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Seaweed From Mars - Poem by Maxwell Bodenheim

I
'Have you ever played a violin
Larger than ten thousand stars
And warmer than what you call sin?'
Torban, a young man from Mars,
Gave me the stretch of his voice,
And my 'no' fell down like a pin
On the echoed din of his words.
He said: 'Then I have no choice.
I must use the barrenly involved
Words with which you have not solved
The wistful riddles of your days.
Leave the pale and ruddy herds
Of men, with their surrendering ways,
And come with me to Mars.'
II
Drums of Autumn beat on Mars,
Calling our minds to reunion.
The avenues of seaweed spars
Have attained a paleness
Equal to that of earthly philosophies,
And the trees have lost
The diamond violence of Spring.
Their purple leaves have turned grey
Just as a human religion
Gradually changes to pretence.
In Mars we have only two seasons,
Spring and Autumn- their reasons
Rest in a treacherous sun
that suddenly runs away,
Creating a twilight-suspense.
When the sun reappears
Mars is once more amazed
By the blazing flatteries of Spring.
Again the heavy leaves ring
With odor and light deftly pressed
Into a stormy chorus.
Then we abandon the screaming violins
Of our minds, and each man wins
An understanding rest.
Once more we roam and jest
Upon the avenues, with voices
One shade louder than the leaves,
Or sail upon the choral seas
And trade our words with molten ease.
Throughout the Autumn we stand
Still and deserted, while our minds
Leap into sweeping tensions
Blending sound and form
Into one search across the universe.
III
What do we find in this search?
All of your earthly words lurch
Feebly upon the outskirts of my mind,
And when they pass beyond them, they are blind.
Outward forms are but the graves
Of sound, and all the different waves
Of light and odor, they are sound
That floats unshaped and loosely gowned.
When sound is broken into parts
Your ears receive the smaller arts,
But when it drifts in broad release
You cannot hear its louder peace.
Your houses, hills, and flesh of red
Are shapes of sound, asleep or dead.
In Mars a stronger Spring of sound
Revives our forms and makes Profound
Music, softer than the dins
That rose from Autumn violins.
Our minds, whose tense excursions spread
In chase of noisy walls that fled,
Relent and drop within our heads,
Enjoying the timid sound of their beds.
Filled with a gracious weariness,
We place it, like a lighter dress,
Upon the sounds from other stars
Brought back to celebrate on Mars.
IV
A girl of Mars is burning
Notes of thought within her throat.
Her pale white lips are turning
The fire to storied chords.
The song is old but often made
By girls who sit in Spring and braid
The lanterned language of their hair.
Its spacious gaiety cannot be sold
To your narrow glow of words.
The hint that I shall give is cold
And like the sound of snowy air.

I shall journey with the men
When my curling thoughts are ten.
O the sternness of that number!
Colored sounds from breath to umber
Promising a first release.
I have dwelt too long in peace
Placing smallness on my breast.
The prisoned whisper of my skin
Longs to vanish in the din
Of Autumn when great sounds are caught.
Let the tall wildness of my thought
Stride beside the thundering grace
Of the man whose spring-time face
Brought me tiny notes of rest.

She sits within a house of stone
That lends a wise and balanced tone:
A roofless house whose walls are low
And level with her head's grey glow.
The bright sounds of her parents fly
Around the house- we do not die
In Mars, but change to gleams of sounds
And stay within our gayer rounds
Until when tired Spring has gone
We lead the Autumn searchers on.
Before we change, our bodies curve
Like yours save that our skins are gray:
Light shades of gray that almost swerve
To white, like earthly men who pray.
V
We do not love and hate in Mars.
These earthly cries are flashing bars
Of sound from which our minds are free.
They stand in our mythology:
Legends elusive and weird,
Acrid Gods that once were feared.
They vanished imperceptibly
And none among us can agree
Upon the tangled way in which they fled.
Starlit symbols of dread,
They slowly exhausted themselves and died
In striding heralds of a wilder bride.
We have no emotions in Mars.
They are like long-healed wounds
Whose scars are softened by the gleam of our minds.
We approach them with clearer kinds
Of sound from deeply resting thought.
Our youths and maidens have not caught
The treacherous and tightly bound
Confusion of your loving sound,
For sex to us is but the ring
Of different shades of thought in Spring
When men recline upon the breast
Of women, dissolving into thoughtful rest.
In Autumn sex is left behind.
Men and women no longer lined
By different bodies raise their dins
Above the screaming violins.


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