Crept softly from its lowly hole.
“Death’s in your eye,
Cold’s in your hand,
What is there left to understand?
I have watched you through your final days,
Your cleaving to your goal,
And marvelled at your stubborn fight
To prove the old philosophers right.
Unlatch your gaze
At this last gasp,
Turn to my worldly ways
And die with sunlight in your clasp,
Your breath become a slow surcease of soul.”
The dying grand philosopher,His limbs assaulted by his sores,
Would not concur,
He shook his head
And kept the centre of his bed.
“The holy light is from the sun
Which in its goodness pours
Its metaphor upon the whole,
Its light is that of living soul
And from the One;
And soul is such,
Its journey once begun,
It will not worry overmuch
At what is lost behind the slamming doors.”
“Come look,” the snake in anger sighed,“At what the world once offered you;
No flower lied
Nor turned its back,
The sea wind strummed the floating wrack
And on a sandy foreshore gave
A vision shown to few –
Of beauty in a fish’s bone,
And in a mewling seagull’s moan.
O shun the grave,
That place of tears,
And think upon the wave
Which riding roughshod on our fears
Dips its salt head and is forever new.”
“And yet we die,” Plotinus said,“Though dying we should bless this earth.
The quick and dead
Are simply sides
Of coins tossed up by many tides,
And though I know a rose is sweet,
Its bloom a painless birth,
Yet life is in intelligence
Which goes beyond this world of sense,
Which must defeat
The old desire
To hug an honoured seat
And doze in stupor by the fire
Become as dull as ashes in the hearth.”
Plotinus coughed and breathed his lastAnd was not where he once had been;
The snake aghast
At what it found
To be so serious hugged the ground
And wished it never had been born.
It knew what it had seen,
And as it lay there in the dust
Wondering what was safe to trust
It tried to mourn
The passing of
The great man in the dawn
But though it knew the word for love
It could not understand what it might mean.
====================© December 1980