it would all be remote in five years’ time
with much of the worst all over in three:
harvesters would stretch out at work again
dreamers would chart their courses for Cockaigne.
they had had solid winters to traverse:
they had stood on ice deeper than most saws—
gloomy days escapes deaths of innocents
with those to survive the Triumph of Death.
the dying outnumbered in those locales
the living, and the dead outnumbered both:
no lute could stay tuned no sword could defend
no table could hide no dame could escape.
Death waged war—in naked armor men fought
cadavers frolict to rhythms Death-thumped
mules and horses dead drowned men left to swell
unminded flames blazed bright both night and day:
few laborers left to shake a stick at!
what a rotten spring in April arrives!
with rival hungers Hell rose from the ground
a vertical Hell too high by some counts
as Babel’s tower thrusting almost up.
what living remain stark staring torn trees
(shocks keep them upright fears keep them awake)
in all directions blight has marched through dark
penetrating deep the darker deep depths.
no owl tells us how we were overcome
or reminds us how we learned to adapt
no matter where we sit or how we stare—
all parades now march away to one day.
the blackest gloom reserved: the blackest sky
no sign of life a thousand signs of death
exsanguinated shores still flailing arms
blights of fire-pitted dark in this tall Hell
this climbing black-fuming tower of Hell.
Feature image Source: Self: Detail from Hieronymus Bosch Tryptich of Garden of Earthly Delights. c. 1500. Oil on panel, central panel: 220 x 195 cm, wings: 220 x 97 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid.