Sternverdunkelung / Star Eclipse
None but lovers are immune
when heaven’s all walled up.
A secret mixture in the air
confers a blessing
on the very stones along their path
and on whatever grows between the cracks.
None but lovers are immune.
They, only they, still truly hear
the nightingale’s lament;
they, only they, still truly share
None but lovers are immune:
with eyes to see the sunset’s hidden grief
reflected on a willow branch –
and with the necessary grace
to practise dying
like a mountain stream.
in dunes still draining from the Flood
the seashell humming with the voice of God –
to whom we owe the rescue of authentic life
from Babylonian star-
who followed heaven’s ploughman with the seed
the progeny of which is still ablaze tonight.
who broke the future open with a ram’s horn blast
that worked the very corners of the world into a cry of homeless grief –
who having nailed to heaven’s gate
your manifesto of intransigence
drew down the angels to this realm of night –
and who prepared the flower-
that now run rank with bright prophetic growth –
whose dreams were the cocoon
from which the watchword soul first fluttered free
towards the still unknown –
O you whose influence is like a ripple from Chaldea’s starry straits
still pressing through our veins with poignant force
towards a truer sea.
to point towards eternity –
Your aeon burns with mysteries
that mortal flesh has yet to enter into and complete –
where lastly ripeness falls!
you battler, your priority’s
decreed in blood
across the grey of dawn.
O butcher’s knife of cockcrow
thrust into the heart of humankind,
of morning’s civil war with night!
Great pioneer, you haunt
beneath the dark contortions of the sky,
much like a bird’s beginning of lament.
the blessing came belatedly to you –
yet come it did
in lovely grace of morning dew upon your head –
Not so to us, not yet.
enslaved in our remoteness –
floating, still, through Lenten floes of ice –
only, twisted God-
by the heavy angel’s grip on us,
Say the prophets came,
heads wreathed in horror, circled
by the zodiac
the secrets of the mutant sky
weighed, rocking, on their shoulders –
to those who, long since, fled in panic –
Say the prophets came
and hammered on the doors of night,
the pathways of the stars engraved
in shining gold upon their palms –
to those long sunk in sleep –
Say the prophets came,
say they burst swinging through the flimsy doors of night,
and then began to slice with sickle-
the nodding grain,
to harvest star-
of justice for the poor –
who’d, long ago, lost hope and turned aside –
Say they exploded
through the doors of night
in search of fellow-
what chance of a hearing?
Or say the prophets
from slaughtered children’s bones,
or say they
crammed the air with ash –
or say they piled up, high, a bridge of sighs,
O you addict
then would you hear?
Say the prophets swept in,
riding the tempest, from heaven,
smashed through your defences,
and clamoured: Beware, lest, warring with Nature,
you’re trapped, in new ways, by what threatens all!
Say the prophets arose
in our midnight,
like lovers intent on their loves –
have you the heart to respond?
O you wind-
even your south is sheer solitude.
Where you stand is the navel of miseries.
Your eyes, sunk deep in your skull,
are doves, scooped up at midnight,
caught blind by the hunter.
Your voice has gone,
from so much asking, Why?
Your voice has joined the worms, the fish.
Job, you’ve wept through all the watches of the night.
And yet, one day, the constellation of your wounds
will far outshine the rising sun.
Daniel, Daniel –
all the many places where they died
have woken in my sleep –
the broken stone
they shed their torment with their withered skin –
the trees whose roots reached down
the transformations of their flesh
have flown, screeching, to the haven of my dreams.
Their stifled cries tore down
the dungeon walls,
their dumb despair gave birth
to a new haunting of the night –
the knowledge of their death
through the hour-
Its hieroglyphs remain unread.
O, those unburied sighs commingling in the breeze
we breathe –
Too much, to us, is still obscure –
O, we without resource,
unable to discern
the subterranean stir
shining there, I see you:
seer of life and death,
beside you on the kitchen slab, outstretched, a fish
with ripped out purple gills lies limp –
imperious image of our present pain!
But your wells
enshrine your history,
How many are the mouths
you’ve opened in that dry expanse
How many are the loads of gleaming hope
you’ve lifted from the depths,
how many mirrors made
for constellations to display
When he’d been digging in Beersheba,
father Abraham, with seven oaths,
then set the place apart
for God alone.
So, likewise, may
the simple act of drinking
be, for you, a sacrament –
behold, the saviour-
over Ishmael’s mother
when her waterskin
ran dry –
behold, the rocks at Marah:
how they echoed with the people’s fear,
before the bitter curse
was lifted from the water there –
your history’s enshrined
within the shining eyes
that punctuate your desert wastes!
the bowls of night –
the vast inverted wells
containing all that you,
O great Rememberer,
raise up in thanks –
your fervent challenge
to the prospect of a God-
without such wells!
the black answer of hate to your very existence?
sprung from a star one farther out than the rest.
Sold, then, to this earth
to propagate being-
Your birthplace a tangle of weeds –
your horoscope’s promise
lost to the moth and the worm –
your calling, a moon-
its transient path through soft sand-
In the choir of the nations,
always, you’ve sung
Come the end of the day, you bask
in the gore of the sky, pain sharing pain.
Your shadow’s grown long,
how could you fail
to be tired?
You’ve travelled so far from the blessing,
an aeon of tears,
to that bend in the road
where you fell to ash
and your enemy,
writing in oven-
over the sky,
called God a deserter!
O such a death!
Blood and feathers
of ministrant angels
strewn in tatters
along the barbed wire!
the black answer of hate
to your very existence?
to crack you open
would reveal such treasure –
such abundance there of momentary
loving glances, whispers, laughter –
glory upon hidden glory
codified in stone decrees.
God flipped the hour-
the vital obsequies began –
the fossil dragonfly bears witness,
from your summit
Moses carried down
the opened sky,
its impress veiled, and slowly cooling
in his chastened eyes –
until the eager crowd beneath
could, trembling, bear at last to have him back.
And yet, who now remembers
awe like that?
redeem us from the stoned oblivion
of the modern herd!
the hidden truth –
the constellations blaze and wink,
and heard the quickened music of the spheres
announcing heaven’s choice.
He watched the stars,
like bees in search of honey, circle round
The expedition found him
dancing in a dust
of trampled lambskin blankets.
When he stopped,
his shadow fell upon a ram –
The age of kings had just begun –
But in the year he came of age
already, patriarch of poets, David
to find himself so far from God,
and started building caravanserais
He died with greater burdens
on his wormy conscience
than had any of his forebears –
For it is in weeping, only, that
the angel deep within one’s soul
may wriggle free!
Saul the king, abandoned by the Spirit, splutters
for a moment, like a taper –
comes one night and waves a sheaf of questions
at the shaggy-
she stomps her answers in the sand.
But Samuel, conjured by her magic, has
the weary air of one
whom Saul has rudely dragged from far away –
who hears the iridescent voice of heaven
as a constant summons home, a bee-
Above the king there hangs a crown of fiery death –
the woman folds, as though defeated by its glare –
his power has dwindled to a little puff of wind,
the faintest twitching of a single fallen hair, across the sand.
just another people once,
ensnared by common mortal weeds,
in you eternity went secretly to work.
you climbed night’s magic spiral staircase,
for some savage constellations –
the sacred muteness of the Fish,
the bouncing fury of the Ram.
But then a crack began to open up above.
as heaven fell to smithereens,
sprang tumbling into endless light –
of homeless sick desire,
electric agony upon your hills.
Gently though at first,
or like troubled children’s prattle,
the glinting life of God runs down from them
to us who wait.