Sunday, August 27, 2006

13 | "The final dance"       [sestina]

Let the lamp affix its beam
and cast its motley light perchance
if be may tronce the feint of seem
we'll see in end a fine romance
the Emperor of fond Icecream
may join us for the final dance

With Tandava   the swirling dance
in all directions casts its beam
the Emperor of fond Icecream
is churning in his sea perchance
the world is lost in sheer romance
of be   and loses touch with seem

If be is here   and there is seem
the twain may join in courtly dance
the consequence is high romance
which sends to every world its beam
the glint of it arrives perchance
when Emperors enjoy Icecream

The Emperor of pure Icecream
delights in every form of seem
he laughs across the bridge of chance
and lends his grace to every dance
to see   one needs a steady beam
but in the haze   one feels romance

The origin of lost romance
the Emperor of real Icecream
the language of the shining beam
the purpose of the realm of seem
the deep purport within the dance
these are a single thing perchance

We skid across the plane of chance
and lose the thread of true romance
our feet forget the ancient dance
the Emperor has no Icecream?
none pierce the thickest veil of seem
yet from the thicket comes a beam

Amid the dance we see the beam
the high romance is wrapped in seem
Imperioal chance scoops out Icecream


The first line of this sestina is borrowed verbatim (and the third line is borrowed in an altered form) from Wallace Stevens' enigmatic philosophical poem The Emperor of Ice Cream (1922). Tandava is the name of the great dance (generally conceived as a dance of both creation and destruction) performed in mythic space by Lord Siva. The critic Helen Vendler has given detailed background notes regarding Stevens' poem here (though I did not read nor consider these when writing the sestina).


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