Two Poems

by Ariel Riveros Pavez

 

Karl Marx/Christopher Pearse Cranch Mashup

I

A WONDROUS light is filling the air, And rimming the clouds of the old despair;
And hopeful eyes look up to see Truth’s mighty electricity,–

A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism.
All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.

Where is the opposition party that has not been decried as communist by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition party that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Auroral shimmerings swift and bright, That wave and flash in the silent night,– Magnetic billows
travelling fast, And flooding all the spaces vast From dim horizon to farthest cope
Of heaven, in streams of gathering hope. Silent they mount and spread apace,
And the watchers see old Europe’s face
Lit with expression new and strange,– The prophecy of coming change.

Meantime, while thousands, wrapt in dreams, Sleep heedless of the electric gleams, Or
ply their wonted work and strife, Or plot their pitiful games of life; While the
emperor bows in his formal halls, And the clerk whirls on at the masking balls; While the lawyer sits
at his dreary files, And the banker fingers his glittering piles, And the priest kneels
down at his lighted shrine, And the fop flits by with his mistress fine,–

The diplomat works at his telegraph wires: His back is turned to the heavenly fires.
Over him flows the magnetic tide, And the candles are dimmed by the glow outside.

II

Mysterious forces overawe, Absorb, suspend the natural law.
The needle stood northward an hour ago; Now it veers like a weathercock to and fro.
The message he sends flies not as once; The unwilling wires yield no response.
Those iron veins that pulsed but late From a tyrant’s will to a people’s fate,

Flowing and ebbing with feverish strength, Are seized by a Power whose breadth and length,
Whose height and depth, defy all gauge Save the great spirit of the age.
The mute machine is moved by a law That knows no accident or flaw,
And the iron thrills to a different chime Than that which rang in the dead old time.

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word,
oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one
another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time
ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large,
or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

For Heaven is taking the matter in hand, And baffling the tricks of the tyrant band.
The sky above and the earth beneath Heave with a supermundane breath.
Half-truths, for centuries kept and prized, By higher truths are polarized.
Like gamesters on a railroad train, Careless of stoppage, sun or rain,
We juggle, plot, combine, arrange, And are swept along by the rapid change.
And some who from their windows mark The unwonted lights that flood the dark,
Little by little, in slow surprise Lift into space their sleepy eyes;
Little by little are made aware That a spirit of power is passing there,–

That a spirit is passing, strong and free,–
The soul of the nineteenth century. for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions,
it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation …
Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions,
everlasting uncertainty and agitation
distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones
… All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face
with sober senses, his real conditions of life,
and his relations with his kind.

III

THOUGHT is deeper than all speech,
Feeling deeper than all thought: Souls to souls never can teach
What unto themselves was taught. We are spirits clad in veils;
Man by man was never seen; All our deep communing fails

To remove the shadowy screen. Heart to heart was never known;
Mind with mind did never meet; We are columns left alone
Of a temple once complete. Like the stars that gem the sky,
Far apart though seeming near, In our light we scattered lie;

All is thus but starlight here. What is social company
But a babbling summer stream? What our wise philosophy
But the glancing of a dream?

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement
against the existing social and political order of things.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims.
They openly declare that their ends can be attained
only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions
Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communist revolution.
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
They have a world to win.

Only when the Sun of Love
Melts the scattered stars of thought, Only when we live above
What the dim-eyed world hath taught, Only when our souls are fed
By the Fount which gave them birth, And by inspiration led

Which they never drew from earth, We, like parted drops of rain,
Swelling till they meet and run, Shall all be absorbed again,
Melting, flowing, into one.

Workers of the world, unite!

A Summer of Unruly Loneliness

It was when the food
ran out I foraged
in grass lust
and cut from an
unsharpened arch blade
all those who poked at corpses.

Being told, on a drive,
that common genocides
to this day toll like bells
almost at
some unbearable sonar

of history and balanced accounts
of tracks pursued
and immediate flaring vengeances and a diurnal
brick bridge holds it all fast
for commerce.

I took to bushy streets
sang at milestone posts
on a country road
like some bard
recalling Ossian’s Dream

and the valiance of
Cu Challain at
the dread peninsular
which I’ve never experienced

but at dislocated hours
I had certainly wept for
like a fairytale at forty

and I couldn’t enter again
for sex and lost thresholds.
Diogenes wore a barrel

and his search was a home.
I sought the brilliant eyes
and grace taken in steps
yet I carried that lantern
and doubted populations

somewhere, that doubt was justified, of course,
an axiom, the necessity to grind and to stop grinding

I’d brought back no money
few gifts and a documentation
of little slaughters
that have already
been resolved
but in spite
of magical speeds
there was the certainty of grudges and everyday abuses
and of loneliness as spur.

As all scholars know hermitage
of an emeritus who sought decency
to ask for forgetting
of just another common genocide
that has simmered
and been contained
with a fire break to stop
any damage

from a fire that found out
not only did it give light
and warmth but burnt
and the whirlwind
went to the trees.

Ariel Riveros Pavez is a writer from Sydney, Australia. Born in Chile, he attended Sydney University and the Australian Institute of Music. He was the event manager and MC for erstwhile Sydney poetry event “The Blue Space! Poetry Jam” and has had his work published in Abaddon, ETZ and Journal of Postcolonial Text amongst others. He is currently working on a series of faux essays much in the vein of Georges Perec’s “Cantatrix Sopranica” and enjoys Brazilian samba.
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