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Old 05-08-2008   #31
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Re: Dark Poetry

From "The Solitary Thrush" by Leopardi

Solitary little singer, when you
Reach the evening of those days
Which the stars have numbered for you,
You'll not grieve, surely,
For the life you've led, since even
The slightest twist of your will
Is nature's way. But to me,
If I fail to escape
Loathsome old age--
When these eyes will mean nothing
To any heart, the world be nothing
But a blank to them,
Each day more desolate, every day
Darker than the one before--what then
Will this longing for solitude
Seem like to me? What then
Will these years, or even I myself,
Seem to have been? Alas,
I'll be sick with regret, and over and over,
But inconsolable, looking back.

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 05-08-2008   #32
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Re: Dark Poetry

Comte de Lautréamont: Maldoror Stanza 6: The Nails (The Reader as an Accomplice)


One should let one's nails grow for a fortnight. Oh! How sweet it is to brutally snatch from his bed a child with no hair yet on his upper lip, and, with eyes wide open, to pretend to suavely stroke his forehead, brushing back his beautiful locks! Then, suddenly, at the moment when he least expects it, to sink one's long nails into his tender breast, being careful, though, not to kill him; for if he died, there would be no later viewing of his misery. Then, one drinks the blood, licking the wounds; and, during the entire procedure, which ought to last no shorter than an aeon, the boy cries. Nothing could be better than his blood, warm and just freshly squeezed out as I have described, if it weren't for his tears, bitter as salt. Mortal one, haven't you ever tasted your blood, when by chance you cut your finger? Tasty, isn't it? For it has no taste. Besides, can you not recall one day, absorbed in your dismal thoughts, having lifted your deeply cupped palm to your sickly face, drenched by the downpour from your eyes; the said hand then making its fatal way to your mouth, which, from this vessel chattering like the teeth of the schoolboy who glances sidelong at the one born to oppress him, sucked the tears in long draughts? Tasty, aren't they? For they taste of vinegar. A taste reminiscent of the tears of your true love, except a child's tears are so much more pleasing to the palate. He is incapable of deceit, for he does not yet know evil: but the most loving of women is bound to betray sooner or later... This I deduce by analogy, despite my ignorance of what friendship means, what love means (I doubt I will ever accept either of these, at least not from the human race). So, since your blood and tears do not disgust you, go ahead, feed confidently on the adolescent's tears and blood. Blindfold him, while you tear open his quivering flesh; and, after listening to his resplendent squeals for a good few hours, similar to those hoarse shrieks of death one hears from the throats of the mortally wounded on battlefields, you then, running out faster than an avalanche, fly back in from the room next door, pretending to rush to his rescue. You untie his hands, with their swollen nerves and veins, you restore sight to his distraught eyes, as you resume licking his tears and blood. Oh, what a genuine and noble change of heart! That divine spark within us, which so rarely appears, is revealed; too late! How the heart longs to console the innocent one we have harmed. "O child, who has just undergone such cruel torture, who could have ever committed such an unspeakable crime upon you! You poor soul! The agony you must be going through! And if your mother were to know of this, she would be no closer to death, so feared by evildoers, than I am now. Alas! What, then, are good and evil? Might they be one and the same thing, by which in our furious rage we attest our impotence and our passionate thirst to attain the infinite by even the maddest means? Or might they be two separate things? Yes... they'd better be one and the same... for, if not, what shall become of me on the Day of Judgment? Forgive me, child. Here before your noble and sacred eyes stands the man who crushed your bones and tore off the strips of flesh dangling from various parts of your body. Was it a frenzied inspiration of my delirious mind, was it a deep inner instinct independent of my reason, such as that of the eagle tearing at its prey, that drove me to commit this crime? And yet, as much as my victim, I suffered! Forgive me, child. Once we are freed from this transient life, I want us to be entwined for evermore, becoming but one being, my mouth fused to your mouth. But even so, my punishment will not be complete. So you will tear at me, without ever stopping, with your teeth and nails at the same time. I will adorn and embalm my body with perfumes and garlands for this expiatory holocaust; and together we shall suffer, I from being torn, you from tearing me... my mouth fused to yours. O blond-haired child, with your eyes so gentle, will you now do what I advise you? Despite yourself, I wish you to do it, and you will set my conscience at rest." And in saying this, you will have wronged a human being and be loved by that same being: therein lies the greatest conceivable happiness. Later, you could take him to the hospital, for the crippled boy will be in no condition to earn a living. They will proclaim you a hero, and centuries from now, laurel crowns and gold medals will cover your bare feet on your ancient iconic tomb. O you, whose name I will not inscribe upon this page consecrated to the sanctity of crime, I know your forgiveness was as boundless as the universe. But look, I'm still here!

(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 05-08-2008   #33
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Re: Dark Poetry

Comte de Lautréamont: Maldoror Stanza 13: The Shipwreck and Sharks (Maldoror's First Love)
I was seeking a soul resembling mine, and I could not find it. I searched throughout the seven seas; my perseverance proved of no use. Yet I could not remain alone. I needed someone who'd approve of my nature; there had to be somebody out there with the same ideas as me. It was morning; the sun rose over the horizon, in all its splendour, and here rises before my eyes a young man as well, whose presence made flowers sprout in his wake. He approached me, and holding out his hand: "I have come to you who seek me. God bless this happy day." But I replied: "Begone! I never summoned you. I don't need your companionship..." It was evening; night was already drawing the darkness of her veil over nature. A beautiful woman, whose form I could barely make out, was also drawing the influence of her enchantment over me. She looked upon me with compassion, however she dared not speak to me. So I said: "Come closer, so I may see your face clearly, for at this distance the starlight is too faint for me to make out its features." Then, modestly, with her eyes lowered, she glided across the lawn's grass, coming to my side. As soon as I saw her: "I see that goodness and justice have found a home in your heart: we could never live together. You are now admiring my beauty, which has overwhelmed many a woman, but sooner or later, you'll regret ever having given your love to me, for you do not know my soul. Not that I would ever be unfaithful to you: to she who bares her heart to me with such abandon and trust, I bare mine back with equal trust and abandon, but get it into your head lest you ever forget it: Wolves and lambs look not on one another with bedroom eyes." So what was I waiting for, I who rejected in such disgust what was most beautiful in humanity! What I was waiting for, I really couldn't tell you. I haven't yet gotten into the habit of keeping a daily record of the phenomena that occur within my psyche, according to the practice recommended by philosophy. I sat on a cliff, by the sea. A ship had just set full sail to escape these waters: a minute speck had just appeared at the horizon, making gradual headway, driven on by gusts, and growing more powerful by the minute. The storm was about to swoop down on us, and already the sky was growing dark, overcast in a black almost as hideous as the human heart. The vessel, which was a great warship, had just cast all her anchors, in fear of being swept against the rocky coast. The wind roared with rage from all four points of the compass, tearing the sails to shreds. Crashes of thunder burst out amid flashes of lightning and could not drown out the sound of wailing to be heard from this house with no foundations, this teetering sepulcher. The rolling of these aqueous masses had not yet managed to shatter the anchor's chains, however their buffeting had opened up a way into the ship's ribs: a gaping breach, for the pumps could no longer bail out the masses of salt water beating down on the bridge like mountains of foam. The ship in distress fires her canons to sound the alarm; but she sinks, slowly... majestically. He who has never watched a ship sinking in the midst of a storm, with intermittent flashes of lightning between the deepest periods of darkness, while those on board are overwhelmed with that despair you know so well, knows nothing of life's ups and downs. Finally, a universal shriek of utter distress bursts from within the bowels of the ship, whilst the sea intensifies her fearsome onslaughts. It is that cry one hears when the limits of human capacity give in: we wrap ourselves up in the cloak of despair and leave our fate in the hands of God. We flock together like cornered sheep. The ship in distress fires her canons to sound the alarm; but she sinks, slowly... majestically. They've had the pumps running all day now. Futile efforts. Night has come, pitch-black and merciless, bringing the delightful show to its climax. Each soul onboard realizes that, once in the water, he won't be able to breathe, for, as far back as he can remember, he knows of no fish in his family tree; nevertheless he struggles to hold his breath for as long as possible, if only to prolong his life for another two or three seconds: that is the vengeful irony he aims at death... The ship in distress fires her canons to sound the alarm; but she sinks, slowly... majestically. He doesn't know that the ship, as it goes under, sets the ocean swells twisting and turning in a powerful circular motion, stirring up the benthonic mires into the turbid waters, and that a force from below, in counterattack to the tempest wreaking havoc above, drives the element to violent, jolting motions. Thus, despite the stores of courage he mustered in advance, the drowned-to-be, on second thought, ought to be delighted if he can prolong his life, swirling in the vortices of the abyss, even by the space of half a normal breath, for good measure. He will fail in his supreme desire to cheat death. The ship in distress fires her canons to sound the alarm; but she sinks, slowly... majestically. No wait, there's been a mistake. She's no longer firing, she's no longer sinking. The cockleshell is now completely engulfed! Good heavens! How could I continue to live, after experiencing such exquisite pleasures! I had just been granted the chance to witness the death agonies of many a fellow man. Minute by minute, I followed the episodes of their anguish. Now, the feature presentation was the bellowing of some old lady, brought to hysterics by fear. Now, the squeals of a suckling infant were drowning out the nautical orders. The ship was too distant for me to clearly perceive the groans brought on by blasts of wind, but through sheer willpower I zoomed in on it, and the optical illusion was complete. Every quarter of an hour, when a particularly stronger gust of wind, sounding its gloomy tones amid the cries of the terrified storm petrels, would break open the ship in another lengthwise crack, increasing the laments of those about to be offered as sacrifices to death, I would dig a sharp metal point deeper into my cheek and secretly think: "They are suffering still more!" At least this gave me grounds for comparison. From the shore, I shouted at them, hurling violent curses and threats. I felt that they could hear me! I could feel that my hatred and raving, soaring over the distances, were breaking the physical laws of sound and falling loud and clear onto their ears, deafened by the wrathful ocean's roars! I felt they ought to be thinking of me, unleashing their vengeance in impotent rage! Every now and then I would cast a glance up at the cities, sounds asleep on dry land, and seeing that nobody suspected a ship to be sinking a few miles from the shore, with birds of prey for a crown and empty-bellied creatures of the deep for a pedestal, I took courage, and regained hope: I could now be sure of their demise! There was no escape! Through an excess of precaution, I had gone fetch my double-barrelled shotgun, so that, should some survivor be tempted to swim up to the rocks to escape impending death, a bullet in the shoulder would shatter his arm, thus thwarting his plan. Just when the tempest was at its fiercest, I saw, at the surface, desperately struggling to keep afloat, a frenetic head, with hair standing on end. He was swallowing gallons of water and was tossed back into the briny deep, bobbing like a piece of cork. But in no time he surfaced again, mane dripping wet, and, eyes focused on the shore, he seemed to defy death. What admirable composure! On his brave and noble face, he bore a deep and gory wound, gashed open by the jagged point of some hidden reef. He must have been sixteen at the oldest, for you could just barely see, by the lightning flashes that lit up the night, the peach fuzz on his lip. And now he was no more than two hundred yards from the cliff, and I was getting a clear view of him. What courage! What indomitable spirit! How his steady head seemed to flout at fate, as he vigorously cleaved through the waves, prying open the grooves before him with effort!... I had made up my mind beforehand. I owed it to myself to keep my promise: the final hour had tolled for all; there could be no exceptions. That was my resolution, and nothing could change it... A sharp blast echoed, and the head sank right under, never to be seen again. From this murder I did not take as much pleasure as you might imagine, and precisely because I had already done more than my share of killing in life, I was doing it now only from sheer habit, so hard to break, and providing only mild enjoyment. Conscience becomes dulled, calloused. What pleasure could I feel at the death of this human being, when more than a hundred were about to present me with the spectacle of their final struggles against the waves, once the ship had been submerged? With this death, not even the thrill of danger aroused me, for human justice, cradled by the night's ghastly storm, was slumbering in the cottages a few steps from me. Now that the years hang heavy on my shoulders, I can speak this supreme and solemn truth with sincerity: I was never as cruel as it was later said among men, however sometimes their persistent spitefulness went on devastating for years on end. There was then no limits to my fury; I was possessed by fits of cruelty: my wild eyes would strike terror in anyone who dared come close enough to see them, provided they be of my race. If it was a horse or a dog, I would let it go by: did you head what I just said? Unfortunately, on the night of the storm, I was seized by one of my fits of wrath, my reason having abandoned me (for normally I would be just as cruel, only more discreet), and everything falling into my hands on that night had to perish. I am not saying this justifies my misdeeds. My fellow men are not the only ones to blame. I am merely making a statement of fact, as I await the last judgment, which makes me feel my throat constrict in anticipation... What do I care about the last judgment? My reason never abandons me, as I had claimed just to mislead you. And when I commit a murder, I know full well what I am doing: what else would I be wanting to do? Standing on the cliff, as the tempest flailed at my hair and trench coat, I ecstatically watched the full might of the thunderstorm relentlessly hammering at the ship under a starless sky. In a triumphant pose, I followed all the twists and turns of this drama, from the instant the vessel threw her anchors, until the moment she was swallowed up within that final shroud, that cloak which dragged everybody wrapped in it down into the bowels of the sea. But the cue for me to make my entrance in these scenes of nature in tumult was approaching. When the place where the ship had been struggling clearly showed that she had gone spend the rest of her days on the oceanic floor, then, some of those who had been carried off by the waves reappeared on the surface. They seized and grappled each other around the waist, in twos, in threes; this was the way not to save their lives, for their movements became hampered, and they went down like dumbbells... What is this horde of sea monsters ploughing through the waves at top speed? There are six of them, with sturdy fins that cut a passage through the heaving seas. Exercising the privileges of their higher rank on the food chain, the sharks soon make a great eggless omelette of all these wiggling human arms and legs on this far from dry continent. Blood mingles with the waters, and the waters mingle with blood. Their fierce eyes light up the bloodbath... But what is that other tumult of the waves, yonder, on the horizon? It looks like a waterspout coming this way! What strokes! Now I see what it is. An enormous female shark has come to partake of duck liver pâté and to eat cold stew meat. She is furious, for she arrives ravenous. A battle ensues between her and the sharks, to fight over the few palpitating limbs still dumbly floating here and there on the surface of the crimson cream. Left and right she snaps her jaws, delivering many a fatal wound. But three surviving sharks surround her, and she is forced to twist and turn in all directions to outmanoeuvre them. With an increasing emotion unbeknownst until now, the one-man audience follows this new kind of naval battle from his seat at the shore. His gaze is fastened on this courageous female shark, with jaws so mighty. He grits his teeth, raises his rifle, and, skilful as ever, he lodges his second bullet in the gill slit of one of the sharks, just as it rears its head above a wave. Two sharks remain, both showing even greater ferocity. From the top of the rock, the man with the briny saliva flings himself into the sea and swims towards the pleasantly coloured carpet, gripping his trusty steel knife. From now on the sharks each have one enemy to deal with. He closes in on his weary adversary, and, taking his time, buries his sharp blade in its belly. Meanwhile, the nimble-finned citadel easily disposes of the last opponent... Now the swimmer and the female shark saved by him confront each other. For minutes they stare fixedly into each other's eyes. They swim circling, keeping each other in sight, and each thinking: "I was wrong all along. Here is one more evil than I." Then in unison they glided underwater towards each other, in mutual admiration, the female shark slitting open the waves with her fins, Maldoror's arms thrashing the water; and they held their breaths, in deepest reverence, each one anxious to gaze for the first time upon his living image. Effortlessly, at only three yards apart, they suddenly fell upon one another like two magnets, in an embrace of dignity and gratitude, clasping each other tenderly as brother and sister. Carnal desire soon followed this display of affection. Like two leeches, a pair of nervous thighs gripped tightly against the monster's viscous flesh, and arms and fins wrapped around the objects of their desire, surrounding their bodies with love, while their breasts and bellies soon fused into one bluish-green mass reeking of sea-wrack, in the midst of the tempest still raging by the light of lightning; with the foamy waves for a wedding bed, borne on an undersea current as if in a cradle, rolling and rolling down into the bottomless ocean depths, they came together in a long, chaste, and hideous mating!... At last I had found somebody who was like me!... From now on I was no longer alone in life!... Her ideas were the same as mine!... I was face to face with my first love!

Last Updated: January 2001

(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 05-08-2008   #34
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Re: Dark Poetry

Je suis le Ténébreux, - le Veuf, - l'Inconsolé,
Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la Tour abolie :
Ma seule
Etoile est morte, - et mon luth constellé
Porte le
Soleil noir de la Mélancolie.

Dans la nuit du Tombeau, Toi qui m'as consolé,
Rends-moi le Pausilippe et la mer d'Italie,
La
fleur qui plaisait tant à mon coeur désolé,
Et la treille où le Pampre à la Rose s'allie.

Suis-je Amour ou Phébus ?... Lusignan ou Biron ?
Mon front est rouge encor du baiser de la Reine ;
J'ai rêvé dans la Grotte où nage la sirène...

Et j'ai deux fois vainqueur traversé l'Achéron :
Modulant tour à tour sur la lyre d'Orphée
Les soupirs de la Sainte et les cris de la Fée.

(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 05-10-2008   #35
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Re: Dark Poetry

The Dark Poetry site's great! It even has Goethe's Erlkonig. I found out about that when I listened to Schubert's art song about it.
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Old 05-31-2008   #36
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Re: Dark Poetry

Robert Blair (1699-1746)


The Grave


(excerpt)





While some affect the sun, and some the shade.
Some flee the city, some the hermitage;
Their aims as various, as the roads they take
In journeying thro' life;--the task be mine,
To paint the gloomy horrors of the tomb;
Th' appointed place of rendezvous, where all
These travellers meet.--Thy succours I implore,
Eternal King! whose potent arm sustains
The keys of Hell and Death.--The Grave, dread thing!
Men shiver when thou'rt named: Nature appall'd
Shakes off her wonted firmness.--Ah ! how dark
The long-extended realms, and rueful wastes!
Where nought but silence reigns, and night, dark night,
Dark as was chaos, ere the infant Sun
Was roll'd together, or had tried his beams
Athwart the gloom profound.--The sickly taper,
By glimm'ring thro' thy low-brow'd misty vaults,
(Furr'd round with mouldy damps, and ropy slime)
Lets fall a supernumerary horror,
And only serves to make thy night more irksome.
Well do I know thee by thy trusty yew,
Cheerless, unsocial plant! that loves to dwell
'Midst skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms:
Where light-heel'd ghosts, and visionary shades,
Beneath the wan, cold moon (as fame reports)
Embodied thick, perform their mystic rounds,
No other merriment, dull tree! is thine.

See yonder hallow'd fane;--the pious work
Of names once fam'd, now dubious or forgot,
And buried midst the wreck of things which were;
There lie interr'd the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up:--hark! how it howls!--Methinks,
'Till now, I never heard a sound so dreary:
Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird,
Rook'd in the spire, screams loud; the gloomy aisles
Black plaster'd, and hung round with shreds f 'scutcheons,
And tatter'd coats of arms, send back the sund,
Laden with heavier airs, from the low vaults,
The mansions of the dead.--Rous'd from their slumbers,
In grim array the grisly spectres rise,
Grin horrible, and, obstinately sullen,
Pass and repass, hush'd as the foot of night.
Again the screech-owl shrieks--ungracious sound!
I'll hear no more; it makes one's blood run chill.

Quite round the pile, a row of reverend elms,
(Coeval near with that) all ragged show,
Long lash'd by the rude winds. Some rift half down
Their branchless trunks; others so thin at top,
That scarce two crows can lodge in the same tree.
Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd here;
Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs;
Dead men have come again, and walk'd about;
And the great bell has toll'd, unrung, untouch'd.
(Such tales their cheer at wake or gossipping,
When it draws near to witching time of night.)

Oft in the lone church yard at night I've seen,
By glimpse of moonshine chequering thro' the trees,
The school boy, with his satchel in his hand,
Whistling aloud to bear his courage up,
And lightly tripping o'er the long flat stones,
(With nettles skirted, and with moss o'ergrown,)
That tell in homely phrase who lie below.
Sudden he starts, and hears, or thinks he hears,
The sound of something purring at his heels;
Full fast he flies, and dare not look behind him,
'Till, out of breath, he overtakes his fellows,
Who gather round and wonder at the tale
Of horrid apparition tall and ghastly,
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand
O'er some new-open'd grave; and (strange to tell!)
Evanishes at crowing of the cock.

The new-made widow, too, I've sometimes 'spy'd,
Sad sight! slow moving o'er the prostrate dead:
Listless, she crawls along in doleful black,
While bursts of sorrow gush from either eye,
Fast falling down her now untasted cheek,
Prone on the lowly grave of the dear man
She drops; while busy meddling memory,
In barbarous succession, musters up
The past endearments of their softer hours,
Tenacious of its theme. Still, still she thinks
She sees him, and indulging the fond thought,
Clings yet more closely to the senseless turf,
Nor heeds the passenger who looks that way.

Invidious Grave!--how dost thou rend in sunder
Whom love has knit, and sympathy made one?
A tie more stubborn far than Nature's band.
Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul,
Sweet'ner of life, and solder of society,
I owe thee much. Thou hast deserv'd from me,
Far, far beyond what I can ever pay.
Oft have I prov'd the labours of thy love,
And the warm efforts of the gentle heart,
Anxious to please.--Oh! when my friend and I
In some thick wood have wander'd heedless on,
Hid from the vulgar eye, and sat us down
Upon the sloping cowslip-cover'd bank,
Where the pure limpid stream has slid along
In grateful errors thro' the underwood,
Sweet murmuring; methought the shrill-tongued thrush
Mended his song of love; the sooty blackbird
Mellow'd his pipe, and soften'd every note:
The eglantine smell'd sweeter, and the rose
Assum'd a dye more deep; whilst ev'ry flower
Vied with its fellow-plant in luxury
Of dress--Oh! then the longest summer's day
Seem'd too too much in haste; still the full heart
Had not imparted half: 'twas happiness
Too exquisite to last. Of joys departed,
Not to return, how painful the remembrance!

(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 05-31-2008   #37
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Re: Dark Poetry

Thomas Warton the younger (1728-1790)


The Pleasures of Melancholy


(excerpt)


--Praecipe lugubres
Cantus, Melpomene!--



Mother of musings, Contemplation sage,
Whose grotto stands upon the topmost rock
Of Teneriffe; 'mid the tempestuous night,
On which, in calmest meditation held,
Thou hear'st with howling winds the beating rain
And drifting hail descend; or if the skies
Unclouded shine, and through the blue serene
Pale Cynthia rolls her silver-axled car,
Whence gazing steadfast on the spangled vault
Raptured thou sitt'st, while murmurs indistinct
Of distant billows soothe thy pensive ear
With hoarse and hollow sounds; secure, self-blest,
There oft thou listen´st to the wild uproar
Of fleets encount´ring, that in whispers low
Ascends the rocky summit, where thou dwell´st
Remote from man, conversing with the spheres!
O, lead me, queen sublime, to solemn glooms
Congenial with my soul; to cheerless shades,
To ruin´d seats, to twilight cells and bowers,
Where thoughtful Melancholy loves to muse
Her favorite midnight haunts. The laughing scenes
Of purple Spring, where all the wanton train
Of Smiles and Graces seem to lead the dance
In sportive round, while from their hands they shower
Ambrosial blooms and flowers, no longer charm;
Tempe, no more I court thy balmy breeze,
Adieu green vales! Ye broider´d meads, adieu!
Beneath yon ruin'd abbey's moss-grown piles
Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve,
Where through some western window the pale moon
Pours her long-levell'd rule of streaming light;
While sullen sacred silence reigns around,
Save the lone screech-owl's note, who builds his bower
Amid the mould'ring caverns dark and damp,
Or the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves
Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green
Invests some wasted tower. Or let me tread
Its neighb'ring walk of pines, where mus'd of old
The cloister'd brothers : thro' the gloomy void
That far extends beneath their ample arch
As on I pace, religious horror wraps
My soul in dread repose. But when the world
Is clad in Midnight's raven-colour'd robe,
'Mid hollow charnel let me watch the flame
Of taper dim, shedding a livid glare
O'er the wan heaps; while airy voices talk
Along the glimm'ring walls; or ghostly shape
At distance seen, invites with beck'ning hand
My lonesome steps, thro' the far-winding vaults.
Nor undelightful is the solemn noon
Of night, when haply wakeful from my couch
I start: lo, all is motionless around!
Roars not the rushing wind; the sons of men
And every beast in mute oblivion lie;
All nature's hush'd in silence and in sleep.
O then how fearful is it to reflect,
That thro' the still globe's awful solitude,
No being wakes but me! till stealing sleep
My drooping temples bathes in opiate dews.
Nor then let dreams, of wanton folly born
My senses lead thro' flow'ry paths of joy;
But let the sacred Genius of the night
Such mystic visions send, as Spenser saw,
When thro' bewild'ring Fancy's magic maze,
To the fell house of Busyrane, he led
Th' unshaken Britomart; or Milton knew,
When in abstracted thought he first conceiv'd
All heav'n in tumult, and the Seraphim
Come tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold.
Let others love soft Summer's evening smiles,
As listening to the distant waterfall,
They mark the blushes of the streaky west';
I choose the pale December's foggy glooms.
Then, when the sullen shades of evening close,
Where through the room a blindly- glimmering gleam
They dying embers scatter, far remote
From Mirth's mad shouts, that through th' illumined roof
Resound with festive echo, let me sit,
Blest with the lowly cricket's drowsy dirge.
Then let my thought contemplative explore
This fleeting state of things, the vain delights,
The fruitless toils, that still our search elude,
As through the wilderness of life we rove.
This sober hour of silence will unmask
False Folly's smile , that like the dazzling spells
Of wily Comus cheat th' unweeting eye
With blear illusion, and persuade to drink
That charmed cup, which Reason's mintage fair
Unmoulds, and stamps the monster on the man.
Eager we taste, but in the luscious draught
Forget the poisonous dregs that lurk beneath.
Few know that elegance of soul refin'd,
Whose soft sensation feels a quicker joy
From Melancholy's scenes, than the dull pride
Of tasteless splendour and magnificence
Can e'er afford. Thus Eloise, whose mind
Had languish'd to the pangs of melting love,
More genuine transport found, as on some tomb
Reclin'd, she watch'd the tapers of the dead;
Or thro' the pillar'd aisles, amid pale shrines
Of imag'd saints, and intermingled graves,
Mus'd a veil'd votaress; than Flavia feels,
As thro' the mazes of the festive ball,
Proud of her conquering charms, and beauty's blaze,
She floats amid the silken sons of dress,
And shines the fairest of th' assembled fair.
When azure noontide cheers the daedal globe,
And the blest regent of the golden day
Rejoices in his bright meridian tower,
How oft my wishes ask the night's return,
That best befriends the melancholy mind!
Hail, sacred Night! thou too shalt share my song!
Sister of ebon-scepter´d Hecate, hail!
Whether in congregated clouds thou wrapp'st
Thy viewless chariot, or with silver crown
Thy beaming head encirclest, ever hail!
What though beneath thy gloom the sorceress train,
Far in obscured haunt of Lapland moors,
With rhymes uncouth the bloody caldron bless;
Though Murder wan beneath thy shrouding shade
Summons her slow-eyed votaries to devise
Of secret slaughter, while by one blue lamp
In hideous conference sits the listening band,
And start at each low wind, or wakeful sound;
What though thy stay the pilgrim curseth oft,
As all-benighted in Arabian wastes
He hears the wilderness around him howl
With roaming monsters, while on his hoar head
The black-descending tempest ceaseless beats;
Yet more delightful to my pensive mind
Is thy return, than blooming morn's approach,
E'en then, in youthful pride of opening May,
When from the portals of the saffron east
She sheds fresh roses, and ambrosial dews.
Yet not ungrateful is the morn's approach,
When dropping wet she comes, and clad in clouds,
While through the damp air scowls the lowering south,
Blackening the landscape's face, that grove and hill
In formless vapours undistinguish'd swim:
Th' afflicted of the sadden'd groves
Hail not the sullen gloom; the waving elms
That, hoar through time, and ranged in thick array,
Enclose with stately row some rural hall,
Are mute, nor echo with the clamours hoarse
Of rooks rejoicing on their airy; boughs
While to the shed the dripping poultry crowd,
A mournful train: secure the village hind
Hangs o'er the crackling blaze, nor tempts the storm;
Fix'd in unfinish'd furrow furrow rests the plough:
Rings not the high wood with enliven'd shouts
Of early hunter: all is silence drear;
And deeptest saness wraps the face of things.
Thro' Pope's soft song tho' all the Graces breathe,
And happiest art adorn his Attic page;
Yet does my mind with sweeter transport glow,
As at the root of mossy trunk reclin'd,
In magic Spenser's wildly-warbled song
I see deserted Una wander wide
Thro' wasteful solitudes, and lurid heaths,
Weary, forlorn; than when the fated fair
Upon the bosom bright of silver Thames
Launches in all the lustre of brocade,
Amid the splendours of the laughing Sun.
The gay description palls upon the sense,
And coldly strikes the mind with feeble bliss.
Ye youths of Albion's beauty-blooming isle,
Whose brows have worn the wreath of luckless love,
Is there a pleasure like the pensive mood,
Whose magic wont to soothe your soften'd souls?
O tell how rapturous the joy, to melt
To Melody's assuasive voice; to bend
Th' uncertain step along the midnight mead,
And pour your sorrows to the pitying moon,
By many a slow trill from the bird of woe
Oft interrupted; in embowering woods
By darksome brook to muse, and there forget
The solemn dulness of the tedious world,
While Fancy grasps the visionary fair:
And now no more th' abstracted ear attends
The water's murmuring lapse, th' entranced eye
Pierces no longer through th' extended rows
Of thick-ranged trees; till haply from the depth
The woodman's stroke, or distant tinkling team
Or heifers rustling through the brake, alarms
Th' illuded sense, and mars the golden dream.
These are delights that absence drear has made
Familiar to my soul, e'er since the form
Of young Sapphira, beauteous as the Spring,
When from her violet-woven couch awaked
By frolic Zephyr's hand, her tender cheek
Graceful she lifts, and blushing from her bower
Issues to clothe in gladsome-glistering green
The genial globe, first met my dazzled sight:
These are delights unknown to minds profane,
And which alone the pensive soul can taste.
The taper'd choir, at the late hour of prayer,
Oft let me tread, while to th' according voice
The many-sounding organ peals on high
The clear slow-dittied chant, or varied hymn,
Till all my soul is bathed in ecstasies,
And lapp'd in Paradise. Or let me sit
Far in sequester'd aisles of the deep dome,
There lonesome listen to the sacred sounds,
Which, as they lengthen through the Gothic vaults,
In hollow murmurs reach my ravish'd ear.
Nor when the lamps expiring yield to night,
And solitude returns, would I forsake
The solemn mansion, but attentive mark
The due clock swinging slow with sweepy sway,
Measuring Time's flight with momentary sound.

Nor let me fail to cultivate my mind
With the soft thrillings of the tragic Muse,
Divine Melpomene, sweet Pity's nurse,
Queen of the stately step, and flowing pall.
Now let Monimia mourn streaming eyes
Her joys incestuous, and polluted love:
Now let soft Juliet in the gaping tomb
Print the last kiss on her true Romeo's lips,
His lips yet reeking from the deadly draught:
Or Jaffier kneel for one forgiving look.
Nor seldom let the Moor on Desdemone
Pour the misguided threats of jealous rage.
By soft degrees the manly torrent steals
From my swollen eyes; and at a brother's woe
My big heart melts in sympathizing tears.

What are the splendours of the gaudy court,
Its tinsel trappings, and its pageant pomps?
To me far happier seems the banish'd lord,
Amid Siberia's unrejoicing wilds
Who pines all lonesome, in the chambers hoar
Of some high castle shut, whose windows dim
In distant ken discover trackless plains,
Where Winter ever whirls his icy car;
While still repeated objects of his view,
The gloomy battlements, and ivied spires,
That crown the solitary dome, arise;
While from the topmost turret the slow clock,
Far heard along th' inhospitable wastes,
With sad-returning chime awakes new grief;
Ev'n he far happier seems than is the proud,
The potent Satrap, whom he left behind
`Mid Moscow's golden palaces, to drown
In ease and luxury the laughing hours.

Illustrious objects strike the gazer's mind
With feeble bliss, and but allure the sight,
Nor rose with impulse quick th' unfeeling heart.
Thus seen by shepard from Hymettus' brow,
What daedal landscapes smile! here palmy groves,
Resounding once with Plato's voice, arise,
Amid whose umbrage green her silver head
Th' unfading olive lifts; here vine-clad hills
Lay forth their purple store, and sunny vales
In prospect vast their level laps expand,
Amid whose beauties glistering Athens towers.
Though through the blissful scenes Ilissus roll
His sage-inspiring flood, whose winding marge
The thick-wove laurel shades; though roseate Morn
Pour all her splendors on th' empurpled scene;
Yet fells the hoary hermit truer joys,
As from the cliff that o'er his cavern hangs
He views the piles of fallen Persepolis
In deep arrangement hide the darksome plain.
Unbounded waste! the mouldering obelisk
Here, like a blasted oak, ascends the clouds;
Here Parian domes their vaulted halls disclose
Horrid with thorn, where lurks th' unpitying thief,
Whence flits the twilight-loving bat at eve,
And the deaf adder wreaths her spotted train,
The dwellings once of elegance and art.
Here temples rise, amid whose hallow'd bounds
Spires the black pine, while through the naked street ,
Once haunt of tradeful merchants, springs the grass:
Here columns heap'd on prostrate columns, torn
From their firm base, increase the mouldering mass.
Far as the sight can pierce, appear the spoils
Of sunk magnificence! A blended scene
Of moles, fanes, arches, domes, and palaces,
Where, with his brother Horror, Ruin sits.

O come then, Melancholy, queen of thought!
O come with saintly look, and steadfast step,
From forth thy cave embower'd with mournful yew,
Where ever to the curfew's solemn sound
Listening thou sitt'st, and with thy cypress bind
Thy votary's hair, and seal him for thy son.
But never let Euphrosyne beguile
With toys of wanton mirth my fixed mind,
Nor in my path her primrose-garland cast.
Though 'mid her train the dimpled Hebe bare
Her rosy bosom to th' enamour'd view;
Though Venus, mother of the Smiles and Loves,
And Bacchus, ivy-crown'd, in citron bower
With her on nectar-streaming fruitage feast:
What though 'tis hers to calm the lowering skies,
And at her presence mild th' embattled clouds
Disperse in air, and o'er the face of heaven
New day diffusive gleam at her approach;
Yet are these joys that Melancholy gives,
Than all her witless revels happier far;
These deep-felt joys, by Contemplation taught.

Then ever, beautious Contemplation, hail!
From thee began, auspicious maid, my song,
With thee shall end; for thou art fairer far
Than are the nymph of Cirrha´s mossy grot;
To loftier rapture thou canst wake the thought,
Than all the fabling Poets´; boasted powers.
Hail, queen divine! whom, as tradition tells,
Once in his evening walk a druid found,
Far in a hollow glade of Mona´s woods;
And piteous bore with hospitable hand
To the close shelter of his oaken bower.
There soon the sage admiring mark´d the dawn
Of solemn musing in your pensive thought;
For when a smiling babe, you loved to lie
Oft deeply listening to the rapid roar
Of wood-hung Menai, stream of druids old.

(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 06-10-2008   #38
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Re: Dark Poetry

"Durer: Innsbruck, 1495" by Ern Malley

I had often cowled in the slumbrous heavy air,
Closed my inanimate lids to find it real,
As I knew it would be, the colourful spires
And painted roofs, the high snows glimpsed at the back,
All reversed in the quiet reflecting waters -
Not knowing then that Durer perceived it too.
Now I find that once more I have shrunk
To an interloper, robber of dead men's dream,
I had read in books that art is not easy
But no one warned that the mind repeats
In its ignorance the vision of others. I am still
The black swan of trespass on alien waters.

Ern Malley was not a man, but the fictional collaboration of two prominent Australian poets who were sickened by Modernism. They created Malley, and his collage poems, in order to demonstrate the bankruptcy of Modernism and to poke fun at its adherents... and yet... many years later the poems seem to sparkle in their own dark light, and the highly traditional poems written by the two collaborators (under their own names) are fading into obscurity.

As art critic Robert Hughes has written, "The Ern Malley affair was, without question, the literary hoax of the twentieth century."

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 06-10-2008   #39
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Re: Dark Poetry

DREAM MEADOWS by Fiona Macleod (from "the Hills of Dream")
Girt with great garths of shadow
Dim meadows fade in grey:
No moon lightens the gloaming,
The meadows know no day:
But pale shapes shifting
From dusk to dusk, or lifting
Frail wings in flight, go drifting
Adown each flowerless way.
These phantom-dreams in shadow
Were once in wild-rose flame;
Each wore a star of glory,
Each had a loved sweet name:
Now they are nameless, knowing
Nor star nor flame, but going
Whither they know not, flowing
Waves without wind or aim.
But later through the gloaming
The Midnight-Shepherd cries:
The trooping shadows follow
Making a wind of sighs:
The fold is hollow and black;
No pathway thence, no track;
No dream ever comes back
Beneath those silent skies.





"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 06-16-2008   #40
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Re: Dark Poetry

Not exactly "dark" but certainly crazy.

Asylum for the verbally insane

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England .
We take English for granted,
but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly,
boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig
is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham.
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make
amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and
get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables,
what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking
English should be committed to an
asylum for the verbally insane.


In what other language do people recite at a
play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance
be the same, while a wise man and a
wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of
a language in which your house can burn up as
it burns down, in which you fill in a form by
filling it out, and in which an
alarm goes off by going on.

So if Father is Pop, how come Mother isn't Mop?

And that is just the beginning--
even though this is the end!
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