As I walked through the cold night of a dream
Air crisp and wind-chilled, half moon almost set,
The drops that seeped on stone shone icy wet,
Mist in faint film beneath stars' paling gleam;
And glancing up I spotted in the west
A new star like a dull red eye that burned,
And tracked its path down twisting roads that turned
To wind above the sleeping city's crest.
And on the hill I saw a shadow stand
In stone-like stillness perched above the world
With feathered darkness at his back unfurled,
A tapered length of blackness in his hand
That hissed and smouldered in the falling light;
I, knowing him, choked out: "Then you have come
To end all things?" His voice like crystal hum
Serene remarked: "It will begin tonight."
As he spoke on I stood, struck mute by awe:
"New young thrive and their elders pass away;
Your haughty race has had its sunlit day --
Why should you be immune to natural law?
The great age of the trilobites lies far;
The mammoths are no more; and in the deep
The kingly lizards lie in stately sleep
Their passing heralded, too, by a star.
By his son Zeus, the God of Time was slain
Who killed his father; just so are your hands
Stained with your Mother Earth's blood that demands
Fair retribution." Knowing it in vain,
Yet I began my plea. "Another chance --
I beg, have mercy; still among us dwell
Some who would change our course --" …And silent fell
Pierced by a single adamantine glance.
"You waste your breath," he said. "I may not yield.
I am but a sword-bearer and a voice;
The doom that I declare is of your choice
Soon wrought by forces you presumed to wield."
"And still --" I challenged -- "though all hope is banished,
I swear to fight you yet and never tire."
And with a smile like subatomic fire
He soundlessly saluted me, and vanished.
Previous Advent Canticle entries:
"He came without clamor" (December 1, An Advent Canticle)
"O in the fields the blossoms blow" (December 2, An Advent Canticle)
"It started in November" (December 3, An Advent Canticle)
"It was the usual tedious family gathering" (December 4, An Advent Canticle)
"It started with the news that Caspar brought." (December 5, An Advent Canticle)
"Varus, old boy, it's been a dreadful year." (December 6, An Advent Canticle)
"Lully, lullay, lullaby" (December 7, An Advent Canticle)
"And so at last diplomacy had failed..." (December 8, An Advent Canticle)
"Come, open your eyes..." (Prelude II, December 9, An Advent Canticle)
"And every year the weather gets more squirrely" (Dec. 10, An Advent Canticle)
"Fear Not!" (December 11, An Advent Canticle)
"I quit!" (December 12, An Advent Canticle)
"Midwinter Nocturne" (December 13, An Advent Canticle)
"Some say, on that first morning..." (December 14, An Advent Canticle)
"For the Children of the Sandy Hook Tragedy" (December 15, An Advent Canticle)
"On Employees Who Take Too Much Initiative" (December 16, An Advent Canticle)
"Sing a New Song..." (December 17, An Advent Canticle)
"The Second Coming" (December 18, An Advent Canticle)
"In The Green Midwinter" (December 19, An Advent Canticle)
"A Lullaby For Solstice Evening" (December 20, An Advent Canticle)
"On Solstice Morning" (December 21, An Advent Canticle)