Sunday, September 25, 2011

TC: The Last Poem (after Robert Desnos)


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Night Shadows
: Edward Hopper, 1921

I’ve dreamed so much of you
Walked so much
Talked so much made love to your shadow
So much that there’s nothing left of you
What is left
Of me is a shadow
Among shadows but 100
Times more shadowy than the rest
A shadow that will come
To rest
In your life in which the sun
Is so much.

Monday, September 5, 2011

TC: The Dream of Constantine


Parhelion or "sun dog" [similar to that said to have been seen in the "vision" or "dream" of the Emperor Constantine I, on the eve of his victory over Maxentius, 312 CE]: photo by M. Metz, 23 September 2005

To Constantine in the constant caƱon of his morbid discontent
Vision distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion
Guarded conspiracies in the family, rebellion bruited, haystacks aflame at the borders

The latest hue and cry from the provinces fading into the din of background noise
The breakdown of communications with the common people,
The haze of stars, the tingle, the flame, the wincing shame of the general decay
Across the great breadth of the subject lands, not in his imperial tent alone --

Or again, later, the epidemic of lamentation about the way life was lived now --
The disputes among the wizards, the coins thrown down upon the marble tiles,
The relentless advance of barbarian industry at the exposed frontiers,
The news that the knights sent out to explore the ruins had not been heard from,
That shadows were lengthening across the paved courtyard, even as day was expected to
Be coming on -- the troublous murmurings, the brazen trumpeting from the stables --
To the good ruler once seen banging his tankard in high revelry, all woes forgotten,

At the jolly reunion, none of this would have needed to be explained --

So that the attacks of insomnia which had become ever more frequent with the years
Were now no longer interrupted by the brief welcome respites of fitful slumber --
And the cold night wind, another sign, turning back the light of the stars
So that the victims could not make out the astronomical figures on the bills of accounting, this too --
And the light of the stars turning up again on the night wind,

Blowing out over the dark mountains, across the vast lost stretches of the subdued continents
Which must now be left to the helpless ones, the hapless inheritors,
To whom the empty words, without the experiences to which they had once referred,
Could mean less than nothing -- mere words, so plainly useless against the fates --

The relentless advance also of memories of the poisoned son, the wife left to boil in her bath -- and
Other smothered memories, now unfolding themselves into limbless monsters of pain --

All of this occurred exactly as had been written.

File:Piero - The Dream of Constantine.jpg

Legend of the True Cross -- the Dream of Constantine: Piero della Francesca, c. 1452-1456, San Francesco, Arezzo

Marble head of the Colossus of Constantine: Roman, c. 313-324 CE, recovered from the west apse of the Basilica of Maxentius, 1487; Capitoline Museums, Rome (image by Jean-Christophe Benoist, 3 August 2007)