KЛИHOM


Excerpts from Stephen Crane’s The Black Riders by Rob
February 17, 2009, 2:37 pm
Filed under: literature

III

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter — bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

IX

I stood upon a high place,
And saw, below, many devils
Running, leaping,
and carousing in sin.
One looked up, grinning,
And said, “Comrade! Brother!”

XXII

Once I saw mountains angry,
And ranged in battle-front.
Against them stood a little man;
Aye, he was no bigger than my finger.
I laughed, and spoke to one near me,
“Will he prevail?”
“Surely,” replied this other;
“His grandfathers beat them many times.”
Then did I see much virtue in grandfathers —
At least, for the little man
Who stood against the mountains.

XXIV

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never — ”

“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.

XXX

Supposing that I should have the courage
To let a red sword of virtue
Plunge into my heart,
Letting to the weeds of the ground
My sinful blood,
What can you offer me?
A gardened castle?
A flowery kingdom?

What? A hope?
Then hence with your red sword of virtue.

LVI

A man feared that he might find an assassin;
Another that he might find a victim.
One was more wise than the other.

LVII

With eye and with gesture
You say you are holy.
I say you lie;
For I did see you
Draw away your coats
From the sin upon the hands
Of a little child.
Liar!

LXVI

If I should cast off this tattered coat,
And go free into the mighty sky;
If I should find nothing there
But a vast blue,
Echoless, ignorant —
What then?

LXVII

God lay dead in heaven;
Angels sang the hymn of the end;
Purple winds went moaning,
Their wings drip-dripping
With blood
That fell upon the earth.
It, groaning thing,
Turned black and sank.
Then from the far caverns
Of dead sins
Came monsters, livid with desire.
They fought,
Wrangled over the world,
A morsel.
But of all sadness this was sad —
A woman’s arms tried to shield
The head of a sleeping man
From the jaws of the final beast.

LXVIII

A spirit sped
Through spaces of night;
And as he sped, he called,
“God! God!”
He went through valleys
Of black death-slime,
Ever calling,
“God! God!”
Their echoes
From crevice and cavern
Mocked him:
“God! God! God!”
Fleetly into the plains of space
He went, ever calling,
“God! God!”
Eventually, then, he screamed,
Mad in denial,
“Ah, there is no God!”
A swift hand,
A sword from the sky,
Smote him,
And he was dead.

BONUS VIDEO: A baby porcupine with the hiccups, eating a banana slice.

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