by Justin Wong (March 2023)
Nymphs, Ettore Tito, 1911
Over there, the falling of the sun,
Past the horizon in the western portion,
How effulgent the sky in the half-light,
How rich and reminiscent the colours of fading day,
Like imported spices from faraway lands
With names that are known,
With ways that are as mysterious
As the transformation of the place of our birth.
Nymph, here is your dominion,
Your rule is one of time and not of space,
Though all rules are temporal,
All is subject to an end
As the cadence of a dying star
That signals your materialisation,
Like Winter after autumn’s kingdom,
You come miraculously at an end.
Ye daughters of the evening,
The dusk slowly fading into twilight is your time,
Your moment for infinite dominion,
In the failing light which suggests a fall.
Every remnant of this land shall be destroyed,
As the stones of the temple of God,
Beauty shall obliterate it as unrequited loves,
It will transform to another.
Ye with a beauty that is forbidden,
Like golden apples of your orchards,
Your presence is a torture that burns,
Like a starving man staring at dives feasts
Through windows of mansions he’s forbidden to enter.
It is tension without the release, the promise of bodily oneness
Without the possibility of multiplicity,
An annulment of act and recompense.
Nymph, walk me into the night,
So that you disappear into the shadows,
With a wonder obscured by the shawl of the mournful sky,
Venture with me to the end and the beginning,
Escort me into the finality of day,
So, the one we’re in is ravaged,
Not by time—because all is relative –
But due to the cycle of ill-fated life,
Where the day after is a recreation.
What should the world look like?
Drawn to its close in ecstasies of passion,
Like a patient fed the opium of unending sleep,
The West is slowly dying in the west,
Devoured in a brutality of desire,
The climax is not an end, though a means,
Power shall be handed over in the elevation of hedonia.
How illusory the sky at dusk fall,
Panoplies of colour are formed in spectrums of light,
All that is known shall be drawn to a close with deceptive conceits,
Throughout the world, the masculine rules the feminine,
Here, the masculine becomes the feminine, and the opposite,
The nymph shall be our judge, decadence is her country,
We’ll court breathlessness through seductive affectation.
I will wish to recreate the ineffable,
Treasure which has been handed over willingly
In the blindness of my countrymen,
The death drive in a despotism of lust,
Here, the wise will be made dumbAnd the alluring passionately speak,
With a sexuality melded with the illusions of undying love,
Reason shall be exchanged for proclivity,
The immortal soul for infinite others.
Hubris and desire shall be conjoined
In the ecstatic blaze of bodies,
The whorehouse is a no-man’s land,
The plagues of flesh, a Somme,
A War not on killing fields, but in the psyche,
A conflict between rapture without limit,
In the obliteration of an ethereal order,
And the embrace of sacred tradition.
For the former, the Hesperides are pawns,
Nehemiahs amongst the scorched rubble of Sodom,
Torn miles asunder from ancestral convention,
Nymph don’t you see your part in the gathering of stray tinder
For the pyre of a world such that you’ve only known?
Through progress, as the sun at the ascending morn,
The day has become void of pulse,
Though Evening’s the hour now upon us.
Who is woman without a man?
She should be peered at the closing of day
As the Nymphs of dusk amongst their groves,
What shall be the fate of women
Approaching the obliteration of her beauty?
With a power unrevived by the Bedouin time,
Shall it be Like geriatric men of old recalling
The battlefields of glory from a lost youth?
Let us meditate on the implicit contract of the heart,
The unfulfilled expectations of youth,
The sweet nothings fed to us in our cribs,
So our growth has been a process of unlearning,
Who would sell a tainted paradise for perfection?
The sanctity of union for solitude?
The Daughters of the fading sun, scoff at women past,
They lie silent in their graves … amongst the dust.
The dead should stir from their places of rest,
And the light in the eastern hemisphere return
Past the somber reign of darkness’s dominion,
Convention, as the bird in song and flight,
Will be restored from the lurid dreams of nocturne,
The inner world emerging in the death of the outer,
Will disappear in a reestablished order,
Arising from the illusion of the black night’s depths.
The earth returns to the place of its beginning
After its curve orbits the sun,
And the bee to the may garden
Arising out of the long night of cold,
Then why do the nymphs appear to the dusk?
From which obscurity do they emerge?
And when to it shall they return?
For all is subject to a fall … a rise, fall, and return.
The nymphs are oblivious of this,
Day outside the evening hour,
With its seemingly unending stretch,
Oblivious of the snuffing of dusk,
World under the cavern of an impenetrable absence,
Viewed only by vague and distant illuminations,
Oblivious of the night, and what comes after, –
The virginity of the morning of a day yet to dawn.
Who dare quell the confidence of beauty?
Who speaks death to lovers in their youth?
How to convince the cloth-eared nymph
Of the short-lived nature of rapture?
For even the golden apples like youth
Are subject as the day to decay,
But they have always been the servants
Of a goddess named Hera.
A dispensation returns us to our study,
The revolution in a library,
Which is a figurative pyre of disparate pages,
It is the barbarian of philistine mind
wading through decadent streets to sack the Moussein,
Alexandria, the mind of the west in the east is in peril,
It is knowledge lost in a barbarous act,
It is the violence of the liberator.
Every writer is the purgatorial fire between
The past and the page,
He is like the fuller’s soap of the social order,
He seeks to rid history of impurity
Into a more refined creation,
It regards finitude and infinitude,
It is a visionary nostalgia,
This is the revolution of the word,
A storm that upsets academia,
To atone and set free the world with a devised idea
Where the act of creation and placation
Are melded into a wholeness.
Justin Wong is originally from Wembley, though at the moment is based in the West Midlands. He has been passionate about the English language and literature since a young age. Previously, he lived in China working as an English teacher. His novel, Millie’s Dream, is available here.
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