At Philippi - Poem by John. Hall
I climbed the hill with nothing but the wind
For my companion. The valley was empty
The peace of the afternoon echoing
It was a journey without consolation
Without surprise with nothing but the echoes
Of my interior seeking for a long lost quest.
It is a city rich in history with memories
Filled with blood and the cries of battle.
Yet that is not the reason we chose to meet here.
On this spot it is rumoured that cold young man
Octavian stood with Mark Antony and marshalled
His troops, his eye picking out the weaknesses
Of those who opposed him.
My interest was more in the sands of time
Of a more recent vintage, for we had climbed
Together to enjoy the view, sample a little local wine
This with bread, cheese, olives and some cold lamb
To enhance the relaxation and stir our emotions
With some idle passion.
There are gold mines somewhere nearby
But these we did not explore.
Instead we watched the clouds percolate
And whisper together as they danced a measure
In the perfect blue - some imagined arrangement
That signified little but seemed to set the mood.
In times deep distant passed, I imagined what it was like
Before the Romans, when Philip and Alexander
Came this way. For the town had been named for him
The conqueror, the man of war who bred a son
Who would make dark the earth with the blood of combatants.
But they are dust now, little more than memories,
While my time is ripe and full with appetites,
Dreams yet to be determined, yet to be fulfilled.
We'll meet at Philippi we said when five years
We have spent. Whatever has passed.
Whatever the season. We will return to keep a promise
That love has lent. And so I came knowing the futility.
For the passion of our moment has long passed
The candle guttered and blent streamed into darkness
Whistling in the quiet wind of night.
The first Christian church was founded here
Little less than a mile away. The ghost of the apostle
May populate the area still. But there is little comfort
Coming from the direction of that shade. Paul was too much
Of the spirit driven and not enough rooted in
The flame of passion, to be a kindred spirit for me.
Besides my frustration of the moment
Makes me fractious and less able to patiently
Bear the platitudes, prayers and advice of others.
Such sweetly reasoned laid out response
Has a rancid stale and empty taste with little
To attract, with less to tempt and nothing to satiate.
Give me men blinded by passion who wrestle
With tigress appetites wounded by the blows
Of life's adventure but unbowed and striving still.
These will be my life companions,
These will guide my vision and my hopes
Share my dreams and excuse my antic exertions
To help me seek explore to set forth for who knows where.
But for today I am here at Philippi. I have kept my promise.
I have come to expiate a ghost -
A vision of she who shared my embrace
Wounded me with her passion and then mended, healed me
With the warmth and the kindness of her being.
The fault is not with her or me,
That we could not conjour up
A love beyond the moment.
It is one of the great mysteries that for all a lovely dream
Of what we would desire, we cannot make it so.
That elusive alchemy is not within our compass
It is beyond our power to make it strong to grow.
But even in the knowledge and certainty
That all these things are true,
Does not diminish or assuage the hurting
The loss of not having you
Knowing that this dimension will never
Be more than an itch of frustration
An aching arrow in the blue
Of my existence.
So here I stand and the winds whisper
The dust patterns lift and surround me on the hillside
Voices reflect the shimmer of past recollection
As I turn half expecting to be surprised
In the absurd hope of a returning dream forgotten
Here - At Philippi.
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