By Benjamin De Casseres.
Monumental, immemorial Minutes!
Shining oases and poppy wreathed gourds across the sand wastes of Time!
Fragile, immortal ephemerides!
Writhing prisoners of Form!
Unkempt, murderous Minures,
Marmoreal, hallucinating Minutes!
This is Walpurgis Night and Kermess Day,
And you shall unriddle yourselves to me!
A PILGRIM MINUTE
I am the Pilgrim Minute of Eternity,
The Wandering Jew of Time,
And through all your ancient incarnations
I have tiptoed down the corridors of your brains,
Lighted candle in hand,
Looking for God.
A STATIC MINUTE
I am the Mirror that no breath can mist,
Behind the whirl of moods I glow like a full moon, perpetuate, untroubled.
I may be veiled, but not obliterated,
For I am the Spectator of Change.
A FROZEN MINUTE
I am Reason—the winter of the emotions,
Webbed in algebraic formulas, cadenced in syllogisms.
Over man I have no power.
For I have no soul.
AN OBSCENE MINUTE
I am the wanton of your Youth,
My body is en fête,
My mind is kermess of Passions,
My heart a monstrance where the Host of Hell reigns.
I am Lilith.
A BLACK MINUTE
I am Ennui.
The frightful gargoyle that completes the Temple of the Hours.
Creator and destroyer of worlds,
The black snowflake.
A DESOLATE MINUTE
I was once a fly in the Empyrean
And I walked on the ceiling of the Universe flywise
And glanced into the Forbidden City,
Since then I am become the Niobe of minutes.
A BRAZEN MINUTE
I am Curiosity, the assassin,
Traveller to Arcturus.
Dreamer of impossible dreams,
A Columbus who voyages beyond the Grave.
THE HYPOCRITE MINUTE
I am the triumphant archangel of universal error.
I am the eternal lying logician,
The first and last Fallacy.
My hostel is the Ideal.
My mirror is Man.
A COWLED MINUTE
At the feast of the Furies the human heart is the pièce de résistance.
Therefore am I the tear that floods the world,
Avatar of immemorial griefs,
The almanae of the dead.
Death can waive me, for in my soul I carry a private oblivion.
I apprehend and lapse;
I am the everlasting “To-Be,”
The perpetual Becoming,
A thin coating of life over a Lethe that flows into the hollow spaces of Eternity
A TWIN-BORN MINUTE
I am Beauty and Death,
Alternate light and shade thrown by the Absolute.
When Lucifer was cast into Darkness his brain became a sun—
Of that star am I twin born.
A NARCOTIC MINUTE
I am the bloodshot eye of sleepless Hope—
Hope which is the insomnia of Death.
A PHILOSOPHICAL MINUTE
Upright at the heart of Chaos,
I hear the reverberations of thoughts unborn.
In the ancient Earth-nebula
I glimmered for a minute, the time-father of Heraclitus and Nietzsche.
A GRAY MINUTE
I am Fatigue,
An eagle that yawns in the face of the Infinite.
My eyrie is a hen-roost.
The Azure is a painted awning.
I am weary of flight.
Once anarch of the skies,
My head now seeks the soft bolster of death.
A SPECTRAL MINUTE
I crossed the threshold of the Ineluctable.
You cannot see me; you must not know me.
I am the sensation of the Ghastly, a minute in the brain of Edgar Poe,
A single time-beat in the consciousness of Chopin.
I whisper once to every one across the border of the Forbidden.
You cannot see me; you must not know me—
I am the Beauty that blasts.
AN IRONIC MINUTE
I am the last minute that lived in the brain of Christ.
And my secret is this: “I had not wisdom until Judas kissed me.”
I heard him say that at the end;
And That Man smiled and died.
I seek to be the centre of all circumferences.
AN ARCLESS MINUTE
I am the will-to-immobility,
Motionless magnet toward which dart all that lives and all that dreams,
An Infinite Comprehension swarming with nebulous and ended entities.
I am the miraculous Minute of Plotinus.
A MURDEROUS MINUTE
I am the brigand Ridicule,
An antique Wasp,
The serious Harlequin,
An abettor of sanity,
The wisdom of the last man.
A MYSTIC MINUTE
I am a diver
And I have foraged in the sunken galleons of innominable seas
And rifled the air of its secrets.
A lizard, too, that lay motionless on the walls of the Elsewhere for an eternity that prolonged itself to a minute.
I was the fulcrum-minute in the brain of Blake,
And through me he lifted the stars.
A NAMELESS MINUTE
The brain is a carcass swarming with the vermin of thought,
A pullulating grave in which lie a thousand ruined saviors
And a thousand rotting conquerors,
The final condensation of a thousand thousand nebulous hates and infuriate passions.
I am the minute that decided the destiny of Orestes and Napoleon!
AN ANARCH MINUTE
I hung upon the granite walls of the Caucasus
And soared as a curse out of the mouth of a Titan into the brain of Jupiter.
I was part of the imperial consciousness of Prometheus.
A PASSIONATE MINUTE
The veil of the senses lay turned around my Thought for a thousand years,
A thousand years the Thought stood mute and muffled in its incomparable majesty.
Then away! away! we rode like a furious Valkyrie toward—an extinct Valhalla.
Alas! I was the crowning minute in the brain of Nietzsche.
AN ETERNAL MINUTE
Like a giant glowworm, I appeared at the zenith of the Night
And stabbed the dark with my flame,
And then I was no more in Time,
And the Infinite Spaces remained as before, eyeless and mute.
I was a minute caught in a tempest in the Bay of Spezia.
THE FINAL MINUTE
The Final Minute,
I dream of the mystery of Time—
Time, the Ararat of Eternity,
On whose summit is stranded the Ark of Human Consciousness
For a Little While, for a Little While.
Source: Books and the Book World, The Sun, Sept. 29, 1918, Section 5, p. 8
This poem is a heavily revised version of a prose piece titled “The Minutes” originally published in Camera Work in January 1913 (No. 41). While the general flow of the works are very similar, there are some significant changes to the descriptions of the minutes, and even some of the minute names are different. For example, “A Static Minute” here is called “An Eternal Minute” in the 1913 piece, while “A Twin-Born” minute here is called “A Twin Minute” in the earlier writing. The 1913 piece also has three introductory paragraphs, which are not included in this version.