What follows is from a forthcoming sequel to “The Book of Ephraim” (in DIVINE COMEDIES). The time is summer 1976; the setting, a domed dining room in Connecticut. The speakers: W H. Auden, d. 1973; Maria Mitsotaki, d. 1974; JM and David Jackson, the mediums; and a familiar spirit known to them only by his number, 741. The latter, according to those who “see” him, began as a huge, hideous, red-hot bat, but has lately been transformed into a peacock.
TOMORROW comes at last, a sparkling noon.
Treetops and whitecaps dance in unison
As Wystan asks: SHD WE NOT THINK ABOUT
THE IMAGINATION? IF MM & I
IMAGINE U, YOU US, & WHERE THE POWERS
CRISSCROSS WE ALL IMAGINE 741
& THEN TRANSFORM HIM! WHEN THE TIME COMES WILL
OUR KNITTED BROWS PRODUCE WHITE WINGS? HE’S HERE
U ARE EARLY JOY WE ARE IN A FOLD OF ENERGY
WE 5 AND MUST PREPARE OURSELVES UNEASINESS DJ?
Not really, but … where do we go from here?
FAR INDEED B4 WE BOARD THE FLIGHT TO THE PIN OF LIGHT!
FIRST OUR 5 SOULS MUST BEGIN TO BE A SINGLE POWER:
5 IS THE MIDWAY NOW BEGINS THE LIFE OF OUR MINDS 5
AS ONE IT IS A VERY UNION OF THE ELEMENTS
WATER (MM) EARTH (WHA) AIR (JM) FIRE
(MY POOR SELF) & LAST THE SHAPING HAND OF NATURE (DJ)
COME TO US 0 FIVE ELEMENTS MAKE US ONE MIND ONE FORCE!
NOW LET US EACH IN SILENCE CONTEMPLATE THESE HOLY 5
Our peacock marks time back and forth from One
To Zero: a pavane
Andante in an alley of green oaks;
The ostinato ground we each in turn
Strum a division soundlessly upon;
A prayer-wheel whose four spokes
Flow and crumble, breathe and burn.
Deep swaying weights, downbraidings of no hue
Which memory turns blue,
And cold, to multiples of diamond;
First air of our young bloods; and neural sparks’
Safe-conduct when the old salt diving through
Reflection and beyond
Earsplitting, mute, maternal darks
Accepts that gift of tongues at matter’s core
He henceforth can no more
Speak than unlearn; it’s they who translate him,
His pride and purpose, to white ash, baked clay;
Delicate cauldron tints and furnace-roar
Embrace of cherubim –
Ah god, it takes the breath away!
WE PAUSE TO GATHER STRENGTH 2 HERE ARE MORTAL GIVE
The stored wit flickers out, the spine erodes
And pain in lightning raids
Strikes at the tree; now charred, now sleeved in sleet,
Miming itself to sunset, the tough rind
Compact enough, we trust, of royal reds
And marble layers of meat
Not wholly to be undermined
As milkweed, wasp, and fumes of vinegar
Chafe in molecular
Bondage, or dance in and out of it—
Midnight’s least material affairs
Reconciling to glow faint and far
Each atom the sun split,
Whose heirs we are who are the air’s.
NATURE 5TH ELEMENT IN YOUR HAND MAY THESE
KEEPING, AS YOU GUIDE, O UR EARTHINESS
AIRY FLUID ARDENT MAY THE STARS LONG
RECYCLE THE FAIR WARDROBE FIELDS & SEAS
ZEPHYRS & DAWNINGS BLESS
THIS FIVEFOLD UNION & OUR SONG
Who was that? ME MY BOY SO MADDENING
NOT TO REVISE THEY COME The elements?
YES INVISIBLE BUT HUSH THEY SPEAK
OUR SISTER THE REMOTEST GALAXY
IS LINKED TO YOU AS TO ALL THINGS ALIVE.
OUR V WORK IS THE ONWARD DANCE OF THINGS.
ONE OF US WAS IS SHALL FOREVER BE
IN EACH OF YOU O FIVE
WHO LIVE IN US. YOUR PEACOCK’S WINGS
WE PAINTED, HIS SPREAD TAIL & SAPPHIRE BREAST,
BUT YOUR MINDS COALESCED
TO FORM HIS: HE IS YOURS. MIND HAS THIS FORCE,
IS DEATHLESS, IS THE MUSIC DANTE HEARD,
THE ENERGY WE DRAW FROM MANIFEST
IN 5 RINGS ROUND THE SOURCE
OF LIGHT. ONE CAUTIONARY WORD:
THE MATTER WHICH IS NOT WAS EVER OURS
TO GUARD AGAINST. ITS POWERS
ARE MAGNETIZED BY FOREIGN BEACONS, BLACK
HANDS TESTING THE GREENHOUSE PANE BY PANE.
CLING TO YOUR UNION: 5 THRU THE DARK HOURS
WE KEEP WATCH WE PRESS BACK.
AT ZERO SUMMON US AGAIN.
The cup appears to swoon at the last word,
But now revives. Our incandescent bird:
I AM FREE FREE I AM FORGIVEN MASTER OF MY TRIBE
SHALL I GIVE THEM THIS NEW MAGIC? NO ALL POWER
& MUST BE DENIED US FROM MY 1ST STEPPING FORTH I FELT
YR CHARM I HAD FEARD U I HAD HITHER TO RESPONDED
ONLY TO FORMULAS I WAS FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE OF
YR FILES UNTIL AFTER THAT 1ST EXPOSURE TO THIS GLASS
JM: The mirror? DJ: Why not these windows?
YES TO THE SURROUNDING GLASS NO MERCURY IS NEEDED.
U WERE QUICK & MANNERLY WE CD WORK AS ONE & NOW
AT LAST IT IS GIVEN ME TO SHARE THE FORCE OF NATURE
THE SWEETNESS OF WATER & AIR THE COMMON SENSE OF
HERE IN YR VERY HEARTH OF HEARTS TO BURN
(Isn’t he enchanting?) Should we know
What “V Work” is? IN DEFERENCE
TO ALL VITAL GROUPINGS OF 5 WE MAY NOW INSERT V
WHEN NAMING WORK GUIDED BY HIGHER COLLABORATION
And those black hands? They chill
The blood, it’s little wonder that you still
Wash yours of them. I nonetheless recall
Its being said you caused them by your Fall.
OR THEY CAUSED IT? EVIL IS AN OLD, WIDESPREAD
LEGENDS ARE ROOTED IN TRUTH. IS EVIL A MERE MATTER
OF FUSION GONE MAD? NO FOR IT IS NOT A STUPID FORCE
IT SEEKS THE WORLD. DOES HELL EXIST? IT TOO IS LEGEND
THERE4 PART TRUE U SEE, I AM NOW FREE TO SPECULATE
If only we were less free to reflect;
If diametrics of the mirror didn’t
Confirm the antiface there as one’s own …
YES NO PERHAPS I STILL VIBRATE TO OUR DIAPENTE
WE ARE MOVING TOWARD THE GREAT DOORS OUR FEET ARE
I AM A RIPPLE
& I A SEDIMENT
WE HAD A TASTE OF PARADISE TODAY
DJ: After this, what’s left for them to say
At Zero? JM (airily): They’ll find words.
I QUITE AGREE MY DEAR WHY NOT? WE’VE FOUND EM
FLOWN OFF TO PLATO POOR MAMAN NOW WHO’LL
CARRY HER BOOKS & WALK HER HOME FROM SCHOOL