For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.
And ruled by dead men never met, By pious guess deluded, Upon the stool of madness set Or stool of desolation, Sits murderous and clear-headed; Enormous beauties round him move, For grandiose is his vision And grandiose his love.
If I can’t, in spite of all my painstaking art, Carve a Moon of silver for your Pedestal, I shall put the Serpent which is eating my heart Under your heels, so that you may trample and mock, Triumphant queen, fecund in redemptions, That monster all swollen with hatred and spittle.
[Si je ne puis, malgré tout mon art diligent
Pour Marchepied tailler une Lune d’argent
Je mettrai le Serpent qui me mord les entrailles
Sous tes talons, afin que tu foules et railles
Reine victorieuse et féconde en rachats
Ce monstre tout gonflé de haine et de crachats.]
Some kinder casuists are pleased to say, In nameless print—that I have no devotion; But set those persons down with me to pray, And you shall see who has the properest notion Of getting into heaven the shortest way; My altars are the mountains and the ocean, Earth, air, stars,—all that springs from the great Whole, Who hath produced, and will receive the soul.
“You born today,” he could not resist murmuring although there was no one within earshot, “a life of incredulity and magnanimity opens out around you, incredulity at the greatness of your designs and magnanimity that turns back to support these projects as they flag and fail, as inevitably happens. But draw comfort meanwhile from the fact that the planets have congregated to haruspicate at your birth; they can no longer disentangle themselves but are fixed over you, showering down material and immaterial advantages on whoever has the patience to remain immobile for a while, mindless of the efforts of his coevals to better themselves at the expense of humankind in general.”