The Mageby Frank Wilson
It is not possible to understand supernatural things, except though their shining in natural things; for only a purged and superior intellect can consider them in themselves.
Bruno, L’Asino Cillenco
(Tr., F. Yates)
So the eyes are covered with the eyelids, the troubled sky of the human mind does not clear itself of metaphors and enigmas.
Bruno, Eroici Furore
He who in himself sees all things, is all things.
Bruno, De imaginum compositione
(Tr., F. Yates)
No longer lie, immortal ashes,
Adrift in memory’s vessel. Stay.
Enlighten my being’s dark dimensions.
Tragedy we know prevails
Within our minds and hearts. There
Its intricate details animate
The varied parts of men and worlds.
We betray ourselves to ourselves,
Deliver up ourselves for sentencing,
Are judge and crowd alike.
Recall: Symbols are
The outward signs of what is real.
Truth is the shape of infinity.
Grace of metaphor defines its curve.
For truth is metaphoric, metaphors exact.
So reason and the daystar correspond.
But when our mental day concludes
And dusk informs its thoughtful sky,
Into what region sets our dialectic sun?
Engage the night: Learn to know
All creatures who inhabit darkness, bred
Beneath the denser light of moon and stars.
Shadows disowned don armor
Beneath vestments, polish metals
To a sparkling edge. Behind each moment
Of chagrin hang manacles and scourges,
Latchkeys to the chambers
Underground, the hangman’s hood.
The rest is undertaken by those who will
To join some house of sadness, guided
In descent by one of you, mistresses and masters
Of mankind’s nether reaches, otherwise and elsewhere
Known as Hell, afflicted and forsaken
Underside of our uniqueness.
Lately I know how closely I must follow
While the splendor of your image tapers
To a probing flame along
This drawn and twisted passage unto sorrow.
Here without doubt a castle stands,
Haven of messengers, or so they say,
Making it clear God is hidden
Away nearby, crying for release,
Where men in agony have cried,
Who might have lied or otherwise
Contrived ignobly to survive
The crowd of eyes appraising
The calculus of torment and the smiles,
Like edges of jagged rock, damp
And scraping against the confines of mind
Thoughtfully abandoned to its own designs,
With systematic ironies painstakingly
Refined and overwrought.
Ingeniously caught astray amid
The figures of your world, who populate
My own still-warring states of spirit,
Mind and flesh, I must confess
I cannot find my way. For always
It is I who put the question, turn
The wheel, only to feel
My own limbs’ tension.
Who is it I would be
Could I subdue my rabble self?
What passion or what virtue dare I mind
And in what image govern
My society of moods and wishes?
Driven from myself, I fear return,
Its labyrinth of memories and dreams,
Where being only seems
So different and no longer
Reason’s twin, cast upon the shores of mind
Like driftwood fancy turns to ciphers.
We are choosing always or refusing
Either to be born or die,
Who hide ourselves inside the intervals
Between our pleasures and our gestures.
My mother’s son would conjure me
A modest dream of Eden, a world
Where death is only change in proper season,
Timely plucking of a ripened fruit,
Not this brute unreason that we know.
But, offspring of my father, I lack
A steady sense of love and fly
Instead to rage, familiar beast of prey,
Who willingly adopts my human form
And keeps me strictly
Hidden from my tears.
It is easier to dream or else
Pretend that I am this or that
Depending on the company I keep,
Unseemly or correct in deed and thought,
Yet ever and again distraught
By this compelling need to talk
And say how plainly I have been
Afraid throughout my life, vainly
Striving to disguise defeat
With angry chatter, gentleness betrayed.
Still, in a moment of magical choice, the voice
And features of a god may ever be descried,
Provided we acknowledge how long
The flattering disfigurement of pride has kept us
From discerning who we are.
A sudden vision of ourselves as meant to be
Gives place to all, even to the crowd
Distantly attending in the rain
To another ritual enactment of pain
Most improper and extraordinary.
Thus an iron wedge of silence securely fits
Whatever day it is. For who can say how truth
Escapes both knowledge and eventual decay?
How motionless it seems within
The self-consuming candle-flame enveloping
The shape and shame of our creation
Realized always falling from grace,
As galaxies and stars, into a darkness
That is ingrown light, alive beyond,
As fireflies dancing aglow inside
Without ever burning away,
As nerves and eyelids may, until we can only hear
Thirsting fire’s loud demonic choir of tongues
Ascending into an ashen cloud.
Magnetic hope remains the power
At the poles of love, casting about
The orbs of souls protecting fields of care
For holiness that lives
Without the compass of despair.
For all these things we see
Are only the colors of pictures
Thrown against the wall we otherwise would call
The sky, where constantly the air
In harmony affirms the clouds,
Whether of ashes or of rain, drifting
Above the grasses inhabiting the fields.
Therefore always to remember every moment
When the many and the one become
Each other is just to know
Faith is an ember waiting to ignite
The very heart of things.
Graces of beauty redeem our world,
Transmuting what is base into a silence,
Pure and shining as the shield
Wherein wisdom lets us see
The golden shadows of the sun.