4. Cape Hatteras -

Imponderable the dinosaur

sinks slow,

the mammoth saurian

ghoul, the eastern

Cape ...

While rises in the west the coastwise range,

slowly the hushed land —

Combustion at the astral core — the dorsal change

Of energy — convulsive shift of sand ...

But we, who round the capes, the promontories

Where strange tongues vary messages of surf

Below grey citadels, repeating to the stars

The ancient names — return home to our own

Hearths, there to eat an apple and recall

The songs that gypsies dealt us at Marseille

Or how the priests walked — slowly through Bombay —

Or to read you, Walt, — knowing us in thrall

To that deep wonderment, our native clay

Whose depth of red, eternal flesh of Pocahontas —

Those continental folded aeons, surcharged

With sweetness below derricks, chimneys, tunnels —

Is veined by all that time has really pledged us ...

And from above, thin squeaks of radio static,

The captured fume of space foams in our ears —

What whisperings of far watches on the main

Relapsing into silence, while time clears

Our lenses, lifts a focus, resurrects

A periscope to glimpse what joys or pain

Our eyes can share or answer — then deflects

Us, shunting to a labyrinth submersed

Where each sees only his dim past reversed ...

But that star-glistered salver of infinity,

The circle, blind crucible of endless space,

Is sluiced by motion, — subjugated never

Adam and Adam's answer in the forest

Left Hesperus mirrored in the lucid pool.

Now the eagle dominates our days, is jurist

Of the ambiguous cloud. We know the strident rule

Of wings imperious ... Space, instantaneous,

Flickers a moment, consumes us in its smile:

A flash over the horizon — shifting gears —

And we have laughter, or more sudden tears

Dream cancels dream in this new realm of fact

From which we wake into the dream of act;

Seeing himself an atom in a shroud —

Man hears himself an engine in a cloud!

" — Recorders ages hence " — ah, syllables of faith!

Walt, tell me, Walt Whitman, if infinity

Be still the same as when you walked the beach

Near Paumanok — your lone patrol — and heard the wraith

Through surf, its bird note there a long time falling ...

For you, the panoramas and this breed of towers,

Of you — the theme that's statured in the cliff,

O Saunterer on free ways still ahead!

Not this our empire yet, but labyrinth

Wherein your eyes, like the Great Navigator's without ship,

Gleam from the great stones of each prison crypt

Of canyoned traffic ... Confronting the Exchange,

Surviving in a world of stocks, — they also range

Across the hills where second timber strays

Back over Connecticut farms, abandoned pastures, —

Sea eyes and tidal, undenying, bright with myth!

The nasal whine of power whips a new universe ...

Where spouting pillars spoor the evening sky,

Under the looming stacks of the gigantic power house

Stars prick the eyes with sharp ammoniac proverbs,

New verities, new inklings in the velvet hummed

Of dynamos, where hearing's leash is strummed ...

Power's script, — wound, bobbin-bound, refined —

Is stropped to the slap of belts on booming spools, spurred

Into the bulging bouillon, harnessed jelly of the stars.

Towards what? The forked crash of split thunder parts

Our hearing momentwise; but fast in whirling armatures,

As bright as frogs' eyes, giggling in the girth

Of steely gizzards — axle-bound, confined

In coiled precision, bunched in mutual glee

The bearings glint, — O murmurless and shined

In oilrinsed circles of blind ecstasy!

Stars scribble on our eyes the frosty sagas,

The gleaming cantos of unvanquished space ...

O sinewy silver biplane, nudging the wind's withers!

There, from Kill Devils Hill at Kitty Hawk

Two brothers in their twinship left the dune;

Warping the gale, the Wright windwrestlers veered

Capeward, then blading the wind's flank, banked and spun

What ciphers risen from prophetic script,

What marathons new-set between the stars!

The soul, by naphtha fledged into new reaches

Already knows the closer clasp of Mars, —

New latitudes, unknotting, soon give place

To what fierce schedules, rife of doom apace!

Behold the dragon's covey — amphibian, ubiquitous

To hedge the seaboard, wrap the headland, ride

The blue's cloud-templed districts unto ether ...

While Iliads glimmer through eyes raised in pride

Hell's belt springs wider into heaven's plumed side.

O bright circumferences, heights employed to fly

War's fiery kennel masked in downy offings, —

This tournament of space, the threshed and chiselled height,

Is baited by marauding circles, bludgeon flail

Of rancorous grenades whose screaming petals carve us

Wounds that we wrap with theorems sharp as hail!

Wheeled swiftly, wings emerge from larval-silver hangars.

Taut motors surge, space-gnawing, into flight;

Through sparkling visibility, outspread, unsleeping,

Wings clip the last peripheries of light ...

Tellurian wind-sleuths on dawn patrol,

Each plane a hurtling javelin of winged ordnance,

Bristle the heights above a screeching gale to hover;

Surely no eye that Sunward Escadrille can cover!

There, meaningful, fledged as the Pleiades

With razor sheen they zoom each rapid helix!

Up-chartered choristers of their own speeding

They, cavalcade on escapade, shear Cumulus —

Lay siege and hurdle Cirrus down the skies!

While Cetus-like, O thou Dirigible, enormous Lounger

Of pendulous auroral beaches, — satellited wide

By convoy planes, moonferrets that rejoin thee

On fleeing balconies as thou dost glide,

— Hast splintered space!

Low, shadowed of the Cape,

Regard the moving turrets! From grey decks

See scouting griffons rise through gaseous crepe

Hung low ... until a conch of thunder answers

Cloud-belfries, banging, while searchlights, like fencers,

Slit the sky's pancreas of foaming anthracite

Toward thee, O Corsair of the typhoon, — pilot, hear!

Thine eyes bicarbonated white by speed, O Skygak, see

How from thy path above the levin's lance

Thou sowest doom thou hast nor time nor chance

To reckon — as thy stilly eyes partake

What alcohol of space ...! Remember, Falcon-Ace,

Thou hast there in thy wrist a Sanskrit charge

To conjugate infinity's dim marge —

Anew ...!

But first, here at this height receive

The benediction of the shell's deep, sure reprieve!

Lead-perforated fuselage, escutcheoned wings

Lift agonized quittance, tilting from the invisible brink

Now eagle-bright, now

quarry-hid, twist-

-ing, sink with

Enormous repercussive list-

-ings down

Giddily spiralled

gauntlets, upturned, unlooping

In guerrilla sleights, trapped in combustion gyr-

Ing, dance the curdled depth

down whizzing

Zodiacs, dashed

(now nearing fast the Cape!)

down gravitation's

vortex into crashed

. . . . dispersion ... into mashed and shapeless debris. ...

By Hatteras bunched the beached heap of high bravery!

. . . . . .

The stars have grooved our eyes with old persuasions

Of love and hatred, birth, — surcease of nations ...

But who has held the heights more sure than thou,

O Walt! — Ascensions of thee hover in me now

As thou at junctions elegiac, there, of speed

With vast eternity, dost wield the rebound seed!

The competent loam, the probable grass, — travail

Of tides awash the pedestal of Everest, fail

Not less than thou in pure impulse inbred

To answer deepest soundings! O, upward from the dead

Thou bringest tally, and a pact, new bound

Of living brotherhood!

Thou, there beyond —

Glacial sierras and the flight of ravens,

Hermetically past condor zones, through zenith havens

Past where the albatross has offered up

His last wing-pulse, and downcast as a cup

That's drained, is shivered back to earth — thy wand

Has beat a song, O Walt, — there and beyond!

And this, thine other hand, upon my heart

Is plummet ushered of those tears that start

What memories of vigils, bloody, by that Cape, —

Ghoul-mound of man's perversity at balk

And fraternal massacre! Thou, pallid there as chalk

Hast kept of wounds, O Mourner, all that sum

That then from Appomattox stretched to Somme!

Cowslip and shad-blow, flaked like tethered foam

Around bared teeth of stallions, bloomed that spring

When first I read thy lines, rife as the loam

Of prairies, yet like breakers cliffward leaping!

O, early following thee, I searched the hill

Blue-writ and odor-firm with violets, 'til

With June the mountain laurel broke through green

And filled the forest with what clustrous sheen!

Potomac lilies, — then the Pontiac rose,

And Klondike edelweiss of occult snows!

White banks of moonlight came descending valleys —

How speechful on oak-vizored palisades,

As vibrantly I following down Sequoia alleys

Heard thunder's eloquence through green arcades

Set trumpets breathing in each clump and grass tuft — 'til

Gold autumn, captured, crowned the trembling hill!

Panis Angelicus ! Eyes tranquil with the blaze

Of love's own diametric gaze, of love's amaze!

Not greatest, thou, — not first, nor last, — but near

And onward yielding past my utmost year

Familiar, thou, as mendicants in public places;

Evasive — too — as dayspring's spreading arc to trace is: —

Our Meistersinger, thou set breath in steel;

And it was thou who on the boldest heel

Stood up and flung the span on even wing

Of that great Bridge, our Myth, whereof I sing!

Years of the Modern! Propulsions toward what capes?

But thou, Panis Angelicus , hast thou not seen

And passed that Barrier that none escapes —

But knows it leastwise as death-strife? — O, something green,

Beyond all sesames of science was thy choice

Wherewith to bind us throbbing with one voice,

New integers of Roman, Viking, Celt —

Thou, Vedic Caesar, to the greensward knelt!

And now, as launched in abysmal cupolas of space,

Toward endless terminals, Easters of speeding light —

Vast engines outward veering with seraphic grace

On clarion cylinders pass out of sight

To course that span of consciousness thou'st named

The Open Road — thy vision is reclaimed!

What heritage thou'st signalled to our hands!

And see! the rainbow's arch — how shimmeringly stands

Above the Cape's ghoul-mound, O joyous seer!

Recorders ages hence, yes, they shall hear

In their own veins uncancelled thy sure tread

And read thee by the aureole 'round thy head

Of pasture-shine, Panis Angelicus !

yes, Walt,

Afoot again, and onward without halt, —

Not soon, nor suddenly, — no, never to let go

My hand

in yours,

Walt Whitman —

so —

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Debbie's picture

Holy-moly! :) So many juicy metaphors so many stanzas which could have been best enjoyed on their own [for they were delicacies]. I did get to the end. I too love Witman. A life at sea is a grand romance! I can see you are enamoured with the word!

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