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“If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exultation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant, and if this heavenly, world-transfiguring drug were of such a kind that we could wake up [the] next morning with a clear head and a undamaged constitution – then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and the earth would become paradise.”
-Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963)
If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would
appear to man as it is, infinite. William Blake
We all went to our friend Ed’s surprise pizza dinner with a hoard of friends. Good Fun! Ed was delightful as ever, and totally surprised.
He thought he had escaped all the attention by heading off to Joshua Tree with Janice for a camping trip on the past weekend…
Yes, the birthday was on the weekend, but the party caught up with him anyway. Here is Ed, and all fun and laughter he has brought into our lives!
Great Pizza, nice drinks and wonderful company!
Happy Birthday Ed!
Todays’ entry is loosely based on Aldous Huxley. We have some quotes, an extract from Albert Hoffmann’s wonderful book… Peter has chosen a nice bit of music, and Christina Rossetti weaves her poetic magick.
Here we are at Friday, sun is shining and the weekend beckons!
On The Menu
Meeting with Aldous Huxley – Albert Hoffmann [From LSD, My Problem Child Chapter8]
Poetry: Goblin Market -Christina Rossetti
Art: Robert Venosa & Gwyllm
Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to Permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or “feeling into.” Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves (always, of course, in a slightly Pickwickian sense) in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent. The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience.
An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.
At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.
Experience teaches only the teachable.
Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.
Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.
That all men are equal is a proposition which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent.
The author of the Iliad is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name.
There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
(Robert Venosa – Astral Circus)
Meeting with Aldous Huxley – Albert Hoffmann
[From LSD, My Problem Child Chapter 8]
In the mid-1950s, two books by Aldous Huxley appeared, The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, dealing with inebriated states produced by hallucinogenic drugs. The alterations of sensory perceptions and consciousness, which the author experienced in a self-experiment with mescaline, are skillfully described in these books. The mescaline experiment was a visionary experience for Huxley. He saw objects in a new light; they disclosed their inherent, deep, timeless existence, which remains hidden from everyday sight.
These two books contained fundamental observations on the essence of visionary experience and about the significance of this manner of comprehending the world-in cultural history, in the creation of myths, in the origin of religions, and in the creative process out of which works of art arise. Huxley saw the value of hallucinogenic drugs in that they give people who lack the gift of spontaneous visionary perception belonging to mystics, saints, and great artists, the potential to experience this extraordinary state of consciousness, and thereby to attain insight into the spiritual world of these great creators. Hallucinogens could lead to a deepened understanding of religious and mystical content, and to a new and fresh experience of the great works of art. For Huxley these drugs were keys capable of opening new doors of perception; chemical keys, in addition to other proven but laborious ” door openers” to the visionary world like meditation, isolation, and fasting, or like certain yoga practices.
At the time I already knew the earlier work of this great writer and thinker, books that meant much to me, like Point Counter Point, Brave New World, After Many a Summer, Eyeless in Gaza, and a few others. In The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Huxley’s newly-published works, I found a meaningful exposition of the experience induced by hallucinogenic drugs, and I thereby gained a deepened insight into my own LSD experiments.
I was therefore delighted when I received a telephone call from Aldous Huxley in the laboratory one morning in August 1961. He was passing through Zurich with his wife. He invited me and my wife to lunch in the Hotel Sonnenberg.
A gentleman with a yellow freesia in his buttonhole, a tall and noble appearance, who exuded kindness- this is the image I retained from this first meeting with Aldous Huxley. The table conversation revolved mainly around the problem of magic drugs. Both Huxley and his wife, Laura Archera Huxley, had also experimented with LSD and psilocybin. Huxley would have preferred not to designate these two substances and mescaline as “drugs,” because in English usage, as also by the way with Droge in German, that word has a pejorative connotation, and because it was important to differentiate the hallucinogens from the other drugs, even linguistically. He believed in the great importance of agents producing visionary experience in the modern phase of human evolution.
He considered experiments under laboratory conditions to be insignificant, since in the extraordinarily intensified susceptibility and sensitivity to external impressions, the surroundings are of decisive importance. He recommended to my wife, when we spoke of her native place in the mountains, that she take LSD in an alpine meadow and then look into the blue cup of a gentian flower, to behold the wonder of creation.
As we parted, Aldous Huxley gave me, as a remembrance of this meeting, a tape recording of his lecture “Visionary Experience,” which he had delivered the week before at an international congress on applied psychology in Copenhagen. In this lecture, Aldous Huxley spoke about the meaning and essence of visionary experience and compared this type of world view to the verbal and intellectual comprehension of reality as its essential complement.
In the following year, the newest and last book by Aldous Huxley appeared, the novel Island. This story, set on the utopian island Pala, is an attempt to blend the achievements of natural science and technical civilization with the wisdom of Eastern thought, to achieve a new culture in which rationalism and mysticism are fruitfully united. The moksha medicine, a magical drug prepared from a mushroom, plays a significant role in the life of the population of Pala (moksha is Sanskrit for “release,” “liberation”). The drug could be used only in critical periods of life. The young men on Pala received it in initiation rites, it is dispensed to the protagonist of the novel during a life crisis, in the scope of a psychotherapeutic dialogue with a spiritual friend, and it helps the dying to relinquish the mortal body, in the transition to another existence.
In our conversation in Zurich, I had already learned from Aldous Huxley that he would again treat the problem of psychedelic drugs in his forthcoming novel. Now he sent me a copy of Island, inscribed “To Dr. Albert Hofmann, the original discoverer of the moksha medicine, from Aldous Huxley.”
The hopes that Aldous Huxley placed in psychedelic drugs as a means of evoking visionary experience, and the uses of these substances in everyday life, are subjects of a letter of 29 February 1962, in which he wrote me:
. . . I have good hopes that this and similar work will result in the development of a real Natural History of visionary experience, in all its variations, determined by differences of physique, temperament and profession, and at the same time of a technique of Applied Mysticism – a technique for helping individuals to get the most out of their transcendental experience and to make use of the insights from the “Other World” in the affairs of “This World.” Meister Eckhart wrote that “what is taken in by contemplation must be given out in love.” Essentially this is what must be developed-the art of giving out in love and intelligence what is taken in from vision and the experience of self-transcendence and solidarity with the Universe….
Aldous Huxley and I were together often at the annual convention of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS) in Stockholm during late summer 1963. His suggestions and contributions to discussions at the sessions of the academy, through their form and importance, had a great influence on the proceedings.
WAAS had been established in order to allow the most competent specialists to consider world problems in a forum free of ideological and religious restrictions and from an international viewpoint encompassing the whole world. The results: proposals, and thoughts in the form of appropriate publications, were to be placed at the disposal of the responsible governments and executive organizations.
The 1963 meeting of WAAS had dealt with the population explosion and the raw material reserves and food resources of the earth. The corresponding studies and proposals were collected in Volume II of WAAS under the title The Population Crisis and the Use of World Resources. A decade before birth control, environmental protection, and the energy crisis became catchwords, these world problems were examined there from the most serious point of view, and proposals for their solution were made to governments and responsible organizations. The catastrophic events since that time in the aforementioned fields makes evident the tragic discrepancy between recognition, desire, and feasibility.
Aldous Huxley made the proposal, as a continuation and complement of the theme “World Resources” at the Stockholm convention, to address the problem “Human Resources,” the exploration and application of capabilities hidden in humans yet unused. A human race with more highly developed spiritual capacities, with expanded consciousness of the depth and the incomprehensible wonder of being, would also have greater understanding of and better consideration for the biological and material foundations of life on this earth. Above all, for Western people with t
heir hypertrophied rationality, the development and expansion of a direct, emotional experience of reality, unobstructed by words and concepts, would be of evolutionary significance. Huxley considered psychedelic drugs to be one means to achieve education in this direction. The psychiatrist Dr. Humphry Osmond, likewise participating in the congress, who had created the term psychedelic (mind-expanding), assisted him with a report about significant possibilities of the use of hallucinogens.
The convention in Stockholm in 1963 was my last meeting with Aldous Huxley. His physical appearance was already marked by a severe illness; his intellectual personage, however, still bore the undiminished signs of a comprehensive knowledge of the heights and depths of the inner and outer world of man, which he had displayed with so much genius, love, goodness, and humor in his literary work.
Aldous Huxley died on 22 November of the same year, on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated. From Laura Huxley I obtained a copy of her letter to Julian and Juliette Huxley, in which she reported to her brother- and sister-in-law about her husband’s last day. The doctors had prepared her for a dramatic end, because the terminal phase of cancer of the throat, from which Aldous Huxley suffered, is usually accompanied by convulsions and choking fits. He died serenely and peacefully, however.
In the morning, when he was already so weak that he could no longer speak, he had written on a sheet of paper: “LSD-try it-intramuscular-100 mmg.” Mrs. Huxley understood what was meant by this, and ignoring the misgivings of the attending physician, she gave him, with her own hand, the desired injection-she let him have the moksha medicine.
(Robert Venosa – Prana Exhalation)
Poetry: Goblin Market
Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
All ripe together
In summer weather,
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”
Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots ?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
“Oh,” cried Lizzie, “Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men.”
Lizzie covered up her eyes,
Covered close lest they should look;
Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook:
“Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Thro’ those fruit bushes.”
“No,” said Lizzie: “No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.”
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cats face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat’s pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry.
She heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.
Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.
Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
“Come buy, come buy.”
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
“Come buy, come buy,” was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Longed but had no money:
The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr’d,
The rat-paced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried “Pretty Goblin” still for “Pretty Polly;”
One whistled like a bird.
But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
“Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather.”
“You have much gold upon your head,”
They answered all together:
“Buy from us with a golden curl.”
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gathered up one kernel-stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone.
Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
“Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more but dwindled and grew grey;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so.”
“Nay, hush,” said Laura:
“Nay, hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still;
Tomorrow night I will
Buy more:” and kissed her:
“Have done with sorrow;
I’ll bring you plums tomorrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap.”
Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other’s wings,
They lay down in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall’n snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipped with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars gazed in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Locked together in one nest.
Early in the morning
When the first cock crowed his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetched in honey, milked the cows,
Aired and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churned butter, whipped up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sewed;
Talked as modest maidens should:
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day’s delight,
One longing for the night.
At length slow evening came:
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep;
Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homewards said: “The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags,
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep.”
But Laura loitered still among the rushes
And said the bank was steep.
And said the hour was early still,
The dew not fall’n, the wind not chill:
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
“Come buy, come buy,”
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling;
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.
Till Lizzie urged, “O Laura, come;
I hear the fruit-call but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glowworm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark:
For clouds may gather
Tho’ this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us thro’;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?”
Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
“Come buy our fruits, come buy.”
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life drooped from the root:
She said not one word in her heart’s sore ache;
But peering thro’ the dimness, nought discerning,
Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent till Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.
Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry:
“Come buy, come buy;”
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon waxed bright
Her hair grew thin and grey;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay and burn
Her fire away.
One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watched for a waxing shoot,
But there came none:
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crowned trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze.
She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.
Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister’s cankerous care
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins’ cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:”
Beside the brook, along the glen,
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The voice and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Longed to buy fruit to comfort her,
But feared to pay too dear.
She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest Winter time,
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp Winter time.
Till Laura dwindling
Seemed knocking at Death’s door:
Then Lizzie weighed no more
Better and worse;
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.
Laughed every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel- and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter skelter, hurry skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes,
Hugged her and kissed her,
Squeezed and caressed her:
Stretched up their dishes,
Panniers, and plates:
“Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries,
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
“Good folk,” said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie:
“Give me much and many:”
Held out her apron,
Tossed them her penny.
“Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,”
They answered grinning:
“Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry;
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavour would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us.”
“Thank you,” said Lizzie: “But one waits
At home alone for me:
So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits tho’ much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I tossed you for a fee.”-
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One called her proud,
Their tones waxed loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.
White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood,
Like a rock of blue-veined stone
Lashed by tides obstreperously,
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire,
Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee,
Like a royal virgin town
Topped with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguered by a fleet
Mad to tug her standard down.
One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Tho’ the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syrupped all her face,
And lodged in dimples other chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people
Worn out by her resistance
Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot;
Some writhed into the ground,
Some dived into the brook
With ring and ripple,
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanished in the distance.
In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore thro’ the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse,
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she feared some goblin man
Dogged her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin skurried after,
Nor was she pricked by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with chaste
And inward laughter,
She cried “Laura,” up the garden,
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me:
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.”
Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutched her hair:
“Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing
And ruined in my ruin,
Thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden?”
She clung about her sister,
Kissed and kissed and kissed her:
Tears once again
Refreshed her shrunken eyes,
Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth.
Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loathed the feast:
Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks streamed like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.
Swift fire spread thro’ her veins, knocked at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame;
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense failed in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Like a foam-topped waterspout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life?
Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watched by her,
Counted her pulse’s flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cooled her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirped about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bowed in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Opened of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laughed in the innocent old way,
Hugged Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks showed not one thread of grey,
Her breath was sweet as May
And light danced in her eyes.
Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them other early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town:)
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.”
(Robert Venosa – Ayahuasca Dream)