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Emmanuel George Cefai

(12th March 1955 / Victoria, Gozo)

Sweet Silent Sea-Waves Lapping By The Rocks


Sweet silent sea-waves lapping by the rocks
That beneath the frowning bastions lie

Nature, the tricky one
Left the door ajar half-open half-closed
And none of them - yet leaving things in the middle:
And he
And he
Pondering
Pondering as not be foolish
Said to himself
There’s danger if I open the door too much
I do not know what I will let in:
Yet
Yet
The option beckoned: either close or open to full:
So he pondered again
This time being quicker, rasher
Decided for the line of least resistance
For the prudent path
Fear, tall impudent fear
Stood by him like a dubious angel
His counsel was not lost – it moved him
And so
He closed the door thinking he said
And making sure against ‘the unforseen’.

Courage had stood by him
But Fear won him smiling green
Into the face of Courage
Another soul was won to Fear
Another to Courage lost:

Then Courage went away bashfully.

Fear sate him invisible by and by to watch.

So the drama quick unfolded:

And he sank
He could not walk on water
Because Fear had won him
Because Courage had lost him:
And so
And so
He sate on a safe rock
And put his feet into the water like a child
To feel the cool sweet water rush
And press with sweetness round his ankles
But Fear, yellow fear won!
For even here:
The sands started to
‘Twas a slippery bank, a bank of treachery
And treacherous the sand sank
And fast the sand
Sank like down the time-glass.

And Fear seizing him
He was un resourceful to the full
His mind Fear had made blank
It was blank – worse
Than if Morpheus on touching it
Had exceeded his dose of opiate sleep;
He saw nothing
Except him sink
And sink:
And all around him crush
And all around him go:
And yet
He felt a pleasure in the ruin
A sweetness new not felt before
He felt:

In sinking.


And so sinking
He still heard
The music of pleasantness
Ring in his ears
The sea was calm and wave-less
So no current churned
And linear and tall
He went down to the floor
The walls of water around him raged
The walls of water around him pressed
Like flames of wrath
Like flames of ruin Nero-like
When Nero burned his Rome
And staring stood
Stringing here and there a note
On his large funereal harp

And so
He touched the floor of the salt sea
Deep in and smiling in his ruin
At least pain had flown away
Fear had granted in recompense
A painless sinking:

And as he fell
His eyes were open yet closed
And he
Could not recriminate himself
As to why
He simply could not open the door - it was so easy
So imperative:
Yet so he did not and he sank.

And thus engrossed
He thought himself alone
If he could think:
And could not see
A case like his a-sinking to the floor
Another coward Fear his victim made

De te fabula!

Submitted: Friday, October 14, 2011
Edited: Friday, October 14, 2011

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