Treasure Island

Kenneth Patchen

(13 December 1911 - 8 January 1972 / Ohio)

The Cloth Of The Tempest


These of living emanate a formidable light,
Which is equal to death, and when used
Gives increase eternally.
What fortifies in separate thought
Is not drawn by wind or by man defiled.
So whispers the parable of doubleness.
As it is necessary not to submit
To power which weakens the hidden forms;
It is extraordinarily more essential
Not to deny welcome to these originating forces
When they gather within our heat
To give us habitation.
The one life must be attempted with the other,
That we may embark upon the fiery work
For which we were certainly made.


What has been separated from the mother,
Must again be joined; for we were born of spirit,
And to spirit all mortal things return,
As it is necessary in the method of earth.
So sings the parable of singleness.
My comforter does not conceal his face;
I have seen appearances that were not marshalled
By sleep.
Perhaps I am to be stationed
At the nets which move through this completing sea.
Or I have hunting on my sign.


Yet the ground is visible,
The center of our seeing. (The houses rest
Like sentinels on this hawking star.
Two women are bathing near a trestle;
Their bodies dress the world in golden birds;
The skin of their throats is a dancing flute. . .
How alter or change? How properly
Find an exact equation? What is flying
Anywhere that is more essential to our quest?
Even the lake. . . boat walking on its blue streets;
Organ of thunder muttering in the sky. . . A tiger
Standing on the edge of a plowed field. . .
What is necessary? What is inseparable to know?
The children seek silvery-pretty caves. . .
What are we to teach?)
The distance is not great
To worlds of magnificent joy or nowhere.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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