I wrote this bit of madness in August 2009, while I was in acute physical agony edged out but not overcome by a quantity of narcotic analgesics that might send a less desensitized soul to spade out his grave. Those hours of ruin have run. However, their residuum is weirdly appealing in recollection. The verse has been revised after seven years collecting dust.

i should like to cascade across the sunny fields of elysium
there beneath the light springing from the shining trees
nourished by the sea i will wait
clean and abluted i will wait
untainted by barbaric venality i will wait
for saturn enthroned above
adorned with circlets and garlands of flora
then perhaps i will flutter through the meadows of asphodel
where persephone might meet me on my way
that i might eat of the blossoms that sustain the dead

with thale i will rest my bones against the ruinous
heaps of ionic splendor that wind along the sacred way
with philo i will stand an embassage betwixt greek and jew
stoic and pharisee
reason and revelation
with heraclitus i will weep and stand in the river styx
or acheron as charon passes by
and know that not even their murky depths are static
with democritus and leucippus i will atomize the underworld
ever moving
with pliny i will be certain that nothing is certain
and with plutarch i will admit that music if it seek harmony
must investigate discord

socrates will meet me then beneath the canopy of the firmament
and we will sip the cooling conium maculatum
and corrupt unblemished youth with thoughts
we will pray for madness that we may know truth
with plato i will mutter that friends have no dissent
that every possession and every pursuit is evil
if not worked out in virtue
with diogenes i will cynically conspire
to know the art of slavery and bark and live in a pot
and grouse to the passerby that they hinder the sun
with aristotle i will mark the absurdity
the absurdity that a man ought
ought to be ashamed of being unable to defend himself
with his limbs
with him i will manipulate speech and embellish reason
i will persuade the masses and manage the mob
i will enlighten the ignorant and dissemble the proud
i will cast an eye to heaven but place my feet in hell
with seneca i will leech three hundred million sesterces
within the space of four years and let my wrists in my hot water
and with cato i will try
try to be vir bonus dicendi peritus

am i one with the cynics
one with the stoics
one with the epicureans
one with the eclectics
one with the scholastics
one with the mystics
am i an anglo or a papist
should i don the garb of richard ap meurig
a welshman and list into a drunken daze
a colony of the king
a chartered land

by prescription i drink laudanum
my doctor is wise
my chemist takes payment

thoughts trouble me
they swirl within my skull
i drink in metaphysics
i am ontologically drunk

am I
are you

the epistemologs pound upon the doors of the mansion

our conceptual schemes
and meet their end

for what is
is it not
is it tomorrow
or yesterday
what is time
is time
i did not measure the world
but then there is a certain counterfactual definiteness


it is a good question not easily answered
what is an answer
another question

i should like to cascade across the sunny fields of elysium
then perhaps i will flutter through the meadows of asphodel
i belong in asphodel but I will not make my end there


i will bend in bold fear before the clement seat
and i will be tested by fire
will i be righteous and will i be free
WHOSE love possesses me if not HIS
i am
i think i am
because i think HE is
and i am part of HIM
i think

i am
a fault finding
capitious critic
my rose-colored spectacles have been removed and snapped
in twain and crushed and trodden on and liquified
in the bowels of the dank, darkest, dirgeful earth

i would give ten guineas to find out which one of my neighbours
purloined the lid of my rubbish bin and replaced it with a split infinitive

children are born into misery and a slavish existence
live in fear
die in storgic agony
familiarity breeds contempt

it is all in latin
although perhaps it should be greek
or maybe hebraic aramaic
with plenteous responsorials and polyphonic euphorials
the thurifer is a secret freemason
but it is all okay because it is done
done in a fiddleback
the folly of a fiddleback