology think of Moses’ snowy hand and Jesus’ healing powers.

5

Theological beliefs are faint but the enjoyment of Life can be clearly seen in a vined flower and plants growing by a life-giving stream.

6

Languages of people change but not the song of the Nightingale. The red wine of Life awakens ones mind, ones ability to think.

7

Enjoy your renewed Life with new ideas, throw away your ideological and theological cloak. Your Life is flittering away like a bird on the wing.

8

No matter if your Life is large or small, glorious or bitter  –  it is disappearing drop-by-drop,  like the leaves of fall.

9

Everyday Life grants you new experiences and new ideas. Embrace these; and discard the invalid ones as you wish.

10

Do we owe allegiance to the old ideas, the old gods, the superstitions? Why should we follow them?

11

Walk with me along the divide between theology and Living Life. Let us see who is remembered. Let them stay where they are.

12

We may find a nice shade tree, read a good book, and then discuss it. We will enter the “unknown” and exit a “paradise of ideas.”

13

Some live for human glory, some live to enter heaven; but enjoy what you have today and do not borrow from tomorrow.

14

Enter Life with glee, gain knowledge, sprinkle it on others; then leave life happy, knowing that you have contributed.

15

Those who once had great ideas are relived by the common man. Those great ideas may not apply today but we keep on digging them up.

16

Old hope is the kindling that will turn to ashes. It is an April snow that disappears with the sunlight of new ideas.

17

The caravan of Life, measured as each day goes by, brings new ideas and experiences; and the old fade into the twilight.

18

The reigns and territories of kings have turned to sand where animals roam. The hunter’s grave has turned to dust where the hunted remains to trample on it. But nothing has changed.

19

Glorious leaders reflect glorious ideas. These ideas may remain to have merit. They are the gardens where new ideas grow.

20

This garden grows delicately on the waters edge. Be careful not to trample on the new ideas that spring from it.

21

Clear my mind of regret and fear; for those culprits of the past and the future do not hold the potential of tomorrow in which I can be myself.

22

The most loved and best of humanity have had their drink of tomorrow and now they are gone.

23

Now we are the current holders of the earth and we too must, at some point, make room for the new holders of ideas.

24

So make good of all your potential before you descend into the earth as dust; without Song or Wine     –        for eternity.

25

Those who spend their time preparing for today and tomorrow shall be called fools.

26

Even the saints and sages are dead; their words stopped by the dust of time.

27

When I was young I studied under doctors and saints but my mind kept a place for my own thoughts as well.

28

I learned from them and on my own I expanded that growth. I gathered a flood of knowledge and created a whirlwind with it.

29

I became lost in my knowledge and it kept on flowing; but I knew not why I chased knowledge or what to do with it.

30

I did not ask when I would die. I did not even think of whether I would die. My conceit brought me to the insolence of not asking these questions.

31

I thought I had arrived at the seventh heaven, sitting on Saturn’s throne. My knowledge solved several puzzles of our solar system but not our Universe.

32

I saw that there existed a door (or veil) of Human Fate but could not unlock it. I thought of myself and some god. Or was it two forms of myself?

33

I knew He was there; somewhere in the seas or heavens. But as if being subjected to the magician’s tricks, all I could see was the night and morning.

34

I found You within me through a dim light. And the vision became fainter when you scolded me for my conceit.

35

Then You revealed the secret. Fill the cup of Life to the fullest and drink to the last drop; before you die.

36

At times I could not find the answer to Life (which of course, had to exist). I persisted and found Life would give and take; with a joy for both.

37

I have seen Life creating Life, forming it into shape, like clay. Pray, remember we all return to earth.

38

We came from earth and were given the name “Mankind.”

39

As we drink from the cup of Life we may toss a few drops on the earth; with a reverence to those who can taste it no more.

40

In the morning of your Life do you wonder about the cosmos as if it were the inverted cup? The cup of Life has the stars and the moon etched into its bowl.

41

Have you ceased to wonder about Man and God? Have you become disoriented in the hurricane of Life? Has all meaning slipped through your fingers?

42

Then say “Yes” to Life, learn and do what you can, see how you can exceed the self that you were yesterday and the manner of man you can be tomorrow.

43

Then, as Life comes to its end, you will not be sorry for what you have omitted.

44

Likewise, your soul will shake the dust and travel lightly, even if your body is held by the earth.

45

Death is a short stay for the soul. Those whose soul rises, leaves behind a simple body.

46

Do not worry, when we are forgotten, for the contributions of our lives are passed on to Mankind.

47

The world will exist far past the time of our death. The impressions we made are like a small pebble cast into the ocean.

48

We may like to believe we are somehow more than others; however, Life is only a temporary stop. Life’s caravan is circular and returns to where it started.

49

Life’s fortunes, the difference between truth and falseness, the separation between life and death, is as thin as a hair.

50

If these differences in life are so minute, how can we find the single Character that is the truth?

51

Every thought we have about these secrets torments our brain. We recognize that, from the fish to the moon, everything dies; yet the Universe goes on.

52

We get a glimpse of the Universe but its clarity is always poor; and then it disappears completely.

53

We scour, from heaven to earth, for these secrets. How are we to think of them once we are dead?

54

Maybe it would be better if we did not waste the precious time of Life chasing these answers down. Maybe we should just enjoy Life as Life gives it to us.

55

I gave up the logic and reasoning previously used in contemplating theology. Now I just enjoy Life.

56

I have erred in measuring Life with the tools of the surveyor and the heights of the stars; I now realize that I should have been Living Life.

57

People say my new calendar was invented for logical reasons. Not so! I was simply attempting to reconcile the falseness of yesterday and fear of tomorrow against the truth of today.

58

As I grow older I have a sense that someone (or something) is showing me a vision of a Carafe of Life; and encouraging me to drink in each and every day.

59

Why should I listen to seventy-two different religions when I see that the chemistry of Life can turn leaden existence into Golden enjoyment?

60

Mahmud, fierce defender and conqueror for Allah, has scattered the East Indian people before him.

61

Our theology has been changed into a weapon of will. Who has done this?

62

I reject this form of theology; my trust of it has turned to fear. Maybe there is a better way.

63

The promise of heaven and the fear of hell do not give me longer life. The only true thing remaining is that all existing things eventually die.

64

It is strange that none of the departed have returned to tell us what really lies beyond death.

65

After all the prophets died, the devout and educated told us interesting stories but then the stories were forgotten.

66

I thought this through and decided that I am responsible for (and make) my own heaven and hell.

67

My heaven is every fulfilled desire, my hell is when I have erred so pitifully that it haunts me. Why have I learned this so late in Life?

68

Life is like those balanced and painted lantern shades that spin on a pin. We are the painted figures that Life spins, day and night, for Life’s own show.

69

Or is Life simply a game of checkers, white for day   –   black for night, in which we are moved until slain; and then cast aside?

70

Or when the game of Life is played with a ball there are no questions allowed. He simply sends you down the field wherever He wants you. He knows clearly where He wants you to go.

71

And if Life is a writing, no matter whether you are witty or devout, what is written is written in stone. You can not go back and edit it.

72

Or if life is an inverted bowl and you are captured below the sky and above the earth, do not ask It for help. It is part of The Plan, just as you and I are.

73

What was first created already had a total plan. Man can not change what the Plan for Life is.

74

Drink up Life’s experiences, for you can not change them. We will never know how or why we exist; so just experience it and enjoy.

75

When Life started, even the most brilliant men were thrown aside. I know all that remains is the grave and the soul.

76

The spiraling vine and the whirling devil can capture my soul only if my basest instinct allows it to happen.

77

I would rather be consumed by Life’s love or wrath than to miss the truth of Life by believing in another’s theology.

78

Why should I allow anyone to set rules that threaten a perpetual hell? My rules of Life’s enjoyment are as valid as their rules of self-denial.

79

Why pay with the Gold of Life for something we never bargained for?

80

Although Life has strewn my path with evil, my will avoids precarious decisions. Life did not put me here to fail.

81

Even though some men are of a baser instinct (we all make errors) give forgiveness and accept it as well.

82

When I departed this earth I found myself surrounded by others who originated in the earth’s clay.

83

They were of all sorts. Short, tall, keen, dim, great and small, some talked incessantly, some spoke well, and some not at all.

84

One said “I hope that I was not created (in vain) from the earth’s clay simply to be crushed back into earth.”

85

A second one said “Even the peevish Boy of Life would not destroy us; those that He made and watched over.”

86

After a short silence a cripple spoke. “Why was I created? So that people would sneer at me?”

87

A talkative theologian then said “What is all of this talk about being made of clay? Who created us? Who sells us? Who buys us? Are we simply clay pots?”

88

Another spoke. “People say that we who are damaged will be thrown into hell. He who created us certainly would not do that!”

89

The last one spoke. “Whosoever makes or buys us will find that I am quite dried out. If they would only give me a little Life I could make a total recovery.”

90

As they all talked some saw the sign of a new beginning. They nudged each other and erroneously said – “Now we can get back to business.”

91

When I die please anoint by body and bury me near a busy place where people will come and go.

92

In such a place my reputation and soul will remind the Living of who I was.

93

Some of the things I believed in were held in error by others. This ruins my reputation and minimizes my Life.

94

Earlier in Life I sought repentance for breaking other people’s rules. When I started thinking for myself repentance was a thing of the past.

95

My enjoyment of Life has robbed my honor in other’s eyes. But if Life can be so full what is it that could possibly bring those others to joy?

96

When I die the book of my Life dies with me. But the eternal language of the Nightingale sings on. And Life continues somewhere else.

97

I hope that someone walking near my grave picks up my thought and brings it to Life, like the new Life that Spring brings to a herb.

98

May my ideas, through some miracle, live on. But let them live on in greatness (if not  –   then obliterate them in totality).

99

The future will search for us; off and on, seeking the meaning of Life. Maybe we can rid ourselves of our errors before they attempt these new meanings. And then let the seekers determine their own path.

100

A new era will occur. New seekers will appear. Some will look for me.

101

And when they find me please turn a bowl upside down so that I may contemplate the Universe and Life; once again.

 

The Khayyam/Fitzgerald version.

The Rubaiyat

By Omar Khayyam

Written 1120 A.C.E.

I
Wake! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight
The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, and strikes
The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light.

II
Before the phantom of False morning died,
Methought a Voice within the Tavern cried,
“When all the Temple is prepared within,
Why nods the drowsy Worshipper outside?”

III
And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted–“Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.”

IV
Now the New Year reviving old Desires,
The thoughtful Soul to Solitude retires,
Where the White Hand Of Moses on the Bough
Puts out, and Jesus from the Ground suspires.

V
Iram indeed is gone with all his Rose,
And Jamshyd’s Sev’n-ring’d Cup where no one knows;
But still a Ruby kindles in the Vine,
And many a Garden by the Water blows,

VI
And David’s lips are lockt; but in divine
High-piping Pehlevi, with “Wine! Wine! Wine!
Red Wine!”–the Nightingale cries to the Rose
That sallow cheek of hers t’ incarnadine.

VII
Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter–and the Bird is on the Wing.

VIII
Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.

IX
Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say;
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?
And this first Summer month that brings the Rose
Shall take Jamshyd and Kaikobad away.

X
Well, let it take them! What have we to do
With Kaikobad the Great, or Kaikhosru?
Let Zal and Rustum bluster as they will,
Or Hatim call to Supper–heed not you

XI
With me along the strip of Herbage strown
That just divides the desert from the sown,
Where name of Slave and Sultan is forgot–
And Peace to Mahmud on his golden Throne!

XII
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread–and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness–
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

XIII
Some for the Glories of This World; and some
Sigh for the Prophet’s Paradise to come;
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!

XIV
Look to the blowing Rose about us–“Lo,
Laughing,” she says, “into the world I blow,
At once the silken tassel of my Purse
Tear, and its Treasure on the Garden throw.”

XV
And those who husbanded the Golden grain,
And those who flung it to the winds like Rain,
Alike to no such aureate Earth are turn’d
As, buried once, Men want dug up again.

XVI
The Worldly Hope men set their Hearts upon
Turns Ashes–or it prospers; and anon,
Like Snow upon the Desert’s dusty Face,
Lighting a little hour or two–is gone.

XVII
Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.

XVIII
They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:
And Bahram, that great Hunter–the Wild Ass
Stamps o’er his Head, but cannot break his Sleep.

XIX
I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her Lap from some once lovely Head.

X
And this reviving Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River-Lip on which we lean–
Ah, lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

XXI
Ah, my Belov’ed fill the Cup that clears
To-day Past Regrets and Future Fears:
To-morrow!–Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand Years.

XXII
For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his Vintage rolling Time hath prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.

XXIII
And we, that now make merry in the Room
They left, and Summer dresses in new bloom
Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth
Descend–ourselves to make a Couch–for whom?

XXIV
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and–sans End!

XXV
Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
And those that after some To-morrow stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
“Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There.”

XXVI
Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss’d
Of the Two Worlds so wisely–they are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scatter’d, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

XXVII
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door where in I went.

XXVIII
With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d–
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

XXIX
Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.

XXX
What, without asking, hither hurried Whence?
And, without asking, Whither hurried hence!
Oh, many a Cup of this forbidden Wine
Must drown the memory of that insolence!

XXXI
Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate;
And many a Knot unravel’d by the Road;
But not the Master-knot of Human Fate.

XXXII
There was the Door to which I found no Key;
There was the Veil through which I might not see:
Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee
There was–and then no more of Thee and Me.

XXXIII
Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn
In flowing Purple, of their Lord forlorn;
Nor rolling Heaven, with all his Signs reveal’d
And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn.

XXXIV
Then of the Thee in Me works behind
The Veil, I lifted up my hands to find
A Lamp amid the Darkness; and I heard,
As from Without–“The Me Within Thee Blind!”

XXXV
Then to the lip of this poor earthen Urn
I lean’d, the Secret of my Life to learn:
And Lip to Lip it murmur’d–“While you live
Drink!–for, once dead, you never shall return.”

XXXVI
I think the Vessel, that with fugitive
Articulation answer’d, once did live,
And drink; and Ah! the passive Lip I kiss’d,
How many Kisses might it take–and give!

XXXVII
For I remember stopping by the way
To watch a Potter thumping his wet Clay:
And with its all-obliterated Tongue
It murmur’d–“Gently, Brother, gently, pray!”

XXXVIII
And has not such a Story from of Old
Down Man’s successive generations roll’d
Of such a clod of saturated Earth
Cast by the Maker into Human mould?

XXXIX
And not a drop that from our Cups we throw
For Earth to drink of, but may steal below
To quench the fire of Anguish in some Eye
There hidden–far beneath, and long ago.

XL
As then the Tulip for her morning sup
Of Heav’nly Vintage from the soil looks up,
Do you devoutly do the like, till Heav’n
To Earth invert you–like an empty Cup.

XLI
Perplext no more with Human or Divine,
To-morrow’s tangle to the winds resign,
And lose your fingers in the tresses of
The Cypress–slender Minister of Wine.

XLII
And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press
End in what All begins and ends in–Yes;
Think then you are To-day what Yesterday
You were–To-morrow You shall not be less.

XLIII
So when that Angel of the darker Drink
At last shall find you by the river-brink,
And, offering his Cup, invite your Soul
Forth to your Lips to quaff–you shall not shrink.

XLIV
Why, if the Soul can fling the Dust aside,
And naked on the Air of Heaven ride,
Were’t not a Shame–were’t not a Shame for him
In this clay carcase crippled to abide?

XLV
‘Tis but a Tent where takes his one day’s rest
A Sultan to the realm of Death addrest;
The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrash
Strikes, and prepares it for another Guest.

XLVI
And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account, and mine, should know the like no more;
The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour’d
Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

XLVII
When You and I behind the Veil are past,
Oh, but the long, long while the World shall last,
Which of our Coming and Departure heeds
As the Sea’s self should heed a pebble-cast.

XLVIII
A Moment’s Halt–a momentary taste
Of Being from the Well amid the Waste–
And Lo!–the phantom Caravan has reach’d
The Nothing it set out from–Oh, make haste!

XLIX
Would you that spangle of Existence spend
About the Secret–Quick about it, Friend!
A Hair perhaps divides the False and True–
And upon what, prithee, may life depend?

L
A Hair perhaps divides the False and True;
Yes; and a single Alif were the clue–
Could you but find it–to the Treasure-house,
And peradventure to The Master too;

LI
Whose secret Presence, through Creation’s veins
Running Quicksilver-like eludes your pains;
Taking all shapes from Mah to Mahi; and
They change and perish all–but He remains;

LII
A moment guess’d–then back behind the Fold
Immerst of Darkness round the Drama roll’d
Which, for the Pastime of Eternity,
He doth Himself contrive, enact, behold.

LIII
But if in vain, down on the stubborn floor
Of Earth, and up to Heav’n’s unopening Door
You gaze To-day, while You are You–how then
To-morrow, You when shall be You no more?

LIV
Waste not your Hour, nor in the vain pursuit
Of This and That endeavour and dispute;
Better be jocund with the fruitful Grape
Than sadden after none, or bitter, Fruit.

LV
You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
I made a Second Marriage in my house;
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

LVI
For “Is” and “Is-not” though with Rule and Line
And “Up” and “Down” by Logic I define,
Of all that one should care to fathom,
Was never deep in anything but–Wine.

LVII
Ah, but my Computations, People say,
Reduced the Year to better reckoning?–Nay
‘Twas only striking from the Calendar
Unborn To-morrow, and dead Yesterday.

LVIII
And lately, by the Tavern Door agape,
Came shining through the Dusk an Angel Shape
Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder; and
He bid me taste of it; and ’twas–the Grape!

LIX
The Grape that can with Logic absolute
The Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects confute:
The sovereign Alchemist that in a trice
Life’s leaden metal into Gold transmute:

LX
The mighty Mahmud, Allah-breathing Lord
That all the misbelieving and black Horde
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters before him with his whirlwind Sword.

LXI
Why, be this Juice the growth of God, who dare
Blaspheme the twisted tendril as a Snare?
A Blessing, we should use it, should we not?
And if a Curse–why, then, Who set it there?

LXII
I must abjure the Balm of Life, I must,
Scared by some After-reckoning ta’en on trust,
Or lured with Hope of some Diviner Drink,
To fill the Cup–when crumbled into Dust!

LXIII
Oh, threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain–This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

LXIV
Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
Before us pass’d the door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.

LXV
The Revelations of Devout and Learn’d
Who rose before us, and as Prophets burn’d,
Are all but Stories, which, awoke from Sleep,
They told their comrades, and to Sleep return’d.

LXVI
I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return’d to me,
And answer’d “I Myself am Heav’n and Hell:”

LXVII
Heav’n but the Vision of fulfill’d Desire,
And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire,
Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves,
So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.

LXVIII
We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

LXIX
But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

LXX
The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss’d you down into the Field,
He knows about it all–He knows–HE knows!

LXXI
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

LXXII
And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop’d we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help–for It
As impotently moves as you or I.

LXXIII
With Earth’s first Clay They did the Last Man knead,
And there of the Last Harvest sow’d the Seed:
And the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

LXXIV
Yesterday This Day’s Madness did prepare;
To-morrow’s Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.

LXXV
I tell you this–When, started from the Goal,
Over the flaming shoulders of the Foal
Of Heav’n Parwin and Mushtari they flung
In my predestined Plot of Dust and Soul.

LXXVI
The Vine had struck a fibre: which about
If clings my being–let the Dervish flout;
Of my Base metal may be filed a Key,
That shall unlock the Door he howls without.

LXXVII
And this I know: whether the one True Light
Kindle to Love, or Wrath-consume me quite,
One Flash of It within the Tavern caught
Better than in the Temple lost outright.

LXXVIII
What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke
A conscious Something to resent the yoke
Of unpermitted Pleasure, under pain
Of Everlasting Penalties, if broke!

LXXIX
What! from his helpless Creature be repaid
Pure Gold for what he lent him dross-allay’d–
Sue for a Debt he never did contract,
And cannot answer–Oh, the sorry trade!

LXXX
Oh, Thou, who didst with pitfall and with gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestined Evil round
Enmesh, and then impute my Fall to Sin!

LXXXI
Oh, Thou who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And ev’n with Paradise devise the Snake:
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken’d–Man’s forgiveness give–and take!

LXXXII
As under cover of departing Day
Slunk hunger-stricken Ramazan away,
Once more within the Potter’s house alone
I stood, surrounded by the Shapes of Clay.

LXXXIII
Shapes of all Sorts and Sizes, great and small,
That stood along the floor and by the wall;
And some loquacious Vessels were; and some
Listen’d perhaps, but never talk’d at all.

LXXXIV
Said one among them–“Surely not in vain
My substance of the common Earth was ta’en
And to this Figure moulded, to be broke,
Or trampled back to shapeless Earth again.”

LXXXV
Then said a Second–“Ne’er a peevish Boy
Would break the Bowl from which he drank in joy,
And He that with his hand the Vessel made
Will surely not in after Wrath destroy.”

LXXXVI
After a momentary silence spake
Some Vessel of a more ungainly Make;
“They sneer at me for leaning all awry:
What! did the Hand then of the Potter shake?”

LXXXVII
Whereat some one of the loquacious Lot–
I think a Sufi pipkin-waxing hot–
“All this of Pot and Potter–Tell me then,
Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

LXXXVIII
“Why,” said another, “Some there are who tell
Of one who threatens he will toss to Hell
The luckless Pots he marr’d in making–Pish!
He’s a Good Fellow, and ’twill all be well.”

LXXXIX
“Well,” Murmur’d one, “Let whoso make or buy,
My Clay with long Oblivion is gone dry:
But fill me with the old familiar juice,
Methinks I might recover by and by.”

XC
So while the Vessels one by one were speaking,
The little Moon look’d in that all were seeking:
And then they jogg’d each other, “Brother! Brother!
Now for the Porter’s shoulder-knot a-creaking!”

XCI
Ah, with the Grape my fading Life provide,
And wash the Body whence the Life has died,
And lay me, shrouded in the living Leaf,
By some not unfrequented Garden-side.

XCII
That ev’n my buried Ashes such a snare
Of Vintage shall fling up into the Air
As not a True-believer passing by
But shall be overtaken unaware.

XCIII
Indeed the Idols I have loved so long
Have done my credit in this World much wrong:
Have drown’d my Glory in a shallow Cup
And sold my Reputation for a Song.

XCIV
Indeed, indeed, Repentance of before
I swore–but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand
My thread-bare Penitence apieces tore.

XCV
And much as Wine has play’d the Infidel,
And robb’d me of my Robe of Honour–Well,
I wonder often what the Vintners buy
One half so precious as the stuff they sell.

XCVI
Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose!
That Youth’s sweet-scented manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

XCVII
Would but the Desert of the Fountain yield
One glimpse–if dimly, yet indeed, reveal’d,
To which the fainting Traveller might spring,
As springs the trampled herbage of the field!

XCVIII
Would but some wing’ed Angel ere too late
Arrest the yet unfolded Roll of Fate,
And make the stern Recorder otherwise
Enregister, or quite obliterate!

XCIX
Ah, Love! could you and I with Him conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits–and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

C
Yon rising Moon that looks for us again–
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
How oft hereafter rising look for us
Through this same Garden–and for one in vain!

CI
And when like her, oh, Saki, you shall pass
Among the Guests Star-scatter’d on the Grass,
And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made One–turn down an empty Glass!

THE END

 

 

Click HERE for the song of the Nightingale

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: Post #9 VICTIMHOOD AND FAILURE

The Virtue of Faith by Brueghel the Elder, Pieter, circa1559

 

AND FRED CONTINUED HIS CONVERSATION

WITH THE REMAINING TWO SOMNAMBULISTS

 

“Next to last is you, sixth sleepwalker called ‘Victim.’

“Art thou only a victim of your own self-deception?”

“Doest not thou maketh thine own death bed?”

“You bed with short term concern for self.”

“He who deservith shall recieveth,

the true deserts he has earned.”

“Thou are the under man,

who has gone under,

with each rising,

of the moon.”

 

“Thou are the victim of short vision and short days.”

“Thine melencholyness is won by thine own hand.”

“Doest thou wish to leap from the palisade?”

“Doest thou wish to leap from the boat?

“Thou hast not the courage to use,

thine own hand for the task.”

“You dream other hands,

attempt the wish.”

But when it fails,

thoust lay blame,

on them also.”

“Trust not,

“your fate,

to me!”

 

“And you, ’Failure’, why do you skulk last?”

“Is it so that no beast or being should see,

thou in the throes of your own agony?

“Love thy self. You are very noble.”

“For you are like a good father,

showing right from wrong.”

“Do not take man under,

but rather over.”

You, Failure,

are a ghost,

a spirit,

an ether,

falseness.

 

You cloud man’s mind with fear and paralysis.

You, Failure, should be a tool, not a barrier.

Walking with these will make you false god.

Stride alone and you will become a king.”

 

And thus spoke Fred.

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

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A DEVINE TRAGEDY: POST #8 CAPITULATION

The Virtue of Charity , by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, from The World of Seven Virtues

AND FRED CONTINUED HIS CONVERSATION WITH THE SEVEN SOMNAMBULISTS“The fifth among you shall be named ‘Capitulation.’”

“Thine cloak takes on a multitude of shadows.”

“Amongst these are the hues of passiveness,

and a worried and feigned friendliness.”

“Thy forms are ‘The Flock,

and The Multitudes.”

 

“Thine shape is that of the serpent, or at best the chameleon.”

“Doest the oily slime of a dead oasis make you jealous?”

“Doest it nurture more spine in the slime than thou?”

“Then shed your cloak of capriciousness.”

“Or is it vacillation?”

 

“Doest thou vacillate to save your hide or your mind?”

“Doest thou croak like a frog when he vacillates,

his bloated chin to hide his fear of the dark?”

“Or is it fickleness? Art thou fickle,

like a young girl with choices?”

Doest thou squander,

your most prized and,

pure possession,

with each,

choice?”

 

“Or is it equivocation?”

 

“Doest thou weigh every fact as the money changer in the temple?”

“Doest thou spill gold while trying to count brass?

“Or is it ambivalence? Doest thou not care?”

“Doest thou have a weak mind,

like the slimy mollusk?”

 THUS SPOKE FRED

Tomorrow: “Victimhood and Failure”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“TALES OF VARYING MADNESS”

 

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: POST 7 NEPOTISM AND EDUCATION

The Sin of SLOTH Pieter Bruegel the Elder Circa 1557

 

“Third amongst you is the most feared and despised,

yet thou are never spoken of in an open voice,

your six brethren nappers are very afraid,

aware of the poison of thine presence.”

that is you, pallid one – – – ‘Nepotism.”

 

“Thou steal honor and spirit from others.”

“Thou bow to that which is not earned.”

“Thine alter is built on the bones,

of your ancestors.”

 

“But this alter is not built of pride, its foundation – – -,

 the stiff necked haughtiness of rotting flesh,

inherited laurels bespeak of the smell,

of decaying ineptitude.”

 

“And you, fourth one with arms stiffly outstretched; O living zombie.”

“Thou shalt not hide behind the others. Thy name is ‘Education’,

and it shall forever be suspect and under watchful eye.”

“Do not saunter with the other seven diseases.”

“March away with the speed and honor,

of the following beings.”

 

“They fight in the army of the over man.”

“These soldiers shall be called ‘Labor’,

the second one ‘Perseverance’,

followed by ‘Self Respect’,

and ‘Originality’,

‘Passion’,

“Triumph’

‘Pride‘,

FRED SPOKE AND CONTINUED THUSLY

“March with these and emblazon thy true name,

‘WISDOM’ on the reins of your beast.”

“The other seven you are amongst,

will lead thee to the obscurity,

with mental collapse;

and then eventually,

to nothingness.“

 FRED THUS CONCLUDED

Tomorrow:   Capitulation

 

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A DEVINE TRAGEDY: Post 6 ARROGANCE and SECRET SOCIETY

The Sin of PRIDE by Dutch master Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“I speaketh to you Brothers and Sisters; forget not the seven somnambular plagues of Industry.”

 

And thus Fred then spoke to the first of the seven who walked as if in sleep:

 

“You, lead strides-man, thou are ‘Arrogance’,

from thine throat comes the roar of the lion,

yet yee knowest not the humility of time,

patience, perserverance and wisdom,

your roar finds itself covered,

as the moon covers the sun,

in full daylight,

the red corona,

of your roar,

is at once,

muted yet,

beautiful.”

 

“Therefore it will be remembered and practiced by the least amongst you; the under man.”

 

Fred then spoke thusly to the second somnambulist:

 

“You, second strident among the worst of plagues are ‘Secret Society.’”

“You walk behind hidden meanings and the pressing of the hand.”

“You meet in once removed encounters in the dark of night.”

“Darest thou not earn your keep on your own?”

“Have yee not the courage to meet eye to eye,

potential disaster; to face its loneliness?”

“Are thee afraid to chance a win?

“Thou bind thine own self,

to other’s apron strings.”

 

“Thou art neither bad nor evil, but rather a simple follower; an under man going under.”

Thus spoke Fred

 

Tomorrow:  “Nepotism and Education”

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: Post #5 The Shrug

The Sin of Lust by Dutch master Pieter Bruegel the Elder

 

And the timid representative of the Brothers of Personnel,

not truly cognizant of the heavens surrounding him,

not knowing that the temples he walked in,

was unaware that the meeting places,

of  lesser Pharisees would be given,

to that awful creature; The State,

Empirical, Corruptible, New York

and he simply shrugged.

 

Nor did he know that the Psalm,

of “Ever Onward”,

would be hushed,

much like voices,

of the children,

that would be,

thrown into,

a sacrificial,

pit.

 

“The Priest of Personnel was yet another true believer. One, who like many, could not face the seven somnambulists.”

Thus Speaketh Fred

Tomorrow: “Arrogance and Secret Society”

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: Post #4 The Answer

 

The besuited and cloistered one,

not yet aware of his future,

of impending doom,

of coming misery,

the loathing,

of the mind,

against body,

the seducer,

of the labor,

of beings,

unaware.

 

 

Unaware that the all-powerful,

Office of Human Resources,

was soon to be created,

simply answered,

“I do not know.”

 

Additional questions then arose:

 

“Where doest the labor of my body lay?”

“Doest it lay in dungeons of smoke?”

“Do I labor for thee in the sweat,

Of my own oily countenance?”

Or do I long toil unto thee,

along-side automatons,

of the creative man?”

 

“Or doest my spirit die in the simplexes,

of the everyman’s repeated spasms of labor?”

Thus Spoke Fred

 

Tomorrow:   “The Shrug”

 

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: Post #3 THE QUESTIONS

 

Fred asked the cloistered Priest of Personnel,

“Do you know what man does here?”

“Do you care what man does here?”

“Do I waste my only spirit here?”

“Doth my soul burn ever here?”

“What do you wish of me?”

“Do you not truly believe,

that my entire future,

lies in this smokey,

hollow hall?”

 

“Can you not see that God,

“has better plans for me?”

“He would not allow me,

these few thoughts,

if he had wished,

my only soul,

be damned,

to these,

darkest

places.

“Is it Good or Evil that I would encounter here?”

Thus Spoke Fred

 

Tomorrow: “The Answer”

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: Post #2 The Interview

The Sin of Envy                         by Dutch master Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“Verily, I say unto you, tho I walk through the valley of time, I fear no Priest of Personnel.”

 Thus spoke Fred

Fred walked through the vale of time clocks.
each one’s face looking at him,
appearing to  sneer at him,
their hands reaching out,
to grasp onto his words,
twisting them in puzzles
for minds of the lesser.
 
The once revered hallowed halls,
now simply but hollow ways.
deplete of human bodies,
spirits or  any souls,
waited for the morn,
to fill its growling,
and empty bowels,
once more again,
with beings.
 
Tomorrow: “The Questions”
 


 

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: Post #1 The Introduction

The Sin of Wrath by Dutch master Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Life can be true – yet murky,

You should listen closely,

You have to interpret,

We discuss societies,

Some quite secret,

And others not so,

And education,

Plus nepotism,

& Arrogance,

& Phenomena,

In mankind.

 

Creativity requires much risk,

A concept immeasurable,

As of yet – – – anyway,

Sanctioning failure,

So Idiosyncratic,

All occurring,

From 1957,

Onward.

 

My phractured phantasies,

Occur in microcomputers,

Or in mortared walls,

Which hold them,

The industry,

You know.

 

I would apologize quite deeply,

To Friedrich Nietzsche,

He accepts none,

Therefore I,

Offer none.

 

Thank you for listening,

FRED

 Tomorrow: “The Interview”