This one makes me think of like the bodies’ organs, the intelligence of life itself which is below the pre-frontal cortex consciousness, but which has this ability to do, if you take it all the down to the quantum level, perhaps an infinite number of processes per second and seemingly without effort. This “without-effort” motif really makes me think a lot of the sub-conscious and especially of dreams. Especially in vivid adventurous dreams you are doing and experiencing so much, maybe 10 or 100x or what you have done even in your most amazing real-life adventures, yet your consciousness seems transported there without effort. If you think of fairy-tales and mythology in general this seems a very common and central motif.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Update: 8/15/20: I still feel as vexed by this poem as the rough beast feels vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle. Which leads me to the main point of this update: Who’s rocking rocking cradle had the power to wake up twenty centuries of stony sleep? Was this Jesus in the manger?
Some rough beast, a gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born. Maybe the biggest question of this poem is why is the thing slouching? It’s a huge monster with a lion body. We think of lion bodies as being fierce, muscular, solar king-like, even devine in their beautiful symmetry (“What immortal hand or eye/ dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”) not slouchy! Lions are proud. People who slouch are ashamed and or dejected with being. For someone about to become Jesus 2.0, the next savior of the world, he’s not too excited about taking the job, that’s for sure!
And why go back to the original place? London, Paris, or New York would seem a more appropriate place for a new savior of this day and age to be born. With going back to the Levant, I sense its a metaphor that the ideals of the pagan West, namely that of the ideal of the individual, which is what the sense of the Grail romances, the pagan myths and fairy-tales, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment are all about, have now been thoroughly overthrown, for the ideals of the Levant which are that of the group. If you’ve ever experienced a mob mentality break out, you definitely have seen gazes that are blank, pitiless, and soulless. That’s the equivalent of falling to all three temptations of the Buddha (Lust, Fear, Social Duty) in one fell swoop.
But why use “the Sun” as a simile? That definitely catches your attention. The sun is usually a metaphor and simile used for bright and hopeful sentiments. But not if your walking across the desert, right? Also, if you think of the sun only in its scientific definition, if you leave out the romance, mythological dimension of life, and only understand it as a function of physics, groveling as it were before shear fact, then the sun is indeed dead, a ruthless fireball fusing hydrogen into helium, that cares not a wit about life.
Some part of us knows something is wrong, but….
We are vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle.
Say what? Here’s my shot: A “rocking” cradle suggests instability, an unknowingness in an instinctual way, of whose side the MOTHER is on. Is she Athena or Circe? Does she want to kill us or for us to be the savior of the universe? Or in a way, as only Greek Mythology can intimate, be both? Or in another sense, the ground of our own being, of life’s being. Is it an inherently good thing, evil thing, or indifferent? I.e. “Something that should not have been,” as Schopenhauer suggests. Is nature, this thing that our consciousness rests on, inherently nasty, disgusting, and evil? If one has that sense, you will certainly be vexed to nightmare all the way back to birth.
This is when it gets exciting, the adventure. Because this is the entire sense of the burning point what is uniquely you that wants, that must be expressed, that has never been expressed before. Becoming imminent, and yet in a gesture to the East, most likely spontaneously, as the eminence of transcendence, completely without ego.
This first one is in iambic tetrameter with the structure of an English Sonnet:
I lost you to Arabian nights:
The god Apollo’s basketball.
You had that day Queen Isis eyes..
Unfolding reddened fall leaves song.
It does mean something here in snow.
The Mārga flames the Firebird’s beak.
Somehow it made me let you go,
So silent beings now can speak.
I reach across the earth for you.
Across the universe I fly.
You’re under spellbound mountain dew.
Asleep by mirrors’ watchful eye.
Then something shakes the arch’s gate.
The colors open again Finn’s wake.
This second one is a straight English Sonnet, having the structure and the 5 iambic feet per line, iambic pentameter:
It’s thought itself that’s separating us.
My little molecules are calling you.
So Jesus told the mountain, “Part to dust!”
And said let go, that you could do it too.
Transparent eyes that cover Western skies.
I hook the trailer hilt that pulls the sun.
I search for you each night on moonlight drives:
Some feeling in the heart that you’re the one.
You pulled me out of the beach’s seahorse sand.
And ponied up the soul for Daphne’s bed.
With wildest sleep we wake this magic land
Sing witches stirring lives from worlds we’ve banned.
The tea room veils the river’s bride in frost.
All calling for the princess who’s been lost.
Go Through the Hills
by Stephen Pickering
You are my tree.
because you have set me free.
An orchard garden grows
on land that once only snowed.
I’m under a spell
Only Ishtar can undo
Down, down her Roman well
I’m falling too.
I am the bird.
My life is the worm.
I see her cold, dark eye
bury me in the blood red sky.
There’s a tick.
The doors unlock.
I’m just a hick,
but I know when angels knock.
I don’t deserve this.
But here I am:
An Italian mist
Where Dante swam.
There’s a nickel sky,
and a lone star.
Gray clouds cry
wondering where you are.
That girl will come.
I feel her blinking again.
A bouncing little Sun.
She knows exactly where I am.
These beings inside
If you climb their stare
Feed the stillness of the night,
the castle that’s always been there.
I cannot breathe.
Your eyes are the hidden stone.
The gateless gate to the golden stream.
Unfold the night no man’s known.
©2013 Stephen K. Pickering
I am awake now to each wall.
That is the wall, this need to speak.
There’s Buddha’s tall and Buddha’s small
And secret castles across this creek.
I want to walk on ancient clouds
And fall with Isis from the sky.
Plop, splashing down the Nile,
These hands that swim know how to fly.
From Memphis to Syr’ya we’ll go
As Roman armies swarm the cross,
Which world we land Nut only knows
We’re trees, and sparrows, hiding gods.
The garden’s wall so silent I pray.
That doves will fly and pierce this gate.
©2013 Stephen K. Pickering
Sonnet #3 in iambic tetrameter – “A Sacred Dance”
I bring you roses to your door.
I make this offering in Spring.
I now know who this dove is for,
That rises through the Sun’s gold ring.
There’s something deeper going on.
I feel the pieces come apart.
The mountain eagle soars at dawn.
And cries each piece of broken heart.
I hold your scars around my breast.
I sing you songs of ocean rain.
I look up to the mountain’s crest
And feel you come alive again.
Each breath we hold each other tight.
The dove will feed our soul tonight.