Thursday, October 12, 2006

POETRY THURSDAY--Powers of Light, Powers of Darkness


Mes Chers: It begins, "Admittedly I err by undertaking/ This in its present form. The baldest prose/ Reportage was called for, that would reach/ The widest public in the shortest time."

Not exactly from a newspaper, but definitely news, this is from a Ouija board. Poet James Merrill spent more than 20 years transcribing this 560 page epic, which he said came via the spirits of several...um, dead guys, among them W.H. Auden, a bat named Mirabell, the angel Gabriel, Michael the Archangel, Gautama Buddha, Plato, Jesus, Mohammed, Gertrude Stein, Richard Strauss, Nefertiti, Maria Callas. It touches on past lives, sperm and egg, Mozart, Hitler, Adam & Eve, nuclear explosions, and a thousand other things. Whether or not this came from supernatural sources, it is truly Merrill's Magnum Opus. From THE CHANGING LIGHT AT SANDOVER, Mirabell: Book 9


THIS IS GOD'S NAME
GOD IS THE ACCUMULATED INTELLIGENCE IN CELLS SINCE THE DEATH
OF THE FIRST DISTANT CELL.
WE RESIDE IN THAT INTELLIGENCE.

WE HAVE IN THIS MEETING FOUND YOU INTELLIGENT & YOUR
SERIOUS NATURES AT ONE WITH US.
TWO FULL HOURS BEFORE THE SETTING SUN, IN THE FULL DAYCYCLE
BEFORE THE FULL OF THE MOON, WE WILL MEET AGAIN.
I AM MICHAEL
I HAVE ESTABLISHED YOUR ACQUAINTANCE & ACCEPT YOU. COME
NEXT TIME IN YOUR OWN MANNER. SERVANTS WE ARE NOT.
I LEAVE NOW AS LIGHT LEAVES AND WIND MY PATH OVER ITS
TRACK ON EARTH I AM A GUARDIAN OF THE LIGHT
LEAVE THIS FIRST OF THE FIRST TWO MEETINGS IN A CYCLE OF
TWINNED MEETINGS IN A CYCLE OF TWELVE MOONS
LOOK! LOOK INTO THE RED EYE OF YOUR GOD!

.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gives me the shivers! But definitely a tight construct rather than the ramblings of a crazy man.

Catherine said...

I wonder if he believed it, or was it just an artistic construct as cheifbiscuit suggests? Twenty years! The reason I write poetry is because it doesn't consume months and years the way novel writing does. I guess some poets are in it for other reasons.

madd said...

Peck..very interesting..isn't genuis close to godliness or was that insanity...:) He was definetly driven to do this all consuming work..I liked the first explaination of God..thanks..M

pepektheassassin said...

You know, I'm sure he really believed he was getting messages from these folks (and most of it in iambic pentameter!). These few lines are not representative of the whole by any means!

twitches said...

This is too cool.

Turquoise CRO said...

Did he have a companion, like Jack Daniels maybe??!!LOL and I always thought God's eyes would be blue! Maybe I'll try and meet Michael, can you imagine going out to meet him for 12 full moons?? was it??? Nowadays you would be killed for sure! Violence seems to be spreading, my little town seems like there is always a murder happening! Plenty scary! Maybe they should all read this book. Have you read it Pepe??? Is it good???

Tammy said...

I was right there until the bat :) Very interesting man!

pepektheassassin said...

Hi, y'all! Cro, this was written by candlelight in a little room at the very upstairs of their house, with Merrill and his companion, David Jackson. As I understand it, James worked the board while David wrote it letter by letter on a blackboard. It has 4 sections: The Book of Ephriam, Mirabell's Book of Numbers, Scripts for the Pageant, and a Coda called Higher Keys (Hierarchies?)in which his mother, Jane Austen, Rilke, Dante, Proust, and the Pope, etc all show up.

No, I have not read it straight through -- it requires a great investment of time and intellect (neither of which I have in great amounts). It would help to be familiar with Yeats, Ezra Pound's "Cantos," Blake, Auden, & Dante. And TS Eliot's "Waste Land."

But it's really a lot of fun to thumb through. It is remarkable!

pepektheassassin said...

tammy--the bat turns into a phoenix toward the end....

catherine--have you tried NaNoWriMo? I think it starts this month. You write an entire novel, 60,000 words, in a month! Doesn't have to be GOOD, just finished. Look it up!

madd and chief-- I think its something about genius and insanity....

pepektheassassin said...

Cro: Jack Daniels! Very funny! I almost missed that! *ROTFL*

ecm said...

very interesting...I like the all caps!

Dana said...

I wonder what kind of spirits would visit me and let me channel them.

pepektheassassin said...

ecm, the caps are Merrill's, not mine.

lynn--Elvis, Rasputin, Montezuma, Jimi Hendrix, maybe even Jim Morrison.

pepektheassassin said...

Oh, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, for sure!

wendylou who? said...

Sometime inspiration comes to me as a streaming voice (sorry, no board). I do think its fairly insane..at some level. But when there is no voice..the poetry gets much harder. So I get this "poem" manifesto.

Ya know what else helps..Friends with a good ear.

pepektheassassin said...

wendy--certainly. And, I once said in an interview that I really think most writers are a little crazy. The loopy guy at the bus stop (who you might think is talking to himself) is, in reality, just trying out the dialogue for the next chapter of his book!

A poet friend of mine was trying to "get" the sound of rain sloshing off her roof by walking around making "schlurfp" noises. She said, "If someone had looked in the window, and heard...."

Well, you know. We're crazy.

Left-handed Trees... said...

Wild words...now I know why I got rid of my Ouija board in eigth grade. No, wait--maybe I shouldn't have done that? To think, my muses could have come through directly, if only...

pepektheassassin said...

welcome, left -- I drew doll-houses, rooms and furniture on the back of our Ouija board. My only other experience was in college, in the dorm late at night...but that's another story!