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Ode to Terminus

The High Priests of telescopes and cyclotrons
keep making pronouncements about happenings
   on scales too gigantic or dwarfish
   to be noticed by our native senses,

discoveries which, couched in the elegant
euphemisms of algebra, look innocent,
   harmless enough, but, when translated
   into the vulgar anthropomorphic

tongue, will not be received with hilarity
by gardeners or house-wives: if galaxies
   bolt like panicking mobs, if mesons
   riot like fish in a feeding-frenzy,

it sounds too like Political History
to boost civil morale, too symbolic of
   the crimes and strikes and demonstrations
   we are supposed to gloat on at breakfast.

How trite, though, our fears beside the miracle
that we’re here to shiver, that a Thingummy
   so addicted to lethal violence
   should have somehow secreted a placid

tump with exactly the right ingredients
to start and to cocker Life, that heavenly
   freak for whose manage we shall have to
   give account at the Judgement, our Middle-

-Earth, where Sun-Father, to all appearances,
moves by day from orient to occident
   and his light is felt as a friendly
   presence, not a photonic bombardment,

where all visibles do have a definite
outline they stick to and are undoubtedly
   at rest or on motion, where lovers
   recognize each other by their surface,

where to all species except the talkative
have been allotted the niche and diet that
   become them. This, whatever micro-
   biology may think, is the world we

really live in and that saves our sanity,
who know all too well how the most erudite
   mind behaves in the dark without a
   surround it is called on to interpret,

how, discarding rhythm, punctuation, metaphor,
it sinks into a drivelling monologue,
   too literal to see a joke or
   distinguish a penis from a pencil.

Venus and Mars are powers too natural
to temper our outlandish extravagance:
   You alone, Terminus the Mentor,
   can teach us how to alter our gestures.

God of walls, doors and reticence, nemesis
overtakes the sacrilegious technocrat,
   but blessed is the City which thanks You
   for giving us games and grammar and metres,

by whose grace also every gathering
or two or three in confident amity
   repeats the pentecostal marvel,
   as each in each finds his right translator.

In this world our colossal immodesty
has plundered and poisoned it is possible
   You still might save us, who by now have
   learned this: that scientists, to be lucky,

must remind us to take all they say as a
tall story, that abhorred in the Heavens are
   self-proclaimed poets who, to wow an
   audience, utter some resonant lie.

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