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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, 1939

L'eternelle Idole

page 33

L'eternelle Idole

Whether he turn to Christ in Heaven
Odin in Valhalla
Buddha 'neath a bo tree
Brooding in Nirvana

Whatsoever Name he breathe
Hiding from the world
Whether in prayer or sleep or death
like a foetus curled

Snuggling man blots out his qualms
In the Eternal Idol's arms.

Mother maiden harlot queen
Idol holy and obscene

Whom poet prophet sculptor spend
Lives of thought to apprehend;

The great desire and quickening
Shuddering through the soil in spring

The terror in the cave, the blind
Folly in the Maya mind

The warmth the traveller in the snow
Feels, and can no longer go

Along the waste of paper- white
The hand that soothes us in the night

Let me nameless Deity
Chant your only litany.

Goddess of life deliver us
From gods who vulcanise our flesh
Electrify our minds and turn
Sinew and vein to copper mesh
From shiny nickel-plated hearts
Rubber livers, standard parts
Eyes of chromium and glass
Goddess of life deliver us.

Goddess in this blood-warm sea
Among the flow and lapse of tides
Where dark is darker, light more light
I know that you are nearer
Where all around is purple weed
And overhead illusions glide
In green fathoms blue fathoms and the yellow surface water

page 34

Goddess of love deliver us
From the plasma's slow dilution
The virtue in the bowler hat
The test-tube marriage institution
From the damping sense of sin
Passion only stirred by gin
The noise behind the wall the fuss
Goddess of love deliver us.

Goddess when the temples fall
When altars spill their offerings
And blow-lamps turn on sepulchres

From broken bitumen there springs

In green and white embroidered dress
A punga like a shepherdess
With curling crook and modest air
And unembarrassed pubic hair

Goddess of strength
when temples burn...
But Quetzalcoatl won't return.

That shepherdess!—too late to start:
The priests are cutting out my heart

Goddess of death deliver us
We have lived too long

Loveliness did last
And now our footprints burn the grass
Goddess of death deliver us

Dawn, first love (they say), the rose
Pass—and we must I suppose
Goddess of death deliver us

And let your seas wash clean away
The soot that falls on us to-day

Bring the tides that drift your hair
Across the brow of my despair

Tear the paper from the wall
Let seaweed seaweed cover all.