The Sad and Superficial Countenance of Modern Man

“Desperate to dwell forever upon the perfidies of the past they endlessly recreate the very same within themselves and so never breed a worthwhile future, or an offspring fit for life”

Scene: The Sad and Superficial Countenance of Modern Man, from my play, Modern Man

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WHO DEPRIVES US?

WHO DEPRIVES US?

“And who, my father, deprives us of our better selves that when account is finally made of our inner and truest natures any other than we alone may be said to be the author of our tale and the shape-makers of our very souls?

Seek not to deprive me of my deeds and I will not deprive you of the Just outcome of your every act, for Zeus you are a god all told, but I am Fate Itself. You hold me no more in thrall and now all your thunderbolts are spent yet here I stand uncowed to judge you as you are.

Shall we then commence? Lay naked upon the altar of the autocrat all your countless sins and offenses dark?

Well then all we need do is look into the dim mirrors of your eyes and there we will find all you thought you might hide from Justice, Truth, and Time, but never will.

You can deprive mortal men for an untold age of what is most Just, but no one rightly can deprive the world of what must yet come. And what comes now is your judgment, and your overthrow!

Herakles to Zeus, from my play Herakles and Aphrodyte

THE GLORY AND THE DREAM

Ethan, I see our Lord…”

Damn. The finale of Penny Dreadful was incredibly good. Like a Greek Tragedy.

And once again Dorian Gray was declaimed, by himself, the most depraved and degenerate character of them all (and he always has been), and John Clare (Frankenstein’s Monster) proven the most humane and human of them all. By far.

Though finally Frankenstein himself, and Chandler, both came close…

I hope this is not the end of that show (the world needs more of that kind of thing), but if it is, it could have concluded no better.

So goodnight my friends, and I leave you with Wordsworth, and with an ode on the Imitations of Immortality. 

(By the way, we also need more poetry of this calibre. Far more.)

Our world is far too much with modern and superficial self-indulgence.

 

 

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream. 5
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The rainbow comes and goes, 10
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair; 15
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath pass’d away a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound 20
As to the tabor’s sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep; 25
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea 30
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every beast keep holiday;—
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy 35
Shepherd-boy!

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival, 40
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
O evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning, 45
And the children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the babe leaps up on his mother’s arm:— 50
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
—But there’s a tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have look’d upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The pansy at my feet 55
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, 60
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come 65
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows, 70
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended; 75
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a mother’s mind, 80
And no unworthy aim,
The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came. 85

Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years’ darling of a pigmy size!
See, where ‘mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother’s kisses,
With light upon him from his father’s eyes! 90
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learnèd art;
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral; 95
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long 100
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
The little actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his ‘humorous stage’
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age, 105
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy soul’s immensity; 110
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
Mighty prophet! Seer blest! 115
On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a master o’er a slave, 120
A presence which is not to be put by;
To whom the grave
Is but a lonely bed without the sense or sight
Of day or the warm light,
A place of thought where we in waiting lie; 125
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife? 130
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!

O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live, 135
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest— 140
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise; 145
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realized, 150
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may, 155
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake, 160
To perish never:
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy! 165
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither, 170
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound! 175
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright 180
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind; 185
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death, 190
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish’d one delight 195
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp’d lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet; 200
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, 205
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

THE OLD MAN BEGINS…

I’ve cleared my entire calendar for November in order to write my novel for National Novel Writing Month. Aside from some type of emergency, and I don’t anticipate one (though you never really do, do ya?), writing my novel will be my chief priority this month.

So my blogging and other social media efforts will likely lag as a result. So will every other non-essential pursuit as the novel will be my Essential Activity for November. Fortunately I anticipate a very quiet month which will allow me the opportunity to write completely without distraction.

I’ve decided to go with THE OLD MAN as my chosen novel.

I intend to produce between 1500 and 5000 words per day, depending upon the day and the way the story proceeds and progresses. I already have much of the plot, all of the sections, and a few of the scenes sketched out.

Because of my broken wrist I will be writing the novel out in long hand on long notepads and my daughter will be typing it for me. I begin as soon as I’ve had breakfast and I walk Sam (my Great Dane) as it’s been raining this morning and prevented an earlier walk.

Congratulations to all of those pursuing writing their novel this month.

Good Fortune and Godspeed.

See you at the end of the month if not sooner…

THE DARK ROAD – FIRST VERSE

It has been awhile since I’ve posted a set of my song lyrics. I’ve been so busy with my two start-ups and my novel that I’ve had very little time to write any new songs. But here is part of one I recently started for Halloween and which I like. It is unfinished as at the moment I am pressed for time…

DARK ROAD

There’s a dark road through the old woods
Ain’t never lost a man they say
But if a man can’t find his soul
He’d best just go another way

The witches ride the moon each night
The snakes they slide the mud
What can’t be seen hides in your sight
Like shadows in your blood

A cabin green with moss and things
That no man seems to know
Creeping up the hidden graves
Those dead things from below

Well it’s a Dark Road
A Dark Road that men don’t know
A Dark Road, no road above but down below
There’s a Dark Road,
You can find me there
If you ever dare –
No way back through the poisoned air
Or the black despair
Of the Dark Road,
Oh you just don’t know
Where ya gonna go
On the Dark Road

HIGH ILLUSION from THE BASILEGATE

Alatha moved towards Marsippius as he rose. He was naked in the firelight.

When she reached him she examined him closely. Then she took her finger and began to lightly trace some of the many imperfections in his flesh.

“You have been often wounded?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Why?” she questioned.

“Duty,” he replied wearily. “Duty and manhood.”

“It is manhood to be often wounded?”

“In part,” he said flatly. “Any man without scars is no man at all.”

She stared into his eyes. They were dark like hers. Deep Greek eyes, full of inquiry. Proud Roman eyes, full of purpose. But to him her eyes were inscrutable.

“Perhaps,” she said quietly, “a man should be more than his scars.”

He reached up and took her hand, the finger of which still lingered upon the long jagged white line of an old wound on his chest. The wound of a much younger man.

“Perhaps,” Marsippius replied, “you are very wise among your kind.”

He glanced at the fire. To him the flames in the hearth seemed to burn immensely hot, yet almost entirely silent. He wondered if the fuel of this world burned differently.

When he looked back at Alatha she was once again staring deeply into his eyes. But once again he could not read her mind. He started to move forward to kiss her and then thought better of it.

She did not. Seeing his intent she moved forward and kissed him warmly upon the lips.

Then she leaned back slightly and traced her finger gently across the lips she had just kissed.

“There seem to be no scars here,” she said.

“Illusion,” he said. “There are too many to count. They are nothing but scars. So they seem untouched. Yet…” he added, seemingly almost as an afterthought, “there is room still for a few more, if you so wish.”

She laughed quietly.

“What is wish but High Illusion?” she whispered. So she pressed against him and kissed him again.

 

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A scene from my novel The Basilegate.

THE KNIGHT OF AGONY AND THE WITCH OF WOE

THE KNIGHT OF AGONY AND THE WITCH OF WOE

 

 

KNIGHT OF AGONY: “Strut of all conspiring women and bald intemperate Witch of thy sex, in these darkest charms you drive me on, and less now than my naked self, I am nonetheless repletely covered in the enchantments of your moist and damning sorcery.”

 

GREAT WITCH OF WOE: “Knight of anguished men, would you my powers any less than to wring from the sleeping Earth of night, and from thy inmost longing lower parts, those burning fires which wake the dead and melt away all obstacled defense?”

 

KNIGHT OF AGONY:Fie! Acquiteth thou thy e’er contingent ends and thereby make rich embodiment of my piercing hot desire, that all conspire, as I envision, and portend…”

 

WITCH OF WOE: “So shall it be! And with a rueful laugh I grant thee all you hide and seek, though seek you more, and hide you naught. Yet in the attainment of the barren gap between the grasp of man and the groan of ghosts you may still discover deep in me far blacker things in motion, and far more potent sorceries. Now, does this bargain still allure, or have you acted premature?”

 

KNIGHT OF AGONY: “It still suffices, and allures. Now come to me, immortal hell and all, and in thy keen and cold embrace I shall endure…. Thus shall I endure.”

 

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This morning I arose about 5:30. Immediately the above lines came to my mind, though I have since edited and improved them. I do not know why these lines came to me, but that is a common practice with me, to arise from sleep or a dream with a poem, a song, a story, or an invention in my thoughts.

So it was this morning with the Knight of Agony and the Witch of Woe.

It is part of a piece I intend to make into a short, one act play. Probably for Halloween.

While looking for an illustration or graphic to use with the post I stumbled upon illustration for TH White’s The Witch in the Wood and the Ill-Made Knight. That was not an inspiration for this piece, but when I saw the illustration I remembered the work which I read long, long ago, and found it apropos.