WHEN ELEPHANTS LAST IN THE DOORYARD BLOOMED
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)
When elephants last in the dooryard bloomed
Brought forth from dusts and airing attics where they
For many a year and faded out the roses on their flanks
And sucked the dust and trod the ancient grass in ranks
Beyond our seeing, deep in jungles on our parlor floor,
These old familiar beasts we led into the light
And beat upon their pelts and hung them in the sight
Which glorious made the panoplies of thread.
What grandeur here!
What pomp of Hannibal and Rome and Alps,
Egyptian cerements and tombs, Troy's ruins, Delphic
Across such arabesques as these once walked Victoria.
Now in the lost great animal boneyard these lively skins
Unravel, fall to pollen and to rust. Sic transit gloria.
All this has passed, is dim as ill-recalled rococo
But in my youth I stomped out cinnamons from these
God-awful paths and raised up such a flour of scents
As would reel down kings and make rise up to kingship
Lunatic lepers and foul penitents.
Old creatures, slung upon a wire in wind and light
And years' ebbtide
I beat you gently with my howdah wire-racket beater,
Search tigers in the shade of your deep hills
And stand, a monarch made, along your blind impatient old
And slumbrous side,
And know that modern carpetings and rugs, so bland,
So nothing, and so shallow
Were made for snails
And men who breakfast, lunch, and dine
Upon the safe, sure, ever-recurring marshmallow.
Still somewhere in this world
Do elephants graze yards?
In far towns toward the East and North toward Michigan
Do grandmothers and boys go forth to lawns,
And lines strummed there 'twixt oak or elm and porch,
And tie thereon great beasts of Indian grace
Loomed taller than their heads?
Still on such days do heartbeats throng the town
Whee elderwitch and tads,
Where toms and great-grand-crones gone feverish with
Goad Time out of the warp and weave,
The tapestry of treaded hearthwarm woolen flesh,
Beat Time into the breeze and watch the billion footfalls
Sift clouds into the greening insufferable beauty of
Do old and young still tend a common ground?
Vast panoply and firewalk spread of God's most patient
Whose firecoal eyes observe and well-worn hide
Now feels the woman tire, so Boy takes up the beat:
Where one thump dies, another heart begins.
Along the cliff of dusty hide
From either end, with centuries between as well
Old looks to young, young looks to old
And, pausing with their wands,
Trade similar smiles.
This is from Bradbury's book of the same name, 143 pages of poems in the Knopf edition. It's quite suggestive to me even though i don't follow all of it. Ray was fascinated from and early age by carnivals and circuses and that sort of imagery weaves a thread through much of his writing. He began his career writing horror stories, copying Poe and Lovecraft, and that sense of lurking doom never quite disappeared even in his science fiction. Always something unseen, something just out of touch...
NB: my posting will be more irregular in the future due to time constraints, weariness with the computer ordering my life, and the feeling that darkness is becoming more visible around the edges of my life. Still, look for me from time to time, i may be here, or, ghost-like, hiding in the desk-top corner watching you, haha...