Friday, 31 January 2014

The Madness of Frederick

As a boy
I was taught
right from wrong
by parents
and by clerks
dressed down in fulgin cloaks.

I was told “thou shalt not”
by belligerent busibodies
who owned the divine rules
as their own shackles
and urgently pressed
those moral chains
on my full-virile frame:
seeking to hold me down,
so they might rape my mind.

The tirade of their words made no sense to me.
Obedience and observance are no virtues
they merit nothing
for they comprehend nothing.
They are empty of soul and spirit
and dark as the deepest abyss.
To conform to imperial diktat
is to abdicate one's own crown,
to resign one's own humanity
and forswear one's own existence:
aping some abstract essence
foreign to one's own truth
which must be found and forged
in the coil of life.

Their God is dead for me.
He serves no use,
has no crevice in my life.
What need have I of any tyrant governor,
who seeks only to carp
and criticise my acts,
curtail my will
and circumscribe my manhood.

And yet, if God is dead,
and rule of good and ill is passed away,
than how can I survive?
What sets my way,
directs my path?
What aim or end
can hold my heart's intent
and give me hope?

Without an ethic, how can I live:
or even set life apart from death?
It seems I must make up my own
and pass beyond the fancy-land
of good and evil
to the unknown country
of want and will
from make-believe
to made-belief!
I must impose my will
on an empty world,
project my private rational account
on a futile public pageant,
bereft of sense.

But if this lore
is nothing other
than want and will,
how can it bind
or help or guide?
How can it be more
than wanton urge
of lowly brute,
not the noble aspirations
and lofty ambitions
of superior man?

Pursuit of pleasure does not suffice,
no lasting satisfaction provide;
but only fleeting respite
before the dismal dawning
of the next drear day.

If will to power is all;
then what is that power for?
What motivates its exercise,
directs its choice of act?
There is no point in ability to do
if there's no point in doing anything!
It seems my mind must know
(or at least glimpse)
what is desirable and what desire is for
before my will can reasonably desire at all.

I am confused and stare into the abyss
of my whirling thoughts
which will not rest and
where there is no peace
nor hope nor joy.
From out that chasm
of woe
my gaze is turned back
onto me.

At first I fear
and then I find a clue:
to know myself, that is my task:
and in that knowledge
disclose what's good for me
by virtue of mine own constituent form
and so unearth,
by delvings of my reasoned mind,
what I most need,
what I may do,
and what I must forego.
I have to mine within myself
a precious ore: the lode-stone
to direct my own way by.


First to go was David,
hostage to father’s work.
No adult cared ’bout what they did
the precious bond they broke.
I stood and cried outside
the house where I had played,
but which to me was now denied.
He was gone, I know not where;
but always for him I shall care.

My bedmate’s end was then decreed:
“That duck must be undone!”
I do not know who did the deed;
but his frail fabric off was flayed:
soap and flannel of him was made.
Of resurrection hope there’s none.

Karl was dear, we hugged and held;
but off to Oz he went.
Long years until again we spoke
were separately spent.
Then tears of joy did whelm my eyes:
till he did vanish into cyberspace,
with no clue of why;
or what then I could do:
or even of an act or unkind word
which I should sorely rue.

Next my mother went to heaven,
slaughtered by a stroke.
To hold me fast God promised then,
but my heart almost broke.

David danced into my life,
then danced again away:
except one latter day,
when he remembered naught
of that strange play
when I did nearly go awry.

Deepest loved was Adrian.
He better far than I my love did ken;
but Pete then Julie had his heart,
and so from me he did depart.
I’ll not see him again!

Nick and Philip, Tom and John,
shared faith and college years;
but seasons came and now are gone
and they did me forsake;
save John, who kept troth ’gainst my fears,
until that bond I’d sadly brake
for fear of hurt I could not take.

An elven flautist ’tranced my soul.
With questing mind and hopeful heart,
striding into my life he came.
He glimpsed the part and saw the whole;
but even his name does now my mem’ry flee.
Derek was dear,
he taught me much,
I slighted him, I fear.
To southern land he went
and we lost touch;
but grace was sent:
so rather than my sin full drear
should bind me in the grave,
he lately me forgave.

My heart, Keith warmed,
but Wales his formed:
the rock from which his being was wrent,
so he took off with glee for Gwent.

Of Pauls let less be said
than floods right through my head.
One despoiled my soul,
one despised me whole
one pursued his goal
to teach the poor
of Africa;
then follow the spoor
of feminine lure
to America.
All are for me no more.

Henry burst into my world,
as poet’s muse and mad daemon;
he gave me life, but now he’s gone
and I am dead within.

Last, Philip loved and learned:
the son I never had;
but off he flew, to Orient far,
in search of wife,
renouncing faith, he left my life
and made me sad.

And so it goes: the eternal train
of broken faith and forgรจd chain;
of given love and taken pain.
My only hope for my own gain:
of this frail life I’ll soon be free,
for all of these are lost to me.