To plumb the Dionysian depths
To roll in the deep dark ocean of the mind
As all is ultimately our insane fantasy
Even nature is as we see it
Not the thing-in-itself
Though to think of it is to try to plunge
Into the wildness of irrationality
The thing that alone knows itself
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll
That mind of a glorious genius that I love
O why? Why, do I love those heroes of the mind
Who brave not only wars, and seas, and love
But also dare to think and write about it!
O glorious sailors in the sea of time!
The fatuous oceans that rock the heart
Between birth and death, the tiny short awakening
Or is it sleep? ls eternity what‘s conscious,
Death not an endless sleep at all
But a waking from the dream
Of life? Meandering
Between high tides the living blink
ls perhaps the aimless havoc of
The crabs on a screeching sea-shore,
And all that can be thought is meaningless.
This is a dreamy wandering,
l have drunk overmuch and fallen
Over the brink, the cup has overbrimmed
And l still wonder how the Greeks
Could have been such geniuses,
Long before Byron and Shelley and Nietzsche
Could ever think about them, and try to match their craziness
And wondrous wildness, their leaping courage,
Their exquisite sensitivity to suffering,
Their feeling for perfection,
Their will to think, just for itself
And to try to find the truth about
The world, whatever that might be,
Wherever it might lead, like knowing love
For a dark and dangerous woman, infatuation
For the moon, or loyalty within a band of brothers,
Heroes before the stars, who know they will have to die
And accept it with a leap of the wild heart
Because they were made that way,
Brothers, be they ne‘er so vile,
Before the infinite!
If it is not universal it is nought;
Rights for all, or nothing!
Bold as a wild colt bolting
Flying to absolutes of transcendent stars!
All death that fires from the blood of time!
All anguish, ecstasy in waves of storm!
l have known all horrors of the deeps
Have seen the Gorgon, lost the very last taint
Of sophrosune, I have felt all tragedy
Even to excess that overthrows the Golden Mean.
And yet l am alive, seem sometimes quite normal
Even sane and healthy and happy
Miraculous to say, all extreme oppositions
Must exist side by side in a matrix of balance.
Brave-hearted Odysseus, thinking, courageous Odysseus;
Determined Odysseus, who knows fear but never gives in;
The first hero, the first character in all written literature,
Spoken to us as if he was known by Homer personally;
So real, recognizable, admirable: what a people who could invent
Such a character, such adventure, such suffering and fortitude!
Brave-hearted Odysseus, what fortune to have Pallas Athene
As your protector — the goddess of later Athens,
Even if Poseidon wished to dash you with monstrous waves
In his ugly rage, what matter
When the Lady of the Bright Eyes
Could bring you gorgeous and lovely Nausicaa,
To fall deeply in love with you!
The palace of King Alcinous
ls now a monastery at peace -
Still the scents of brilliant flowers
Fly around breath-heightening views
Of warm sea and ploughing boats,
Though not the curved Phaecian ships
Of Homer — rudderless, fast
Fast through foam-flecked, infinite seas!
From Nausicaa‘s beach Odysseus walked
Here, past the causeway where strong ancient mariners
Prepared their sails, when Great Pan still ruled,
And Athene, before Mary‘s Son was King.
Brave, good, determined, courageous, kind and noble Odysseus
You are the Greeks, buffetted about
But always transcendent, bravely wandering
Or enchanting visitors with magic spells
Of beauty and welcoming superiority.
With that landscape, the sunsets that break your heart,
Your mountains, the sea, the sun that shoots
Plumes of fire into the translucent air
As it departs, reddening, with the blood of love,
The feeling of being human, pushing at extreme limits
Of heart-rending emotion, sensing life
But maintaining composure, dignity, and truth
Within the wild pain, and extreme loveliness.
When Dawn‘s rosy hand tainted the sky with pink
That merged with the darkwine sea in flames
That fired in inspiration, shooting lights
Of intense liquid plumes of joy and life,
And the gods could see the new liquid flames
Firing in love of such intensity,-
Brave, good, determined Odysseus
Rose from his bed, and put to sea
For another adventure, another struggle with fate
To see if he could succeed in his quest
Of returning to Penelope in Ithaca.
Great Muse of the heavens, divine inspiration
Tell through me of vast suffering,
Make heroic song that arouses courage
In hearers everywhere, humanity striving
To achieve unity and sanity in joyous light,
And return reborn to wondrous Ithaca.
I‘ll fight for the freedom of those who think!
Think for themselves, not as others tell them!
That was what Anaximander, Heraclitus, Plato,
Did! Think for themselves, and die!
l‘ll not be subdued by mediocrities!
Feeble, flagging, bureaucrats!
l want to think originally
As a worm, groping beneath the sod
A poet, philosopher, spiriting with God
As l have only one life, and that is pure
And incorruptible by power, status, death
Of rulers! l‘ll be and think,
Though tyrants rule, allowing people to starve.
The reason the Greeks were so great
Lies in the fact that Aeschylus believed
His participation in the battle of Marathon
Was more important than his plays.
Fighting for the freedom of Athens was greater
Even than creating those amazing plays
That remain unsurpassed in the history of all art.
There is something hallucinogenically intense
About ancient Greece, larger than life;
The wisdom of Pericles, the heroism of Thermopylae,
The brilliance of Miltiades, and the inconceivable
Wildness and genius of Great Alexandros.
You fear you are conforming to a cliché
When you assert that Greek Civilization
Was the greatest there has ever been,
But the fear is unfounded: the assertion is true.
Wild sparks splay into the black sky
Of night, chaos in the heart rules
As Tarquin riding to the last earth
Burnt, as to a charred lust.
Plato, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche
These are the really great thinkers of the world
On fire with intensity and depth of thought,
On fire in pursuit of the ultimate truth!
Winged angels of hell in love and beauty,
Grandness of wisdom and unbelievable strength
Of intelligence and determination:
How did they come to take mortal form?
Islands in the sea of misery,
Caverns of thought for wanderers,
The bemused, wan, and weary seekers
Amid seas of storm, and lightning strikes
From death! Extraordinary strokes
Of fortune for the human race,
Wandering about in mediocrity,
Forgetting to seek beyond the familiar,
Dreading to see within the dark rocks
And oceans of night with the sparkling stars
Above, striving to speak with love
And amazement, elemental answers of love
ln darkness - with the roar of the wild sea
Crashing at night with her pounding waves
Groaning from the heart of the buried soul
In the mind gone mad in the universe
Of forgetfulness! O list, and see
The harsh and cracking reality!
Can you be content to see this world
Of misery and inequality?
This world of famine and war and tyranny
This world that has not yet begun to make
Its best ideas reality!
How can we live and see the world
Flooded in farce and tragedy:
Do our minds not allow us to see another
Possibility? Can we not break at the bars
With the perspicacity that saw Prometheus
Rage at the heavens of Olympian gods
And steal fire? Can we meekly settle
For shackles upon our dreaming limbs,
Starkly impaled in feeble sleep
And complacency? Where are our minds,
So badly locked in complicity
To mediocrity and death and the siren
Calls to conformity!
Transcend all this misery and death
The soul on ﬁre
Of everyone, free.
Over the sea to Epirus,
There where there‘s nothing to buy;
What a relief - no commodities,
No temptation, no guilt, no anguished desire!
Here is where Byron first landed,
In the stark hills of Epirus,
Here the germ of Childe Harold was born,
Here where the Acheron flows.
Here that great ideal
Of Marxism was applied
Disastrously, with split on split
By bureaucrats turned despots,
Ironically bringing into real being
Plato‘s Ideal Republic
Where all are indoctrinated (unsuccessfully)
And all taught to know their place:-
All that does not help conformity
Being banned, as that greatest philosopher
Prophesied, and Marx‘s grand idea
Was turned back on itself to its death.
That philosophy sprung from the urge to end
Poverty has thrown it back
In supreme form, abysmally,
Without even the dream of Utopia
Left, to ease its pain.
Yet, the sea in the little coves
Lapping the land where ancient shepherds
Still tend their flocks
ls clear as translucent elemental diamond,
And the scents of sage, rosemary, and citrus fruits
Are as transcendental as truth.
lt is a rage that shakes the sacred earth
Which is aroused by vile rulers
Who lead their people to despair and death.
The feeling of inadequacy
ls so deep, so extreme
You want to wash the blood clean
With forgetting and remembering.
To be woken, with limpid drops of liquid light
And kisses that lift the eyelids, to find yourself
In paradise of sweet love, beached on a shore
Of perfumes where fantasy has become reality,
On a delicious isle whose soul burns
And saturates nature with heavy scents of lemon-flowers,
Where truth is spoken by every passing cloud,
Every swallow in the blue sky,
And skylark, wagtail, or floating dove,
Making you dream heaven, mind communing
With the buried lamp, the heart, of this world.
l love you like the world at sea
All is so strange, extraordinarily,
The Muse is a divine life-giver
And taker, like the Wild West Wind —
Destroyer, preserver, hear o hear!
Feel love like Great Alexandros
Could see his opponent at twelve years old
And be braver than his wild crazy father
And wiser than his gorgeous witchy mother!
O bliss, to imagine unto the grave
This fantastic truth, and wild spree,
This is to be alive, thinking thus
And now l love you, again, in bliss.
Wild coloured fire from the Mysteries of Eleusis,
Dreams of those kisses that pulse through and from
ln clasp of soft love, moving from dream to dream
In forgetfulness, sweetness, beautiful oblivion
Perfumed in joy and warmth and wonder
Again and again reaching, so perfect and moist
Lips to lips touching, breathing love
Pulled apart for an instant, waiting to dive
That breathe, and embrace, as spirits in the one
Truth, without fear, freedom in love.
Ah, in the dalliance of the deep blue sea,
Touching eternity, ecstatically,
Mad in the wonderness floating in dream
That grinds in deep dark ultimate tragedy
Of love for all, that wants all totally
And is pained badly when all is not possible
Yet cannot help dreaming and hoping for it all,
Urging with the heart, and the pulsing cells
Of the brain — poetry, philosophy, science,-
Thought and feeling about eternity;-
Those who are drunk with greatness of thought
Cannot help being infants, obsessive with fire
And madness like Prometheus stealing fire,
Rebelling unreasonably, yet afterwards seeing
That reconciliation into harmony of opposite extremes
ls good and beautiful, harmonious form
Being truth of existence - not insanity at all
But balance, sophrosune, the wisdom of the great
Greeks in their battles, philosophy, and art.
Art is that which aspires for the supreme!
The beautiful, and good, and honest, and pure,
Without which we languish in the mud
Of mediocrity, normality, dreary swamp:
Everybody knows we must leap from this clay!
But only in the notes of Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart, is it obvious where we must go,
O it is so clear, when we listen then.
lt strikes you as a wind of flame and fire,
So strange, where are we in this mire?
You, the daughters of all beauty and truth,
You, can speak in health and the Spring
Of love and life, so naturally,
lnnocent and wonderful, beautifully,
Young as nymphs in the welcoming groves
For exhausted wanderers, braincell-tired
Idiots who think they know the world
And rule, but are bleached of your sweetening touch.
Glorious and generous spirit, wild heart,
Freedom incarnate, expansive soul
Yet so dark, dangerous, suicidal, hard
O my friend, l could hold your hand
Now! Under the Grecian moon
Everything is possible, and I can feel your heart
Pounding in brave, violent, warmth,
Battling with the seas, and the futile mirth.
When Shelley drowned, you swam far out to sea
And afterwards you all burned his body
On a funeral pyre, with the sparks leaping
To heaven, setting the moonlit sky
Aflame! That was the moment of truth,
That was the time when poetry fired
High into the sky like liquid love
Of intensity never again known so true,
Then the universe burst into flames,
As the spirits of Aeschylus, Plato, Keats
Wept and leapt in wildness and pure joyl!
That was the moment when
The vaults of heaven flared and burnt
In the White Light splayed by the golden dome
Of love on earth, where that wrecking Life
ls unattainable: friends, I was with you there,
Friends, l knew you before my birth.
From the rack of life he is released
From the Wheel of Necessity he is set free,
His soul at last laughing hysterically
And soaring high, echoing through
The universe, kissing that beauty furled
Which penetrates and clasps and fills the world
ln freedom wrapped, embracing love
ln balm and sweetness and satiation.