The Apocrypha Of William O'shaunessy: Book I, Xvi Poem by Peter Boyle

The Apocrypha Of William O'shaunessy: Book I, Xvi

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In the time of the great emergency Enobius, the Emperor of the Palmyran legions, was banished beyond the Ister on the charge of necromancy. Yet it is well known that, rather than contacting the dead, he was simply a man haunted by the future. “Wherever I go,” he lamented, “I see only the future.” The turning point happened on a day of unprecedented calm throughout the empire. On the battlements of a fortress on the Illyrian coast he heard angelic spirits reciting in a voice louder than all human voices long intolerably harsh lines of verse which he knew were being dictated to a poet who was to pace these same battlements over a thousand years in the future. Enobius heard only part of the angelic speech but knew that the poet of the future likewise heard only a small part. And there does not exist any one time, he found himself saying, when all the fragments of the angels can be heard simultaneously. This lack of simultaneity haunted and tormented him. He came to suspect that every true utterance slipped between the ghost future he sensed all around him and the physical future that would come. After this revelation in the Illyrian fortress, wherever he went he began to secrete notes in hiding places in the several languages he knew and whatever other languages he could master, foretelling what the whispered voices around him were saying. Yet despair overtook him as he fell under the conviction that all the languages of his world would vanish before the future could arrive. A tormented and wearied man, his one hope, he said, was death – in death, he said, he might at last be released into the limitless blessing of the past.

(Diogenes Caserius, The Deeds of the Neglected Emperors)

Footnote: Much of Enobius’s best work was lost as a result of his relentless habit of writing in as many languages as possible – most of these tongues now long since forgotten. Among the papyri in various libraries in Alexandria and Cairo are fragments thought to be in crypto-Dacian, early Numidean, mezzo-Akkanite and the secret language of Ur. In the last year of his life Enobius wrote the poem that begins “In which of my languages will I die?” but was then overwhelmed by the conviction that someone in the future was writing the same poem but with some teasing slight variation. In despair he wrote “Everything I write plagiarizes the future.”

(Dr Antoine Leme12:08 23/07/2007surier, assistant curator, The Secret Library Trust of Lower Egypt, 1855)

Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle

Melbourne / Australia
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