Cadence: Invocation, Response, and Prayers
Byron N.M. Kappes
A Poetical Dramatization
- The Prologue
- Chorus (of Children)
- Chorus (of Elders)
- (The Voice of) Cadence
- Child I
- Child II
- Child III
- Child IV
Scene: An ancient glade on Mt. Helicon. A congregation of the worshipers of Cadence solemnly assemble at an altar of stone.
The Prologue: Once, when people lived and died with ever words upon their tongues;
When words had grown so shallow then that all word’s meaning was all lost;
The people gathered on a little hill,
Reached up tip-toe to the Mountain-top,
With hands all reverend-evangelic,
And gave away this prayer to Cadence,
Youngest Lord of all inspired songs:
Children: Cadence, sing! and we will hear;
Your pretty words have been too dear!
Elders: O Child of the fragrant Hippocrene!
The greenest stems do bend, with a modest sound,
Their bloss’ming heads, dew-lip’d, to touch the ground
And kiss your fading footsteps. O child serene
Of the shrouded Mount, and last of all there sprung
From out those shady boughs – sweet seldom sage
Of lilting grace, and wisdom’s ageless age!
What would you sing, of all that you have sung,
In restful dens and coverts lushful green,
To bless our tired memories; to send
Our recollections all to well-bought end?
Child of the verdant voice, you’ve been:
Abreast of Beauty; seen and sought all charms
Alive – all past – now sing us to your arms.
(Figureless, the Voice of Cadence is heard about the place).
Cadenc: My wretched siblings, there is nothing I
Could sing to sound salvation. I have known
Too little, and you have learned so much! Blown
About these wav’ring hills with a solemn, aching sigh,
I am removed from you, and all your show
Defines you. Lost in the echoing reeds
Of my antique wilderness I cast seeds
Which catch the rustic earth but do not grow.
The gnarled oaks betray their age, and young
Roots live, but do not grow. What I have laid
In verse was false, for you have only made
Away. You have outgrown each song I’ve sung.
Yet – there will always be words left in me,
And though in doubt, I’ll sing them – timidly.
Children: Too long! To long! We’ve grown too long!
Who’ll heal us save Cadence, with his healing song?
Cadence: (The song of Cadence; known as “The Roundings”)
Across the Earth’s wide brim
The Great Bright Rounding’s broad, sinking rim
Streaks a playful colour across the sky:
Rich orange, which dries to a dark-blue die;
Coupled notes of vague rose and soft salmon also settle in,
Drifting gently groundward to burn – subtle incense – cloud – against the fierce horizon. It glows now at the climax of vision, as melted gold and glass;
A blinding berth of molten mass
That seems as if it would touch with flame and sweetly singe
The autumn trees which line the dusking fringe;
As if a delicate bulb filled full with light
Were shattered along the wide edge of sight,
So each haphazard, jagged piece,
Violently illuminates that very marginal crease
And, melting, slides down the wide Earth’s gentle grade,
Drips from the southernmost point, and pools where light is made.
Ah! These colours! This light! This immaculate display
Is her farewell; her splendid way
Of bringing to a close her bright gift of day:
With a final fond wink, she has gone away.
What remains of her slender arms in the twilight;
Stretching gracefully, as a mother’s might,
To warm the tender faces of adoring children who but breathlessly fawn;
Throws great shadows across a tree-spotted law:
A spectered sprawl of intangible lace
Her spindled fingers lay where fresh new things have taken place:
Nights past, little yellow pips of light would race
Loftily about the night-green space
With joy; underneath the star-spilt glow
Nocturnal creatures sang and danced to show
Their beauty from tree-branches, wild-grass,
Or pools that shivered or stood still, like pondering glass
Reflecting the Earth’s climactic chords of rounded resolution:
Latest contrast and response to morning’s crisp, staccato-dew profusion.
Now far past, the morning,
And broadly, slowly, sweeps the night, with bracing chill, the tree-tops that shiver and sway.
The Rounding Moon is set in drapes of mist which lay
Across his reclusive glow like hushing cloth, ‘till his distinguished ray
Of modest shine bursts out from its sweetly dissolving cover;
Glides, quick and quiet, slips between the sighing hills and meets the fertile Earth, Moon’s secret
Quivering lakes observe the Earth’s responding moan –
Soft-winded sigh – and mid the drone
Of midnight’s secret stirrings do repeat a gentle rasping
Of the surface-skin: slick-wet and moment hills out-grasping –
Shiv’ring joy – slow-fading in the wider circlet’s reach; pointing in toward the murk –
The dread-night deepening lurk –
Just underneath the thin disturbance of the night-time air;
And still the Earth and Moon’s celestial beams in pleasure share
Each other’s graces: the Moon its sun-empowered light;
The familiar Round its swelling breath; its sweeping sight;
The various sprawl of life – now lived; then had –
(End of Cadence’s Song)
Could you look on such a vibrant scene and not be glad?
Full Chorus: Oh, we would be saved! We fly as your winged words are flown!
Cadence: Oh, but would you see these things I’ve said by sight alone?
Full Chorus: Yes, we wold! Your happy words would fill our hollow soul!
Cadence: Ah, but happy words, though glad at times, do ill reflect a thing as it is whole:
. . . For all of life is in its writing,
At the time that it is writ;
And you must learn to write yourself
Those things as you see fit . . .
(A passage of time spent in silence)
Elders: If your voice break upon our ears as stone,
We will endure us to be broke upon;
If as a thrashing sea to th’ shore rakes foam,
We will suffer so to worship; as never shone
The sun to harsh the too-close peering eye;
Your song, though it be dreadful! We will shout:
“Break, voice, break!” though for moment peace we sigh;
“Break, voice, break! Break, voice, break!” For so
We love you! So we worship! So we want
Your love returned! We are set very low
Without your voice to charm the morn and flaunt
The drear from day; the dread from sightless night!
“Break, voice, break!” with all unearthly might!
(Four Children Aside)
Child I: A pen! A pen! Find out a Pen!
Child II: I’ve plucked a hollow-tipped feather
From that caged song-bird that my father
Keeps, hung from the coat-rack peg!
Oh! How she sang, as not like before,
When I rent from her left wing th’allowance she owed
Us, her keepers: this feather, which, well may you see,
Has a curious thing shaped there,
Full center, a blotch not unlike spilt ink.
Child I: The feather! The feather! Where dip the feather?
Child III: I’ve found, what luck! Some berries red,
Of a bush near at hand to my home,
And crushed their pure bright juice into
This cup I took of my mother’s things,
Well prized by her for the beauty it brings.
Child I: Now dip the pen!
Child II & III: The pen is dipped!
Child I: Ah! But where to mark? And what?
Child IV: The smooth flesh of a broad-grown tree
Full in root at my grandfather’s yard
Not a five minute’s wandering from here
Would serve, I think, as well as any
For our musings near at hand!
Child I: Then we will go! Where is the pen?
Child II: Here is the feather dipped in red!
Child I: And do we have the cup of juice?
Child III: The cup! Here, full of staining stuff!
Child I: Then we are ready! Will you lead?
Child IV: With pleasure, and great anticipation, I’ll proceed!
Elders: The valleys twixt your mountains brim with night,
And being fearful folk, we must to home
Quick tread our ways by ground, for, not as light
Are we as deities, who free may roam
From clime to clime – but first, a closing prayer:
Oh! Cadence. Sing us sound our ways returned
To Joy! For long have we not known that’s fair,
And for that passion sweet we ‘ere have yearned.
If you could. But muting patience wanes;
Nor waxes, nor can it constant remain,
As Cadence, with his forward vision, claims:
We are not met; you cannot: it is vain.
Our love be yours, sweet youth, forever long,
Even though this be your funeral song.
Cadence: Where, oh, where the faith I once had known?
Dread speaks me: more than wind has forced it flown.
Have I not done my godly best?
Or have these mortals been unblessed?
No: ‘tis th’ advent of the modern hymn:
Gods, all, are someday rendered obsolete,
When their suppliant’s needs they fail to meet.
I fade now; leaving life unlived to them.