Lines to Mannanan

by Stephen Lewis Ingham Pettit



Out of the pathway of light,
out of the misty sea
rising as a seal arises from the waves,
a Shape comes, dark and shining,
coming as it were from deeps in which the stars were born
in the time before time.
The rime of oceans is upon the form
that slowly shakes aside the tide of dreams, that writhes
a storm of diamonds away
to stand above the sea gigantic and astride
from curve to curve of all the globe of day.
So came Mannanan to the world of men.

Then fathers of all races trembled in their caves
and the dragon shivered
that had cowed them in their primal dawn,
and slunk away
to hide in some dread cavern
dismal-dark and deep
where Night and Death
mate in the slimy spray.

But listen! The sibilance of the sea
weaves silences to tapestries of fear -
the voices of the gulls grow urgent to the ear,
eerie and eternal. At last,
the THUNDER !
Such a sound, as though Hell were opened
and all the mountains fell.

The Lord of the Skies stands here
and the lonely shore
lies gleaming, awakening,
a quivering waste of sand.

Paint on this grey canvas
fantasies and myths, what more
is Truth? Is it not strange enough
woven of galaxies
all less than grains of sand
scattered into grander patterns
where they lie in the vortex of the Wind
that plays with all things?

Do you not see before you
in that inner land beyond your eyes
the whirling shapes take form; forbidden things,
forgotten realms and half-remembered gods,
where the future and the past all lie
frozen images beneath an empty sky
awaiting the rough kiss of Chance;
or call it if you will, Desire:
or think of it as Fate.

Magnificent is the state
of such a dream,
for we are of it only,
without it have no life and lack the vital fire.
"How should you see me , else,
who move within your self; for I
am of the secret places of the height
concealed in my mists
beyond all summits,
above far pinnacles of ranges hidden from your sight
but deeper than all deeps.

For within Me sleeps the monster. I
touch with life yet smite with death,
must hide in a cloudy cloak,
lest I see my face in the waters
again.
Is it an easy matter, then, to be
a deity?

Immune from the caprice of Time,
imprisoned for all eternity in the sublime
inescapable ecstasy of knowledge, knowing
all things beautiful
but marred that I know pain?
Shall you wonder if your gods grow angry,
if in torment they seem insane?

Forgive them. The earth they cast in careless rage
is stuff of Paradise!
Your heritage - behold it -
proclaims how the gods are wise:
every flower that blows upon the hills
shames a star that delights the skies of Heaven."