Fred Beake: FOUR SYMPHONIES

NOTE

The first three of these poems were in process of composition in 1971-4, the fourth was written almost as a coda in 1975. My intention was to discover ideas in the process of composition, which in turn reflected extensive reading of the French Surrealists. Symphony to those who think of the Symphony as Beethoven's formally worked out structures may seem an odd idea in such a context. However I was thinking of the organic, mind-delving late symphonies of Havergal Brian, which were beginning to appear on Radio 3. Also incidentally Symphony Two was originally called a Pastoral Symphony, as I felt it reflected a landscape out of Vaughan William's Pastoral Symphony.

Symphony One and Symphony Two are due to reappear as part of a selected poems in Etruscan Reader IX in about a year. The full set is just about in print in my book The Whiteness of Her Becoming: Poems 1966-91 (University of Salzburg Press, distributed by Mammon Press).

SYMPHONY ONE

Need the mountain because we need the mountain
because the mountain needs us so rend it with
your faith and out of it carve your sacred stones

but don't let the pastel shade deceive. Lurking in
Hate's morass lies the murderous one. Spring him
forth. Yet rather perhaps its Hate lingering

close to Love: both consume. Who's this dancing?
Black they're masked. Black suits, green-spotted. They've shot me.
In the name of the Proletariat. In

the name of the Third Reich passionate shot me
the nameless clowns. Do you see the field of the
shadow, where stir at night all those prejudice

murdered every class and kind of man, un
-done their doing. The crazy still full moon. All
day, all night I feel its pull. Where are they gone

those birds of light? Moon's guns range now does not pall
but grows more. The birds slink away, their hearts faint:
oil of unfaith cumbers them. Now the Moon will

win. The range of its gunnery grows. Too late
for ... undone ... but what ... a wind of the mountain and
the heather stirs, but, I am bone-numbed: its too late.

Elegance of unhate. We beat you for your good.
Strangers to truth perpetuate hate. Yet the wind
shall fleece them. It drops. It falls. Tunes are formed.

Growing infinite Time alone can explain,
only Time."Ha ha ha. Death's dancers. Behind
our black masks lurks Death. White bones. White bones, Earth's
    bones

which you never dared to look on. "But, the wind,
again, the wind. It must drop; but, it steadies
and the sea's natal rhythms sing. Cities find

their end; Death holds in sway everything man makes,
yet the wind and the water surge, outdo Death.
Stalactite of Jupiter, dust of Mars, lake

of unknown planet, dance dear, dance, oh dance with
the wind and the ocean. These are the children
of the mountain, where Love and Hate are close kin.

SYMPHONY TWO

By the glass limpid waters of the Waters of Parable
by the green moss the old dragon yawned, sighing that he knew
no reason why they should survive - this too gusty young crew
his children, running always from the deepest down soul needs,
avoiding self by tending the sores of the oak trees. Mutable

yet unwilling to admit that years must bring their youth down
to creaking time-beset bone and slowly addling brain.
And he smiled at the Waters of Parable, the moist green
moss ... bitter their singing of love foredone, their wild longing
for salt maidens of the ocean - wickedly making down

their menfolk to be bronzen thoughts of the deep sea waves
sharp swords to their own hands troublous from the spirits of the
haughty gods, perambulant in the high heaven in their peaceful
pinks, blues, greens, and most wild darker reds, blacks and purples
... Why had HE scattered the dew of his deepest love to save?

There to lie for the old dragon to lap it all up
unthinking; and the brood he so sprung lacked even true will.
Though weary they would not devour their father - too total.
...Most weary he would sleep. 'Untrue, your love, compassion
only for yourselves' - bitter the oak trees, quite fed up

in the way of long invalids. And the young dragons turned
in scorn to a maiden of the ocean. In her they thought
to surely find, real love, if scornful, steely wrought.
But she could only rule. Her neck so they cracked , those gentle
young dragons: in anguish to destruction the oak trees they ripped

from the ground. There was stillness till the gods lifted up
the ocean maidens, and the maidens their men: the bronze
sea waves swept upon the land, crushing all with their tons.
The green mosses, Waters of Parable, fled under earth and grieved.
The dragons, young shrieking, old one smiling, fled to the top

of a great hill. 'HE began all this' cried the old dragon
'Now let HIM end it': flew asunder, fell as a dew, to bear
peace to waters and green moss. His sons, bound now to bear
the burdens of the ocean maidens, found almost pleasure;
waters, green moss, were self complete: far off HE smiles unseen.

SYMPHONY THREE

1

Creation's nothingness would rend;
but, I'd glory in the silence,
marvel at the forms - dinosaur's
sixty mile an hour pounding, or
the amoeba's one cell: growth
in all things, but nothingness: so
hopeless: mortal weep for and
praise all dead in the shifting ground.

2

I hear the walkers moving with scrunch of gravel
I see the walkers coming, gay with the visage of skeletons

they go as to a funeral or a feast
lithe with madness

I finger the outlaw's hand
he says he is of the old religion
I neither one nor the other
and the stream murmurs to the uncaring oak

one day something will happen

3

Through the trembling light the child shadows
Over the brown land. I hear his sighs
Through the wind's batt'ring capricious blows:
'Why must I shadow here never to burrow

To the dark cool caverns of my forbears
- Through embracing dank soil, to those jeweled
Wonders they built in bygone calm eras?'
But the wind and the rain smile, mild

Contemptuous: 'The child will remain here, while
We, through many seasons, wear him right away'.
And, indeed, he will see nothing blissful

But, only grief, till his uncertain end. Yet
The meaning in him , shall outdure the play
of Nature, and in Eternity's scale, find weight.'

4

Out of the sheep-fleeced mist
The wind's own child spoke up:
'Wither greed's carnivorous seethings
From out of creature's wild lips.

Let storm the midnight's passion
But cool the noon's high heat.
Despair of Life's abysm
Despair of Faith's fate

But laugh with my mother of the gale
Dance with my father of tears:
For in them is the durable way
Steadfast beyond false accord.

For your world is a maze of cold particles
Moving remorseless through form:
Out of your fingers' seven year dooms
Change, spun on the mangle-fingered Fate's loom.

But I am a wraith of your imagining
- To live in your verse, or to die;
And seeing mankind is a fingertip to eternity,
What of yourself - and, of me?'

5

Like a chattering child
In the creaturesome dark,
I would stay close to the light

- Uncertain, of what may lie
In the place of eternity
... White-boned valley,

Where soon I must take up
My burden, till the dawn disclose
That calm, green plain, full

Flocked with serene dreams of my
Completed people - before, and, to come.

SYMPHONY FOUR

1

Pass the gate.
Fear not. Enter
The utterly black
Pit of ire:

Passed through that terror
The immortal
Geometrical elders
Taste of the blissful fruit

Of all their uncertain
Expectation and fear
Beneath the green Tree
Of Life. But horror

- The peeping skull - does that feed
The Tree of Life
It centres or gnaw
The womb of earth?

2

I think nothing
Is wholly either
Of Life or Death,
But of both:

For my spirit
Is torn two ways
By the same dark
Uncertain wraith

- One way by death,
Other in growth.
Upon this island
Of self the force

Of mortal change
In two I love
Foams in and grinds
My firm-faced self

That so usually hides
In apparent repetition
Of seasonal pattern
Its slow, sure ending.