Prokosch, Dr Frederic - Chosen Poems – The Boulevard
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Death, though not death only,
Has brought the intensity of fear to such a pitch
That death itself has assumed entirely novel proportions:
it quivers, calls, salutes;
it becomes an appetite and an opium;
we desire death; it is death which
Has cast a shadow, cast
Ripples of platinum light across these faces
On the boulevard, as they look from side to side,
at the suede and silks in the shop window
and at the interminably passing
masklike faces, each hoping for a last
Look of desire, a look
Momentary, intense, from the eyes of another,
Swift as the tiger, warm as the indies, mathematically exact, and
delicate as the deer at evening,
poised, nostrils trembling,
above the brook.
All that they see, all
That they do, whether in the cigarette studded
Silence of an attic room above the river, or the little gaslit bar
near the docks,
or the expensive Bach haunted solitudes
of the concert hall,
Is a ceaseless flight; flight
From identity, from guilt, from the fear of death
Into death. A massive and crucial longing for annihilation
cajoles all those
who have lost their way across the border.
Yes long after midnight
I have seen them, seen
Their faces, moist and freshly awakened like those
Of children, passing down the street in the endless ritual of
self-sacrifice to the gods
of our civilisation,
the gods of vengeance, the faceless and serene.
Too late for them. Late
Indeed for all of us, who crouch on the edge
Of a mystery slowly being unravelled. The desert sighs,
and the watchful sirens are calling across the fog.
At last we understand.
The struggle has begun.
All we can do is wait.