In death we vanquished enemies, In death, we slew our foes. Blood soaked rage engulfed our blades, When blood lust took its hold. - In death, a darkness troubled one, In death, concealed, undone. Deep in darkness dragons wait, When blood would set the sun. - In death, we glorified his name. In death, we saw too late, When drink, to him, we raised in praise, The dragon sealed his fate. - In death, we lived. In death, we fought. In death, we grew to hate. In death, the blackened wraith released, The blinded shade beneath. - In death, his darkened eyes grew dim. In death, his mind was lost within. With blackened eyes, he slew his kin, In death, we lost to him. - In death, I took up sword and slew. In death, the dragon's wrath ensued. We had no choice. The dragon fumed. In death, he was consumed. - In death, our brother's blood deplored, In death, our brother, did I gore, When I rose up and killed one more. His blood ensconced my sword. - From death, his mutterings are weak. From death, his voice, to me, it speaks. Entombed within my brother's keep, Revived in death, he sleeps.
Angela B. Chrysler
Suttree stood among the screaming leaves and called the lightning down. It cracked and boomed about and he pointed out the darkened heart within him and cried for light. If there be any art in the weathers of this earth. Or char these bones to coal. If you can, if you can. A blackened rag in the rain.
DON'T LOOK BACK WHEN THE ROAD THAT YOU'VE RUN STARTS PULLING YOU INTO ITS DIMENSION TRACK WHEN THE PATH THAT YOU'VE TAKEN LOOKS BETTER AHEAD AND YOU KNOW THAT YOU WILL SEE NO EVIL HERE THESE BLACKENED FRAMES ARE MASKING WHAT WE HAVE FEARED IS NEAR I TELL YOU NO! ARE YOU REALLY AWARE? ARE YOU REALLY AWARE? ARE YOU REALLY AWARE
those sectaries in Europe who are always expecting the end of the world, but who hope that, after the earth has been consumed by fire, they will be seated in glory: grilled a little, crisp at the edges and blackened in parts, but still, thanks be to God, alive for eternity, and seated at his right hand.
So, ' he said. 'What do you think of it?' She twisted towards the fire and watched the flames behind the blackened furnace door. 'When I hear a piece like that, ' she said, 'I find it hard to believe that there isn't something more than this.' She waved a hand at the cabin, at all the material things surrounding them. 'Something we haven't begun to understand, but it's captured in the music. It's there. You can feel it.
Dess shook her head. "Before he walked off, Rex said for you to wait. He said it's totally important you don't touch Angie until he comes back. and he said that if you were a pain about it, I get to hit you with that." She pointed to where the darkling had flung Flabbergasted Supernumerary Mathematician, its tip blackened by ichor and fire. "So, go ahead.
Methought the germ of it was dead in me! Oh, Hester, thou art my better angel! I seem to have flung myself- sick, sin-stained, and sorrow-blackened- down upon these forest leaves, and to have risen up all made anew, and with new powers to glorify Him that hath been merciful! This is already the better life! Why did we not find it sooner?
Stand in despair anywhere old-growth forest has been clear-felled. All life has been replaced by blackened, poisoned desolation. Animals and birds have either fled or been killed, and baits are laid waiting for those that should return. And in these tortured places, the devastation is brutal and total. And this is what greed looks like.
Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear, and superstition. By the year 2050, when the conflict began, the world had fallen upon fearful, superstitious times.
She was battered and beaten up, and not smiling this time. Liesel could see it on her face. Blood leaked from her nose and licked at her lips. Her eyes had blackened. Cuts had opened up and a series of wounds were rising to the surface of her skin. All from the words. From Liesel's words.
Sacredness and profanity and prayers and wishes: they're all held together by the broken limbs of this dead tree, raking the night sky with its blackened branches. We are so small, the two of us. The tree and sky are so large and grand. We could fail so easily, fall before we've begun to rise.
By the blackened wall he does it all
He thinks he's died and gone to heaven
Now the tale is told by the old man
Back home he reads the letter
How they are paid in gold just to babble
In the back room all night and waste the time
And they wandered in from the city
Of St. John without a dime
See the glory of the Royal Scam
He thinks he's died and gone to heaven
Now the tale is told by the old man
Back home he reads the letter
How they are paid in gold just to babble
In the back room all night and waste the time
And they wandered in from the city
Of St. John without a dime
See the glory of the Royal Scam
Charred, blackened, and cooked, the morsel was brought to the mouth and chewed, contemplated, and swallowed with relish. There was no sauce or seasoning and no consideration for aesthetics or art. Yet the combination of meat and fire yielded something revolutionary. Cooked meat made man happy.
The house was burning, the yellow-red sky was like the sunset... Nothing would be left, the golden ferns and the silver ferns, the orchids, the ginger lilies and the roses... When they had finished, there would be nothing left but blackened walls and the mounting stone. That was always left. That could not be stolen or burned.
The great wilds of our country, once held to be boundless and inexhaustible, are being rapidly invaded and overrun in every direction, and everything destructible in them is being destroyed. How far destruction may go it is not easy to guess. Every landscape, low and high, seems doomed to be trampled and harried. Even the sky is not safe from scath-blurred and blackened whole summers together with the smoke of fires that devour the woods.
Thieves are not so bad, and killing wears all possible costumes. There is no death, no murder that is better than any other. If you can kill me, the manner hardly bears consideration. You want to kill your own father, and you think it will make your sleep easier for the next seventy years if you can say you did it honorably. But your honor is blackened by patricide, and no amount of high-sounding formalities will make it white again.
Catherynne M. Valente
I will buy you back with My blood because I love you. I will free you from the chains of sin. I will settle the conflict within and give peace to your soul. But you must come to Me with a repentant heart. You must be willing to be redeemed. You must exchange your sin-blackened heart for a new heart that is cleansed by My blood.
Years later he'd stood in the charred ruins of a library where blackened books lay in pools of water. Shelves tipped over. Some rage at the lies arranged in their thousands row on row. He picked up one of the books and thumbed through the heavy bloated pages. He'd not have thought the value of the smallest thing predicated on a world to come. It surprised him. That the space which these things occupied was itself an expectation.
I likened her to the slender PSYCHe‰ and judged that the perfection of her face ennobled everything unclean around her: The dusty hems of her bunched-up skirt, the worn straps of her nightshirt; the blackened soles of her bare feet [... ] All this and the pungent air! e" this night, sweet pungent night! "He‰Be‰" may come but a season. But this girl's season would know a hot spring and an Indian summer.
It was a very aged, ghostly place; the church had been built many hundreds of years ago, and had once had a convent or monastery attached; for arches in ruins, remains of oriel windows, and fragments of blackened walls, were yet standing-, while other portions of the old building, which had crumbled away and fallen down, were mingled with the churchyard earth and overgrown with grass, as if they too claimed a burying-place and sought to mix their ashes with the dust of men.
Of all the ruinous and desolate places my uncle had ever beheld, this was the most so. It looked as if it had once been a large house of entertainment; but the roof had fallen in, in many places, and the stairs were steep, rugged, and broken. There was a huge fire-place in the room into which they walked, and the chimney was blackened with smoke; but no warm blaze lighted it up now. The white feathery dust of burnt wood was still strewed over the hearth, but the stove was cold, and all was dark and gloomy.
I look to everyday magic in art to remember how to live: how to estrange and vivify ordinary objects and beings. So little, really, is ordinary, but to remember this I need the brain chemical of painting and film and reading I had a thrummy doomed oracular feeling when I wrote blackened baby teeth into my little blind boy story: I saw teeth and in an instant they were becoming something else. They were buckshot. They were food. They were tiny flightless corvids.
Because, ten-year-olds of the world, you shouldn't believe what your teachers tell you about the beauty and specialness and uniqueness of you. Or, believe it, little snowflake, but know it won't make a bit of difference until after puberty. It's Newton's lost law: anything that makes you unique later will get your chocolate milk stolen and your eye blackened as a kid. Won't it, Sebastian? Oh, yes, it will, my little Mandarin Chinese-learning, Poe-reciting, high-top-wearing friend. God bless you, wherever you are.
Blackened skeleton arms of wood by the wayside pointed upward to the convent, as if the ghosts of former travellers, overwhelmed by the snow, haunted the scene of their distress. Icicle-hung caves and cellars built for refuges from sudden storms, were like so many whispers of the perils of the place; never-resting wreaths and mazes of mist wandered about, hunted by a moaning wind; and snow, the besetting danger of the mountain, against which all its defences were taken, drifted sharply down.
Only part of us is sane: only part of us loves pleasure and the longer day of happiness, wants to live to our nineties and die in peace, in a house that we built, that shall shelter those who come after us. The other half of us is nearly mad. It prefers the disagreeable to the agreeable, loves pain and its darker night despair, and wants to die in a catastrophe that will set back life to its beginnings and leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations.
No matter what the storm clouds bring, you can face your pain with courage and hope. For two thousand years ago-six hours, one Friday-Christ firmly planted in bedrock three solid anchor points that we can all cling to. For the heart scarred with futility, that Friday holds purpose. For the life blackened with failure, that Friday holds forgiveness. And for the soul looking into the tunnel of death, that Friday holds deliverance.
She'd lost so much in the process of becoming Zyne, but somewhere in the middle of it all, she'd found herself. Her heritage had shattered her illusions of a tranquil life. Destiny swept behind in a blaze, decimating everything she tried to hold on to. She was left alone, like the solitary tree standing after a forest fire. She'd thought she would crumble to ash, just another memory on the wind. But as blackened pieces of her cracked and fell away, she saw the truth. Under all that charred wreckage was the heartwood. Bruised. Scarred. But still good. Still capable of growth. When she looked in the mirror, she no longer saw a victim, but a survivor.
Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief. We have seen our beaches, our parks, our forests littered with ugly refuse by those who evidently have no appreciation for their beauty. I have driven through thousands of acres of blackened land scourged by a fire evidently set by a careless smoker whose only concern had been the selfish pleasure gained from a cigarette.
Gordon B. Hinckley
AND where did the books go when the world turned against them? When the flames of wrath blackened their pages and erased the words, they fled to find solace and redemption in the dark places of the world. 'They were exiled into darkness so their own light might one day return to illuminate the world. They went underground, literally and metaphorically, so that their haven became the hidden places far beneath the feet of their persecutors. 'Thus was born the Incunabula: it was forged by fire and persecution, to preserve and protect until the book might rise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of demise.
Nexus I wrote stubbornly into the evening. At the window, a giant praying mantis rubbed his monkey wrench head against the glass, begging vacantly with pale eyes; and the commas leapt at me like worms or miniature scythes blackened with age. the praying mantis screeched louder, his ragged jaws opening into formlessness. I walked outside; the grass hissed at my heels. Up ahead in the lapping darkness he wobbled, magnified and absurdly green, a brontosaurus, a poet.
A girl about her own age reached out and took hold of her hand. The girl was tall and thin. She had long black hair streaked with red, and the whites of her green eyes stood out against the black coal dust that covered her face. Her blue and white dress hung in tatters, and was blackened by coal dust and smeared with blood. The girl smiled and Rosie could see that in her other hand she was holding her red umbrella.
He seemed to be lying on the bed. He could not see very well. Her youthful, rapacious face, with blackened eyebrows, leaned over him as he sprawled there. ''How about my present?' she demanded, half wheedling, half menacing. 'Never mind that now. To work! Come here. Not a bad mouth. Come here. Come closer. Ah! 'No. No use. Impossible. The will but not the way. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Try again. No. The booze, it must be. See Macbeth. One last try. No, no use. Not this evening, I'm afraid. 'All right, Dora, don't you worry. You'll get your two quid all right. We aren't paying by results. 'He made a clumsy gesture. 'Here, give us that bottle. That bottle off the dressing-table.' 'Dora brought it. Ah, that's better. That at least doesn't fail.
My mother lived alone in the ruins of the great Library, which was called Compleat, and a very passionate and dashing Library indeed. Under the slightly blackened rafters and more than slightly caved-in walls, my mother lived and read and dreamed, allowing herself to grow closer and closer to Compleat, to notice more and more how fine and straight his shelves remained, despite great structural stress. That sort of moral fortitude is rare in this day and age. By and by, my siblings and I were born and romped on the balconies, raced up and down the splintered ladders, and pored over many encyclopedias and exciting novels. I know just everything about everything-so long as it beings with A through L.
Catherynne M. Valente
Bosnia's war had its visual hallmarks. Parks that were turned into cemeteries, refugee families piled onto horse-drawn carts, stop-or-die checkpoints with mines across the road. The most hideous hallmark of all was the blackened patch of ground in the center of town. It always meant the same thing, a destroyed mosque. The goal of ethnic cleansing was not simply to get rid of Muslims; it was to destroy all traces that they had ever lived in Bosnia. The goal was to kill history. If you want to do that, then you must rip out history's heart, which in the case of Bosnia's Muslim community meant the destruction of its mosques. Once that was done, you could reinvent the past in whatever distorted form you wanted, like Frankenstein. p. 85
Dinner was wonderful. There was a joint of beef, with roast potatoes, golden-crisp on the outside and soft and white inside, buttered greens I did not recognize, although I think now that they might have been nettles, toasted carrots all blackened and sweet (I did not think that I liked cooked carrots, so I nearly did not eat one but I was brave, and I tried it, and I liked it, and was disappointed in boiled carrots for the rest of my childhood.) For dessert there was the pie, stuffed with apples and with swollen raisins and crushed nuts, all topped with a thick yellow custard, creamier and richer than anything I had ever tasted at school or at home. The kitten slept on a cushion beside the fire, until the end of the meal, when it joined a fog-colored house cat four times its size in a meal of scraps of meat.
I stood on the old ferry dock and watched the icy sludge slide by. Patches of white ice slipped through, but mostly it was grey slush, sluggish and heavy looking. The air was sharp and clear, one of the few benefits of the evacuation and reducing temperature, the centuries-old odour of industry and modern life frozen and discarded, leaving a crispness previously only found among the peaks of mountain ranges. On the far bank stood the ruins of Birkenhead, where the riots had been particularly bad and the fires that followed were allowed to rage out of control. It had taken weeks for the conflagration to finally die, leaving behind soot-blackened husks of buildings, grotesque sculptures of melted glass and metal and more dead than anyone ever cared to count.
His angelic wings blackened when the dark fury assailed his mind. Summoning new strength from the unholy power that ravaged his soul, grieved to drastic levels of desperation by the tainting of the holy light within him, he combated ally and enemy alike, bent on destroying both sides in order to ensure the quelling of the dark energies there and then. For days and nights, the lone warrior bathed himself in the blood of angels and demons. And when it was over, he stood alone on contaminated land, with a contaminated soul. He was banned forever from Heaven and not even Hell had space for a creature which seemed to cherish Oblivion over Pandemonium. The dark angel, not so far removed from his former self as his superiors seemed to believe, died on the edge of the cliffs, of utter loneliness and despair.
How Did You Die? Did you tackle that trouble that came your way With a resolute heart and cheerful? Or hide your face from the light of day With a craven soul and fearful? Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce, Or a trouble is what you make it. And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts, But only how did you take it? You are beaten to earth? Well, well what's that? Come up with a smiling face. It's nothing against you to fall down flat, But to lie there - that's disgrace. The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce; Be proud of your blackened eye! It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts; It's how did you fight and why? And though you be done to death, what then? If you battled the best you could; If you played your part in the world of men, Why the critic will call it good. Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce, And whether he's slow or spry, It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts, But only, how did you die?
Edmund Vance Cooke
Leaning against my car after changing the oil, I hold my black hands out and stare into them as if they were the faces of my children looking at the winter moon and thinking of the snow that will erase everything before they wake. In the garage, my wife comes behind me and slides her hands beneath my soiled shirt. Pressing her face between my shoulder blades, she mumbles something, and soon we are laughing, wrestling like children among piles of old rags, towels that unravel endlessly, torn sheets, work shirts from twenty years ago when I stood in the door of a machine shop, grease blackened, and Kansas lay before me blazing with new snow, a future of flat land, white skies, and sunlight. After making love, we lie on the abandoned mattress and stare at our pale winter bodies sprawling in the half-light. She touches her belly, the scar of our last child, and the black prints of my hand along her hips and thighs.
What a face this girl possessed!-could I not gaze at it every day I would need to recreate it through painting, sculpture, or fatherhood until a second such face is born. Her face, at once innocent and feral, soft and wild! Her mouth voluptuous. Eyes deep as oceans, her eyes as wide as planets. I likened her to the slender Psyche and judged that the perfection of her face ennobled everything unclean around her: the dusty hems of her bunched-up skirt, the worn straps of her nightshirt; the blackened soles of her tiny bare feet, the coal-stained balcony bricks upon which she sat, and that dusty wrought-ironwork that framed her perch. All this and the pungent air!-almost foul, with so many odors. e", that and the spicy night! ... Pungency, spice, filth and night, dust and light; all things dark did blossom in sight; flower and bloom, the night has its pearl too-the moon! And once a month it will make the face of this tender girl bloom.
It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.
A lover finds his mistress asleep on a mossy bank; he wishes to catch a glimpse of her fair face without waking her. He steals softly over the grass, careful to make no sound; he pauses - fancying she has stirred: he withdraws: not for worlds would he be seen. All is still: he again advances: he bends above her; a light veil rests on her features: he lifts it, bends lower; now his eyes anticipate the vision of beauty - warm, and blooming, and lovely, in rest. How hurried was their first glance! But how they fix! How he starts! How he suddenly and vehemently clasps in both arms the form he dared not, a moment since, touch with his finger! How he calls aloud a name, and drops his burden, and gazes on it wildly! He thus grasps and cries, and gazes, because he no longer fears to waken by any sound he can utter - by any movement he can make. He thought his love slept sweetly: he finds she is stone dead. I looked with timorous joy towards a stately house: I saw a blackened ruin.
OLY, OLY, OLY, IS JUST A PIG OPERA WHEN YOU'RE LANDING IN YOUR HELICOPTER. YOUR RECENT MAKING ME FEEL INDECENT. I'VE GOT A TONGUE IN MY MOUTH. I'D LIKE TO USE IT. BIT DOWN MID-SEIZE. YOU BLACK AND BRUISED IT. BACK TO THE WALL. DID YOU EVEN READ AT ALL? I CAN'T READ AT ALL. I DO, I DO. THIS BUILDING SWALLOWS MY TONGUE. I CANNOT SAY THY WILL BE DONE FOR YOU. YOUR SPINE IS CURVING LIKE A QUESTION MARK. WE LOST IT ALL WHEN YOU UNLEASHED INFINITE PASSIONS TO ROAM WITH NO DIRECTION UNDER YOUR PROTECTION. PUSH, PUSH, PUSH US FROM THE DEEPEST OF WOMBS. BUILD ANOTHER WALL THROUGH YOUR OVAL ROOM. SEND YOU DOWN TO LIVE IN YOUR IMMORTAL TOMB. YOUR ARMS ARE REACHING LIKE A FRUITLESS TREE. IMAGINATION? NO, X-POLYNATION THE ORCHARD'S EMPTIED FOR YOU, FOR BLOOD AND SUGARY JUICE. PUSHED FROM THE DEEPEST OF WOMBS, THE FRUIT IS BLACKENED AND BRUISED. THE TONGUES WILL BLEED UNTIL YOU SLEEP IN THE DEEPEST OF TOMBS. DO WE THE PRO-CESS IN OUR PROCESS. DO WE THE POSES IN OUR PROGRESS. YOUR FRUITS ARE FALLING LIKE A GANG OF BOMBS. WE LOST IT ALL WHEN YOU UNLEASHED INFINITE RATIONS OUT. YOUR FRUITS ARE FALLING AND THEY TASTE LIKE BOMBS. ASSASSINATION? NO, X-POLYNATION.
Q and not U
No living creature lives without mistakes, Leo.' As it spoke, the flightsuit played videos in the visor, showing diapered babies sitting down hard as they learned to walk, tiger cubs rolling with each other and a blur of dozens of different moments captured from Earth. Everything man and Explorer creates is designed from mistakes, learned and corrected, to improve subsequent designs. I am the product of millions of mistakes, adjustments made to original concepts and plans.' The images in the visor displayed bridges swaying wildly, buildings crumbling to the ground, the blackened interior of a space capsule through a charred open door. 'Every device you've ever used-so familiar you may have never considered their creation. Every device is the product of mistakes, hundreds or thousands of previous mistakes. You see the results, but you do not see the mistakes.' The flightsuit paused. 'You see yourself in the mirror and see the results, and you do not see the millions of shaping events that made you. You survived these challenges. There are millions more shaping events ahead of you. You have not yet survived these, and so they feel dangerous and uncertain. If you were able to precisely recall, at will, the feelings of fear and uncertainty you experienced in the past or the moments you long ago overcame and survived would you discourage your past self from trying?
The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, piled scrap-iron, foul canals, paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs. This was March, but the weather had been horribly cold and everywhere there were mounds of blackened snow. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment. At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside and which I suppose was blocked. I had time to see everything about her-her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was almost near enough to catch her eye. She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever-seen. It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that 'It isn't the same for them as it would be for us, ' and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal. She knew well enough what was happening to her-understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum backyard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe.
It was almost a mystical experience. I do not know how else to put it. My mind outran time as he neared, and it was as though I had an eternity to ponder the approach of this man who was my brother. His garments were filthy, his face blackened, the stump of his right arm raised, gesturing anywhere. The great beast that he rode was striped, black and red, with a wild red mane and tail. But it really was a horse, and its eyes rolled and there was foam at its mouth and its breathing was painful to hear. I saw then that he wore his blade slung across his back, for its haft protruded high above his right shoulder. Still slowing, eyes fixed upon me, he departed the road, bearing slightly toward my left, jerked the reins once and released them, keeping control of the horse with his knees. His left hand went up in a salute-like movement that passed above his head and seized the hilt of his weapon. It came free without a sound, describing a beautiful arc above him and coming to rest in a lethal position out from his left shoulder and slanting back, like a single wing of dull steel with a minuscule line of edge that gleamed like a filament of mirror. The picture he presented was burned into my mind with a kind of magnificence, a certain splendor that was strangely moving. The blade was a long, scythe like affair that I had seen him use before. Only then we had stood as allies against a mutual foe I had begun to believe unbeatable. Benedict had proved otherwise that night. Now that I saw it raised against me I was overwhelmed with a sense of my own mortality, which I had never experienced before in this fashion. It was as though a layer had been stripped from the world and I had a sudden, full understanding of death itself.
BELOVED, gaze in thine own heart, The holy tree is growing there; From joy the holy branches start, And all the trembling flowers they bear. The changing colours of its fruit Have dowered the stars with merry light; The surety of its hidden root Has planted quiet in the night; The shaking of its leafy head Has given the waves their melody, And made my lips and music wed, Murmuring a wizard song for thee. There the Loves a circle go, The flaming circle of our days, Gyring, spiring to and fro In those great ignorant leafy ways; Remembering all that shaken hair And how the winge¨d sandals dart, Thine eyes grow full of tender care: Beloved, gaze in thine own heart. Gaze no more in the bitter glass The demons, with their subtle guile, Lift up before us when they pass, Or only gaze a little while; For there a fatal image grows That the stormy night receives, Roots half hidden under snows, Broken boughs and blackened leaves. For all things turn to barrenness In the dim glass the demons hold, The glass of outer weariness, Made when God slept in times of old. There, through the broken branches, go The ravens of unresting thought; Flying, crying, to and fro, Cruel claw and hungry throat, Or else they stand and sniff the wind, And shake their ragged wings; alas! Thy tender eyes grow all unkind: Gaze no more in the bitter glass. - The Two Trees
With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus' flesh, with nothing on God's side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without? Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God? We hear the Bridegroom say, `Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely.' (Song of Sol 2:14) We sense that the call is for us, but still we fail to draw near, and the years pass and we grow old and tired in the outer courts of the tabernacle. What doth hinder us? The answer usually given, simply that we are `cold,' will not explain all the facts. There is something more serious than coldness of heart, something that may be back of that coldness and be the cause of its existence. What is it? What but the presence of a veil in out hearts? A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close- woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged, of which we have been secretly ashamed, and which for these reasons we have never brought to the judgment of the cross. It is not too mysterious, this opaque veil, nor is it hard to identify. We have but to look in our own hearts and we shall see it there, sewn and patched and repaired it may be, but there nevertheless, an enemy to our lives and an effective block to our spiritual progress. This veil is not a beautiful thing and it is not a thing about which we commonly care to talk, but I am addressing the thirsting souls who are determined to follow God, and I know they will not turn back because the way leads temporarily through the blackened hills. The urge of God within them will assure their continuing the pursuit. They will face the facts however unpleasant and endure the cross for the joy set before them. So I am bold to mane the threads out of which this inner veil is woven. It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power.
THE LILIES This morning it was, on the pavement, When that smell hit me again And set the houses reeling. People passed like rain: (The way rain moves and advances over the hills) And it was hot, hot and dank, The smell like animals, strong, but sweet too. What was it? Something I had forgotten. I tried to remember, standing there, Sniffing the air on the pavement. Somehow I thought of flowers. Flowers! That bad smell! I looked: down lanes, past houses- There, behind a hoarding, A rubbish-heap, soft and wet and rotten. Then I remembered: After the rain, on the farm, The vlei that was dry and paler than a stone Suddenly turned wet and green and warm. The green was a clash of music. Dry Africa became a swamp And swamp-birds with long beaks Went humming and flashing over the reeds And cicadas shrilling like a train. I took off my clothes and waded into the water. Under my feet first grass, then mud, Then all squelch and water to my waist. A faint iridescence of decay, The heat swimming over the creeks Where the lilies grew that I wanted: Great lilies, white, with pink streaks That stood to their necks in the water. Armfuls I gathered, working there all day. With the green scum closing round my waist, The little frogs about my legs, And jelly-trails of frog-spawn round the stems. Once I saw a snake, drowsing on a stone, Letting his coils trail into the water. I expect he was glad of rain too After nine moinths of being dry as bark. I don't know why I picked those lilies, Piling them on the grass in heaps, For after an hour they blackened, stank. When I left at dark, Red and sore and stupid from the heat, Happy as if I'd built a town, All over the grass were rank Soft, decaying heaps of lilies And the flies over them like black flies on meat...
When you are quite well enough to travel, Latimer, I shall take you home with me. The journey will amuse you and do you good, for I shall go through the Tyrol and Austria, and you will see many new places. Our neighbours, the Filmores, are come; Alfred will join us at Basle, and we shall all go together to Vienna, and back by Prague... ' My father was called away before he had finished his sentence, and he left my mind resting on the word Prague with a strange sense that a new and wondrous scene was breaking upon me: a city under the broad sunshine, that seemed to me as if it were summer sunshine of a long-past century arrested in its course-unrefreshed for ages by dews of night, or the rushing rain-cloud; scorching the dusty, weary, time-eaten grandeur of a people doomed to live on in the stale repetition of memories, like deposed and superannuated kings in their regal gold inwoven tatters. The city looked so thirsty that the broad river seemed to me a sheet of metal; and the blackened statues, as I passed under their blank gaze, along the unending bridge, with their ancient garments and their saintly crowns, seemed to me the real inhabitants and owners of this place, while the busy, trivial men and women, hurrying to and fro, were a swarm of ephemeral visitants infesting it for a day. It is such grim, stony beings as these, I thought, who are the fathers of ancient faded children, in those tanned time-fretted dwellings that crowd the steep before me; who pay their court in the worn and crumbling pomp of the palace which stretches its monotonous length on the height; who worship wearily in the stifling air of the churches, urged by no fear or hope, but compelled by their doom to be ever old and undying, to live on in the rigidity of habit, as they live on in perpetual midday, without the repose of night or the new birth of morning. A stunning clang of metal suddenly thrilled through me, and I became conscious of the objects in my room again: one of the fire-irons had fallen as Pierre opened the door to bring me my draught. My heart was palpitating violently, and I begged Pierre to leave my draught beside me; I would take it presently. ("The Lifted Veil")
Despite an icy northeast wind huffing across the bay I sneak out after dark, after my mother falls asleep clutching her leather Bible, and I hike up the rutted road to the frosted meadow to stand in mist, my shoes in muck, and toss my echo against the moss-covered fieldstone corners of the burned-out church where Sunday nights in summer for years Father Thomas, that mad handsome priest, would gather us girls in the basement to dye the rose cotton linen cut-outs that the deacon's daughter, a thin beauty with short white hair and long trim nails, would stitch by hand each folded edge then steam-iron flat so full of starch, stiffening fabric petals, which we silly Sunday school girls curled with quick sharp pulls of a scissor blade, forming clusters of curved petals the younger children assembled with Krazy glue and fuzzy green wire, sometimes adding tissue paper leaves, all of us gladly laboring like factory workers rather than have to color with crayon stubs the robe of Christ again, Christ with his empty hands inviting us to dine, Christ with a shepherd's staff signaling to another flock of puffy lambs, or naked Christ with a drooping head crowned with blackened thorns, and Lord how we laughed later when we went door to door in groups, visiting the old parishioners, the sick and bittersweet, all the near dead, and we dropped our bikes on the perfect lawns of dull neighbors, agnostics we suspected, hawking our handmade linen roses for a donation, bragging how each petal was hand-cut from a pattern drawn by Father Thomas himself, that mad handsome priest, who personally told the Monsignor to go fornicate himself, saying he was a disgruntled altar boy calling home from a phone booth outside a pub in North Dublin, while I sat half-dressed, sniffing incense, giddy and drunk with sacrament wine stains on my panties, whispering my oath of unholy love while wiggling uncomfortably on the mad priest's lap, but God he was beautiful with a fine chiseled chin and perfect teeth and a smile that would melt the Madonna, and God he was kind with a slow gentle touch, never harsh or too quick, and Christ how that crafty devil could draw, imitate a rose petal in perfect outline, his sharp pencil slanted just so, the tip barely touching so that he could sketch and drink, and cough without jerking, without ruining the work, or tearing the tissue paper, thin as a membrane, which like a clean skin arrived fresh each Saturday delivered by the dry cleaners, tucked into the crisp black vestment, wrapped around shirt cardboard, pinned to protect the high collar.