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The Wing & the Burden

"The Wing & the Burden" (2001)

1. Paris 1574
2. The Rite of Catherina de Medicis
3. Turpentine Chimaera
4. Wreckage
5. Four
6. A Crimson Dawn
7. Tiphareth - the Burning Balance
8. Necropolis
9. Tar and Quill (A Gloss)

1. Paris 1574

2. The Rite of Catherina de Medicis

STRUCK by a disease no doctor could identify
Nor explain the horrible symptoms.
King Charles IX was in a dying condition:
He was rapidly fading away
Leaving on the bed nothing more than a mere reflection
Of his former self.

The queen mother, who ruled him totally
And was likely to lose all her power
Under another government, was therefore forced to act,
After the king's astrologers proved themselves useless.
She would consult the oracle of La Tete Sanglante
And invoke the infernal spirit herself.

The queen mother and her servant
Now took a child, pure of heart and morals,
And prepared him for his first communion.
When the child was prepared after some days,
He was guided into the room of the ill king
By the queen mother and her accomplices.

The queen mother, her main servant and a Jacobin monk
Strangled the child after he received his communion
On the steps of the altar.
The head, severed from the body by a single strike,
Was then placed on a large plate and brought near the king.

From there on the conjuration began, and the infernal spirit
Was now able to speak through the mouth of the beheaded child
On the questions that were asked he replied "Vim patior -
I'm being forced - vim patior."

The king's face turned white and his blood ran cold.
He understood clearly what he was told.
He was not under the protection any more
Of the powers he repeatedly summoned.
Paralysed by fear he lay on the bed,

As his last words were 'remove the head'
And he said nothing else until his last breath
And without any hope he awaited his death.

3. Turpentine Chimaera

The First Image on Entering the Gallery
THE aspect I thought to partake of
Casual quiet alone and the
Wide grimace to be inane
Aud'bly smirk sardonic scorn.
Still the choice I have between
Both, one of which receives a
Grimmer grin when mordant the wit
Which leaves but one: return.

The Second Image
A web of vivid movements
Holds me in its grasp, though
Profound its depths which lured me in
To bounce my eyes back
Into the gallery.

The First Image
A rigid stare peeps from behind
The hollow sockets deep
Forcing mine to delve into their
Dazzling darkness
Torn is the parlous shroud
This apparition wears
Who breathes anew resuming voice
With the view of finding ears.

The Third Image
Thus the mind sharp with
Feverish chimaera, each
Sense engaged and
Merged into a blend
(The cries that found themselves
Shiv'ring o'er my spine
Stir such taste of turpentine that
Space is clear to resound),
Myself I find
Drawn into the landscape
To be surveyed and dwelt upon.

Half of the sun submerged
For gleams and shades alike
To ridge the erstwhile gloss and stretch
The slopes up to the pike,
My wand'rings reel dispersed
Across the canvas wide
Which exceeds by sharp relief
Its listless lifelessness:
The same chiaroscuro through
Which the expanse immures me
Obtrudes the path that leads beyond the
Horizon's span.

The Fourth Image
-Out through the next…No
Wind to carry the sheets, has vexed the
Placid sea, breathes tacit silence…
The surface so conspicuously smooth;
I must be the pivot of these ripples,
As Aeolus I press the winds from their recess
And hoist the canvas as the sailor.
Waves of one wave, first
Plodding and jostling, break step,
Unravelled, steal a march
To dislodge me hence from this watery grave;
The dark waters I ride
Revolt, swill out the dead seaweed, like
Shoals through meshes 'scaped
The sea, unshackled, bellows: Liberty!
Still inordinate, the sway
Remains for me to bridle and vanquish
Until more sharply delineated…
Likewise, the primordial artist
Attributes his work to the dissolution
Of such a tremulous framework:
The Order of the Dragon.

The Second Image
Out of the gallery.
Yet one last glimpse, surmised right so:
My web I'll weave accordingly,
A tangled clasp, a hauling net,
Though, extricated, the spirits flee
And strings shall be pulled again.

4. Wreckage

STILL afloat: persevering at each shore
That may seem, would I comply,
To render me ensconced...the voyage to draw
Beyond the compass,
And what is more its buoyancy to sustain,
While dashing billows the old sails try
Life's vigil to conclude with life's refrain-
The calm before the storm.

Untimely night.
The pond'rous fetters of the storm
Cling when untethered
Upon the floor they smite.
Thus given vent sways the storm in revelry
And brazen mockery.

Why plunge into a wat'ry grave
And wreck upon sea's edge
Never to reach for which I crave
And my very soul might pledge?

Against the waves the vessel was matched
And intermin'bly, when overcome's the breach,
From high upon the breakers launched and dispatched
Until at the craggy beach,
Where shattered rest the carcass,
Now subject to decay,
And scattered tangly slivers of wood,
Bound to rot away.
What holds is but of brittle bone,
A canopy of curved boughs,
Neither grave nor engraved stone,
In oblivion to drowse.

Lest of the cliff the mere base be the end,
Do I scale the precipice
Without wings which larks from ether suspend
While gapes below the deep abyss.
But vertigo alone,
Though precarious th'ascent remains aloft,
Cannot tip the balance nor respite prompt
Nor win the last moan,
But comes another, the tone still soft.

Then trees recede and lend me view,
A glade remote, briars piercing through
A mossy couch a singing lady's made,
Until again they cast their shades.

So did thoughts: suggest to me still
The quiet of a dark repose
And at the same time inspire will
The primrose path to oppose.
Either way I will proceed.
Why slacken a sluggish pace,
When toil may very relief concede
I can well-nigh embrace?

Since here is not where I can rest assured
That to rest my lay be laid,
Since proximity has ardour restored,
What can me dissuade?
But, should I leap at the wall?
The timeless cauldron gape I saw,
The void in which to drown my cares
And stifle my but hoarse-worn call,
When yet again I wash ashore.

"Dissemble not
The winces stirred by wry convulsions:
Recuperation's near.
"Wretched convalescent,
Stagnant are the ancient waters:
Redemption's here".

Of what green's that sheet of moss
With which my bed she drapes?
Nothing more but the amb'guity
Which consuming decay or growth shapes,
A sheet with which to smother me,
Makes me argue the self-imposed toss.
Have I thus wrought a shift of aim?
Non sequitur.
What mysteries does she hold, or hold
Divulged, but me against my will?
How can beauty that's static and cold
Yet lose itself, and lose me still
For I am resolute?

"Like a wolf in sheep's clothing,
Illness assumes
Recovery's guise.
"Is even willingness no
Salutary elixir?
Beyond resilience your headstrong
Fever carries on".

No and even so yes
This selfsame state, once the port
Now the sojourn, one of call,
The height has crumbled
Or have I in this:
Bent and snapped the tight-stringed neck
As to the heart,
When no string can life uphold,
Numb and stale within a wreck.

The question dawns upon me,
Whether the encounter I might have created
As such without authority
Or I was the Proteus.

Still afloat: the isle receding
Into the distance, as level upon level was closed
In mists the hindsight impeding,
The tide of aurora has another day posed.

5. Four

IMMORTAL, eternal, unspeakable and unshaped:
Spirits of fire!
Invisible king, who has taken the earth as his castle:
Spirits of the earth!
Terrible king of the sea, of the waters in the underworld:
Spirits of water!
Ghost of light, ghost of wisdom, whose breath gives life:
Spirits of the air!

Elemental spirits,
Hear our words of calling.
Grant us the knowledge
To see through the second face.

Angel with the dead eyes, obey or flow away with the water.
Winged taurus, work or return to the earth.
Chained eagle, obey this sign or retreat.
Serpent in movement, clasp thee at my feet.
Or be tormented by the fires of revenge.

That the fire may return to the water,
That the fire may burn,
That the earth may fall upon the earth,
That the air may circulate.

Appear before us, rulers of the elements,
For we call upon thee
From the four points of the compass,
Where your empires are hidden.
Appear before us!

Spirits of fire, ruled by Djinn
From thy empire in the south,
Spirits of the earth, ruled by Gob
From thy empire in the north,
Spirits of water, ruled by Nicksa,
From thy empire in the west,
Spirits of the air, ruled by Paralda
From thy empire in the east,

Appear before us!

6. A Crimson Dawn

I: (The harbinger Morrigan)

BLEAR with dew came the morrow
And winds rustled aloud.
Down by the rill where purled the flow
The Washer1 washed the shrouds
And Nemain2 sang of woe and sorrow.

"O black-feathered Morrigan"

II: (O'er bleak winds of death)

A raven, Morrigan yclept, loomed awaiting burial.
On wings o'er rueful winds, she stalked along.

A storm-blast of blazonry chased the sands
And left the drift seen afar.
A breeze brought the scattered grains,
That flung 'gainst the dewy scars.

Her frenzied squawks exhorted the ravage
And the hewing of sheen blades.
And blood suffused the barren earth,
'Pon which the crimson dawn glowered.

A Crimson Dawn Awakened!

III: (Hoarse cries and clanging steel)

The brash and bray heartened the noble souls
To defy the singeing fervour of battle.
The carmine sky was brimming with sore shrieks,
As they rose high above the flourish of brazen trumpets.

IV: (The beacon glare)

When, dark by smoke and red by fire,
Aurora had won the day,
The sun, in beacon glare, rose higher
And sweltered drouthy fey.

V: (The ascent of warlike fever)

The fervour seared the sanguine plain
And the sour scent of cold damp
Did linger no more. Undaunted or felled,
Shrieks resounded to where their lot was cast.

"O black-feathered Morrigan"

"Thrilled by rankling fury, as I hearkened direful voices,
The red blaze of death aroused my vengeful moods."

"The glorious grandeur of battle, at this blood-tinged dawn,
Made boil my ebon ichor, glinstering as steel whirled."

The carmine sky in ashen stains flecked
Brimmed with husky moans.
Thus the sabre-rattling swoll
Into drear timbres of ire
(The empty words sceptred).

VI: (On the brink of ruin)

"Wounds of savage thrusts
Shifted me to the brink of ruin
And the grave burden borne
Struggled tho' I strained life."

VII: (A draught of immortality)

A raven, Morrigan yclept, loomed watching the battlefield.
On wings o'er rueful winds, she stalked along.

"Thrilled by rankling fury, as I hearkened direful voices,
The roan blaze of death aroused my vengeful moods."

"In awe of ancestral victories won
I unsheathed and brandished my sword
Once more. Dreadful countenances fell
Until the baleful knell rang triste."

After the dismal rise of the sullen sun,
Ravens reap the rich morning harvest,
As the drenched earth is sated by thousands
And splendid glory has been gained.

The ardent ashes that flare
Smoulder with more afterglow
Than a midsummer fever would leave
And now the embers are fanned.

7. Tiphareth - the Burning Balance

WALKING upon the thin line
In search of the astral light,
Travelling between instinct and reason
In search of the sanctum regnum,

Which leads the animal instinct
And battles against reason,
Which she tries to pollute
Through the wealth of her reflections.

Reject the empire of reason
And allow your mind to dwell
Beyond the pool of reflections
To strengthen yourself in the valley of madness,

But beware not to weaken your attentiveness,
Lest you will fall off the cliff of sanity,
For it is a thin line you walk
In search of the sanctum regnum.

But can you resist the seducing forces
While attempting to use them?
Can you get the masses drunk
And resist the alcohol yourself?
Can you control the circle of astral light
Without floating with its tide?
Can you maintain the rite of summoning
With a woolen cloak to protect you?

Then proceed and use the tool of initiation
And let your mind dwell within the reflections
(of the astral light)
And learn to understand the balance of powers,

For nothing is useless or lost.
Every word, action or movement
Can bring you out of balance
And throw you off the cliff,
For it is a thin line you walk
In search of the sanctum regnum.

8. Necropolis

[A necropolis on a November night.]

"Unruly moon,
Why dost Thou thus unleash Thy hounds,
Which howling break the silent tune:
Our breathing space resounds.
"Or chase, not to break, the orbit of old:
To wax and to wane like the waves,
Which gravitate towards Thy caelestial cold
And we in our lowly graves."

"Replenished is the Lantern
But the waxen waves pursue
Reflection in your extant eyes,
Which lidless still wink at them,
While until dawn's dew
Nature may yield to your sighs."

"Memento, my fellow corpses, the menacing Muse
'Mongst the carnival of Paris
In 1832 to swell His revenues.

"Does there ring a knell? How this fearful Fiddler reaped
The crowd of souls,
With high-handed sway His human hoard heaped.

"As for us, as Orpheus first in glory thrived,
We his partisans
Forwent our skill, which Death should have revived,

Outperformed and quiet."
"But fasting has done,
Therefore let us our state requite."

[Enter SELENE, ARTEMIS and HECATE as onlookers-the Danse Macabre. Exeunt the goddesses. Enter DEATH playing the violin.]

"Let us not with cracking din harrow,
Alarm the dead in bliss.
Retry thy toil, Bow, mine to dismiss:
Recast thy amorous arrow.
"Bow, at thy strings let wind shudder with glee
Undying harmony solemnize.
No greater artist of cure shall rise
Than Thou, booked for eternity."

"A puppet, amenably ensnared by the Fiddler's strings,
A voice at least, rising up to fall.
Where some may live the frozen moments of our wasted wings,
Others, indifferent, but sprawl.
"Bar him who on a farandole abreast insisted,
Who pardoned the Pariah in His stall
Freely for partaking in the grand parade of Paris,
Within his own vocation to cover all."

[The sun is rising. THE CORPSE levels his last speech at DEATH.]

"Unruly Law,
I may loathe how with contenders Thou viest,
When masked 'mongst a masquerade all the more
All having en masse enticed.
"Yet I owed to Thee, which Thou didst confine,
Ambition not unspoken for,
But Thou canst not ever Thyself undermine,
Hence mute is Thy music: Encore!"

"Agile fools, do not trim -as ye define-
My fearsome form of old
With frothy flattery;
Timeless air I breathe as to engulf
Such outcries brief and bold,
"Casualties, as ere long the loyal dawn
Shall Nature from Her apogee
To Her source restore.
True to form, the honours of last word,
Last laugh and dance are mine
To be."

9. Tar and Quill (A Gloss)


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