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Old 05-07-2008   #21
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Re: Dark Poetry

Satan Unrepentant


Clark Ashton Smith



Lost from those archangelic thrones that star,
Fadeless and fixed, heaven's light of azure bliss;
Forbanned of all His splendor and depressed
Beyond the birth of the first sun, and lower
Than the last star's decline, I still endure,
Abased, majestic, fallen, beautiful,
And unregretful in the doubted dark,
Throneless, that greatens chaos-ward, albeit
From chanting stars that throng the nave of night
Lost echoes wander here, and of His praise
With ringing moons for cymbals dinned afar,
And shouted from the flaming mouths of suns.


The shadows of impalpable blank deeps—
Deep upon deep accumulate — close down,
Around my head concentered, while above,
In the lit, loftier blue, star after star
Spins endless orbits betwixt me and heaven;
And at my feet mysterious Chaos breaks,
Abrupt, immeasurable. Round His throne
Throbs now the rhythmic resonance of suns,
Incessant, perfect, music infinite:
I, throneless, hear the discords of the dark,
And roar of ruin uncreate, than which
Some vast cacophony of dragons, heard
In wasted worlds, were purer melody.


The universe His tyranny constrains
Turns on: in old and consummated gulfs
The stars that wield His judgement wait at hand,
And in new deeps Apocalyptic suns
Prepare His corning: lo, His mighty whim
To rear and mar, goes forth enormously
In nights and constellations! Darkness hears
Enragèd suns that bellow down the deep
God's ravenous and insatiable will;
And He is strong with change, and rideth forth
In whirlwind clothed, with thunders and with doom
To the red stars: God's throne is reared of change;
Its myriad and successive hands support
Like music His omnipotence, that fails
If mercy or if justice interrupt
The sequence of that tyranny, begun
Upon injustice, and doomed evermore
To stand thereby.


I, who with will not less
Than His, but lesser strength, opposed to Him
This unsubmissive brow and lifted mind,
He holds remote in nullity and night
Doubtful between old Chaos and the deeps
Betrayed by Time to vassalage. Methinks
All tyrants fear whom they may not destroy,
And I, that am of essence one with His,
Though less in measure, He may not destroy,
And but withstands in gulfs of dark suspense,
A secret dread for ever: for God knows
This quiet will irrevocably set
Against His own, and this my prime revolt
Yet stubborn, and confirmed eternally.
And with the hatred born of fear, and fed
Ever thereby, God hates me, and His gaze
Sees the bright menace of mine eyes afar
Through midnight, and the innumerable blaze
Of servile suns: lo, strong in tyranny,
The despot trembles that I stand opposed!
For fain am I to hush the anguished cries
Of Substance, broken on the racks of change,
Of Matter tortured into life; and God,
Knowing this, dreads evermore some huge mishap—
That in the vigils of Omnipotence,
Once careless, I shall enter heaven, or He,
Himself, with weight of some unwonted act,
Thoughtless perturb His balanced tyranny,
To mine advance of watchful aspiration.


With rumored thunder and enormous groan
(Burden of sound that heavens overborne
Let slip from deep to deep, even to this
Where climb the huge cacophonies of Chaos)
God's universe moves on. Confirmed in pride,
In patient majesty serene and strong,
I wait the dreamt, inevitable hour
Fulfilled of orbits ultimate, when God,
Whether through His mischance or mine own deed,
Or rise of other and extremer Strength,
Shall vanish, and the lightened universe
No more remember Him than Silence does
An ancient thunder. I know not if these,
Mine all-indomitable eyes, shall see
A maimed and dwindled Godhead cast among
The stars of His creating, and beneath
The unnumbered rush of swift and shining feet
Trodden into night; or mark the fiery breath
Of His infuriate suns blaze forth upon
And scorch that coarsened Essence; or His flame,
A mightier comet, roar and redden down,
Portentous unto Chaos. I but wait,
In strong majestic patience equable,
That hour of consummation and of doom,
Of justice, and rebellion justified.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 05-07-2008   #22
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Re: Dark Poetry

Nero


Clark Ashton Smith



This Rome, that was the toil of many men,
The consummation of laborious years—
Fulfilment's crown to visions of the dead
And image of the wide desire of kings—
Is made my darkling dream's effulgency,
Fuel of vision, brief embodiment
Of wandering will and wastage of the strong
Fierce ecstasy of one tremendous hour,
When ages piled on ages like a pyre
Flamed to the years behind and years to be.


Yet any sunset were as much as this,
Save for the music forced from tongueless things,
The rape of Matter's huge, unchorded harp
By the many-fingered fire—a music pierced
With the tense voice of Life, more quick to cry
Its agony—and save that I believed
The radiance redder for the blood of men.
Destruction hastens and intensifies
The process that is beauty, manifests
Ranges of form unknown before, and gives
Motion, and voice, and hue, where otherwise
Bleak inexpressiveness had levelled all.


If one create, there is the lengthy toil;
The labored years and days league toward an end
Less than the measure of desire, mayhap,
After the sure consuming of all strength
And strain of faculties that otherwhere
Were loosed upon enjoyment; and at last
Remains to one capacity nor power
For pleasure in the thing that he hath made.
But on destruction hangs but little use
Of time or faculty, but all is turned
To the one purpose, unobstructed, pure,
Of sensuous rapture and observant joy;
And from the intensities of death and ruin
One draws a heightened and completer life,
And both extends and vindicates himself.


I would I were a god, with all the scope
Of attributes that are the essential core
Of godhead, and its visibility.
I am but emperor, and hold awhile
The power to hasten death upon its way,
And cry a halt to worn and lagging Life
For others, but for mine own self may not
Delay the one nor bid the other speed.
There have been many kings, and they are dead,
And have no power in death save what the wind
Confers upon their blown and brainless dust
To vex the eyeballs of posterity.
But were I God, I would be overlord
Of many kings, and were as breath to guide
Their dust of destiny. And were I God,
Exempt from this mortality which clogs
Perception and clear exercise of will,
What rapture it would be, if but to watch
Destruction crouching at the back of Time,
The tongueless dooms which dog the travelling suns;
The vampire, Silence, at the breast of worlds,
Fire without light that gnaws the base of things,
And Lethe's mounting tide that rots the stone
Of fundamental spheres. This were enough
Till such time as the dazzled wings of will
Came up with power's accession, scarcely felt
For very suddenness. Then I would urge
The strong contention and conflicting might
Of Chaos and Creation—matching them,
Those immemorial powers inimical,
And all their stars and gulfs subservient,
Dynasts of time, and anarchs of the dark—
In closer war reverseless, and would set
New discord at the universal core—
A Samson-principle to bring it down
In one magnificence of ruin. Yea,
The monster, Chaos, were mine unleashed hound,
And all my power Destruction's own right arm!


I would exult to mark the smouldering stars
Renew beneath my breath their elder fire
And feed upon themselves to nothingness.
The might of suns—slow-paced with swinging weight
Of myriad worlds—were made at my desire
One orb of roaring and torrential light,
Through which the voice of Life were audible,
And singing of the immemorial dead,
Whose dust is loosened into vaporous wings
With soaring wrack of systems ruinous.
And were I weary of the glare of these,
I would tear out the eyes of light, and stand
Above a chaos of extinguished suns,
That crowd and grind and shiver thunderously,
Lending vast voice and motion but no ray
To the stretched silence of the blinded gulfs.
Thus would I give my godhead space and speech
For its assertion, and thus pleasure it,
Hastening the feet of Time with cast of worlds
Like careless pebbles, or, with shattered suns,
Brightening the aspect of Eternity.

(Dictated while taking a stroll) I have come to realizewhat a superbly contrived marionette man is. Though without strings attached, one can strut, jump, hop and, moreover, utter words, an elaborately made puppet! Who knows? At the Bon season next year, I may be a new dead invited to the Bon festival. What an evanescent world! This truth keeps slipping off our minds.

- Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure
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Old 05-07-2008   #23
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Re: Dark Poetry

"I wake and feel" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw, ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light's delay.

With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.

Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-07-2008   #24
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Re: Dark Poetry

For we who see in darkness....

http://www.eldritchdark.com/writings.../387/nyctalops
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Old 05-07-2008   #25
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Re: Dark Poetry

"Hatred and Vengeance, My Eternal Portion" (wr. 1774), by William Cowper

Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portion,
Scarce can endure delay of execution: --
Wait, with impatient readiness, to seize my
Soul in a moment.
Damn'd below Judas; more abhorr'd than he was,
Who, for a few pence, sold his holy master.
Twice betray'd, Jesus me, the last delinquent,
Deems the profanest.
Man disavows, and Deity disowns me.
Hell might afford my miseries a shelter;
Therefore hell keeps her everhungry mouths all
Bolted against me.
Hard lot! Encompass'd with a thousand dangers,
Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors,
Fall'n, and if vanquish'd, to receive a sentence
Worse than Abiram's:
Him, the vindictive rod of angry justice
Sent, quick and howling, to the centre headlong;
I, fed with judgments, in a fleshly tomb, am
Buried above ground.
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Old 05-07-2008   #26
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Re: Dark Poetry

Just found this electronic journal Calenture, which is devoted to the study of speculative poetry. Since some may find it relevant to this thread I thought I'd share the link:

http://www.geocities.com/calenture.journal/

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily
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Old 05-08-2008   #27
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Re: Dark Poetry

Hi Daisy. The poem you posted by Cowper is printed in my edition of his work as, "Lines Written Under the Influence of Delirium."

Here is another poem in which he describes his mental breakdown, and total estrangement from the human race:

"The Castaway" by William Cowper

OBSCUREST night involved the sky,
The Atlantic billows roared,
When such a destined wretch as I,
Washed headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.

No braver chief could Albion boast
Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion’s coast
With warmer wishes sent.
He loved them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay;
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,
Or courage die away;
But waged with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.

He shouted: nor his friends had failed
To check the vessel’s course,
But so the furious blast prevailed
That, pitiless perforce,
They left their outcast mate behind,
And scudded still before the wind.

Some succour yet they could afford;
And such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,
Delayed not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship nor shore,
Whate’er they gave, should visit more.

Nor, cruel as it seemed, could he
Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,
Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

He long survives, who lives an hour
In ocean, self-upheld;
And so long he, with unspent power,
His destiny repelled;
And ever, as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried ‘Adieu!’

At length, his transient respite past,
His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in every blast,
Could catch the sound no more:
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stifling wave, and then he sank.

No poet wept him; but the page
Of narrative sincere,
That tells his name, his worth, his age
Is wet with Anson’s tear:
And tears by bards or heroes shed
Alike immortalize the dead.

I therefore purpose not, or dream,
Descanting on his fate,
To give the melancholy theme
A more enduring date:
But misery still delights to trace
Its semblance in another’s case.

No voice divine the storm allayed,
No light propitious shone,
When, snatched from all effectual aid,
We perished, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelmed in deeper gulfs than he.

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-08-2008   #28
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Re: Dark Poetry

And how could we not include literature's loveliest femme fatale?

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci"

John Keats (1795–1821)


‘O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.

‘O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

‘I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

‘I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

‘I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look’d at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

‘I set her on my pacing steed
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A fairy’s song.

‘She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said
“I love thee true.”

‘She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sigh’d full sore,
And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.

‘And there she lulle´d me asleep,
And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream’d
On the cold hill’s side.

‘I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all,
They cried—“La belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!”

‘I saw their starved lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gape´d wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill’s side.

‘And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.’

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-08-2008   #29
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Re: Dark Poetry

excerpt from Night Thoughts, Book I (1742)

Edward Young


Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters! twins
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought
To reason, and on reason build resolve,
(That column of true majesty in man,)
Assist me: I will thank you in the grave;
The grave your kingdom: there this frame shall fall
A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
But what are ye?---
Thou, who didst put to flight
Primeval Silence, when the morning stars,
Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball;---
O Thou, whose Word from solid darkness struck
That spark, the sun! strike wisdom from my soul;
My soul, which flies to Thee, her trust, her treasure,
As misers to their gold, while others rest.

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-08-2008   #30
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Re: Dark Poetry

This is one of Browning's darker moments:

"Porphyria's Lover" by Robert Browning

The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me---she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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