Thursday, April 30, 2009

Walpurgis Night

. . . and again it was Walburga's Eve, when almost anything is rather more than likely to happen.

-- Jurgen, James Branch Cabell

1. James Branch Cabell dreams of Humanity
April 30, 1919

The gallant, the knight errant and the poet
are all three brothers in the line of love.
The knight is chivalry personified.
His life is not his own -- it is a coin
borrowed in need that needs must be repaid
with more than mortal interest -- a gift
in trust that must be given back unspoiled;
he lives it in the spirit of the giver,
glorying in romantic servitude
as his love's champion or his god's vicar.

The poet would starve himself for weeks to pay
the price of one day's worth of ink and paper.
He borrows with no thought of reimbursement --
as long as his imagination is
not bankrupt, he will gladly hand-to-mouth
his days, content as knight upon a quest.
His life is nothing more than the wet clay
of creativity -- his hopes, his fears,
and his mundane concerns are marble blocks
from which to Michelangelo a David.

And since the world wishes to be deceived,
the gallant plays along with the deception.
He views poets and knights with an amused
ironic smile, pays homage to the god
his country worships, and in all things lives
a life of easy practicality,
making the best but never hoping for it
asking for nothing larger than the small
but serviceable soul which animates
his cool detached adherence to convention.

And we, figures of earth beneath the stars
of an indifferent heaven, with the blood
of all three brothers flowing in our veins,
both in the world and of it, juggling three
ready-made hearts before our starving chests,
act out the worth and worthlessness of life;
and if we're wise, we'll make a gallant bow
and shield our eyes from Helen's perfect face,
leaving undying love to knights and poets
as we walk home to share our spouse's bed.

2. Adolf Hitler dreams of forgiveness
April 30, 1945

As I sit here waiting to kill myself,
It occurs to me that if I did not exist,
It would be necessary to invent me:

The Father, Son and Holy Ghost of evil --
Mankind's cruellest monster; Lucifer fleshed
Out with the moustache of the Little Tramp.

When I die, my success will be a question mark
Behind the name of God. And as for my sins,
I am the acid test of Jesus Christ.

If he does not forgive me, he is not Christ.
And if he does forgive me, he betrays
My victims and his own humanity.

I taste the poison capsule on my tongue
And see Christ greet me at the gates of Auschwitz,
A bearded Jew with a Bible in his hand.

I put the pistol barrel to my head,
and as I gesture smartly to the left
where gas and flames will rid the world of him,

Christ smiles at me and whispers "Te absolvo,"
And saunters to the gas chamber, while I
With a clear conscience and a light heart,

Smile, close my eyes, bite down, and pull the trigger.

3. Henry Kissinger dreams of telling the truth
April 30, 1975

Why did we come?
We go where we want to.
Why did we stay?
Our pride was at stake.
Why did we leave?
They have to live here; we don't.

copyright 2009 Matthew J Wells

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