Friday, February 4, 2011

Fiction: The True Cause of World War 1. Part 3

Part 3. In which the poets reclaim their words from God.

The story so far... In Part 1 we met a group of poets in the early 20th century. Language is their love, their mistress, their all consuming passion. One day, a new poet named John Davies is introduced to the group. He seems naive and unlikely to be a crafter of words. He reads them a poem and they realize he is  someone extraordinary. In Part 2 John Davies reveals that he received a visitation from a heavenly messenger who told him he is destined to write the greatest poems of his generation, all in praise of God's return. He reads his friends a poem and they are compelled to write...

I wasn’t alone. We were all compelled to write throughout night, right where we were. We didn’t go home, we didn’t stop to wash the ink from our clothing or our hands.

The next day our fists were full of paper, our fingers ink-stained. We hadn't slept but, oh, we all were so alive and we all had the best poems we’d ever written. Sheaves of paper in praise of God, heralding God's arrival. This went on for days. We read each other poems, which compelled us to write more, praising God, praising creation, looking forward to heaven on earth. We didn’t drink or stop to eat beyond the barest sustenance nor barely to sleep. All there was, was poetry, glorious language and the hope of God’s retrun.

Every day John Davies had greater and greater poetry. His words were inspired beyond anything I had ever read, beyond anything that had ever existed. Soon John took to the streets reading his poems aloud on street corners and in parks, in markets and outside churches. Instead of ignoring him or mocking him as though mad, people stood and listened. The rag man, fish monger and the wealthy alike all were entranced. They would walk away telling each other of God's imminent arrival, their faces suffused with joy. The newsboys stopped calling out the latest murders and wars and instead screamed, “God is coming. Prepare yourselves for joy!”

It spread like ripples. Everyhere John went, all anyone could talk about was God. No longer did people discuss their own dreams and woes, cures for colic or recipes for bread. Business ground to  a halt in his wake. Anticipation filled every crack and alley. God was coming. And John was God’s herald.

I don't remember who got angry first - perhaps it was the one of us who tried to write letter to a friend but could only write praise. Or the one who threw down his pen in dismay when he tried to write “I had a good day” and instead wrote “God’s day is glorious. “ Or the one who wanted to write “I have a headache,” and instead penned, “God teaches through suffering.” We could no longer write anything other than God. There were no words in our hearts not full of God.

We began to talk in whispers. One by one we all admitted our rage except for John Davies, who was too full of glory to see what what had been stolen, too full of joy to mourn the loss of the voice of man. If part of what poets do is talk of man’s experiences so God can understand us, how can this god steal our voice? How can God understand anything of us now, when all our words are God’s? If poetry is God seeking to understand man, then how could God take man’s voice out of poetry?

What could we do? The bubble of praise was spreading. John was like a disease, everyone he touched, everyone he spoke to had nothing left, no words or hope or glory of their own. Nothing left but God.

Seigfried asked first. “Take us to your rooms, we want to meet this messenger, feel this heat.” John Davies refused.

Robert implored him. “Come. Let us see the light that creates poetry. Don’t you think we are as hungry to feed at the source as you were?”

John said nothing, only looked away. A few days later he came to us and said that yes, he would bring us to his rooms and show us the messenger.

His rooms were no different than mine. A few rooms, a bed and a desk, a coal stove, books. But in his room was light and warmth and grace such as we had never seen. We looked at it and it  sang celestial music to us.

And then, as if we were of one mind, we moved. It took six to hold it down, three to hold John back and only one to draw the knife across its glowing throat.

Blood poured out, staining its whiteness. Its blood was as red as any I had seen or would ever see again even in what was to come. In a voice unaffected by its wound, it asked us why we had done this. And one of us said that times are different now. Poetry is man talking to man, not just God.

Another said it was because we need our muses. God can’t be our only muse, we want to speak with the voice of man. We want to talk about man’s life, man’s experiences, man’s glory. Not only only about your god but the things that make us what we are. We've been away from the garden for a long time now, let us sing our own songs. God should be able to listen to us and grant us our own muses now.

It smiled a terrible smile and said in a gentle voice, “Very well then, you want a muse, you shall have a great and terrible muse.”

There was a gush of blood and it died. For some reason, I guess from the stain of childhood stories and the remains of a belief in the Bible, I expected the body to vanish, to be taken back to the heavens. Instead it simply lay there, inert and dark. Its light was gone. John Davies sagged to the floor and didn't move.

We cut off its wings and wrapped them up in a sheet. One of us carried that soft bundle, while two others draped its arms around their shoulders, pretending it was a drunken friend. We stumbled out late at night and when we could see no one watching us, we threw it into the Thames along with the bundled wings. Together, the body and wings sank with splash that hurt to hear.

Conclusion in Part 4.

(c)2011 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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