Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Page from the Emerald Tablet



Page from the Emerald Tablet


I dream of dust
old, dry, glittering
in a glass animal eye
brimmed with rheumy
flecks of other worlds
fields of forgotten flowers
now dessicated mica
life’s shed substance
abraded on the lathe
cut on the ripsaw
sanded smooth.

I sweep up
my dream dust
with the softest
brush of morning,
mindful of each atomically
weighted speck, carry it
across a tightrope 
of my own
cleverly braided skin
teetering, knowing
nothing can fall.

Into the mold it goes,
the crucible over the
flame of loss begins to heat;
the glass tubes
chatter against the
heart’s empty alembic
a hot green boiling
filtering this spagyric mist.
Past present future
uncombine and melt,
float to ash

sulphur salt and mercury
fire earth and water;
take this simple marigold
make it honeysuckle and amber,
labdanum and pearl.
Turn its sallow safron to softened gold
its sharp viridian to the colorless serum
that weeps from a closing wound. Oh,
flush these bitter salts to fragrant musk
and back again to an animate silver,
the radiant water of life.


 
December 2011





Posted for    Open Link Night    at dVerse Poets Pub



Process Notes: (Almost as long as the poem!) from wikipedia: “The Emerald Tablet, also known as Smaragdine Table, Tabula Smaragdina, or The Secret of Hermes, is a text purporting to reveal the secret of the primordial substance and its transmutations. It claims to be the work of Hermes Trismegistus ("Hermes the Thrice-Greatest"), a legendary Hellenistic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth…” It contains the famously ambiguous phrase, in Isaac Newton’s translation:“That which is below is like that which is above that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing.”
 ~The word spagyric is derived from the Greek  Spao, to tear open, + ageiro, to collect and can be synonymous with alchemy, but in more modern usage refers to an herbal medicine distilled from calcined ashes.
~In the language of flowers, the marigold symbolizes grief and loss, honeysuckle, devoted affection and love.
~Labdanum is a product of the rockrose used in the perfume industry to simulate the odor of musk found in ambergris, which in turn is used to simulate the fragrance of burned amber. 
~‘Aqua vitea,’ the water of life, was a strong concoction of alcoholic spirits often prepared by alchemists in their experiments in distillation, but also had a spiritual significance as the redemptive waters of baptism and faith.






48 comments:

  1. wicked alchemy there hedge...like the visuals...spagyric too is such a cool word...the sweeping up the dream dust to carry across the tight rope is really cool too...

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  2. I don't think I've ever read a better alchemizing of dreams, and it comes from a hand that is careful to read from the line that is between the line that is over the one inbetween the other one--oh, never mind, I aint no Hermes Trismegistus. Thoth may be more in this craft as Hermes, because the naming is so measured and sure. A road this dreamer has been down enough times to know the signs even when their meanings are dark. James HIllman would say that dreaming is a form of psychic digestion, where writing about dreams is like concocting their recipes. Who knows if we ever get them right, but boy what tasty physic you concoct. - Brendan

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  3. I don't have the experience of learning new words very often but in your poems I get excited because it happens almost every time. Today it's alembic, spagyric and viridian. I love the feel of them on my tongue, the sound of them out loud and then planting them to grow in my mind after I look up their meaning. Also, sallow saffron to softened gold is so lovely.

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  4. I felt like I was in the midst of a powerful incantation, hedgewitch.

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  5. Wow that's such a lovely yet sad poem ~ I can feel how shattered they are and all hope is gone, into a cynical fire ~ great imagery and a lovely tale. Poetryman http://apoetryman.blogspot.com/

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  6. As above~so below! So mote it be! Another magical weave, Joy! The elements, the magic, the myth and lore...fantastic!

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  7. I'm a glad you explained them big words..

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  8. magical, mystical, mythical, mesmerizing! LOVE this, Joy! ♥

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  9. This poem is so fragile - every aspect so translucent seemingly weightless, spiderwebby yet woven with elixirs of color held in long thin glass tubes. The drips and drapes move in a dreamscape. It felt surreal to me, not sad, but something beautiful just out of reach. Beautiful liquidity to the language:
    "Past present future
    uncombine and melt,
    float to ash ..." to

    "Turn its sallow safron to softened gold
    its sharp viridian to the colorless serum
    that weeps from a closing wound. Oh,
    flush these bitter salts to fragrant musk
    and back again to an animate silver,
    the radiant water of life."

    Thank you!

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  10. great images hedge..love how you use color to intensify.. starts tender but the further you go, there's a wild passion in this, felt..great imagery as always and enjoyed the footnotes as well... so much to learn..

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  11. This is a prime spell cast over my magnetic fields.
    what a juicy read - packed full to the brim with silk and flourish. nobody does this like you hedge. appearing effortless disguised depth. a well of richness. ill drop my bucket and heave with pleasure.

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  12. Platonically you understand (note to self - must re read comments before posting;)

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  13. @Aaron: In the US heaving is not usually seen as having a sexual double entendre. But I appreciate you making me laugh like hell, regardless.

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  14. "Turn its sallow safron to softened gold" beautiful word picture

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  15. Phew...she laughed...cheers hedge...being English - all is ultimately innuendo - i was locked in the moment...posted and freaked. Carry On Dverse hahaha lol... DOH!

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  16. You paint and weave such magic with your words--incantions! Lovely, lovely piece!

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  17. Your images are always so stunning from the dust in the glass animal eye to the sallow saffron. As above, so below is indeed a powerful concept. Your words are as magical as the subject of the poem.

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  18. Excellent, just absolutely amazing! The imagery is luscious and it reads magnificently out loud.

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  19. Fabulous alchemy - love your use of symbols - excellent as always

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  20. Cool.. While reading I was thinking of alchemy, although i couldn't pinpoint a major reason why. You know I knew the backstory on the tablet, but didn't remember that I knew it until you mentioned it in your notes-lol Great job here Hedge, especially the amazing final stanza. Thanks

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  21. Ooh. The serum of a closing wound is a fabulous up-close observation.

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  22. It sounded like a richly woven magical spell...I read it...more than once. Love all the new words you introduced me too :)

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  23. OOhhh, this is really lovely, the sound (let alone content), the color, the content (okay, the content!)

    A Shakespearian quality! K.

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  24. wow, i really love this, fabulous rhythm, imagery, phrasing.
    "I sweep up
    my dream dust
    with the softest
    brush of morning"
    swoon

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  25. Words and images carefully chosen as ingredients and processes described here. Everything taken, remolded, serving as a way to heal and refresh the soul. Really great to read. :)

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  26. Pure gold pure honey with the flow of mercury.

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  27. A cautious look into your room of magic, your cauldron...Hope you don't look up and see me peeking at your chemistry, your witchery, lest I become part of that liquid, the saffron, the whole lot! Whoa! Liquid gold here!

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  28. This is delicious. Just last night I was watching “The Golden Compass”; so the dust here reminds me of that powerful entity, wielded and desired.

    You are back! And this makes me terribly happy. I feel your strength and beauty in these rich verses. You are at your best when you transform horticulture into nourishment and healing, through your alembic, your poet-self. This is very fine, and I feel its healing.

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  29. Many thanks all, for your kind words and comments. This one mostly wrote itself, one of those occasional gifts we get that land in our laps to pass on. I'm very glad so many of your enjoyed it.

    @Gay: Thanks so much for taking the time to read when I know your plate is full, and for the very generous comment.

    @Ruth: Such a good eye, seeing that the dust is where the poem begins and ends. Just read about the film--sounds interesting.Thanks for reading, and for your concern and support.

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  30. What an amazing metaphor for life: a searching quest for the one right answer, the method of healing, the hidden knowledge and man(woman) ever the alchemist at work in the arcane laboratory of time.

    Superb.

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  31. PS.. I just saw the comment above about The Golden Compass, and I strongly recommend the trilogy in book form, known as "His Dark Materials". It's one of the bravest fantasies I have ever read, and if you're into that genre, one well worth reading.

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  32. Found this to be so intriguing, the depth of how organic your words carry this concept makes this captivating to read through. For its complexity the flow carries a simplicity that pulls the connection. Wonderfully penned ~ Rose

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  33. "take this simple marigold
    make it honeysuckle and amber"

    Those lines are exquisite. The entire piece really speaks to me.

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  34. You have the uncanny ability to take the microcosm and make it macrocosm and back again.

    And I am very glad for your notes, Hedge!

    Deep, passionate and flows like liquid gold.

    Lovely,

    Lady Nyo

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  35. This is such a wonderful cascade of imagery and texture...The verses seem so natural, unforced. I envy the way your imagination puts your inspiration to work. This is an excellent piece.

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  36. full of slant rhyming and (alchemical) allusions.
    a prayer of sorts for a healing.
    great lines here.
    heart's empty alembic - whew. sad.
    Rich in meaning and image.

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  37. I love this line "I sweep up
    my dream dust
    with the softest
    brush of morning," You weave magic with your words.

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  38. Thanks for the process notes and saving me a trip to my encyclopedia. This poem is a rock hound's wet dream. Well done :)

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  39. It reads like a lovely incantation, maybe one for the earth...well that's what it made me think of... I really enjoyed it and gives me something to delve into...:)

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  40. Ya know Hedge...
    The Church doesn't like Alchemy.

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  41. Where is my comment? I read this last night...was I so brain dead that I didn't do my comment right? I'm sorry, Witch.

    Let me try again.

    A poem of unexpectedly gentle alchemy, turning woman to lead, if you will, but then changing that lead to gold.

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  42. The contrasts you create in each verse of this mesmerizing poem create the feel of a bubbling cauldron where the ingredients combine from above and below to produce "the miracles of one only thing". Tempts one to join a coven of witches ... I admire your sparkling imagination.

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  43. Like Hermes Trismegistus, thrice born myself and dabbling in the arts, I was delighted to read this tranformative poem.

    Making silver in the basement again?!? ( ;0=}

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  44. Thanks all. Good to see you stop by, Ann.

    @Kerry Thanks for reading, and the book rec. Big fantasy fan here(I know, you're shocked!)--I'm much more likely to read a book than watch a movie, so it's on my list.

    @G-Man: that's okay, they have to find me first.

    @FB: It's a conspiracy, I tell ya.

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  45. Thank you Charles. I enjoyed your you tube about the Big Sur fog and its mysteries.

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  46. This is really wonderful. I love the alchemical allusions and language. The NeoPlatonists were always a favorite of mine, and I think this embodies their spirit well.

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  47. This fabulous piece is why I consider you the creme of the natural world and poetic writing. Your final stanza just sings us home as we have wound our way through the web you've intricately spun. Its flow is pure poetry to all senses.

    (sidenote...I started to read this last night but stopped as I had my own bit of writing to do and was mind occupied. Something must have stuck from your first stanza and title, however, for in my free write for my 'story blog' I conjured "Absinthe" in my thinking, though I couldn't recall its name til now...in my story I call it the green coloured drink. See you've got a pull without my even reading the whole thing!)

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  48. @angela: So glad you enjoyed it. Your pink-colored boy was all over my wavelength, too. I'm glad if this sparked a seed somewhere, but I know it was your own gift that made it pop up and bloom.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg