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Monday, March 24, 2008

Songs of Orpheus

The City and the Stars: In Three Parts
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First Part

Like the city and the stars, lovers are
Coaxed to Life against the drop of night,
Expanses of moments courting time
Teeter on a steep decline, praying for love
To be divine; against the fall of sight

A whole dark, deep world: a ravine
Opens up to provocative senses, salty languages
Deciphered by starlight; where Orpheus
Walks down the black river, the night wind
Sings in his humming for Eurydice,

In recesses touched with shadows,
Crowded and lonesome like dust,
There lies a House of Hades
Filled with the echoes of a man's lust
Calling the name of a girl far away -

Love like the gods love the sinner,
Not the sin, I come to Hell to strike
A spark from within; liquid song of summer,
No intense heat but the holocaust of Love's sun:
The aromatic scent of burning upon nearing...

Second Part

A roof of immensity and of song, stars play blazing
In giddiness on the edge of the universe;
Blaze pin-points, a brilliant pricking of fire
On the thumbs of the world, Pleiades glimmering,
Orion brandishing his club high above the city,

Ships sailing leisurely between glints of leaping fish,
While Centaur gallops ahead, the Hydra stretches
Lazily over the bright path of the Milky Way,
A hazy hint of distant Andromeda, and Cassiopeia
Observing the observant stars of the heavens,

All my friends in the inverted inkwell of the sky,
For during my time of learning love's games,
In hope and salutation
I have flown amongst them all,
Calling out their names.

Third Part

I have learnt the darkness has an engaging
Frankness of will, the city and stars
Do not lie still, nor Life that would give up
Heaven's shade to inhabit Hell's lesser fire
Than Love's burning absence: it masters

Its art under silver wings, initiate lovers
Still new enough to fear dreams might be
Too flimsy to survive the break of day
Need shelter, a subconscious feeding
Of faith that they will go on living, as pilgrims -

In recesses touched with shadows,
Crowded and lonesome like dust,
There lies a House of Hades
Filled with the echoes of a man's lust
Calling the name of a girl far away -

Mere pupils of the Word -
Only asking for one thing: mercy for their page
So there will never be too little poetry,
Or a lesser song to carry the work
And its creator, and the city's night along.

Take Note

Song Exchanges

on the Greek island of Karpathos,
local men perform mandinades,
traditional ritual: recounting history
of their village, songs improvised
in iambic pentameter,

in the Turkish region of Sivas,
local men perform türküler
traditional ritual: recounting mystery
of their times, songs improvised
in quatrains,

during the celebration fingers take
on the absorbed musician's devotion,
blindfolded rituals: tribal vibes part
of a connecting pattern, like the stars
and the sea.

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