The Orator Gives His Final Argument

it is addressed thusly:
A vision
it reads:
O speaker, hear me -- may at least your ears
Be open that the wind that carries them
Reverberate against the great drum inside
And imprint my words into your memory.

Did you think - did thought have any more place
In you than wish, or emotion, or envious fear
Tearing at the seams and the bolts and nails
Of the world to try to get out?

Across the plain - the plain that is real,
That will be there when the houses die
And the roads melt to ash and gravel
A storm comes -- get in the cellar!

There is no cellar, says he, no cellar says he
There is naught but the wind that carries
My words to all, to move their hearts
To change their minds and save them.

Do you not know the world, I said,
That the world is blood and fire and iron
That it is old and vengeful but obeys
When the strong and holy command?

I look for the doors in vain; the doors!
There are none left here but those
Cerebus is dead; we must hide
Open the cellar! Open the cellar!

The house stands, he says, it must
For it is a house of justice and right
Or of fairness and good intent
Nature will spare it for she is good.

Fear goodness then I said, fear it
And flee the house; the storm
Across the purple sky, once
A sickly green, now dims.

It will pass, says he, this one will pass
And in any case why do you
Pursue me, if you want to save
Save those who hear the wind!

The wind is too loud then, too loud
And on it I hear voices, shouting
Do you hear them, speaker
They are crying out

Yes, he says, And let them hear me
Let them find their center and peace
Will be with them, and justice
And love for all sorts of men!

A shudder is heard, I think a sinking
Is beginning, where are the beams
Where are the rooms and walls
The great stones and pillars?

The bolts and nails where are they
Where did you put them? This place
Will not pass inspection anymore
If anyone cares to inspect.

I tore them out, he said, for they
Were not reasonable nails, nor
Were their pattern just, their colors
Were of a race, of a kind.

I could not remove the facade
For without it there would be nothing
The house remains, in state
A state of a house

I will go, then, I said, I will go
And hide myself in the earth
And rise when the sun shows
Rise when the land turns

But where is the cellar? I thought
I thought there was a basement
Where I could cower and shudder
At the wrath to come;

He said, they filled it in for it had
Had it in no more profit and dark
Deep darkness is unreasonable
For the world is now flat;

Where did they go, I asked him
All of those who dwell there
All of those who hide in the dark
Who spin and wait for death?

He said, God is dead and so are
All of his angels, there is now
Nothing at all for any man
To fear at any time!

No, said I, God lives and is now
Wroth in his bright judgment
Where shall I hide my family
From the winds that you have brought?

We are all family now, he said
You and I are brothers
Once you begin to feel this truth
It will all begin to make some sense.

Think of my wife then I said
We are of a part, the same flesh
Where will she go for shelter
When the wind strikes me down?

Your love is nothing but hatred
For you love but only a woman
Love all women! For such big love
Is what the wind is telling.

Yes, I truly hate, I despise all women
That I may love just one, my children
Are favored so I must therefore
Disdain those on the wind.

See, he said, now you are enlightened
Perhaps you will now join me
But as he began his speaking
A loud crack began to ring;

Fool, I said, what house can stand
That is but now an eggshell
The wind will tear it open
And pluck us from it dead;

We shall transcend the house then,
And join those on the wind
Can you hear their song
Can you hear their singing?

The house it was our prison
He said to me confiding
We must break it down
Or see to it that it breaks!

It was no prison said I
Do you remember when
Do you remember anything
Can you see your memory?

In summer, we went out among
The fields, wearing brightness
Among the gold an image
We saw the light of God;

In spring the dead arose
And turning off the furnace
We made ourselves browner
Digging in the earth;

In the winter we sang loudly
As neighbor-to-neighbor went
And lo the wine and cheer
The smoke and snowy white;

In the autumn we danced gaily
We were gay amid the wilting
And the wilting was a pageant
And the joy a funeral;

Hah, said he, you never knew
Such joys nor ever were they
Available to all men and so
They are handsome, but all lies

For God is dead! He was saying
As if an invocation,
Of something, of truly something
Of something that did not exist;

The dead God is your own,
For you too are dying, I said
But he could not hear me
Over the howling of the wind;

But as I watched him turning
The west wall fell upon him
Its beam had truly split him
A man sundered as an egg;

The winds came in, all-screaming
And so I began digging,
With whatever tools in searching
In searching I could find;

The earth was dry and useless
A dust-bowl of the grayness
The dark of purple evening
Of violet twilight-time;

His blood ran fresh all outward
The wall, so great and heavy
He averred I should not move it
But asked me why I dig

He said, as though in dreaming
The body he was transcending
That I should also try it
That I should tell the winds

He gave to me his mantle
Not that he had such rainment
To tell all of the masses
Of his glorious new find;

I said to him at last
Having six-feet dug with shovel
Amid the choking dust
Amid the choking dust;

The seed as you know must perish
It must sometime be broken
If it is to transcend
If it is to ascend;

But the seed is not a shell
But in truth it is what is in it
The seed that is within it
Is what tells us what will be;

But this seed is hidden
This new life is embryonic;
It is truly nascent
It is a new body that will be;

But if the seed is broken
If it is sundered all too early
If it finds not water
It will know unending death;

I dig you then a chamber
I plant you for this act
Is what a man can do
Is the blessing of the dead;

No, he said, don't bless me
With your superstitious mind
Break free and see beyond it
And see it as mere belief!

But as we spoke the crumbling
Walls were now revealing
Eliot's hooded masses
The locusts of the pit;

What are those? He asked me quickly
They are the terrible powers,
I said while dragging his body
Tearing it from beneath the wall

All of those things he spoke of
The Divine and the Prophet too
Are living, but are waiting
Waiting for their day;

Did you walk in darkness,
Did you feel the forest
In the depths of desolation
Under only star and moon?

There they still dare lurk
Lurking they are waiting
And the angels hide in belfries
And hide from your blinded eyes;

For when your eyes were opened
You pierced them with your hands
You pierced them with your hands
And saw but what you wished;

And this great house was your prison
In it you thought of knowledge
In it you thought of wisdom
While the wind blew on & on;

All of those powers! Their wisdom
Their so-much-greater cunning
They had no need to fight us
But pretend they were no more;

God's judgment upon the faithless
Is none other than their own
For as the old curse says,
"May you get what you truly desire."

He was beginning to look paler
And I wrenched him from the wreckage
He said, my wounds please bandage
I said, It will not help.

Your bones are crushed and your chest
Is collapsed below the sternum
A bandage will do nothing
But slow your poor demise.

Across the back of the east wall
Were piles of gauze and bandage
Were but drugs and pillows
Bedframes half-destroyed.

Have pity on me and help me!
Is what he to me was saying
As his poor body I was dragging
Was dragging to the earth;

A box! An old crate was sitting
In which came some old equipment
The winch and the reeling
Of an ancient crane;

But the box was empty;
So It I carried over
It I carried over
And thew it in the pit.

Wait, he said, 'tis murder!
You'll cast me in this lumber
You'll suffocate me in revenge
You'll crush me in a pit!

But his words were weaker
And dragging him his rasping
His rasping voice was waning
Though he knew it not;

Across the violet sky the masses
Drew on, across this plain
Dry as a dead valley in winter
Full of dead mens' bones;

At length their masses came to
A place where once a house stood
But now it was a wreckage
Nary a soul was there for food;

But cities in the distance
Ones whose fatherland
Was drawn from somewhere deeper
Stood and defied the wind;

They say that once in history
Once in the histories of men
Some lived in this house
They sang and thanked the rain.

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