23 May 2009

Paradise Coveted

I would be Milton, that well-versed
poet, who commenced his obsession over words of others -- and
intently so -- prior to his practical life’s
inception, and never forsook
his flame. I covet
the choices of his driven father, who afforded his son
the luxury of becoming book-bound. If only
my own father had been less poet,
himself, and more provider...

I would be Milton, who made such casual
references to classic facts, assuming
he’d be understood, whose pool of truths
was perhaps less wide, yet
far less shallow than that from which we dip
today -- who could well afford
to reference Hector
and not be trashed as a pretentious hack,
to draw from Virgil
and be taken for sincere, not quaint,
to cite comparisons of old
without the gaze askance
from a differently educated peerage
with no sympathy
for Clytemnestra,
to type the names of kings of old with no
arguments from a spell-checker that had no record
of their monikers till I showed up at the keyboard.

I would be Milton, despite his failed love
life, his latter pragmatic partnering, his unruly
daughters, his failures to keep mute
when silence would likely have served best his public stature.
I, too, would press onward
against principalities and powers, known
for a quick tongue and rambling pen
that by its very lucidity breaks
the back of vociferous opponents,
deliberate defiance marking my path, even when passing
through friendly hosting lands.
I would profane the pompous with brute force
of learned mind, and cause the critics to lament the waste
of my talent, as a cheap
and imprudent pamphleteer. I would broaden
my reputation with propaganda most impassioned, lauded
in tomes not once, but threefold in the same century.

I would cast in my lot
with king-slayers, then bemoan how monarchy
prevails -- even in the guise of populists -- and rue
the rashness of my
impolitic endorsements. I would reap
the seeds of discontent sown
and fly in the face of advancing night
with such a deluge of vitriol
channeled hard against the advancing tide -- so hard
that none
could make light of my drive.

I would be Milton, who thought better
of telling only tales of woe, who saw
that most grievous loss could prompt a bit of gaining, and knew
full well to whom credit for the brighter song
should be attributed.
I would seek out the company of others
well-read, and spar with princes
in their courts.
I would parry the fumbling advances
of “modern” usage, slice off
that custom blade at the hilt, and send it
scuttling across the flags to dark corners
where the hounds repose,
and brandish my older, sharper, more
tempered blade
in victory.

I would trust the cadence of scriptures
and not be put off
by their popularly suspect intent,
seeking infamy’s father in the illiterate judgment of ob-
scured truth.
I would seek -- and find -- God
on my own terms, regardless of king and country.

Would that I were Milton. True --
his bloodline, for all we know, ended
eventually, with no modern men to pen
“M” as their second initial, quite the way
he did.
True -- his escapades into love and friendship ended
tragically. Perhaps
too much so.
True -- his were viral times, fraught with
danger and early death.
True -- there were events so crushing even he of boundless expression
could neither articulate nor eulogize, so
deeply did they slice into his heart. But

For ever so brief a second, would that I
could esteem myself as learned,
as linguistic, as treasured in syllable
by a knowing crowd who turn no
deaf ear to these ancient rumblings.
For the most fleeing of instance, would that
I could lust openly for Rubens’ curves,
and not be accused
of base lechery.... would that I could dwell at
length upon the conceits of Olympians, rant
contrary to hubris-driven posers, invoke Uther’s bloodline
and cry to Queen of Heaven
in unison with a host of readers
who themselves would claim
Milton’s glory
as their own. And shrink
not from it as conceit.

Let us all be Milton.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Kay Stoner
All Rights Reserved