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Tony Grist

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Treason [Jul. 19th, 2007|03:47 pm]
Tony Grist
Another early poem.

                                    TREASON

 

                                    Religion begins as treachery

                                    When ritual or text precipitates

                                    A sense of the unreality

                                    Of the karmic world of inheritance.

                                    Philby swigging imported scotch

                                    In his Moscow flat is a parody

                                    Of the monk nostalgic for succubi

                                    Who has exchanged life for the desert.

 

                                    Antony Blunt uncovered in Poussin

                                    A great subverter of pastoral dreams.

                                    A serpent glides by the black lake

                                    To fasten on happy Eurydice.

                                    All our best things are going to break.

                                    Anger at their fragility

                                    And Western culture's Arcadian lies

                                    Led to a traitor's enlightenment.

 

                                    The legends of treason are beautiful.

                                    The dark girl of the Bull's religion

                                    Gave herself to the matador

                                    Who killed the god in her father's maze.

                                    They fled to Naxos; he left her weeping

                                    Until the god of the mazy dance

                                    With his drunken revellers from the mountain

                                    Swept her off in an ecstasy.

 

                                    A similar ecstasy fired the monks

                                    Who killed sardonic Hypatia.

                                    On behalf of the Civitas Dei

                                    Such traitors break the commonwealth.

                                    Borges composed a straight-faced essay

                                    Which proved on theology's own terms

                                    That the Man of Sorrows rejected of men

                                    Was never Christ but Iscariot.
 

                                    And yet all faiths produce the saint

                                    For whom the desert flowers.  He is

                                    Selfless as rock or tree, so harmless

                                    Foxes and lizards eat from his hand.

                                    Being detached from the karmic world

                                    And not desiring any creature,

                                    The Maker's love wells up in him

                                    For men, women, animals, stones...

                                   

                                    I see a Siamese devil holding

                                    A temple gong that's shaped like a boat

                                    Who as he dances swings a hammer

                                    To draw attention to nothingness.

                                    Here at the threshold of meditation

                                    The self I'm betraying takes this shape;

                                    Ecstatically in its wavy armour

                                    It lifts that knobby, ridiculous head.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sovay
2007-07-20 05:06 am (UTC)
I am currently proofreading a new translation of the poems of Constantine Cavafy. I've realized that the poet of whom he most reminds me is you.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-20 08:23 am (UTC)
Oh wow. That's exalted company.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)