Angst Week: ‘Tis But the Ecstasy of Death

I, as the Muse of Tragedy, begin this week’s theme of dark artistry by giving you an ever so angsty and artistic poem, recently published by Literary Apologetics Magazine.

‘Tis but the Ecstasy of Death

A Thing with Feathers needs its neck wrung. [1]

Where Poet, Bard and Story Teller[2] see

with Nietzsche

a Casualty,[3]there is a faith and despair sung.

Evil and Christ are historic events,

and God is a character actor.


Through time and space are cosmic rents,

wrenching and stretching both directions beyond sight, and

The tightly knit circle of family, tradition, and faith

was broken by the sudden length

of wisdom and age hitherto forgotten

in a hitherto unrecognized puddle of this, this new mortality.


Where the deductable line extends beyond human sight, and the unknown past is shadowed by the forgotten future where faith is lost, man hides in a padded room,

Taking refuge in insecurity and for some strange reason not finding it there.

Where the end is beyond faith and even hope, love and hope contradict, the tale is made tall, the Teller rends hearts, and the cloudy soul begins to loom.

In the full sun he has only his own shadow, and nothing to stand between.


A man balks at torturous practices yet cannot condemn what he sees as evil, obscuring himself beyond the ability to know what he sees,

only because he rejects his very eyes as an optical illusion.

To step beyond that contented prison[4]and make faith more than an end apart,

to make suffering more than endurable,

a virtue.


And to that aim, where do the neat lines of order and succession appear on the map?

Where are the old memories and old houses and old ways that confined and graced the dry, slow, old days?

The same stars watch both men and devils and have nothing to say.

In the dark, up the stairs, mothers fight the shadows, forlorn.[5]

And still that ghostly Thing takes hold and commands a voice beyond the mind of a mere secretary.[6]

Man is sick of being “identical to himself”,[7] yet for the most part he cannot keep hold the key to his doors.[8]

Taking the man and seeing a comet, watching the distance draw back on itself. If poetry plugs your ears – cope, damn it! It is by far safer to burn your heart. Love scorches with a worse fear, with a desire to rush home –


It is the undisciplined offspring throwing a fit of passion in a public place, where nothing you can do will hush him.

Fair trade for a fair people. The quality of “goodness” abounds among those who do not want to be free.

Both, both, and all, long to sink their teeth into something more than the Bread offered.[9] They hold close a living image of foreshadowing. A Julia among the ashes.[10]


There is a magpiety that swoops through the heart of a dark wood, despite the denial of it’s existence.[11]

To reach but Not to grasp

That Heavenly apple on a Tree – [12]

It Burns if Touched.

Ash and Twigs breathe – oh glee.

Men do not want miracles, cannot see miracles because they need faith for them. They do not want what they cannot have because they can.

They cannot seize because their fingers are too limp.

Maybe on a divine graph, the “trajectory of God’s decline” is more than a line. [13]


Guiltless, flawed, blameless, wicked, accessible, natural, innocent,

man is permissible.[14]



The trouble is being known despite the desire to tell, grasping at self as at straws, hollow, crownless.[15] Men have no kings.

The Poet ran, the Bard watched, and the Teller cried . . . .

Man fell, but maybe he is happy there in the dirt,

perhaps the infant does not want to stand.

They might have a life-preserver, but no land or ship.

Children, childish, who will not walk.

Wordless, mute, who wish to talk.

There is a Splinter under a Fingernail,

Exacted from a rough hewn Dream.

It hurts that Strength is still so Frail.

Sensible to Feeling, not to Sight.

Trapped in a minute Fray where

The Sunlight is – that Niggling bite.

All these are prunes to keep secularity regular.

The ideas, sold as fresh, are wrinkled and sticky.


The Teller should sing the Poet a drunken lullaby, the Poet must slap the Teller, while the Bard locks eyes with his lusting lute.

Tradition is diseased and life has leprosy.


The Wager is too iffy[16] . . . . . the geometry is pretty.

All in all, that damned Thing needs to fly and then to inhabit an aged, wild, wine cellar, where the dark has rich, warm, damp, musty air.

What flings the Wind across the Sky?

And why can’t I Catch a Ride?

What draws the Stream across the Land?

And can I Follow stride for Stride?

Why does the moon Wax and Wane?

Why do I Need love to Grow?

Why do clouds Cover the stars?

And why does that hurt Me so?

At the end, balance is not man’s. He can only delay the defeat, unless he dares to capitulate in reality.[17]

To fight the thugs, and after being stripped, torn, and your lambs taken away, requires the hands of another to lift that wine, that Blood.[18]

Where, in the time to come and pass – oh curse the predestined fires and shiver in the chaos of the terrible fury –  where, in that time, we may not stand alone?[19]

He does not dare to stand on feet that are nailed to a log, or rest in bloody arms, to admit the strength of men, the glory, the power, the bloody charms.

She would have been a good woman if someone had been there to kill her every minute of her life.[20]

To Hell

with goodness. Suffering as a hope is all that remains to those that want to be still more, than a puddle.

To terrify is to purify.

To purgation, and Purgatory, and growing things.

[1] “Hope is a Thing with Feathers” Emily Dickinson. [2] Emily Dickinson, Czeslaw Milosz, Fydor Dostoesky. [3] “God is dead” Nietzsche. [4] “A prison gets to be a friend . . . . a geometric joy.” Dickinson. [5] “Mother . . climbs up to the shadow . . and so she struggles alone.” The Stairs. Milosz. [6] “I am no more than a secretary.” Secretaries. Milosz. [7] “Melancholy with remaining identical to himself.” What Does It Mean. Milosz. [8] “There are no keys . . and invisible ghosts come in and out.” Ars Poetica? Milosz. [9]“And for those of whom have not the strength to forgo the earthly bread for the heavenly?” The Grand Inquisitor. Dostoevsky. [10] Julia. Brideshead Revsited. Evelyn Waugh. [11] “Magpiety.” Magpiety. Milosz. [12] “Heaven is an apple . . .  just out of reach.” Dickinson. [13] “Tracing the trajectory of God’s decline.” The Art of Believing. Roger Lundin. [14] “If God does not exist, everything is permissible.” Brothers Karamazov. Dostoevsky. [15] “Men to anticipate – instead of Kings.” A Child’s Faith is New. Dickinson. [16] Pascal’s Wager [17] . .  can only delay the enemy’s success. ” Father Ch. Many Years Later. Milosz. [18] “They had to hold up his hands . . . as he raised the host and wine . . he was beaten by the thugs of the Empire. Father Ch. Many Years Later. Milosz. [19] “The whole abyss shivered, as if it felt love.” Inferno, Canto 12.40-44. Dante. [20] A Good Man is Hard to Find. Flannery O’Conner.


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