The Fall of Atlantis

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The Fall of Atlantis

Post by Tom on Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:57 pm

(Warning: very long, very archaic, very regrettable choice of metre, very in need of editing.)

The Fall of Atlantis

Far away, further than even the reach of our dreams or our memories,
Past the waves, sevenfold, swelling from out of the soundless dark canyons,
Past the old stillness and silence that stalks the cold sand of the ocean,
Farther than all lay Atlantis, bright as the brightest of mornings.

Island of wonder and wisdom supreme.  Truth, held within all things.
Each stone, each tree, flowers that bloomed amid sun-dappled orchards
Breathed only beauty and goodness.  No canker could spread or defile
Such pure harmony.  Nature was young and untouched by the darkness,
Yet, light, shining so brightly and clearly outside in the open,
When it is blocked of its natural path can reveal hidden shadows.

Wide streets covered the island with radial spokes like a sunburst,
Reaching to each part, every corner and point of the island,
Radial arms, spokes, joining like veins to the heart all its organs,
Bringing coherence and unity.

                                                    Centrally standing, the temple,
Pivot and focus of all that had grown and now lived here around it,
Sheltering those who would gather beneath, not through strength of defence, though
Walls there were, mighty, with seven wide gates, each one crowned by their sigils,
Squared without, round within; sections of gold intersected so boldly.
Shelter this was for the minds of all those who could see it there standing,
Gleaming so pure, clean, flawless, unblemished; perfection of ratio,
Form, shape; balanced proportion, immaculate flowing of line:
Truth, somehow captured in space.
                                                     Oh! Geometry, now but a shadow,
Lost to us, faded forever, reduced to a fragment of memory.

Priests, robed, heavy with wisdom now enter the gates of the courtyard,
Steadily moving in silent formation from outside the compound,
Murmuring softly in unison, eyes fixed, focused to centre,
Drawing behind them the following multitude: all have been gathered;
All have submitted; in mass supplication their faces are pleading.
Old men, withered in sorrow are dropping their heads to the gravel;
Mothers have covered the faces of children to hide them from weeping;
Misery, panic and cold fear, seeping with tears into polished
Worn stones, leading them on to the temple's great portals, now slowly
Closing before them and sealing the sacrosanct space from their mourning.

Gates form boundaries, separate outside from inside.  The threshold:
More than an arbitrary line or a symbol existing in mind and
Relevant only to those who are forced to acknowledge illusion.
Spaceless, it forms spaces.  Place is defined by relationship; order
Always depends on division between the inherent components:
Right, left, forward and back can't have meaning without any limits.
Limits are guardians, building a world we can share all together, yet
Passing the threshold of fixed limitations can lead us to somewhere
We can imagine infinity.  Only by seeing the doorway
Will we be able to cross it, but what we discover beyond, though
Seemingly free of all boundaries, hides its own new hidden borders.

Gathered together, surrounding the pillar that rises through sunlight,
Minds falling closer in focus, intention now drawn to a channel
Opens a door to another domain, bringing change to what's possible.
Nothing remains in their minds now.  All is transformed into something
New.  Light, streaming through consciousness, cleaning a passage for clarity.

Sombrely speaking, the voice of the high priest now sounds in the silence:

"Sun.  Soul.  Spirit above and around us now send us your solace
So we may see what surrounds us more clearly, understand truthfully
All that your wisdom and art can reveal to us, blind, lost, lonely."

Murmuring chanting is filling the space of the courtyard like rumbling
Clouds, storms, gathering, grumbling, preparing to build to crescendo.

Waiting outside in their anxious uncertainty, people imagine
Hearing the last, hoarse, wheezing lament of their hope as it pleaded,
Begging for help, life, mercy, forgiveness, a chance for survival.
Slowly at first, imperceptibly gentle, a breeze was beginning,
Blowing from over the wide open sea, calm as the sand of the desert and
Touching their faces, these worn-out expressions that wailed and worried,
Shuddering under the shadow they felt now approaching; collapsing,
Falling all hollowed, outstretched on the earth, in their emptiness swallowed.
Only the children, still standing confused, look out on the ocean,
Seeing against the deep blue of the far off horizon a blemish.

Inside the walls, in the sun and the stillness, the shadow is hidden.
Darkness is covered by shining white veils of truth, lost in illusion.

"Hear now our prayer.  We beseech you to listen to all our petition.
Glorious light, life, father of all we survey and experience,
Grant us forgiveness and turn from your wrath and the might of your anger.
Long have we served you and poured our libation before your great altars;
Many the hours we have spent in our singing and loud were our voices;
Lives beyond number were held to your glory and given in service;
All this and more we have thought, done, built and created in worship."

Pride even now made them blind to their madness of lies and delusion.
Broken their vows and corrupted their practice, now tainted by darkness.
Shadows and creeping temptation had offered a power unheard of.
Never before had such wonders been dreamed of; they promised a future
Wondrous, creative: the knowledge to harness the powers of nature,
Fashioning matter in line with their thinking and forming creation,
Boundless, unheld by the natural course of development, ordered
Right from the very beginning of time and existence through wisdom.
Thus were the mysteries of Vulcan abused and deceit could now enter their
Minds and contaminate feelings and thoughts of the soul, still now forming.
Warnings were given in dreams where the voices of ancestors ancient
Spoke, telling strongly of dangers approaching the people who wakened
Forces beneath and above the land.  Water and air would soon carry
Clear repurcussions to cancel their actions and once more bring balance.
Many who listened had left long ago from the shores of their island.
Westwards and eastwards they sailed to begin a new life, a new chapter,
Writing humanity's story and carrying wisdom and knowledge.
Those who remained, lost in lies and a promise, deceitfully given,
Trusted the power they thought they could wield to save them from certain
Death and destruction.  So blinded by pride that they still didn't notice
Signs all around them: the whispers of waves as they rolled on the beaches,
Clouds forming images, writing a message that foretold disaster in clear
Symbols for those who would only look upward.

                                                                       The darkened horizon,
Thickened with clouds, was encroaching towards where the folk of the island
Quavered and raved in their fear of destruction, like flies when the spiders
Footsteps first tremble the soft silken gossamer threads that are drawing
Life to an end.  And the breeze that grown to a powerful gale
Tore at their tear drowned eyes like the breath of a beast that, all patient,
Prods at its panicking prey.

                                           Now the cries of the priesthood have risen;
Feverish pleading has grown to demand:
                                                          "By the power we were given,
Fire immortal from your awesome hand, we beseech, as a child,
Grown to maturity, asks of his father the birthright that's owing.
Grant us protection, so we may continue to use what was given!
We are creators and born in your image; we beg now for freedom,
That we may claim what is ours by the virtue of all that is worthy,
All that is true, fair, righteous and meaningful, asking for nothing
More than the right to become what we're destined to be."
                                                                               Though sincerely
Heartfelt the words had been offered and true was the message the masters
Spoke from their hearts, it could have no effect.  Premature was their thinking,
Pushed into birth far too soon, long before the recipient vessel,
Frail and weak could yet bear it.
                                               Such woe can be born from untimely
Action, though noble in thinking and worthy in deed, and the greatest
Power, though pure and bright in its place and its time, will too quickly
Crumble, decay and be lost in corruption when stripped of its rightful
Context and purpose.

                                 Above the surrounding expanse of the temple,
Grimly, first traces of grey are beginning to show and increasing
Turmoil grows to a climax.  The leader of priests, stepping forward
Thrusts his hand upwards to point to the sun, then while chanting in whispered,
Fevered intention he carves in his palm the insignia of Vulcan.
Blood - rich, powerful, drips in the sunlight and falls on the sandy
Surface below while his face, now a tortured, mad mask of defiance
Glares at the heavens and screams out his words.  In his weakness he stumbles.
Reaching, his hand falls against the great pillar that stands, white and golden,
Firm in the land.
                        As the blood smears red on the gleaming projection,
Shouts from behind make the priests turn their heads.  On the seven great portals
Hammers are pounding and buckling the hinges of those mighty gates until,
Finally breaking, they fall to the ground with a deepening crash.
Silence descends like the sinking of dust and the faces of priests,
Drawn out in terror, look up to behold that their flock has come calling:
Swallowed by fury, a whirlwhind of rage and raw feeling unbounded,
Bursting from forms that have not yet been settled, their souls unconstrained.

Arms that have thickened and twisted like tree-trunks are growing then shrinking,
Changing in number, while legs in the dozens are constantly stamping,
Claws and pads scratching and rubbing, all shifting their shapes, like reflections
Thrown and distorted by waves in the water.  Their torsos are bulging,
Swelling like bubbles in was as it melts, or like dough when the baker
Stretches and kneads, sometimes pulling it out like a long, stringy sinew
Drawn to a thread, just before he collapses it back to a formless
Ball, all unshapen.  But worst of all: faces, continually changing,
Showed the confusion that tore at their souls.  In the shifting creations
Born in their features lay traces of animal forms unexpunged through
Rightful and proper development.
                                                Men these were too, distant brothers,
Left far behind on the long, steep, difficult path to develop
That which we must first posess, so we then can become what we're destined,
One day, to be.
                      Looking down on the priests to whom trust had been given,
Anger now surged at betrayal of hope.  Though not clearly conscious,
Thoughts of a kind were still moving in minds rudimentary, seeing
Here all the cause of their fear and pain.  Looking up at the pillar,
Blood stained, corrupted, their fury was focused and turned to disgust:
All that had long been denied to them, here had been wastefully flaunted,
Thrown up before them in mockery; lives spent in questioning, asking
Why were not they also worthy to carry that essence of being,
Glory and crown of the path, evolution's great triumph, the power
Passed from infinity, poured like a ruby of purest nectar,
Dropped in a chalice of perfected form; to be squandered here, wasted,
Smeared on the stonework and splashed on the sand by these simpering serpents,
Laughing at those who would give all they were for the faintest and merest
Drop, taste, hint of the miracle.
                                               Cries, like the grinding of boulders,
Splintering branches, now rended the air, all but drowning the screaming
Voices of priests as immense and misshapen, amorphous great fingers,
Limbs, indescribable, lifted their bodies and hurled them in anger,
Down, to be be broken on pillar and stone till the white of the courtyard
Glistened all red in the light of the sun for the briefest of instants,
Quickly then fading to black.

                                             All is quiet outside of the temple.
Tears are streaming from eyes.  Grief, pouring from hearts in confusion.
Clouds - thick, black, dark, block the sun; shadows engulf them in darkness.
Desperate, they frantically mumble their prayers in the hope of salvation,
All doomed.
                     Death is awake now and steadily stretches her fingers
Over the slumbering world, like a mother who reaches to gently
Waken her soft sleeping infant, adrift on a current of dreaming.

Now, from the sea shore the water recedes, drawing backwards and leaving
Bare, dry, sand in its passing; the wind too has fallen and silence
Pours itself over the land.
                                          In the branches of trees overlooking,
Birds have now ceased in their chatter, while dogs stare, motionless, passive
Out to the vanishing sea.  As if all there is breathed in together,
Holding iself in still anticipation, the world waits and listens.

First comes a soft, slow mumbling that whispers across the wide ocean,
Growing in volume like voices in choir when building their chorus,
Rumbling together and starting to roar, till the sound, overwhelming, is
Louder than thunder, a pounding, a churning that sets the blood burning and
Shivers the ground.  And the rattling of rocks and the clattering of rafters,
Houses beginning to shatter and fall, is a rising staccato, a
Tearing vibrato that swells to crescendo in torturous phrases that
Never resolve, until all join in discord and sing out the terrible,
Final cadenza.
                        All those who in hope by the temple had gathered,
Horrified, watch as their great golden pillar of heaven is cracking,
Crumbling as earth starts to shake.  Cries, screams of the children now echo;
Panicking crowds to the sea flee in fear.  Whether northward or southward,
Eastward or west, on the face of the water their doom has appeared:
Mountainous waves, with their peaks like a cliff, as if giants were gathering,
Armies of gorgons all racing in furious rage to devour them.
Protest has vanished as hopeless but awestruck in wonder the people
Stare, dumb, watching the beauty that carries to them their destruction.

Wildly the wind is whipped up by the deluge, a beast drawing breath as it
Falls on the prey.  Up above the waves curving, the black wall upwelling
Blocks out the sunlight till day becomes night and their land is a pebble
Pulled in the tide, all the workings of men but a castle of sand.

Clouds part.  Light for an instant reflects off the streets of Atlantis.
Sun shines.  People look up.  The perfection of wonder revealed,
Glorious, one last time, bright - bright as the brightest of mornings.

Waves close.  Seawater rushes to fill the impossible vacuum.
Fountains like towers of glittering crystal erupt from the surface,
Falling back down to the water below where the sea has reclaimed her own.
Darkness beneath, still, silent.  The world of Atlantis a memory,
Fading already as the ripples are settling on the sunlit expanse of the sea.

Tom
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Re: The Fall of Atlantis

Post by Jane Berg on Thu Jun 25, 2015 5:43 am

Wow, that really is epic, and it's so finely drawn. Almost like a short story, but the poem is certainly the right form for it. Congrats, this is a heavy piece of writing, I don't feel I can really appreciate it best just now though, but I'm going to read it again first thing in the morning and give you a second opinion. Thanks for sharing it.
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