Baldung Grien's Witches Sabbath
Black Night
become a Bride:

All so effeminate You are
a promenade through which we stroll

rest, or within You hide
from The Anguish of Light

So Solemn Night
even Th'Breeze is stagnant

Everything that might be Green now's Black

--I'm lost in Woods Demoniac
& embraced by too much Solitude:

O that some Star should die

some Bird should scream

some Spirit free itself from Beatitude
just long enough to shriek of pain

or Sigh--

Storms stigmatized The Broken sky
with Neverness which swarming by

in lulling throbs ply over ply
distant Deliverance like rolling Dye

escaping fast as it could fly
above the measure of my eye

left me well conscious it implied
I was struck down as if I'd died!
--Sunk to some convoluted Main
of moving Darkness, lightning-slain,

and struggled mightily to ascertain
What Held Me here like Steadfast Chain

--I tried to see as far & wide
as Things by Eye could be descried

but only Darkness filled The Side
& poured on me its Awesome Tide!

Till: One! approached me, tall & trim,
and stood beside me mute & dim

(like Hell's astounding Seraphim)
deadly as God's Perverted Mood

and--not by speech but--by His look
of infinite ineffable rebuke

He let me know He best pursued
who tried Him hardest to elude

THEN turned with utter self-control
upon His Consecrated Role

& dragged Th'Pitfalls of my Soul
over Perfection's bristling Scroll

(like one out for his evening stroll)
relentless as Th'Sure might fall

--filling with Horror and Appall [sic]
Mole, Oriole, and th'guiltless Foal,

All large/small Things That Fly or Crawl
and crossed The Towage of His Toll

or stood like plants athwart His Mown
of broken Flesh and torn-up Bone

over those Shadow-Lands (Unknown)

Thusly He went without remorse

within the Sureness of that Course
whose Goal matters though not its Source

until... before a gallows-tree
gaunt & deformed as Destiny

He paused--The Corpse there dangling still
(hanging from Fate by dint of Will)

twisting so slowly with the Wind
in hollow Horror flushed & grinned

like One whose Crime had been a joke
--That wasted Body thusly spoke:

"Death forgives Everything posthaste:

Wait long enough & All Of You are chaste!

--Massacres of (a) myriad shrimps
by Life's bloodthirsty, greedy imps

are but regrettable poor lack of taste:

--you do not need to feel remorse
over your evils & much worse:

All life's a forfeit & all Death's a waste
(where All's forgot posthaste)

:Majdanek's flocks of butchered ducks
stared out (like humans!) horror-struck

lifting their wings in noisy prayer
(not knowing they were Someone's fare).

At Buchenwald the lambkin gleamed!

& mutton out of Auschwitz seemed
tenderer than Dachau's slaughtered geese

or Treblinka's sweet stags (like liquorice!)

... The Burning Flesh regrets Th'Slain

but Murder cures our starving Pain

& while Zeal chars That Distant Cane
we lap The Sweetness of our Gain.

But, where's The Crime? when Man pursues
The Virtue of only His Self-Abuse

--If he is his own only prey
(The Only Victim he can slay)

Where is The Crime when Man's a Brute

and Winning is his Sole recourse:

If he won't nurse Triumph from its root
he'll swill the free juice from its fruit

without a second thought to Source

standing by idly pat & mute
as IT leaves 'others' destitute

(like some rich pimp whose prostitutes
he leaves th'guardians of his good repute)

--Man lives down with cold-blooded Pride
the Recreancy of his suicide...

--And The Point is NOT that he must kill

(to fill Th'Hollows of his Thrill
or line his belly)

       but that Man
lives by The Evil of his plan,

dies by Th'Good that thwarts his Skill!
Thereby," said he,

         "The little lie
is that men die as if to say goodbye!"

& laughed: "The Lie is that Someone knows Why.

--Keep to your Ways, O men, and try
what Trials you will yet justify

--I here will hang till such a time
as Rock of ages turns to slime!..."

And yet in spite of all his Say
Death brought him down, dragged him away

(one more apostate He hath caught

--his lot's hard knot, all he had sought:
The Rot of Whatnot at his throat).

But, "Save him save him from Such State!"
then seemed to whisper all the trees
and sang in anguished Hush the leas

(as all of Nature's Moods conspired
against The Dread that He inspired)

although He did not halt His gait
but pressed ahead like One afired
with all th'Certainty of Fate--

A rainfall's flower that showed her spite
in sear disgrace loses her sight!

A butterfly whose swaying flight
carries her past The Moving Rite

is there abducted by The Night
that tortures her To Her Last hour

of Hope ... that hollow Pall
which sucks The Spreading from its Sprawl

... The Monster keeps His steady pace
and Body shadows Space to Space

its pending Theme all but a hymn
of Reverie so stilled as grim
beneath which moonlessness & dream
melt Being together sans all seam

into a telling Without Trace
(fiction beyond Time & Place).

Driven insane, a Gust of Wind tries on & on
to save him, but upon The Stillness dies.

--From his low walk, a Worm
observing The Satanic strut
(knowing best) remains mute

& too: all beasts with eyes & tongues
grown silent & blind to th'nacreous wrongs
(once the bursting rainbow's...
now: Design's reeling back in All Cause)

--While I dreamt on      

          ... I saw
Life's verdant, deep but darkless dales
& traveled where there was no Law

(while Twilights filled My Pale)
Then Thought came down to earth:

Then did I see at last The Difference
between The Lie and lie,

looked on the meaning of my birth--Too late:

Touching upon my cheek a tear of terror
Life raised up a sparkling Dark misericord

& then descended His rewards on me
"Must I die?"       
      I screamed aloud

-- He, soft:                       

"The Lie!"

                ... Forever
Fear & Fear (I stood against The Dark
waiting for Night) years on & years

until at last The Shadow that life was
passed on its way (from sight) into

that dawning which so slowly grew

and grew                 
... now


                  two. 197

^{196} The logical comparison is to Edna St. Vincent Millay's marvelous Christian Paean "Renascence." But comparisons end with the form. That poem is a straightforward story of death & rebirth (however symbolic). The 'hero' of this present poem 'walks' into a shockingly dark ("verdant" = previously unsuspected) duality of which he is an inescapable part (he tries to escape, but not by dying). He starts out (impossibly) trying to discover (find) his mate (soul) amongst the totally inhuman aspects about him, and is finally, miserably (it's his own fault) 'guided' [by his horror 'personified' a guide] to his true mate (a kind of self-destructive nature). The nightmarish landscape of the emotions (let loose) is 'where there is no Law.' "Must I die?" conveniently (not "to be or not to be")... Man is more likely to find his dark side is self- destructive, rather than suicidal. "Lie" because "forever." The jarring pun at the end (designed to have a mocking impact), "hauling to" (a vulgar turn); but because our pretensions to being 'civilized'... the coincidence of my being able to use "hauling two" (never losing the guide) entirely felicitous. There's no 'waking up' at the end (only a distant 'dawning'), no 'Renascence'... just the (usually terrible) insight along the way to the end [whatever] which (that) we can't escape (all) that easily.@

^{197} [pun]@