Monday, 1 August 2011

Calpurnia Janowick's Song

Calpurnia Janowick's Song

Our loved ones blow away upon the wind.
They are reborn into this world by grief.
We miss them, know them, taste them, take them in,
Until with each surrender, every known goodbye,
They mould the soul and body of our selves
A little more to them, to that we loved:
With every sorrow we embrace, they learn
To live again - dear love, to live again!

In empty worlds of babble and bad books,
Grief is a healthy stage, a psychic purge,
A blister burst, a mental enema -
A dark leg of our Journey to ourselves;
And these are true words, love, and they bring death.
Grief is not shameful, not a test, a trip,
Nor least of all, salubrious exercise!
When grief becomes a duty or a phase,
Each true, specific sorrow comes off cheap,
And one we love haunts us and hurts no more -
And they are not reborn, oh, love! are not reborn
Into the coward, lost and empty souls
Churned out by shrinking therapies and writers of bad books.
A lesson comes, a homily, then pull-together time:
The bitterest belittled, we can share a tasteless sweet.

Taste all my sweets, beloved, as I would taste all yours.
Weep. Walk. Sing. Curse. Laugh, cry, mind no reason
Except these reasons, means, ends: You, and I,
And life again, dear love - our life again!
And joy, my love, forever: joy, grief, joy.

Don't ever wear a mask, my love; nor suffer me
To hide my tenderness away from you,
But let us court and love until the dark,
And, dancing soul to soul, you in me, I in you,
Do all and all that mortal we may do,
To be reborn, my love - to be reborn!

This is a real poem from a fictional book: King Sorrow, by Lena Rushwell.

Lena is a major secondary character in a very long and overstuffed SF novel which I was writing through 2001 1996 [Good gravy! Time flies!], before it finally ran into the sand - teaching me several important things about rhythm and plot in the process. She is a far better storyteller (and, mostly, a nicer human being) than I am ever likely to be; and her voice is not much like mine, though on a very good day I can sort of emulate her in short bursts.

After my grandad died, I had neither words, nor any tears that did me much good, until Lena tapped me on the shoulder and insisted on writing this through me. I have no idea of what its context may be in King Sorrow. In Lena's world, she is writing this shortly after her ex-lover has been mindblasted into a coma by a phenomenon in which she most militantly does not believe, under circumstances which she strongly suspects she helped set up.

There is the material for several books in the Kitchen Sink Yarn, one or more of which I may someday excavate from the general rubble. Had I but world enough and time... Still, I should like to work with Lena again, if I could ever arrange a clear shot at it.

Her other novels are Turkish Stone, a lyrical eco-thriller which I have neither the desire nor the skill to write; and Camilla Kinnison's Dance, a literary space-opera and sequel to E E 'Doc' Smith's classic Lensman series, which I very much wish I could write, and about which I may possibly know more detail than is entirely good for me.

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