Ancient Light

The second chapter of the catabatic epic Stubborn Grew is called Ancient Light.  Your esteemed yapper views Ancient Light as a great advance on the tentative projectivities of previous chapter (Shakespeare's Head).   Ancient Light displays a real narrative-organic unity, it tells a story straight on.  Moreover it steps into deep waters of Western Civ - origins of the Reformation, the role of Henry VIII and Tudor regime in ending of Middle Ages... while carrying on with another, more comically-providential "Henry".  It's like a snow-globe or microcosm of the poem in its entirety, and more.

We happen to live on a one-blocker in Providence called Fisher Street - a wonderful little street, with wonderful neighbors we will be sorry to leave behind on our voyage to Minneapolis (see closing line of this section!)...  So here's more of the "pickled pescatore", fishing again on Fisher.

from Ancient Light

       The New Year arrived. . . babbling in the drink. 
       No one but no one was ready for the flood,
       the jovial frenzy was times squared 
       even a moving Titanic had no time to sink!
       Henry was homebound again in Providence, 
       supine with a backache on his favorite couch; 
       tabled at foot level – a little clay conch,
       a toy fisherman's coracle – his mother's hands
       fecitLucky, christened on the bow.
       A contemplative, maybe pickled, pescatore
       casting his rod in the unmoulded mare
       Lucky – lucky to come up with. . . zero. 
       Bruegel. Adoration of the Kings.  1564.
       In the National Gallery in the heart of London 
       in the hands of black Balthasar in a green 
       conch on a gold nef.   Is that a monkey there?
       And the scrawny peasants and the bourgeois tubs 
       staring at all that gold and frankincense, miraculous! 
       O clever, clever, clever calculation – and finesse, too!
       The has-been, burnt-out Wise Men ignore the rubes 
       meanwhile – have eyes only for the grinning pug 
       hidden in swaths of shrinking violet or 
       marigold blue (I can't remember). . . for He 
       shall Rule the Nations – snug as a bug in a rug.
       And Henry. . . what about Henry?  Is he ever 
       coming around again?  I wonder.
       Around Epiphany, his mind began to wander, 
       they said.  Still have a Q in his quiver?
      On Twelfth Night he remembered his grandfather's 
       birthday.  Granddad, Builder of Grain Elevator, 
       père apparent of his mother – of the
       grainstock of generations, ruler.
       Hardy pioneer, flower grower. 
       Opera lover.
       Mother's middle name – Elvira. 
       Clay vine of Ravlin violin – è vero.
       The higher you go the more grain implodes. 
       Spontaneous combustion fertilizer 
       mounts to flood tide and none the wiser,
       the straight line of inheritance erodes
       and out of a stumped Henry begins to drift 
       an example of poor penmanship.  Bark
       of a splintered retriever out of work
       and out of time into London's night shift.
       So many neighborhoods of rotisserie syllables! 
       Nobody needs your babytalk victories, your 
       bosky driftwood, boy.  Work another hour – or 
       metro enthused back homeless to Minneapolis! 

Lucky (MN 7)

John Ravlin, builder of grain elevators

Adoration of the Kings (Pieter Bruegel the Elder; National Gallery, London)

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