A VISION UPON USHBA.1

HERE in the wild Caucasian night,

The sleepless years

Seem to pass by in garments white,

Made white with tears,

A pageant of intolerable light

Across the sombre spheres,

And, mingling with the tumult of the morn,

Methought a single rose of blood was born. {125B}

Far on the iron peaks a voice

Crystal and cold,

Sharper than sounds the aurochs’2 choice

O’er wood and wold,

A summons as of angels that rejoice,

A paean glad and bold,

A mighty shout of infinite acclaim

Shrieks through the sky some dread forgotten Name.

Trembles the demon on his perch

Of crags ice-bound;

Tremble near forest and far church

At that quick sound;

The silver arrows that bedeck the birch

Shiver along the ground:

Priest, fiend, and harpy answer to the call,

And hasten to their ghastly festival.

There in the vale below my feet

I see the crew

Gather, blaspheming God, and greet

Their shame anew.

A feast is spread of some unholy meat;

Oftimes there murmurs through

Their horrid ranks a cry of pain, as God

Bids them keep memory of His iron rod.

The vale is black with priests. They fight,

Wild beasts, for food,

The orphan’s gold, the widow’s right,

The virgin’s snood.

All in their maws are crammed within the night

That hides their chosen wood,

Where through the blackness sounds the sickening noise

Of cannibals that gloat on monstrous joys.

The valley steams with slaughter. Here

Shall the pure snow

The bloody reek of murder rear

To crush the foe?

In Titan fury shall the rocks spring clear,

And smite the fiends below?

Shall poisonous wind and avalanche combine

To wreck swift justice, human and divine? {126A}

Priests thrive on poison. Carrion

Their eager teeth

Tear, till the sacramental sun

Its sword unsheath,

And bid their horrid carnival be done,

And smite beneath

In their cold gasping valleys, and bid light

Break the battalions of the angry night.

That sword that smote from Heaven was so keen,

Its silver blade

No angel’s sight, no fairy’s eye hath seen,

No tender maid

With subtle insight may behold its sheen

With light inlaid;

But God, who forged it, breathed upon its point,

And His pure unction did the hilt anoint.

Within the poet’s hand he laid the sword:

With reverent ear

The poet listened to His word

Cleansed through of fear.

The brightness of the glory of the Lord

Grew adamant, a spear!

And when he took the flachion in his hand

Lo! kings and princes bowed to his command.

Then shall the flag of England flaunt

In peaceful might,

The sceptred isle of dying Gaunt3

Shall rule by right.

The sons of England shall bid Hell avaunt

And priest and harlot smite.

Then all the forces of the earth shall be

Untamable, a shield of Liberty.

Freedom shall burgeon like a rose,

While in the sky

A new white sun with ardour glows

On liberty.

Men shall sing merrily at work as those

Who fear no more to die —

Ay! and who fear no more at last to live

Since man can love and worship and forgive. {126B}

Then on these heights of Caucasus

A fire shall dwell,

Pure as the dawn, and odorous

Of bud and bell;

A flower of fire, a flame from heaven to us

All triumph to foretell,

A glory of unspeakable delight,

A flower like lightning, adamant and white.

There needs no more or sun or sea

Or any light;

On golden wheels Eternity

Revolves in Night.

The island peoples are too proud and free

And full of might

To care for time or space, but glorious wend

A royal path of flowers to the end.

I pray thee, God, to weapon me

With this keen fire,

That I may set this people free

As my desire;

That the white lilies of our liberty

Grow on Life’s crags still higher,

Till on the loftiest peaks their blossom flower,

The rampart of a people and their power.

 

1. A mountain in the Caucasus. Crowley never visited this district.

2. The extinct Wild Bull of Europe. {WEH Note: No longer quite extinct; breed back from mixed stock after the time of this poem. The same is true of some breeds of wild horses.}

3. See Richard II., ii. I.

 

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