About the Poem
This poem is dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Byron, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, and Abraham Lincoln, All of whom's poetry has been a never-ending source of inspiration and joy in my life.
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The Gossamer's Fandango
|by Michael Anderson|
On an eerie, dreary night,
Besieged by sleeplessness and spite.
I lie awake, tossing, turning,
Deep inside, emotions burning.
Restlessness soon setting the tone
Of eventide, again, alone.
For the cold night, though not a friend
Was calling out my name.
Indeed, the night was not a friend,
I followed just the same.
Something familiar felt in voice
Impelled me as if I had a choice.
So I embarked upon this quest
For peace of mind that I may rest.
Without slight of fright or worry,
Without anxiousness or hurry,
Delving a forest, deep and darkened,
Come uncanny to the eye.
Humming a chant I, now, harkened
‘Neath the peering, leering sky.
The assertion almost singing, luring,
In hypnotic rhyme, conjuring.
Pulling me further, further still,
>From home I found so sad, so ill.
Till flowing in moonlight, beaming,
Saw I, thought I to be dreaming,
With all elegance of gaudy heaven,
Glowing gossamers, gleaming in dance.
Alas, I counted six, then seven,
Silky sweet in their entrance.
A sight truly most majestic.
A message I somehow felt telestich.
As I noticed, now, more loud the voices
Singing silvery rejoices.
The candid cobwebs, eager to please,
Guided, meager me, through the trees,
Continuing their fantastic fandango,
Come upon a circle of souls -
Toasting drink, basking in fire's glow,
And reading from old scrolls.
Souls I never met but knew I knew
In subtle sense of deja vu.
Set down to what seemed my saved place,
I reckoned each enlightened face.
John Keats, Abe Lincoln, Alfred Tennyson,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron.
One other stood off from the bunch,
I wasn't sure, yet had a hunch...
Still, joined in the merriment.
Coleridge spake first, a ghostly song
I mulled o'er a mug of ale.
He doth descry thru glittery eye
For all aghast, a ghastly tale...
Of ship, of bird, and all of word,
I looked on him eyes all agloss.
As the gossamers all too averred,
‘Round his neck, formed an albatross.
In woe of Death and Life in Death
And eyes cast from the dead.
Sipping ale, I sucked down the tale,
Every last word he said.
At first thinking, all while drinking,
What wonder lie in this verse.
Yet as he turn, In Death's light burn,
I saw true, the Mariner's curse.
‘Twas then Abe Lincoln did arise
To solemnly pace the lot.
Far more tranquil in words and eyes,
No less severe a lesson taught.
He spoke of return to his hometown.
What Memory doth upspring,
As anticipation falls upon frown,
Feeling the dart of Death sting.
Bugles fading, moonlight dim.
Grim and forever fallow,
Will such Memory lie in him,
This man we'll ever hallow.
The gossamers, now, drawing near
Each took shape of a cross.
And all sat silent, in revere,
For all could feel his loss.
Alfred Tennyson then arose,
To sing and fling in gentle hymn,
Images across the midnight glim,
Alas, in verse, alas, in prose -
Both seeming most fitting for him,
Like a river gently flows.
He spoke of heavens held on high,
He spoke of the flight of an Eagle.
Pious bird of might, so regal,
In flash falling from the sky.
The gossamers again in dance
Vivified with wing and tail,
Every flap, flutter and flail,
A bird errant of chance.
Mystified, I marveled in trance,
Awed in each verse of each tale,
At how deftly drawn the scale
Of elegant deliverance.
Thought myself dead for all in head,
I knew I lie in Pleasure's own bed.
With ghostly hosts to brag and boast
O'er the greatest writings I'd ever read.
To share the yard, a luting bard,
With men held in such high regard.
Whence I noticed the one withdrawn soul
Was but standing next a grave.
Alas, this distraught soul, unwhole,
Was but missing the misgave.
John Keats soon spoke, thought to invoke,
Pulling me from my pity.
A mighty load by many an ode
Was blessed this man to ditty.
He finds Truth's beauty upon an Urn.
Sings so sad with the Nightingale
O'er Melancholy, Indolence.
Passion ne'er ceasing to burn,
There, behind the solemn veil
Of emotional pestilence.
Fair, there, cobwebs once more unrued,
Prancing proud as he sung.
But nigh, with sigh, as if in brood,
Come red upon his tongue.
"Thou, too", he said, "with choking lung,
Shall drown of your own blood."
All while watching gossamers in turn
Fly as if to the stars flung;
>From Nightingale to flowery bud
Upon an ageless Urn.
Up shot Byron to none's behest,
In hand, a skull turned drinking cup.
All full of zeal, all full of zest,
Alas, none dared to hold him up.
He raved in all Passion's madness
Of the magic Time depletes.
And gleefully relished in the gladness
Of Beauty and her haughty feats.
Alas, in the echoes of sadness
I heard him ask, "Who Killed John Keats?"
Streaming gossamers still agleam,
In moonlight, lingering on,
Stood strangely still, a visage spawn
Upon the very face of dream;
Now rose to life beneath the beam
Of vaunted Luna, a lovely thing,
To stars uproot, to solemn sing
In verse cursed beyond human deem.
The epic call of love, of grace,
And yet hope fleeting, was not gone.
With cobweb shackles all in place,
‘Round every wrist and ankle drawn,
I knew I now stood face to face
With the Prisoner of Chillon.
Then ever so sly and wry with wit,
As he resumed his place of sit,
In runic rhyme, so quick with quirk,
He motioned me to center of the circ.
As nothing I could share felt I of worth,
Somber sobriety o'ertook my mirth.
Red faced as all emotion rushed
Upon me as a great wave,
Alas, feeling alone and flushed,
I gestured to the poet by the grave.
"Be damned!" Keats plead, standing, he said,
"Pay not this gent your time.
For we gather her to sing and cheer,
But seldom doth he share his rhyme."
Byron chimed in, stark with chagrin,
"He standeth away from us too fine,
Trades with none tale, in veil or ale,
Alas, drinks he only wine.
In all I dare, in voice could share,
Through compassion or through verse.
With tainted glove, with painted love,
Empathy became my curse.
"Stranger," I called to him gently,
"Won't you join us, come share thy line?"
When turning to me, discontentedly,
Alas, eyes all devoid of shine,
The pale moon shone o'er the headstone,
And the name revealed was mine.
He stood aghast as I, aghast,
No thought of hope perchance to save.
I looked to see him look to me,
One foot yet graveled in the grave.
Whence, as he began to speak
The air grew suddenly cold, then colder,
As falling, calling, squawk and squeak,
A Raven betook his shoulder.
The gossamers, adust with fears,
Ye, unto the forest vanished.
By thought absurd, it seemed this bird
In unspoken word had them banished.
Vain and vile, this bird - donning denial,
Every smile soon, too, evanished.
It was Poe, now, stood before me,
Sunken eyes, ‘er to implore me,
As if in question of a question
That I, alone, had dared to ask.
All the burden of his staring,
Silently speaking to me, glaring,
A weight we, alas, were sharing
Behind a melancholy mask.
In all moaning misery met
Behind a melancholy mask.
I ne'er realized I had comprised
Him to such a grievous task.
Yet, finally foot-free, walking,
Was he, charmed, and to me talking,
But ne'er stopped that beast in squawking
O'er the beauty of his rhyme.
Countenance I soon found curbing,
Patience passively perturbing,
In every story so disturbing
Was this black beast with his chime.
Ever so disturbing was this
Black beast with his chime,
I knew full well the darkness of this spell
Would outlast even Time.
Still, Poe spoke on, heavy-laden,
‘Bout the beauty, the love of a maiden,
Cursed of the very angels of Aidenn
In soundless sepulcher by the shore.
Yet all attempt to speak her name
Hung his head deeper in the shame
Of this croaking fowl laying him blame
Of all calamity gone afore.
The croaking, creepy, crafty cry
Of all calamity gone afore.
With single word, all hope deferred,
Inferred the raven, "Nevermore".
Clearly distraught, I watched Poe utter
Verse now muffled to a mutter,
As the raven stood proud, wings in flutter,
Taking no mercy on his soul.
"Nevermore", I said, "At this you're right!
Blasted beast of evil take flight!
Ne'er again lay talon or sight
Upon this man, thy curse uproll.
Unset thy sight from upon this man,
Thy curse," said I, "uproll!"
When from the trees, on solemn breeze,
All heard a bell toll.
The wings were raised, the eyes were glazed,
All stood in wonder, all amazed.
Bird taking flight, far beyond sight,
An endless cry piercing the night.
I had believed good was achieved,
But, oh, the woe of the deceived.
Alas, the bell tolling once more,
The timbers echoed mournfully -
For there, upon the forest floor,
The accursed beast landeth on me.
Fallen prey, vexed with the vision
Beneath this bastardly bird's derision,
Saw I the sorrow and the sadness
Of the curse that drove Poe to his madness.
Upon my mind, bending, breaking, blurring,
Unto the blackness of the dead, obscuring,
As my thoughts all before me grayed,
Within the cracks ‘twixt right and wrong.
Watching illness slowly invade,
And poison my every song.
I called to Coleridge to no avail,
He, once more, reiterating his tale.
I looked to Byron, but in vain
Found him bearing shackle and chain.
As Abe, pensively, paced in gloom,
(Companion of the dead), Memory's tomb.
I found Tennyson talking of Ulysses,
Sharing in all the legendary feats
Of Prometheus, the Titans, and Achilles,
With who else but John Keats.
I looked to the grave but Poe was gone,
Uplifted to the heavens, spirit drawn.
Forever set beside the side
Of his beautiful maiden, blessed bride.
So, at this bird, swung I and swatted.
To kill her, dead, planned I and plotted.
But, there, in struggle, in the fight,
In dread, in the deadness of night,
I screamed a voiceless scream and shook
The sweated sheet from o'er my look.
My heart palpitating, pounding.
So clear this dream, so resounding.
Taking deep breaths, set up on the bed,
I can't clear the cobwebs in my head.
Alas, making my way to my feet,
My body feeling all battered, beat.
I open the door to draw in fresh air,
Instead, catching the Raven's daunting stare.
Wondering with distress, so defiling,
If somehow, somewhere, Edgar is smiling.
For each night these dreams overtake
Me with a vision I cannot shake.
A circle set with seven spaces.
A circle of souls with but six faces.
Gossamers dancing around the flame,
Dream incarnate, desire untame.
Alas, counting seven, then six,
As one seems removed from the mix.
And yet, no one stands at the grave,
No, no one misses the misgave.
Though the pale, dead moon yet doth shine
Upon the headstone whose name is still mine.