A Death in Thessaly

EPILOGUE {col. resume}

A DEATH IN THESSALY.1)

Μόνος θεῶν γὰρ Θάνατος οὐ δώρων ἐρᾷ.
                        - AESCH., Fr. Niobe.

Farewell! O Light of day, O torch Althaean!
      The strange fruits lure me of Persephone;
I raise the last, the memorable paean,
      Storm-throated, mouthed as the cave-rolling sea;
I lift the cup: deep draughts of blue Lethean!
                  My wine to me.

O lamentable season of Apollo,
      When swoops his glory to the golden wave!
As all his children, so their lord shall follow!
      The flower he slew, the maiden he would save,
As Itylus,2) light woven, tuned! Oh swallow,
                  Bewail their grave!

The gracious breast of Artemis may light me
      To men – yet loved I ever Artemis?
Surely the vine-song and the dance delight me,
      The sea-blue bowers where Aphrodite is.
Terrible gods and destinies excite me,
                  The strange sad kiss.

Thus may no moon tell Earth my story after,
      No virgin sing my fame as virginal. {263A}
Yet some night-leaves the southern stream may waft her,
      Some amorous nymph across the wood may call
A loud mad chant; love, tears, harsh sombre laughter.
                  No more at all.

Oh, mother, Oh, Demeter, in my burthen
      Let me assume thy sorrow singular;
A branching temple and an altar earthen,
      A fire of herbs, a clayen water-jar;
An olive grove to bind the sacred girth in
                  Lone woods afar.

Let life burn gently thence, as when the ember
      In one faint incense-puff to shrineward dies.
No care, no pain, no craving to remember,
      One leap toward the knees and destinies,
Where shine her lips like flames, Her breasts like amber,
                  Like moons Her eyes.

For my heart turns – ah still! – in Sorrow's traces,
      Where sad chill footprints pash the sodden leaves;
Where ranged around me are the cold, gray faces;
      Fallen on the stubble are the rotten sheaves;
The vicious ghosts abound; and Chronos' paces
                  No soul deceives. {263B}

Yet my heart looks to Madness as its mother,
      Remembering Who once caught me by the well;
And the strange loves of that misshapen Other,
      The feast of blood, the cold enchanted dell,
Where fire was filtered up through earth to smother
                  Sick scents of hell.

And that wild night when vine-leaves wooed and clustered
      Round my wild limbs, and like a woman I went
Over the mountains – how the Northwind blustered! –
      And slew with them the beast, and was content.
The madness: – Oh! the dreadful light that lustred
                  The main event.

Ay! the wild whirlings in the woodland reaches;
      The ghastly smile upon the Stone God's3) lip;
The rigid tremors, anguish that beseeches
      From eye to eye fresh fervours of the whip;
The mounded moss below the swaying beeches –
                  Kiss me and clip!

Why! the old madness grows! – how feebly lying
      Smooth by this bay where waves are tender flowers.
Winds, soft as the old kisses were, are sighing.
      Clouds drift across the sun for silken bowers.
The moon is up – an hastening nymph! I, dying,
                  Await the Hours. {264A}

And thou, Persephone, I know thy story.
      That I must taste the terror of thy wrong:
How Hades ride across the promontory,
      Snatch my pale body in mid over-song;
Drag me from sight of my Apollo's glory
                  With horses strong.

Nay! as Apollo half the day is shrouded,
      As Artemis twice seven nights is dark;
Surely he shines in other lands unclouded,
      Surely her shaft shall find another mark.
So dawns the day on Acheron ghost-crowded,
                  And on my bark.

I know not how yon world may prove, nor whither
      Hermes conduct me to what farther end.
Yet if these bays abide, this heart not wither,
      It cannot be I shall not find a friend.
Some pale immortal lover draw me thither!
                  To kiss me bend!

Moreover, as Apollo re-arisen
      Flames, with a roaring of the morning sea,
Up from the stricken gray, the iron-barred prison,
      Flashes his face again upon the lea,
And diamond dews the woodland ones bedizen;
                  So – so for me!

Some forty years this earth knew song and passion
      Pour from my lips, saw gladness in mine eyes!
Some forty shall I sing some other fashion,
      Dance in strange measures, change the key of sighs.
Then rise in Thessaly again, Thalassian!
                  Only, more wise. {264B – remainder of vol is full page}


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1)
The northern portion of Greece. It was renowned for wizard rites.
2)
See Swinburne, Poems and Ballads, 1st Series.
3)
Priapus, like Jehovah, is the phallic god of generation. It i to be remarked that Crowley never uses Jehovah in this sense, but in the later spiritualised sense of the Qabalists. WEH NOTE: Remember the date of this publication and editorial note. The observation is not true after 1909 e.v.


Thelema

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