(The book’s protagonist, Joel, an ex-believer and the speaker of the poem, begins his story in a forest. Having run away from a collapsing and psychotic world, he intends to sing a final eulogy for Spirit—any form of which his postmodern age has seemingly long since forgotten about…)
It is a great endeavor, all in all,
and probably past my competence to bear,
but though I’d call to Heaven for its help
no Heavens hear (their end is mine to tell
and mine alone). …We should have requiem, no?
Music? (despite ‘the Muses’ fell…) Well, though
for inspiration there’s no ‘Spirit’ now,
I’ll sing—I’ll conjure spirit, out of songs.
I’ll try. For Him, for all, here’s threnody
I’ll sing the death of God.
I’ll sing, to numbered forests one more time
this final melody. Here, at the end
of a sick world—in spots of moon some arms
of yews let enter—here, I’ll end my music,
and stop my strings, and mute forever songs
and poems which once made hymns in Heaven. You,
butchered Significance—a deeper Meaning—
You’re deaf to songs at last. But from the skies
that overcast Your resting place, I’ll stop
and vigil, gaze below into Your hell,
and here devote this final symphony
to eulogize Your shade.
I played the harp once.
I used to sing. Chorus and choir, the whole…
damn…thing. I sang, and, singing—
For some, that deep assurance of The Light,
that charge of purpose, through the spiritual—
for some of us, that homey camp’s not camp—
home itself since boyhood.
Once, in clothes
of simple white, above (what should I call them?
The ‘Crystal Spheres’? The ‘rows’ in God’s Bouquet?)
Well, let’s just say, in presence of the One
(where - Pure - presided), I would stand and sing…
lifting my pretty prayers up in their turn,
extoling Sacred… Careless youth swept on,
(in time made soft by safety in His arms)
as I, by churching Seraphim, would come
before the Throne of God and burn with praise
ablaze in burning vistas of the Dawn…
up-fascinated—looking on Our Lord,
And all the propping of a Purpose, lost.
(So go our innocences
—and our Gods.)
The rest is as you’d guess it: Disenchanted
spend steel machineguns on the overworld
and scorch the Kingdom—slaying Seraphim,
the Rose of Angels—as they burst the bubble
E M P Y R E A N, and killed the El Shaddai…
That’s done. Over. Finished. The point is this:
that I, a turncoat to their cause, remained…
I linger still. When Heaven fell, I stayed
(from son of God: reluctant atheist)
and live now in the City of its ash.
Tonight, I fled. Tonight, I’ve left for…
—I know eventually I must go back!
but… That’s for later. Now, there’s night… warm air…
Tonight, I’ll make a marking of His end,
the Heavens’ siege: observed this late July…
For there is no escaping what we’ve made:
The corporate Beast. Sleazed Salesman’s propaganda.
And smiling Screens of smiling shit—to fill! ®
disillusioned with revolt, I’ve come
a mourner to God’s graveside, and—with hymns,
with eulogy—intend a wake, to watch
and grieve the carcass of Sublimity.
…Hadn’t we loved it? once…?
—Not without cause
(though, crucial were those faults that caused His end
and proved His cross). Still, such a thing as “Spirit,”
which gave us our ideal for centuries,
surely deserves some hymn, encomium,
to mark its passing? Mark, if just an hour,
God’s unmarked grave with… what? Orations? Well,
if He’s to sleep forever, I will spread
some flowers of regard upon this place:
a basic honor not performed for Him
but all the Sacred.
…I helped slay it too.
Should we repent? For, woken of our dream
“Religion,” now a nightmare incubus—
that curse upon our planet and ourselves—
now this consuming, all-consuming Thing
molests our modern sleep, and violates
the only precious. You know what I mean!
The dollar-humping drudgery. The sickness
of these late days. Demon “Developments.”
And the quick cash men make to fat themselves,
possessed by avarice; by glutless lust
to rape the Earth and desecrate it Product,©
men drooling for armageddon—for a world
self-ending, self-destructing—Mall on Mall
and Salesman hawking lie on lie from Screens
that wrap a Beast of glass beset—and yet
…what else can be?
Cheap surface-peddlers rule—
and stupor, waste, commodity remain
our dear idolatries.
…To them I must,
since brooding on the graves of Gods is vain
and I am done with singing.
before conceding peace and quiet here—
(self-exiled to a forest’s loneliness
away from our psychotic, shallow blaze
in wealth’s Metropolis)—once more
and play the solemn dirge Your wake is wanting.
Then may You rest. With God, I’ll bury songs,
whose final utterance can melody
the death of Him
and all that we’ve become…
NEXT: A Child of Heaven