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Read the Creator’s Statement to better understand this series of poems about lost creative passion.
Black Swan I
What ashen wave stains the glimmer
from the Muse’s crown?
What keening swell dims the gleam
of Springtide’s laurels?
A new Day grows, glancing my brow,
quelling a blighted blessing
Light graved upon Silver Parchment.
Upon her gilded threshold
I once laid the fruit of sacred hours,
mingling blood and ink
as Moon and Stars merged their rays.
Now, each moment looms as a Night;
the vise of a wilful phrase
pinions me to an indurate sacrarium,
stripped of Hand and Eye,
as my quill lies cold in voiceless guilt.
Jeering ghosts of grey rise,
as a veil or pall, heralds of reckoning
girding my nameless form,
a whirling chrysalis or grazing shroud
woven of sundering strands,
secreting, at once close and immense.
Silence hangs where rills once flowed,
laughing argent, weeping gold.
Winged embers, mute, mutinous, leap
thro’ blind airlessness,
these words I cast thro’ frozen spaces
into ireful blazing shadows;
their echoes fading ever slower I would
submerse in torpid waters
of Life’s deepest hinterland, their dying
murmurs to bleed into deathless darkness,
their ringing to mortal memory denied.
Into the dusk of a waning dream I stray,
immured in a void between
a bygone prelude and tomorrow’s song,
craving certitude, imploring illusions.
I am priest, pilgrim and oblation in this
temple of my salvation;
a paean of pain and ragged sighing I lay
upon its unyielding ground.
Hope is a flickering flame upon my altar;
what god must I invoke whose favour
would conjure out of its heart
Black Swan II
Ashes of Days besiege Night’s realm,
enfold hooded lilac shrouds.
Winter’s whispers weight Summer’s waft,
Breathing an incomplete sorrow,
an immaculate languor, into my veins.
Wherefore would I bestir myself,
surfeit on purple scents and astral feasts,
enrich the Season’s pallid hour,
when Yesterday’s warmth sustains
in a beguiling violet Memory?
A soundless, skyless sanctum I now seek,
for worded shafts wound and weal.
Spirants and notes drift ever farther,
eluding parchment and tongue.
Leaden vapours hover over my inkwell,
imprinting my lamp’s gold,
these bleak progeny of my diffused ardour.
My reflection haunts ephemera,
bereft of a name, enchained by nescience,
for an unknown epigone inhabits my skin.
The Shadow beckons; its mist ensorcells,
Its timeless strains wing Dream and Reason.
Into a labyrinth of twilight and frost
I descend, fettered to its gelid vastness.
Scabrous strands smouldering rimy black
flail Flesh and Flame, haling my
faltering frailness through depths ablaze with
orphic hues, lineaments aglow with
nascent sparks long consigned to a tempered,
bittered flow of my being.
Upon forgotten shores in stygian hollows,
I muster a Silver cry, unuttered, unattended.
Darkness quivers anew with remnants of a
Voice that clings to my bones,
fragile, yet inexorable, ascending through
hiemal expanses, a coruscant arc
limning an incandescent Truth. Spirit traces
mystical Roots through aeons into Life,
rising into seeds beauteous as Erato’s visage;
her Grace awaits at journey’s end.
Repose, scions of Asteria! The fairest Lamp
of Night’s demesne assumes
her marbled throne. Slumber, children of Gaea,
as I heed the clock of my labours.
Would Passion thrive, would Selene’s nacreous
beams illumine my Silver Parchment?
Her bright countenance I don each Day,
darkling compatriot. Her unseen bloom
is thy province. Yet, our blood meets in the
selfsame heart. In concert with thee,
allegiant and foe, I shall pen lyric and melody.
Thy dark radiance, drear, yet dear,
holds the promise of song, an elegy for Light lost,
Black Swan III
Summer’s greening sinews yield to
a storm of Perfume and Pearl.
Moonrays and mist circumvolve laurels;
my fingers trail a splintered branch
denuded of leaf and blossom,
Form and Spirit tremulous,
chastened, worn from grey traversing
through a caliginous Cavern,
a passage fleeting, yet endless.
To its coiling tumult I am beholden,
to its scourges, now anchors made,
joined in an unquiet truce,
my scars silent no more, but spurring
core and steps toward a new quest.
A horned lark’s ivorine trilling cascades
upon an ancient trackway
the stone carver’s heartsong marked,
leading weary seekers to his sanctuary
where Hand and Eye fell into
a rhyme and rhythm, invoking youthful
dreams from purest alabaster,
ere he laid chisel and rasp upon emery
stained dust, his dying breath
etching a prayer to Hephaestus into
the earth that would receive his vessel.
A soul forks silver across coralling skies,
a mirrored web of the Circle
that willed its Roots into my being.
A word am I in that lambent Treatise of
Light and Life, River and Ocean
scrivened upon its fluent parchment.
My heart would soar into its aery spreads,
vaulting into calm to caress
petals on the wing, gliding with downy
clocks into my soul’s own Spring,
every Moment a Shrine, every Breath
a Prayer, the twain melding in lucent Song.
Dawn rends her feathered cocoon,
effusing gilded crimson over her compass;
Her pace becomes my own,
Her heartbeat, my lyric,
Black Swan IV
Empyrean pediments augur a gainful biding this Night;
a limpid latency thrids the air,
its warp and weft brimful of tremulous liminal shades
wavering partway thro’ the fulgent interlude
between Springtide’s renewal and Summer’s fruiting.
Nyx’s smile settles as a silken skein upon my brow;
her purple himation she drapes
o’er the darkened lake, its myriad diamond flamelets
the thirsting waters imbibe,
as the briny joy my eyes rain, these libations
a Universe within wrought from remorse and promises.
Aye, a droplet of flame I glean for every starless mile
I trudge to the Light that mends every wound.
Along a clinquant bridge, a Voice descends this Night;
o’er a rainbow stairway she glides,
echoing the Muses’ merriment, bidding Zephyrus gather
its golden strains of lyre and aulos for his brush.
Upon ætheric crossroads I would entreat a volant verse
from her annals; into her keeping
I would relinquish a violet vision my solitude sowed,
illusion into fragrant profusion grown,
with dewy tears stained, for its nimiety stifles and stings,
kindling a clamourous longing for bloomless respite
amid Winter’s woods. My disquiet to her I would entrust,
Time’s design learn at her feet, for I possess
nor divine gift nor Laurel as the Poet of bygone days.
A new Fate I compose upon these grassy shores this Night;
atop a leafy klinē I repose, as a rippling canvas
limns celestial maidens’ repasts of starlit nectar.
Past shimmering streams they falter and sway,
chanting in rapture, bearing elysian garlands to Polaris
as maenads revelling in the essence of the grape
hailing Dionysos down the sacred path to his temple.
Aye, philosophers and gods sate our age’s fervour,
but I am a child of Nature; words of my soul’s longing
yet unborn sweep silver upon her spreads,
awaiting a home in heart or tome. The stellar assemblage
fares forth upon the spiral of Infinity; by Gaea’s mirror
Black Swan V
Thine odyssey would I trace, thou sublime opaline Quill
poetising cosmic decree upon Nyx’s meadows;
thy luminous pronouncements would I heed,
thou gentler daughter of Asteria,
thou candent Crucible of lucid verse and subtler spell,
for thine alchemy delivers an elemental Truth
my inmost darkness caged, thy blossom trail of blissful
onyx, pearl and ruby guiding Vessel and Eye
from birth into rebirth, to the deepest essence of Being,
to the apotheosis of Spirit’s flight.
My soul’s yearning for sempiternal Tides I fathomed not,
for my ship hoarded passing splendour;
my words rang freedom desired, yet soared not
toward its wellspring, for they mantled a connate doubt.
Nay, Wonder is the Sun that calls forth
Wisdom’s slumbering shoot, Faith its nutriment;
their beacons I shall follow thro’ past and future tempests
into Selfdom, this earthly mission embrace,
for I shall not know where I begin nor end, nor whence
my Voyage commenced thro’ the helix of Time.
The spinning of stars I would craft, capture the rhythms
of steadfast wanderers thro’ aetheric oceans
turning and reeling in harmony with Gaea’s heart,
this bequest of my forebears of the tuneful tribe honour,
for each moment of sky scintillates as an attendant deity.
What plethora of lives this jewelled vault bestows! —
A mosaic of wheeling and whirling, of fire and death,
of a measureless Love that measures not, but lustrates
in peace and compassion, bestowing upon its votary
BTS’s “Black Swan” from Map Of The Soul: 7 is the inspiration behind and the foundation of this series of poems. Set in ancient Greece, the narrative comprises five poems encompassing the young protagonist’s journey from the loss of passion for his art to its eventual rekindling. He is a poet and melodist, much lauded and laurelled, who learns that the very gifts that glorify the artist crucify him with equal fervour.
The young scribe and musician endures the agony of appearing diminished in his own eyes. Vignettes of possible future failure haunt him. His skill, talent, and knowledge paint him as invincible, but only his courage to confront his darkness could lead him to the insight that a creative’s life consists of golden phases bookended by sojourns into the shadow. Through the integration of its elements, he attains a state of being that enables him to harness his creativity without being sacrificed at its altar. I sought thus to evoke in the reader a measure of empathy for this jewel in the crown of his land.
The poems are structured as free verse with no adherence to metre or rhyme schemes. They include several archaic words to reflect the era and the protagonist’s vocation and references to Jungian Theory and Spiritual Alchemy. Selective capitalisation and punctuation are intended to convey the young artist’s philosophy and aid the rendering of imagery and rhythm.
Lilium Candidum. (2020). Black swan series. The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , (1). https://ther3journal.com/.
Lilium Candidum. “Black Swan Series.” The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , no.1, 2020. https://ther3journal.com/.
Black Swan by Lilium Candidum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Illustration by Mala Yumi Ramos