Make your own free website on Tripod.com
"Connoisseur of Chaos" - Wallace Stevens
"Cosmic Gall" - John Updike

Ballade of an Artificial Satellite
Poul Anderson

  Thence they sailed far to the southward along the land, and came to a ness; the land lay upon the right; there were long and sandy strands. They rowed to land, and found there upon the ness the keel of a ship, and called the place Keeless, and the strands they called Wonderstrands for it took a long time to sail by them.

                                                            Thorfinn Karlsefni’s Voyage to Vinland

One inland summer I walked through rye,
a wind at my heels that smelled of rain
and harried white clouds through a whistling sky
where the great sun stalked and shook his mane
and roared so brightly across the grain
it burned and shimmered like alien sands.-
Ten years old, I saw down a lane
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

In ages before the world ran dry,
what might the mapless not contain?
Atlantis gleamed like a dream to die,
Avalon lay under faerie reign,
Cibola guarded a golden plain,
Tir-nan-Og was fair-locked Fand’s,
sober men saw from a gull’s-road wain
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

Such clanging countries in cloudland lie;
but men grew weary and they grew sane
and they grew grown - and so did I -
and knew Tartessus was only in Spain.
No galleons called at Taprobane
(Ceylon, with English); no queenly hands
wear gold from Punt; nor sees the Dane
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

Ahoy, Prince Andros Horizen’s-bane!
They always wait, the elven lands.
An evening planet gives again
the thunderous light on Wonderstrands.

Connoisseur of Chaos
Wallace Stevens

                           I.

A. A violent order is disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one. (Pages of illustrations.)

                           II.

If all the green of spring was blue, and it is;
If the flowers of South Africa were bright
On the tables of Connecticut, and they are;
If Englishmen lived without tea in Ceylon, and they do;
And if it all went on in an orderly way,
And it does; a law of inherent opposites,
Of essential unity, is as pleasant as port,
As pleasant as the brush-strokes of a bough,
An upper, particular bough in, say, Marchand.

                           III.

After all the pretty contrast of life and death
Proves that these opposite things partake of one,
At least that was the theory, when bishops' books
Resolved the world. We cannot go back to that.
The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind,
If one may say so. And yet relation appears,
A small relation expanding like the shade
Of a cloud on sand, a shape on the side of a hill.

                             IV.

A. Well, an old order is a violent one.
This proves nothing. Just one more truth, one more
Element in the immense disorder of truths.
B. It is April as I write. The wind
Is blowing after days of constant rain.
All this, of course, will come to summer soon.
But suppose the disorder of truths should ever come
To an order, most Plantagenet, most fixed…
A great disorder is an order. Now, A
And B are not like statuary, posed
For a vista in the Louvre. They are things chalked
On the sidewalk so that the pensive man may see.

                                V.

The pensive man…He sees that eagle float
For which the intricate Alps are a single nest.

Cosmic Gall
John Updike

Neutrinos, they are very small.
     They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all.
The earth is just a silly ball
     To them, through which they simply pass.
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall
     Or photons through a sheet of glass.
     They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
     Cold-shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
     And, scorning barriers of class,
Infiltrate you and me! Like tall
And painless guillotines, they fall
     Down through our heads into the grass.
At night, they enter at Nepal
     And pierce the lover and his lass
From underneath the bed - you call
     It wonderful; I call it crass.

BACK TO HOME PAGE