Breaking the Spell

I know a man named Billy Host,
Who says he is Will Shakespeare’s ghost.
Till overrun by ale and gin
For years he ran the Garter Inn,
Where he was held in high regard
For quoting oft the famous bard:
A bawdy pun, a pithy phrase,
Plucked from the poems, songs, and plays,
Would cause the womenfolk to flirt
And keep their lovers’ minds alert.
But if with him you now commerce,
You’ll hear instead his own quaint verse,
Which he of course avers to be
Composed by Will disguised as “me”.
Though far from great it isn’t bad,
Considering the author’s mad;
Moreover method it contains,
And through the terse, archaic strains –
Delivered often when he’s tight –
Eternal truths are brought to light:
“I tell you, Dean, the word’s profound
Because of meaning – not of sound;
An honest word will bear the truth,
Although the ‘midwife’ be uncouth.”
“Lyrists love sound,” I did contest.
“You’re right,” said he, “I partly jest;
‘The man that hath no music…’, note,
Winds up a speech ‘yours truly’ wrote.”
His drollest lines, at least to me,
Are those in which he artfully
Protests some “knave” abuses Will –
Or to “himself”, that is, does ill.
For instance, after watching Kate
“Bearing” her man on screen of late:
“They have befouled my bawdy wit
By shooting bird’s nest, cock, and tit!
These secret things are now on show
To every kite the wind may blow.”
(That Shakespeare used pentameter,
Seldom the docked tetrameter,
Doesn’t curtail our dogged Bill:
“With sound bites I’ll the Sound Bite kill!”).
I should, however, make the point
That, when Bill’s humour’s “out of joint”,
His “Muse” seems more like Jeremiah,
Tempered by Micah or “First” Isaiah.
I reckon it’s some Jewish gene –
His mother’s name was Debbie Stein.
    When Host bowed out, he bought a place
Surrounded by sufficient space
For all the flowers, herbs, and trees
That would his “ancient memory” please.
“As well as New Place,” he would joke,
“I call my homestead Old Herne’s Oak.”
And so began – “You mean resumed!” –
A pastime “I had last assumed
At Stratford in my golden years
Happier far than foolish Lear’s.
Though tapping is a ‘drier’ trade
And spigot lighter than a spade,
As when one has a merry wife
To sow and husband seasons life.”
In short a gardener he became,
And since has landed much acclaim –
For every plant in Shakespeare found
Is brought to life in Billy’s ground.
He pointed out the other day
That gardening is the English way
Of praising God, and “getting” hope
When  hard it is for us to cope.
“And though, alack, the silver sea
No longer keeps us safe and free,
Our lovely gardens still suffice
For deeming England paradise.”
    As said, Bill isn’t always gay;
Against life’s foes he will inveigh –
Especially those who soil the earth
Through greed, and thus engender dearth:
“Since Western hedonists assume
The world’s their oyster, they consume
Her treasures at a frantic speed,
Mistaking lust for basic need.
With every so-called leap he takes
Prometheus builds up the stakes;
The greater his benighted gall
The farther , when it comes, the fall.
While he believes that Reason reigns
Through ‘Science’ and artificial brains,
Like Internet his ‘smart bombs’ tell
That he is under some strange spell,
Which, though it’s made him ague-proof,
Has forced him to become aloof,
Vicarious, voyeuristic, cold;
Afraid of life and growing old.
This spell, I do suspect, was cast
By ‘Christ’ himself, who till the last
Believed ‘God’s Kingdom’ was at hand:
Apocalypse on all would land.
While he was loving, others weren’t –
Within them flames of hatred burnt;
Thus, when their ‘Kingdom’ failed to come
And blow away the ‘Roman scum’,
On ‘Armageddon’ they would dwell
Or else upon the ‘Fires of Hell’.”
“Christ,” I demurred, “was not ‘aloof’
Nor, for that matter, ‘ague-proof’.
And how can men consumed with ‘fire’
Be ‘cold’ when they express their ire?”
“He cast the spell, and it became
In lesser souls who used his name
A cause of loathing for the earth;
For natural laws, as death and birth.
By plying genes and Internet
We’ll more apocalyptic get,
Since through such means men think they will
Time and the ageing process kill –
Today’s genetic engineer
Is certain Resurrection’s near.
And all because your Myth implies
That man to Godhood will arise.”
So, like the poet dubbed St. Paul
(Though such a reading would him gall),
Against Apocalypse I preach
And through my verse attempt to teach
That, thanks to Luther and the rest,
The Western psyche’s still possessed.”
     “Paul was a mystic,” I replied;
“But Christ himself” (and then I sighed)
“Believed the Kingdom like a seed
Could grow on earth, if men agreed
To live for justice, love, and life –
Not least because continued strife
Would end in catastrophic fray
And bring the dreaded Judgement Day.
What followed is no mystery,
In view of human history;
And once again the End seems near
And thoughtful folk are gripped by fear.”
“Not bad,” said Bill; “you argue well.
Perhaps ‘Christ’ didn’t cast the spell,
But quelled his fear the End was nigh
By hoping hate in all would die
When they beheld his works of love
Performed through faith in God above.
And now perchance at last you’ll say
If you believe in ‘Judgement Day’;
For, as a member of the cloth,
You must consider ‘Holy Wrath’.”
“I do  indeed,” I answered straight;
“What’s more, we haven’t long to wait
Till Christ the Judge returns with sword
Either to punish or reward.”
“In other words, it’s now too late
For man to thwart this awesome ‘fate’?”
“It’s not too late to save your Soul –
Believe in Christ, and you’ll be whole!”
    Bill sat himself beneath a tree,
Then, looking up, he said to me:
“On justice first I shall discourse,
And will some points you’ve made endorse.
Though Yeshu loathed those priests and scribes
Who crushed the poor with threats and bribes,
A kind of ‘Christian’ can’t see why
Without true justice love’s a lie.
He ends up either being weak,
Turning to thugs the other cheek,
Or loving those whom ‘Christ’ would curse –
Allowing them to do far worse.
A different sort of ‘Christian’ fool
Himself the poor intends to rule,
Along with Jesus, ‘Son of Man’ –
Fulfilling thus ‘The Maker’s Plan’.
This zealot, far from being meek,
Is ‘Armageddon’  forced to seek;
Had he the ‘vials’ and ‘tongues of flame’,
He’d burn the world in ‘Christ’s’ good name.
He has humaneness sacrificed,
And is himself ‘The Antichrist’.
It’s true most ‘Christians’ don’t endorse
Such gross injustice, shame, or force;
Yet, I repeat, we in the West
Are by apocalypse possessed,
And  thanks to new technology
Believe unbound we soon shall be.
As Mammon spins the world-wide web,
Our grip on truth begins to ebb:
Our virtual leaders – wolfish crooks,
Selected for their TV looks –
Reduce procedure to a show
With packs of lies on video;
But, since today each ‘far-fetched’ thought
Through some machine to ‘flesh’ is brought
Within the twinkling of an eye,
They can the Souls of millions buy.
Thus global marketeers have caught
Through Internet the fools they’ve taught
That, far from being Mammon’s feed,
They would from fiscal cares be freed.
Due to insatiable  ‘Free Trade’,
These moguls think they’ve got it made;
Yet, while they paupers crop and bleed,
They are themselves devoured by greed.
And money’s not the only form
Of lust that’s changed the moral norm:
Since photographs usurped the word
Pornography goads on the herd.
And, as with thoughts, we also find
What once were symbols  in the mind
Are incarnated –”  “Like the Word?”
“The Centaur’s next –” “Don’t be absurd!”
“I’m told I only see the bad
In high tech goods, and should be glad
For instance for the mobile phone,
Since now we’ll never be alone:
Through satellite, we each can call
Our shrink from Etna or Nepal.
To such complacent ‘clones’ I say,
It’s time you sorted night from day:
The voice of God one never gleans
From heartless valves in Hell’s machines;
Through satellite the West has taught
The world apocalyptic thought.
Our hubris, which so great has grown,
In all such ‘aids’ is clearly shown –
The satellites themselves create
The weather they prognosticate.
And, by my troth! there’s so much noise
From all these diabolic toys;
Throughout the world the strident Beep
Disables thought and shatters sleep.
O would mankind restore some quiet,
It’s Satan’s voice that leads a riot!”
    Thus we return to Bill’s main theme:
The crisis that had sired his dream
To be God’s gardener while he could
And hence for earth to do some good.
Though he believes it’s not too late
To save the world, he likes to state:
“We whites have burnt the ozone layer;
To earth the black man is the heir.”
Inside my head I then recount
With dread Christ’s Sermon on The Mount.
Bill knows that gardens on their own
Can’t balance forests overthrown,
Nor foster such diversity
Of life one can in jungles see.
His “greenness” thus transcends the yoke,
Or wall, surrounding Old Herne’s Oak.
    Some pages back, you may recall,
I mentioned Judgement Day and Paul.
To those key topics let’s return,
So more regarding Bill you’ll learn.
On second thoughts, I’ll first record
More words of his about the Lord,
Or Jesus Christ, whom he’d define
“A prophet, but no God of mine.”
His spurning Christ’s divinity –
In short the Holy Trinity –
Reflects, I feel, a Jewish fear
That, since Christ’s death, God isn’t near:
“To claim God entered history
But once – despite the mystery
That love pertains to Present Tense –
Means, saving then, He’s absent hence.”
“God was a man but once,” I said,
“And took our sins upon His head.
In spirit He’s been always here:
The Perfect Tense is also dear.
And yet, O let us shout Amen!,
As Christ He’s going to come again.”
“Of course God’s always been around,
But Yeshu won’t again be found
On earth – unless, that is, we all
Will rise at some great Trumpet Call.
In other words he was, like us,
Merely a man. So quit the fuss!”
    So now to Paul, for Host the key
To setting the “Western psyche” free
(By chance I reaped these lines of Bill
While he was planting rows of dill):

“When Pharisee  himself he called,
Was Saul  by certain Jews appalled
For naming Yeshu ‘Son of Man’,
Who soon would come with master plan
To rule the world on God’s behalf
And with his friends sort wheat from chaff.

“Though doubtless God all means could use,
Saul felt He wouldn’t Yeshu choose:
This Hasid surely had downplayed
The Law, which God Himself had made.
And yet the man had loved the Lord,
Endorsed the ploughshare not the sword;

“Moreover, that some deemed he’d risen
From death and from the earthy prison
Of flesh – which Saul in truth despised,
Not least because the Soul he prized –
The thought began to wrack Saul’s mind
That he himself was sorely blind.

“This caused a crisis in his ‘soul’,
When persecution was the goal,
Till suddenly – I must propose –
Inside his mind the Self arose.
The form it took and he projected
Was him whose dream he had rejected.

“By ‘Self’ I mean the ark-like core
Within the psyche — thus the door
Through which the Lord reveals to man
Potential ‘wholeness’ and that plan
Those ‘Christians’ thought was still above,
Concerning justice, truth, and love.

“The image that on Saul now shone
Till then was termed ‘Adám Kadmón’.
This archetypal ‘Man’, some felt,
Within God’s mind had always dwelt
And, like ‘he’d’ done in Eden prior,
Would incarnate – as The Messiah.

“This ‘Son of God’, in being ‘whole’,
Comprised both male and female ‘soul’.
Thus ‘he’ in ‘Christ’ was well reflected,
When Self on Yeshu was projected:
For Saul had fancied all along
This healer’s female side was strong.

“No sooner than it had been born
The outward image had withdrawn.
‘Apostle Paul’ thenceforth imparted
‘Christ’ dwelt within the faithful-hearted
And was as Saviour, Lord, and Muse
The living gospel, or good news.

“Thus the apocalyptic trend,
Which sanctions earth’s horrific end,
That in the Christian Myth’s enclosed
Is by Paul’s loving thought deposed,
Enabling folk to stay the course
In God’s dear world, still marred by force.

“But here’s the rub! Most folk today
Cannot within this mind-set stay:
For myth to them is just a lie,
And ‘Science’ to all they must apply.
So, to prevent Paul’s truth’s rejection,
You should expose his great projection.”

    “You’re hinting, then,” I gravely said,
“The Christian faith is better dead?”
“I’m hinting, Dean, that every ‘soul’ –
Not only Yeshu’s – can be ‘whole’.
Creative persons need but God,
Not others’ rites they reckon odd:
Yeshu himself refused to follow
Those brittle laws he couldn’t swallow.
    God’s will on earth can not be done,
Unless the heart and mind are one.”
“Are you a Gnostic?” whispered I.
“I do not know,” was Bill’s reply.
“You are!” I quavered, turning red.
“Thou sayest so,” he smugly said.
    A silence followed, then a wave
Of lines I didn’t try to stave
(In truth I was profoundly moved;
Of Billy’s outburst I approved):
“Through living proof and epigram,
Muhammad, Yeshu, Avraham
Revealed that God can not be ‘known’
Except by those who ‘whole’ have grown;
That they who love, through empathy
Can God’s true Oneness surely see
(While they who hate have ‘lost’ their Soul,
And can’t discern that God is Whole);
That they who choose the path of love
Know God’s on earth – not just above;
That, if to Maker one is true,
One can’t but think and feel and do
Within the sacred here and now
Where ‘word’ is ‘flesh’ and I am thou.
Accept the Lord within, and be
Confirmed by synchronicity!
 When will Prometheans perceive
Their tools could never time deceive –
Since time is God’s own instrument
For making things impermanent –
And yet through love all  Souls can breach
Eternity, which flesh can’t reach. …
Good poets write with all their heart,
The best make life their work of art;
For me, at least, ‘life’ is the garden –
For here, I feel, I’ll reap God’s pardon;
Here, also, whether gold or green,
God’s own best works are clearly seen
And, for divinely subtle reasons,
Time is determined  by the seasons –
Not by impatient human thought,
That always has destruction wrought.
When gardens in the spring revive,
The wholesome Self doth come alive;
And miracle’s a word for fools –
Through Natural Law the Maker rules
(‘Linear time’ is but projection
By ego of the Law’s rejection).
So let’s pre-empt the ‘Global Fire’
By growing out of ‘The Messiah’
And the apocalyptic view
That ‘Science’ will time and death subdue.
These ‘gods’ have forced us to forget
The truths Man in the Garden met.
I’ll add it’s no coincidence
That in your ‘brave’ New Testament’s
Apocalypse, or Revelation –
The fruit of John’s imagination –
Besides the coveted Tree of Life,
For which man suffered agelong strife,
No plant enchants the medium
Of gaudy New Jerusalem. …
If you agree that paradise
Means tending Nature, here’s advice:
Abjure TV, Pandora’s box,
Whose witchcraft charms you while it shocks;
Bury your phone some fathoms deep,
And your computer put to sleep.
O drown your car, and with an axe
Break all that beeps, from watch to fax.
God’s gardener man is meant to be
Not sap of Hell’s machinery;
If ceased we stealing fire from there,
Celestial light we’d surely bear.
And now this speech I must wrap up:
The sun has set; it’s time to sup.”

             Jerusalem
             12 March 1999