Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: The Burning Wheel
Author: Huxley, Aldous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Burning Wheel" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



(Images generously made available by the Hathi Trust)



THE BURNING

WHEEL

BY

ALDOUS HUXLEY

Oxford

B. H. Blackwell, Broad St.

1916



ADVENTURERS ALL

A SERIES OF YOUNG POETS UNKNOWN TO FAME


COME MY FRIENDS--'TIS NOT TOO LATE "TO SEEK A NEWER WORLD
--IT MAY BE THAT THE GULFS WILL WAN US DOWN--IT MAY BE WE
SHALL TOUCH THE HAPPY ISLES--YET--OUR PURPOSE HOLDS--TO
SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET.

ULYSSES


SPEECH FINELY FRAMED DELIGHTETH THE EARS OF THEM THAT HEAR THE STORY
--II MACCAB. XV.



My thanks are due to the Editor of the Nation for
permission to reprint "The Mirror," "Variations on a
theme of Laforgue" and "Philosophy."



        CONTENTS.

        The Burning Wheel
        Doors of the Temple
        Villiers de L'Isle-Adams
        Darkness
        Mole
        The Two Seasons
        Two Realities
        Quotidian Vision
        Vision
        The Mirror
        Variations on a Theme of Laforgue
        Philosophy
        Philoclea in the Forest
        Books and Thoughts
        Contrary to Nature and Aristotle
        Escape
        The Garden
        The Canal
        The Ideal found wanting
        Misplaced Love
        Sonnet
        Sentimental Summer
        The Choice
        The Higher Sensualism
        Sonnet
        Formal Verses
        Perils of the Small Hours
        Complaint
        Return to an Old Home
        Fragment
        The Walk



    THE BURNING WHEEL.


    Wearied of its own turning,
    Distressed with its own busy restlessness,
    Yearning to draw the circumferent pain--
    The rim that is dizzy with speed--
    To the motionless centre, there to rest,
    The wheel must strain through agony
    On agony contracting, returning
    Into the core of steel.
    And at last the wheel has rest, is still,
    Shrunk to an adamant core:
    Fulfilling its will in fixity.
    But the yearning atoms, as they grind
    Closer and closer, more and more
    Fiercely together, beget
    A flaming fire upward leaping,
    Billowing out in a burning,
    Passionate, fierce desire to find
    The infinite calm of the mother's breast.
    And there the flame is a Christ-child sleeping,
    Bright, tenderly radiant;
    All bitterness lost in the infinite
    Peace of the mother's bosom.
    But death comes creeping in a tide
    Of slow oblivion, till the flame in fear
    Wakes from the sleep of its quiet brightness
    And burns with a darkening passion and pain,
    Lest, all forgetting in quiet, it perish.
    And as it burns and anguishes it quickens,
    Begetting once again the wheel that yearns--
    Sick with its speed--for the terrible stillness
    Of the adamant core and the steel-hard chain.
    And so once more
    Shall the wheel revolve till its anguish cease
    In the iron anguish of fixity;
    Till once again
    Flame billows out to infinity,
    Sinking to a sleep of brightness
    In that vast oblivious peace.



    DOORS OF THE TEMPLE.


    Many are the doors of the spirit that lead
      Into the inmost shrine:
    And I count the gates of the temple divine,
      Since the god of the place is God indeed.
      And these are the gates that God decreed
    Should lead to his house:--kisses and wine,
    Cool depths of thought, youth without rest,
      And calm old age, prayer and desire,
    The lover's and mother's breast,
      The fire of sense and the poet's fire.

    But he that worships the gates alone,
      Forgetting the shrine beyond, shall see
      The great valves open suddenly,
    Revealing, not God's radiant throne,
      But the fires of wrath and agony.



    VILLIERS DE L'ISLE-ADAM.


    Up from the darkness on the laughing stage
    A sudden trap-door shot you unawares,
    Incarnate Tragedy, with your strange airs
    Of courteous sadness. Nothing could assuage
    The secular grief that was your heritage,
    Passed down the long line to the last that bears
    The name, a gift of yearnings and despairs
    Too greatly noble for this iron age.

    Time moved for you not in quotidian beats,
    But in the long slow rhythm the ages keep
    In their immortal symphony. You taught
    That not in the harsh turmoil of the streets
    Does life consist; you bade the soul drink deep
    Of infinite things, saying: "The rest is naught."



    DARKNESS.


    My close-walled soul has never known
    That innermost darkness, dazzling sight,
    Like the blind point, whence the visions spring
    In the core of the gazer's chrysolite ...
    The mystic darkness that laps God's throne
    In a splendour beyond imagining,
      So passing bright.

    But the many twisted darknesses
    That range the city to and fro,
    In aimless subtlety pass and part
    And ebb and glutinously flow;
    Darkness of lust and avarice,
    Of the crippled body and the crooked heart ...
      These darknesses I know.



    MOLE.


    Tunnelled in solid blackness creeps
    The old mole-soul, and wakes or sleeps,
    He knows not which, but tunnels on
    Through ages of oblivion;
    Until at last the long constraint
    Of each-hand wall is lost, and faint
    Comes daylight creeping from afar,
    And mole-work grows crepuscular.
    Tunnel meets air and bursts; mole sees
    Men hugely walking ... or are they trees?
    And far horizons smoking blue,
    And chasing clouds for ever new?
    Green hills, like lighted lamps aglow
    Or quenching 'neath the cloud-shadow;
    Quenching and blazing turn by turn,
    Spring's great green signals fitfully burn.
    Mole travels on, but finds the steering
    A harder task of pioneering
    Than when he thridded through the strait
    Blind catacombs that ancient fate
    Had carved for him. Stupid and dumb
    And blind and touchless he had come
    A way without a turn; but here,
    Under the sky, the passenger
    Chooses his own best way; and mole
    Distracted wanders, yet his hole
    Regrets not much wherein he crept,
    But runs, a joyous nympholept,
    This way and that, by all made mad--
    River nymph and oread,
    Ocean's daughters and Lorelei,
    Combing the silken mystery,
    The glaucous gold of her rivery tresses--
    Each haunts the traveller, each possesses
    The drunken wavering soul awhile;
    Then with a phantom's cock-crow smile
    Mocks craving with sheer vanishment.

    Mole-eyes grow hawk's: knowledge is lent
    In grudging driblets that pay high
    Unconscionable usury
    To unrelenting life. Mole learns
    To travel more secure; the turns
    Of his long way less puzzling seem,
    And all those magic forms that gleam
    In airy invitation cheat
    Less often than they did of old.

    The earth slopes upward, fold by fold
    Of quiet hills that meet the gold
    Serenity of western skies.
    Over the world's edge with clear eyes
    Our mole transcendent sees his way
    Tunnelled in light: he must obey
    Necessity again and thrid
    Close catacombs as erst he did,
    Fate's tunnellings, himself must bore
    Through the sunset's inmost core.
    The guiding walls to each-hand shine
    Luminous and crystalline;
    And mole shall tunnel on and on,
    Till night let fall oblivion.



    THE TWO SEASONS.


    Summer, on himself intent,
      Passed without, for nothing caring
        Save his own high festival.
      My windows, blind and winkless staring,
    Wondered what the pageant meant,
        Nor ever understood at all.
    And oh, the pains of sentiment!
      The loneliness beyond all bearing ...
        Mucus and spleen and gall!

    But now that grey November peers
      In at my fire-bright window pane?
        And all its misty spires and trees
      Loom in upon me through the rain
    And question of the light that cheers
        The room within--now my soul sees
    Life, where of old were sepulchres;
        And in these new-found sympathies
    Sinks petty hopes and loves and fears,
      And knows that life is not in vain.



    TWO REALITIES.


    A waggon passed with scarlet wheels
      And a yellow body, shining new.
    "Splendid!" said I. "How fine it feels
    To be alive, when beauty peels
      The grimy husk from life." And you

    Said, "Splendid!" and I thought you'd seen
      That waggon blazing down the street;
    But I looked and saw that your gaze had been
    On a child that was kicking an obscene
      Brown ordure with his feet.

    Our souls are elephants, thought I,
      Remote behind a prisoning grill,
    With trunks thrust out to peer and pry
    And pounce upon reality;
      And each at his own sweet will

    Seizes the bun that he likes best
    And passes over all the rest.



    QUOTIDIAN VISION.


    There is a sadness in the street,
    And sullenly the folk I meet
    Droop their heads as they walk along,
    Without a smile, without a song.
    A mist of cold and muffling grey
    Falls, fold by fold, on another day
    That dies unwept. But suddenly,
    Under a tunnelled arch I see
    On flank and haunch the chestnut gleam
    Of horses in a lamplit steam;
    And the dead world moves for me once more
    With beauty for its living core.



    VISION.


    I had been sitting alone with books,
      Till doubt was a black disease,
    When I heard the cheerful shout of rooks
      In the bare, prophetic trees.

    Bare trees, prophetic of new birth,
      You lift your branches clean and free
    To be a beacon to the earth,
      A flame of wrath for all to see.

    And the rooks in the branches laugh and shout
      To those that can hear and understand;
    "Walk through the gloomy ways of doubt
      With the torch of vision in your hand."



    THE MIRROR.


    Slow-moving moonlight once did pass
    Across the dreaming looking-glass,
    Where, sunk inviolably deep,
    Old secrets unforgotten sleep
    Of beauties unforgettable.

    But dusty cobwebs are woven now
    Across that mirror, which of old
    Saw fingers drawing back the gold
    From an untroubled brow;
    And the depths are blinded to the moon,
    And their secrets forgotten, for ever untold.



    VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF LAFORGUE.


    Youth as it opens out discloses
    The sinister metempsychosis
    Of lilies dead and turned to roses
    Red as an angry dawn.
    But lilies, remember, are grave-side flowers,
      While slow bright rose-leaves sail
    Adrift on the music of happiest hours;
      And those lilies, cold and pale,
    Hide fiery roses beneath the lawn
      Of the young bride's parting veil.



    PHILOSOPHY.


    "God needs no christening,"
      Pantheist mutters,
      "Love opens shutters
    On heaven's glistening.
    Flesh, key-hole listening,
      Hears what God utters" ...
      Yes, but God stutters.



    PHILOCLEA IN THE FOREST.


    I.

    'TWas I that leaned to Amoret
    With: "What if the briars have tangled Time,
    Till, lost in the wood-ways, he quite forget
    How plaintive in cities at midnight sounds the chime
    Of bells slow-dying from discord to the hush whence
    they rose and met.

    "And in the forest we shall live free,
    Free from the bondage that Time has made
    To hedge our soul from its liberty?
    We shall not fear what is mighty, and unafraid
    Shall look wide-eyed at beauty, nor shrink from its majesty."

    But Amoret answered me again:
    "We are lost in the forest, you and I;
    Lost, lost, not free, though no bonds restrain;
    For no spire rises for comfort, no landmark in the sky,
    And the long glades as they curve from sight are dark
    with a nameless pain.

    And Time creates what he devours,--
    Music that sweetly dreams itself away,
    Frail-swung leaves of autumn and the scent of flowers,
    And the beauty of that poised moment, when the day
    Hangs 'twixt the quiet of darkness and the mirth of the
    sunlit hours."



    II.

    Mottled and grey and brown they pass,
    The wood-moths, wheeling, fluttering;
    And we chase and they vanish; and in the grass
    Are starry flowers, and the birds sing
    Faint broken songs of the dying spring.
      And on the beech-bole, smooth and grey,
      Some lover of an older day
    Has carved in time-blurred lettering
    One word only--"Alas."



    III.


    Lutes, I forbid you! You must never play,
      When shimmeringly, glimpse by glimpse
    Seen through the leaves, the silken figures sway
    In measured dance. Never at shut of day,
    When Time perversely loitering limps
      Through endless twilights, should your strings
      Whisper of light remembered things
      That happened long ago and far away:
    Lutes, I forbid you! You must never play...

    And you, pale marble statues, far descried
      Where vistas open suddenly,
    I bid you shew yourselves no more, but hide
    Your loveliness, lest too much glorified
      By western radiance slantingly
      Shot down the glade, you turn from stone
      To living gods, immortal grown,
    And, ageless, mock my beauty's fleeting pride,
    You pale, relentless statues, far descried...



    BOOKS AND THOUGHTS.


    Old ghosts that death forgot to ferry
    Across the Lethe of the years--
    These are my friends, and at their tears
    I weep and with their mirth am merry.
    On a high tower, whose battlements
    Give me all heaven at a glance,
    I lie long summer nights in trance,
    Drowsed by the murmurs and the scents
    That rise from earth, while the sky above me
    Merges its peace with my soul's peace,
    Deep meeting deep. No stir can move me,
    Nought break the quiet of my release:
      In vain the windy sunlight raves
      At the hush and gloom of polar caves.



    "CONTRARY TO NATURE AND ARISTOTLE."


    One head of my soul's amphisbaena
    Turns to the daytime's dust and sweat;
    But evenings come, when I would forget
    The sordid strife of the arena.

    And then my other self will creep
    Along the scented twilight lanes
    To where a little house contains
    A hoard of books, a gift of sleep.

    Its windows throw a friendly light
    Between the narrowing shutter slats,
    And, golden as the eyes of cats,
    Shine me a welcome through the night.



    ESCAPE.


    I seek the quietude of stones
    Or of great oxen, dewlap-deep
    In meadows of lush grass, where sleep
    Drifts, tufted, on the air or drones
    On flowery traffic. Sleep atones
    For sin, comforting eyes that weep.
    O'er me, Lethean darkness, creep
    Unfelt as tides through dead men's bones!

    In that metallic sea of hair,
    Fragrance! I come to drown despair
    Of wings in dark forgetfulness.
    No love ... Love is self-known, aspires
    To heights unearthly. I ask less,--
    Sleep born of satisfied desires.



    THE GARDEN.


    There shall be dark trees round me:--I insist
    On cypresses: I'm terribly romantic--
    And glimpsed between shall move the whole Atlantic,
    Now leaden dull, now subtle with grey mist,
    Now many jewelled, when the waves are kissed
    By revelling sunlight and the corybantic
    South-Western wind: so, troubled, passion-frantic,
    The poet's mind boils gold and amethyst.

    There shall be seen the infinite endeavour
    Of a sad fountain, white against the sky
    And poised as it strains up, but doomed to break
    In weeping music; ever fair and ever
    Young ... and the bright-eyed wood-gods as they slake
    Their thirst in it, are silent, reverently ...



    THE CANAL.


    No dip and dart of swallows wakes the black
    Slumber of the canal:--a mirror dead
    For lack of loveliness remembered
    From ancient azures and green trees, for lack
    Of some white beauty given and flung back,
    Secret, to her that gave: no sun has bled
    To wake an echo here of answering red;
    The surface stirs to no leaf's wind-blown track.

    Between unseeing walls the waters rest,
    Lifeless and hushed, till suddenly a swan
    Glides from some broader river blue as day,
    And with the mirrored magic of his breast
    Creates within that barren water-way
    New life, new loveliness, and passes on.



    THE IDEAL FOUND WANTING.


    I'm sick of clownery and Owlglass tricks;
    Damn the whole crowd of you I I hate you all.
    The same, night after night, from powdered stall
    To sweating gallery, your faces fix
    In flux an idiot mean. The Apteryx
    You worship is no victory; you call
    On old stupidity, God made to crawl
    For tempting with world-wisdom's narcotics.

    I'll break a window through my prison! See,
    The sunset bleeds among the roofs; comes night,
    Dark blue and calm as music dying out.
    Is it escape? No, the laugh's turned on me!
    I kicked at cardboard, gaped at red limelight;
    You laughed and cheered my latest knockabout.



    MISPLACED LOVE.


    Red wine that slowly leaned and brimmed the shell
    Of pearl, where lips had touched, as light and swift
    As naked petals of the rose adrift
    Upon the lazy-luted ritournelle
    Of summer bee-song: laughing as they fell,
    Gold memories: dream incense, childhood's gift,
    Blue as the smoke that far horizons lift,
    Tenuous as the wings of Ariel:--

    These treasured things I laid upon the pyre;
    And the flame kindled, and I fanned it high,
    And, strong in hope, could watch the crumbling past.
    Eager I knelt before the waning fire,
    Phoenix, to greet thine immortality ...
    But there was naught but ashes at the last.



    SONNET.


    Were I to die, you'd break your heart, you say.
    Well, if it do but bend, I'm satisfied--
    Bend and rebound--for hearts are temper-tried,
    Mild steel, not hardened, with the spring and play
    Of excellent tough swords. It's not that way
    That you'll be perishing. But when I've died,
    When snap! my light goes out, what will betide
    You, if the heart-breaks give you leave to stay?

    What will be left, I wonder, if you lose
    All that you gave me? "All? A year or so
    Out of a life," you say. But worlds, say I,
    Of kisses timeless given in ecstasy
    That gave me Real You. I die: you go
    With me. What's left? Limbs, clothes, a pair of shoes?...



    SENTIMENTAL SUMMER.


    The West has plucked its flowers and has thrown
    Them fading on the night. Out of the sky's
    Black depths there smiles a greeting from those eyes,
    Where all the Real, all I have ever known
    Of the divine is held. And not alone
    Do I stand here now ... a presence seems to rise:
    Your voice sounds near across my memories,
    And answering fingers brush against my own.

    Yes, it is you: for evening holds those strands
    Of fire and darkness twined in one to make
    Your loveliness a web of magic mesh,
    Whose cross-weft harmony of soul and flesh
    Shadows a thought or glows, when smiles awake,
    Like sunlight passionate on southern lands.



    THE CHOICE.


    Comrade, now that you're merry
    And therefore true,
    Say--where would you like to die
    And have your friend to bury
    What once was you?
    "On the top of a hill
    With a peaceful view
    Of country where all is still?"...
    Great God, not I!
    I'd lie in the street
    Where two streams meet
    And there's noise enough to fill
    The outer ear,
    While within the brain can beat
    Marches of death and life,
    Glory and joy and fear,
    Peace of the sort that moves
    And clash of strife
    And routs of armies fleeing.
    There would I shake myself clear
    Out of the deep-set grooves
    Of my sluggish being.



    THE HIGHER SENSUALISM.


    There's a church by a lake in Italy
    Stands white on a hill against the sky?
    And a path of immemorial cobbles
    Leads up and up, where the pilgrim hobbles
    Past a score or so of neat reposories,
    Where you stop and breathe and tell your rosaries
    To the shrined terra-cotta mannikins,
    That expound with the liveliest quirks and grins
    Known texts of Scripture. But no long stay
    Should the pilgrim make upon his way;
    But as means to the end these shrines stand here
    To guide to something holier,
    The church on the hilltop.

                               Your heaven's so,
    With a path leading up to it past a row
    Of votary Priapulids;
    At each you pause and tell your beads
    Along the quintuple strings of sense:
    Then on, to face Heaven's eminence,
    New stimulated, new inspired.



    SONNET.


    If that a sparkle of true starshine be
    That led my way; if some diviner thing
    Than common thought urged me to fashioning
    Close-woven links of burnished poetry;
    Then all the heaven that one time dwelt in me
    Has fled, leaving the body triumphing.
    Dead flesh it seems, with not a dream to bring
    Visions that better warm immediacy.

    Why have my visions left me, what could kill
    That feeble spark, which yet had life and heat?
    Fulfilment shewed a present rich and fair:
    I strive to mount, but catch the nearest still:
    Souls have been drowned between heart's beat and beat,
    And trapped and tangled in a woman's hair.



    FORMAL VERSES.



    I.

    Mother of all my future memories,
      Mistress of my new life, which but to-day
    Began, when I beheld, deep in your eyes,
    My own love mirrored and the warm surprise
      Of the first kiss swept both our souls away,

    Your love has freed me; for I was oppressed
      By my own devil, whose unwholesome breath
    Tarnished my youth, leaving to me at best
    Age lacking comfort of a soul at rest
      And weariness beyond the hope of death.



    II.

    Ah, those were days of silent happiness!
      I never spoke, and had no need to speak,
      While on the windy down-land, cheek by cheek,
    The slow-driven sun beheld us. Each caress
    Had oratory for its own defence;
    And when I kissed or felt her fingers press,
      I envied not Demosthenes his Greek,
    Nor Tully for his Latin eloquence.



    PERILS OF THE SMALL HOURS.


    When life burns low as the fire in the grate
    And all the evening's books are read,
    I sit alone, save for the dead
    And the lovers I have grown to hate.

    But all at once the narrow gloom
    Of hatred and despair expands
    In tenderness: thought stretches hands
    To welcome to the midnight room

    Another presence:--a memory
    Of how last year in the sunlit field,
    Laughing, you suddenly revealed
    Beauty in immortality.

    For so it is; a gesture strips
    Life bare of all its make-believe.
    All unprepared we may receive
    Our casual apocalypse.

    Sheer beauty, then you seemed to stir
    Unbodied soul; soul sleeps to-night,
    And love comes, dimming spirit's sight,
    When body plays interpreter.



    COMPLAINT.

    I have tried to remember the familiar places,--
      The pillared gloom of the beechwoods, the towns
    by the sea,--
    I have tried to people the past with dear known faces,
      But you were haunting me.

    Like a remorse, insistent, pitiless,
      You have filled my spirit, you were ever at hand;
    You have mocked my gods with your new loveliness:
      Broken the old shrines stand.



    RETURN TO AN OLD HOME.


    In this wood--how the hazels have grown!--
    I left a treasure all my own
    Of childish kisses and laughter and pain;
    Left, till I might come back again
    To take from the familiar earth
    My hoarded secret and count its worth.
    And all the spider-work of the years,
    All the time-spun gossamers,
    Dewed with each succeeding spring;
    And the piled up leaves the Autumns fling
    To the sweet corruption of death on death....
    At the sudden stir of my spirit's breath
    All scattered. New and fair and bright
    As ever it was, before my sight
    The treasure lay, and nothing missed.
    So having handled all and kissed,
    I put them back, adding one new
    And precious memory of you.



    FRAGMENT.


    We're German scholars poring over life,
    As over a Greek manuscript that's torn
    And stained beyond repair. Our eyes of horn
    Read one or two poor letters; and what strife,
    What books on books begotten for their sake!
    But we enjoy it; and meanwhile neglect
    The line that's left us perfect from the wrecked
    Rich argosy, clear beyond doubts to make
    Conjectures of. So in my universe
    Of scribbled half-hid meanings you appear,
    Sole perfect symbol of the highest sphere;
    And life's great matrix crystal, whose depths nurse
    Soul's infinite reflections, glows in you
    With now uncertain radiance...



    THE WALK.


    I. THROUGH THE SUBURBS.

    Provincial Sunday broods above the town:
    The street's asleep; through a dim window drifts
    A small romance that hiccoughs up and down
    An air all trills and runs and sudden lifts
    To yearning sevenths poised ... not Chopin quite,
    But, oh, romantic; a tinsel world made bright
    With rose and honeysuckle's paper blooms,
    And where the moon's blue limelight and the glooms
    Of last-act scenes of passion are discreet.
    And when the tinkling stops and leaves the street
    Blank in the sunlight of the afternoon
    You feel a curtain dropped. Poor little tune!
    Perhaps our grandmother's dull girlhood days
    Were fired by you with radiances of pink,
    Heavenly, brighter far than she could think
    Anything might be ... till a greater blaze
    Tinged life's horizon, when he kissed her first,
    Our grandpapa. But a thin ghost still plays
    In music down the street, echoing the plaint
    Of far romance with its own sadder song
    Of Everyday; and as they walk along,...
    The young man and the woman, deep immersed
    In all the suburb-comedy around ...
    They seem to catch coherence in the sound
    Of that ghost-music, and the words come faint:--
                Oh the months and the days,
                Oh sleeps and dinners,
                Oh the planning of ways
                And quotidian means!
            Oh endless vistas of mutton and greens,
            Oh weekly mimblings of prayer and praise,
                Oh Evenings with All the Winners!
              Monday sends the clothes to the wash
              And Saturday brings them home again:
              Mon Dieu, la vie est par trop moche
              And Destiny is a sale caboche;
                But I'll give you heaven
                In a dominant seven,
              And you shall not have lived in vain.

    "In vain," the girl repeats, "in vain, in vain ..."
    Your suburb's whole philosophy leads there.
    The ox-stall for our happiness, for pain,
    Poignant and sweet, the dull narcotic ache
    Of wretchedness, and in resigned despair
    A grim contentment ... ashen fruits to slake
    A nameless, quenchless thirst. The tinkling rain
    Of that small sentimental music wets
    Your parching suburb: it may sprout ... who knows?...
    In something red and silken like a rose,
    In sheaves of almost genuine violets.

    Faint chords, your sadness, secular, immense,
    Brims to the bursting this poor Actual heart.
    For surging through the floodgates that the sense
    On sudden lightly opens sweeps the Whole
    Into the narrow compass of its part.

    He.

    Inedited sensation of the soul!
    You'd have us bless the Hire-Purchase System,
    Which now allows the poorest vampers
    To feel, as they abuse their piano's dampers,
    That angels have stooped down and kissed 'em
    With Ave-Maries from the infinite.
    But poor old Infinite's dead. Long live his heir,
    Lord Here-and-Now ... for all the rest
    Is windy nothingness, or at the best
    Home-made Chimera, bodied with despair,
    Headed with formless, foolish hope.

    She.

                                          No, no!
    We live in verse, for all things rhyme
    With something out of space and time.

    He.

    But in the suburb here life needs must flow
    In journalistic prose ...

    She.

                                   But we have set
    Our faces towards the further hills, where yet
    The wind untainted and unbound may blow.



    II. FROM THE CREST.

    So through the squalor, till the sky unfolds
    To right and left its fringes, penned no more,
    A thin canal, 'twixt shore and ugly shore
    Of hovels, poured contiguous from the moulds
    Of Gothic horror. Town is left at last,
    Save for the tentacles that probe,... a squat
    Dun house or two, allotments, plot on plot
    Of cabbage, jejune, ripe or passed,
    Chequering with sick yellow or verdigris
    The necropolitan ground; and neat paved ways
    That edge the road ... the town's last nerves ... and cease,
    As if in sudden shame, where hedges raise
    Their dusty greenery on either hand.
    Their path mounts slowly up the hill;
    And, as they walk, to right and left expand
    The plain and the golden uplands and the blue
    Faint smoke of distances that fade from view;
    And at their feet, remote and still?
    The city spreads itself.

    He.

    That glabrous dome that lifts itself so grand,
    There in the marish, is the omphalos,
    The navel, umbo, middle, central boss
    Of the unique, sole, true Cloud-Cuckoo Land.
    Drowsy with Sunday bells and Sunday beer
    Afoam in silver rumkins, there it basks,
    Thinking of labours past and future tasks
    And pondering on the end, forever near,
    Yet ever distant as the rainbow's spring.
    For still in Cuckoo-Land they're labouring,
    With hopes undamped and undiscouraged hearts:
    A little musty, but superb, they sit,
    Piecing a god together bit by bit
    Out of the chaos of his sundered parts.
    Unmoved, nay pitying, they view the grins
    And lewd grimaces of the folk that jeer ...
    The vulgar herd, gross monster at the best,
    Obscenum Mobile, the uttermost sphere,
    Alas, too much the mover of the rest,
    Though they turn sungates to its widdershins ...

    And in some half a million years perhaps
    God may at last be made ... a new, true Pan,
    An Isis templed in the soul of man,
    An Aphrodite with her thousand paps
    Streaming eternal wisdom.
    Yes, and man's vessel, all pavilioned out
    With silk and flags in the fair wind astream,
    Shall make the port at last, with a great shout
    Ringing from all her decks, and rocking there shall dream
    For ever, and dream true ... calm in those roads
    As lovers' souls at evening, when they swim
    Between the despairing sunset and the dim
    Blue memories of mountains lost to sight
    But, like half fancied, half remembered episodes
    Of childhood, guessed at through the veils of night.
    And the worn sailors at the mast who heard
    The first far bells and knew the sound for home,
    Who marked the land-weeds and the sand-stained foam
    And through the storm-blast saw a wildered bird
    Seek refuge at the mast-head ... these at last
    Shall earn due praise when all the hubbub's past;
    And Cuckoo-Landers not a few shall prove.

    She.

    You have fast closed the temple gates;
      You stand without in the noon-tides glow,
    But the innermost darkness, where God waits,
      You do not know, you cannot know.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Burning Wheel" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home