Dreams of The Tang Dynasty #19

#19
My hands no longer work like they used to
Stiff and achy, my fingers hurt to move.
I long for music, but my pipa sits unplayed.
I’ve carried it with me some days,
Hoping to meet someone on the road
Who can play me a familiar tune, any tune.
AD886

龙火花 Long HuoHua

Born Approx AD820 – Died AD895
Timeline Of Major Events During Long’s Life:

AD840 – Earliest known poems by Long
841 – Yu XuanJi is Born
846 – Bai JuYi dies
848 – Emperor Wuzong persecutes Buddhists, Shuts down temples across empire.
858 – Major flood killing tens of thousands (including XinMei) and destabilizing dynasty
863 – Long Starts affair with Yu XuanJi
866 – Long gets sent on official duty to Chongqing
867 – Yu XuanJi is Executed
875 – Huang Chao’s Rebellion
881 – Huang Chao Captures Chang’An
883 – Capitol retaken, Huang Chao Rebellion Ends
883 – Tang Dynasty Starts Decline
895 – Long HuoHua Dies
AD907 – Tang Dynasty Falls

Monday Night Beneath The Towers

It’s a Monday night beneath the towers,
And for no particular reason,
I’ve decided to get drunk.
Maybe it’s the city
Maybe it’s that sucking sound
Coming from my innermost being.
Daoist tears from a thousand years,
Collected in the taste of a beer.
I drink to Li Bai,
I drink to lovers from another time,
I drink to those nails
Which put Christ on the cross,
I drink to all I’ve given up,
I drink to all that’s lost,
And I drink to the hope,
The hope that warms me
In a world gone cold with decadence.

December Days Under The Trees

When you get down to it,
Life is two friends
Sitting by a river on a cold day
Reading the words of dead men
And basking in the glory.

………………….

There are times
When your body shakes
From the pulsing blood,
From the conscious thought,
That this is your life.
There is nothing you can do
but shake – mouth open wide
sit and shake and breathe
and be filled with awe,

Under the leafless trees,

Under the setting sun.

………………..

I admire the tree in silence.
The way it clings to the rock
And works its way down into the river
Down into the earth.
I think about the knowledge of man.
All the things that men have told me
about the tree – about botany or biology.
They have said this
They have said that
Words whispered into the air and gone in time.
Knowledge is worthless in comparison to beauty
This tree is magnificent
And that is enough for me.

Manhood

I’ve heard some say,
Some alive, some dead,
That they wished they could be
A wolf, an eagle, or a lion.
But I sit here on this rock,
Blood running strong in my veins,
Under the end of August sun,
A young man,
Free and with the world at my feet,
Tell me,
What more fantastic or wild thing
Could I ever wish to be?

The Night Is Full Of Storm Clouds

The night is full of storm clouds.
Overhead the wild geese are frightened,
And cry out with anxiety in the murky darkness.
The ice hills are covered with dense fog.
The only thing visible
Is a beautiful shadow on a gleaming gauze window curtain.
Above the clouds the white moon is cold.
Under the clouds the storm wind is cold.
Heart full of sorrow,
Tears dried up with sorrow,
The unbearable sorrow,
Of a heart filled with love –
How can I go on under the beating storm of my thoughts?

-T’ao Tung Ming

Sunday Waters

On a Sunday by the water
Only the crickets make sound
And only the dragonflies know I’m here.
I go through my phone
And I realize there’s no one there
But I have my books
And I have my rock
By the old rotten tree
And I have a thousand songs
Memorized in my head,
Now, if only I spoke dragonfly.

…………

River Haiku

This river is like
A woman. She holds my heart
in her throbbing hand.

………….

My bare feet slip on the creekbed.
The water is the perfect temperature
And I’d jump right in
If it weren’t for the books and beer in my backpack.
My feet search cautiously for that foothold
Trying not to slice them right open.
This river’s bed is cruel to lovers too timid,
But she is sweet to my broken modern heart
Which is slowly immersed in her peaceful flow
Washing away all the trivial worries in my life
And I know now
Why God set aside a day of rest
And I thank him for this loyal friend
This wondrous river.

Insomnia – Lu Yu

Even when I fall asleep early,
My nights are long and full of bitterness.
Tonight, tortured with insomnia,
Memories of the past flood back
Until they have exhausted me.
Alone in the house beside a smokey lamp,
I rub my heavy eyelids
And idly turn the pages of my notebook.
Again and again I scratch my head
And trim my brush and stir the heavy ink.
The hours go by. The moon comes
And stands in the open door,
White and shining like molten silver.
Suddenly I am back, sailing on Ts’ai Fong River
With the fellows of my youth,
Back in Yuen village.
Oh wonderful mountains! Oh noble boys!
How is it that I have lived so long
And never once gone back to visit you?
-Lu Yu

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

Music is Spiritual

Turn up the volume and let it move over you.

Bar Scene

Yumeji – In The Mood For Love

Awakening

Sunshine

Country House

I planted a hundred mulberry trees
And thirty acres of rice.
Now I have plenty of silk and grain,
And can afford to entertain my friends.
In the spring I plant rice.
In the  Autumn I gather chrysanthemums
And perfume the  wine with their petals.
My wife enjoys being hospitable.
My children like to serve.
Late afternoon, we give a picnic
At the back of the overgrown garden
In the shade of the elms and  willows.
My friends drink until they are inspired.
The fresh breezes cool the heat of the day.
After everyone has gone home,
I want to walk out under the Milky Way,
And look up at the countless stars
That watch me from heaven.
I still have  plenty of jugs in the cellar.
Nobody will prevent me
From opening some more tomorrow.

-Ch’u Ch’uang I

This poem is an expression of exactly what I want out of life.

Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

 

Courage in a World Full of Darkness – A Short Story

The darkness had come for her with determination,
and he had destroyed it without mercy and without question.
He had drenched himself in the blood of evil men, for her.

………

We could make a good life here, Hezekiah thought as he sipped his morning tea on the veranda of the old Dutch Mission. An early morning rain was smashing against the tin roof, and the sound brought a deep peace from a source Hez could not pinpoint, but he basked in the moment none the less. From the veranda, Hez could see the lagoon clearly, and it was grey with sheets of rain falling in patterns above the surface. A loud crash of thunder came rolling in from the sea, and Hez watched as some of the younger kids danced around in the rain wearing nothing but their underwear, and having a fantastic time in the mud and water. After a few minutes of content musings, Hez went back inside the house, and as he walked down the hall, he peered inside Saori’s room. The door was slightly open, and he could see her sleeping quietly in her bed. Her jet black hair lay all over the pillow, and he could make out the outline of her young brown body through the white flannel sheets. Hez pushed open the door and walked quietly over to the bed. The two glass doors leading onto the veranda, rattled behind the curtains as the wind pushed up against them.  Hez sat down softly on the bed, and lightly stroked the hair from Saori’s face, and he smiled to himself as he marveled at the delicate beauty of the woman in front of him. Saori slowly opened her eyes, but seeing Hez through the haze startled her, and she let out a slight gasp as she sat up quickly, covering herself with the sheet as she did.

“Chill out girlie! It’s just me!” Hez said putting his hand gently on her arm.

“I’m sorry… I thought you were someone else…” Saori said softly as she rubbed her eyes, and looked around the room.

Who? Hez wondered.

“What time is it?” she asked

“Around eight…”

Saori collapsed back down onto the bed. “It’s eeearly,” she said drowsily.

“Well I am heading down the road to help some of the locals cut literally tons of banana’s out of their trees, and I was wondering if you wanted to come? Oh and there is hot tea in the kitchen.”

“Bananas? I don’t think I want to go watch you cut down bananas at eight in the morning… but you have fun.” Saori said as she buried her head back in her pillow.

“Ok… Well I guess I’ll see your lazy ass later.” He said giving Saori a loud slap on her backside as he stood up and swallowed the last gulp of his tea.

“I’m not lazy… I’m sleepy…” Saori reiterated softly as Hez walked towards the door.

“Whatever you say girlie,” Hez said entering the hallway, “I’ll see you in a couple hours priest!” He yelled as he walked past the office at the end of the hallway.

“Alright my son. There is a machete you can use by the gate. Have one of the children show you where it is.” Father Lewis replied loudly.

………

Father Lewis ran the mission. He was an ex English journalist turned priest. He had ended up in Malaysia after Vietnam, and he spent several years drinking heavily and wandering in and out of the brothels of Kuala Lampur. His predecessor would minister to women in the red light district, and found him one night in a drunken rage. Lewis had been determined to kill one of the girls he was trying to buy for the night because she had whispered something to one of her friends, and it had sent his intoxicated mind into a frenzy. When the pimps intervened and started to beat Lewis to a pulp, his predecessor broke up the fight, and talked them into letting him take Lewis back to the mission where he would not bother anybody else. Lewis was not too keen to go with the gracious priest, but did so anyway because it certainly beat dying. It was a long road but the priest finally got through to Lewis, and ever since his decision to become a priest himself, Father Lewis has been helping whoever he could from the locals, to the women in the red light district that he had once used and abused. He finally took over the mission on his predecessor’s deathbed.

After the tsunami, he turned the mission into an orphanage caring for almost twenty children. The mission was an old Dutch Estate with several old houses, and was self-sustainable in the sense that they grew their own food, and brought in money by selling what they could of the small crop of natural rubber that they produced and the fish that the older kids caught in their canoes. He did what he could to try and educate the orphans, but mostly he tried to teach them basic trade skills. It was a hard life, but it was a fulfilling one, and when Hezekiah and Saori sailed into his lagoon, he welcomed them the same way he welcomed all strangers in need on his doorstep.

………

A few nights earlier a handsome and wealthy Chinaman arrived on his Private Jet in Kuala Lampur. To anyone who did not know better, the Chinaman looked like your typical wealthy businessman, but to the men waiting around the limos on the tarmac, he was a dark hero, a man who demanded their respect and commanded their fear. His name was Tao Sun III, and he was the son of one of the most prominent and feared traffickers in South East Asia. He was consumed with greed, lust, and violence. Rumors abounded about him having killed body guards and girls on a whim because of his temper, and many girls had been seen bloodied and bruised on the mornings after his “visits”. His family owned brothels all over the region, including Hong Kong, Phnom Phen, and Tokyo. His family was extensively involved in the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and people, but Tao had been appointed to manage their red light district accounts. He had arrived in Malaysia to find fresh girls for their brothels in Hong Kong. In order to do so he would travel to the outlying towns of the cities he was staying in, and seduce the girls and their families with promises of education, jobs, and a monthly income which they could send home to their families. He was eloquent and charming, and it did not take much to get these families to trust him. Every trip he would find dozens of girls from their early teens to their early twenties, and load them into suv’s and fly them out of the country. It wasn’t until they reached Hong Kong and were relieved of all their travel documents that they suspected anything was wrong, and by that point it was too late. The monthly money made the families assume all was ok, and within weeks the girls had completely disappeared in the maze of Asia’s criminal underground. Tao Sun would keep whichever girls he chose, and sell the rest to the highest bidder, whether it be wealthy businessmen or other brothel owners. After a couple of months the money would cease being sent to the families and they never saw their children again. Most of the girls never lived passed three years because of the constant drug use and incessant raping. The Sun family made millions annually off of human trafficking alone. There was an endless supply of trusting families, and an endless demand for girls.

The night of his arrival, Tao Sun met with all of his brothel owners in Kuala Lampur’s red-light district to see how business was, and to collect his money. During dinner several of the brothel owners, who hated Father Lewis, suggested that Tao visit the old Dutch Mission for his first batch of girls. They told him of the priest’s love of the children and how he would do anything to better their lives, making him the perfect target, not to mention that all the kids were orphans which made it even less risky for his family. Tao Sun liked what he had heard about the mission, and decided he would head down there first. The idea of stealing children out of such a sanctuary of safety appealed to the consuming darkness within him, and the thought of it made him feel powerful.

………

The rain had stopped and Hez had been gone for about four hours. Saori walked over to the hammocks by the beach, and climbed into one with her poetry book. She opened up the book having already made up her mind that this day was going to be one of relaxation. All the chores that needed to be done could be done tomorrow she reasoned. The clouds gave the mission a much needed break from the heat, and a cool breeze blew off the water and flowed between the palm trees. Father Lewis came out of the house when he saw her lying in the hammock through his office window. He had been writing all morning, and decided to rest awhile. He had not spent much time with Saori during their time at the mission, and he wondered if it had anything to do with the story of his past. Hez however had taken a strong liking to the priest, and they would often stay up late at night to talk about philosophy and the war. Hez felt he could relate to Father Lewis because the priest had been in Vietnam and seen war as he had. Saori would sit in the kitchen and listen for a while, but often would head to her bed early to read. Her new freedom instilled a strong hunger for knowledge within her. She would read Hez’s father’s poetry book and had read it all the way through several times since her emancipation. Hez had given it to her after he had seen how much she enjoyed reading it, and she would read herself to sleep as the men continued talking in the kitchen well into the early hours of the morning.

She turned to a small poem, that she had come to love because it reminded her of Hez. It read:

What chance does beauty have
In a world full of darkness and fire?
Beauty, fragile like a flower,
Stands defenseless and alone,
And the dark ravenously pursues her.
Waiting to tear away her innocence,
Waiting to crush her spirit,
Who might stand up to the inferno?
Who might pluck her from this night,
And plant her back down
In a fortress of peace and love?

 “Who might pluck her from this night” She repeated to herself quietly.

“How are you doing my dear?” Father Lewis called out as he approached the hammocks breaking her train of thought.

“I am doing fine!” Saori responded, closing the book as she twisted her head slightly to look in his direction, “It’s such a beautiful day!” she said smiling.

“That it is! I don’t blame you for staying behind by the way. I remember when I was younger, harvesting bananas was hard and painful work, though I suppose Hezekiah would not have made you actually do any of that.”

“Yes, today is a day to relax. Hez loves working with his hands, and getting all dirty. I just can’t do that every single day. Every now and then I have to take some time just to lay here by the water.”

“I understand.” Father Lewis said smiling as he leaned up against one of palm trees. “I think that boy fancies you quite strongly…” Father Lewis said looking out on the water, “He is always talking about you, when you are off with the kids somewhere.”

“Really?” Saori asked surprised.

“Oh yes! He told me the story about you two. I did not realize the extent of what you both had been through.”

“He told you?” Saori said looking away with a slight hint of shame.

“Yes. I have to say, I admire your courage. Many women who have been through such trauma never recover. I have seen it time and again in my visits to Kuala Lampur. I understand there will always be pain, but I admire your willingness to love despite the injustices done to you in the past. The ability to love despite the darkness of this world is a precious and rare gift.” The priest stopped himself before he got carried away and began a sermon.

“But anyway,” Father Lewis continued, “I see how you two are with each other. I can tell that he loves you very much.” He paused, “Life is too short to keep your feelings hidden from one another. You should make your heart known to him because you never know what tomorrow may bring. He’s described the night you both met several times now, and every time he brings it up, he keeps coming back to you, standing in your black dress in the doorway of your friend’s hotel room, as though it is an image that his mind can’t let go. It seems to me that God brought you two together for a reason, and I am very glad that He brought the both of you here. It has truly been a blessing.”

Just then one of the older kids came up to Father Lewis and told him that a well dressed businessman was at the front gate and wished to speak to him.

“Well my dear. Think on what I have said. Don’t be afraid to open your heart to Hezekiah. He is a good man. I suppose I have to go and attend to these unexpected visitors.”

Saori lay there swinging quietly. Hez loves me? she thought. She had known for weeks, subconsciously that Hez loved her, but it never really surfaced in her mind or became real to her as it had in this moment. It was probably because it was still difficult for her to comprehend how any man could love a woman like her, and yet, she felt great joy at the thought, and she locked her joy away, deep within her heart. She smiled and gazed out on the lagoon and the boat which had been the vessel of her escape. Life can be so beautiful… Saori thought, surprised by her epiphany.

Saori heard cars pull into the mission, and she sat up to see who was pulling in. When she saw the black Suburban, a shiver immediately shot down her spine. Three men got out of the Suburban, but Saori could not see their faces. Father Lewis welcomed the men inside, and the younger kids who had not gone down the road to harvest bananas all gathered around the windows peering inside to see the well-dressed men.

I wonder what they want. Saori pondered as she got up and walked toward the kitchen window with a quiet anxiety. Something inside her made her uneasy, but she had to know who these unexpected visitors were.

………

“We can offer your children the opportunity to have a great future. Our schools are the best in all the region, and when they are done with their schooling, my organization has connections throughout Hong Kong and Tokyo which will make sure they find good jobs.”

“I would love to be able to give my kids a great education, but I could never afford to send them to your schools.”

“Well it wouldn’t be entirely free, but it would cost you no money. The kids would learn trade skills by working between studies, and in effect they would earn the right to be at our school. Our system of education was developed by the best philanthropists in all of South East Asia, and I guarantee you that our organization cares first and foremost about the well-being of all the children under our care.”

Father Lewis liked what he heard, but something inside him urged him to be cautious. Father Lewis could sense a sinister presence in the room but he could not put his finger on its source. The Chinaman was well spoken, and seemed to know what he was talking about, but the priest felt slightly troubled.

“Give me some time to think about it.” Father Lewis said, “How long will you be in Malaysia?”

“We will be leaving by the end of the week.” Tao Sun replied.

“Ok, well I will discuss it with my children and get back to you. I am doing some work in the capital on Thursday so maybe we can speak again then?”

“I look forward to it.” Tao Sun replied with a smile that bordered on menacing. As Tao Sun shook the priests hand, he looked out the window and spotted Saori in the courtyard.

It can’t be Tao Sun thought, struggling to keep his composure.

“Is everything alright?” Father Lewis asked when he saw the strange look on the man’s face.

“Who is that girl? She is beautiful.” Tao Sun asked trying to sound casual.

“She is a guest here at the mission. She is a very sweet girl, but gentlemen, if you don’t mind, I have to get back to my writing.” Father Lewis motioned towards the door.

………

Saori was gripped with terror. She had not heard anything that the men were talking about, but she knew Tao Sun’s face as it had been seared into her memory.

How did he find me? she thought frantically as she walked hastily around the corner of the house.

Tao Sun exited the house and looked around the courtyard for Saori.

“Mind if I have a quick look around the mission?” Tao Sun asked.

“I think it would be better if you go.” Father Lewis said calmly, as the sense of urgency grew stronger within him.

“Watch him.” Tao Sun commanded his men in mandarin, and began walking.

“Where are you going?” Father Lewis asked loudly as he began to follow Tao. The priest had not moved two feet before both of Tao’s men stepped in front of him and pulled out their handguns.

“Back in the kitchen!” one of the men exclaimed, pushing Father Lewis roughly, and sending him tumbling into the door.

As Saori rounded the corner, her whole face turned white and her entire body was overcome with fear. Tao Sun stood confidently in her path, and that all too familiar smile came to his face as he saw the terror in her eyes.

“No!” She said breathlessly with a hint of devastation, and she quickly turned around to walk away. She did not even know where she was going to go. All she knew was she could not bear to fall back into Tao Sun’s hands.

“STOP!” Tao Sun shrieked in mandarin as he pointed his gun at her. Tao lifted a cell phone to his ear.

Saori froze, and her eyes widened when she heard Tao say,

“Tell my father, I found Saori.”

Tao hung up and walked angrily up to her, grabbing her roughly by the wrist and yanking her around. “I can’t believe my luck…” Tao said as he pulled her in close. “You still look like my number one slut.” He said cruelly, “I never thought you would stoop as low as an old priest… You always were an unpredictable girl.” Tao snickered. “I guess I will have to teach you a lesson!” he yelled as he pulled her violently towards the house.

“Please Tao! Don’t!” Saori struggled and pleaded as He opened the door to the hallway which ran through the center of the house and dragged her behind him. Tao flung open her bedroom door and threw her inside. Saori let out a scream as she stumbled, reaching out for the bed in an attempt to break her fall.

When Father Lewis heard Saori’s scream, he stood up quickly from the kitchen table.

“Sit back down!” one of Tao’s men said angrily, pushing him violently back into his seat.

By this time Hez was approaching the mission with a big bushel of bananas balancing on his right shoulder and a machete was held loosely in his left hand.

………

“I’ve thought about you every night since you ran away.” Tao said, struggling to hide his lust. Saori sat on the bed and cringed at every word he said. She looked at the floor because she could not bare to make eye contact with his lustful gaze. “I always thought you would reappear in some brothel somewhere, but I never would have guessed I’d find you here. And yet, here you are.” Tao said with a hunger in his voice, still pointing the gun at her, “The things I’m going to do to you…” he finished in Mandarin.

Saori was now shaking. She looked desperately at the door, hoping there would be an opportunity for escape. All the hope drained from her heart, and she reflected painfully on Hez. She hoped he would never find out what happened to her, and that it would not be too hard for him if he did. The thought of what was about to happen to her overwhelmed her and she could no longer hold back the tears. She knew now, in this moment that she loved him too, and she wished she could tell him one last time. All the talk the priest had done about God and purpose seemed overshadowed by the injustice which was about to befall her and the world now seemed more than ever to be ruled by cruel chance.

“Tears? What is this shit? I haven’t even begun to do anything to you yet. You’ve never bothered shedding tears before. You used to be so defiant. That is what made you my favorite. What’s happened to you? You’ve become so pathetic.” Tao locked the door, and began to unzip his pants, “Now I will give you something to cry about.” He mocked.

Tao had not even gotten his pant’s button undone, when all of a sudden a man came crashing through the glass doors to his right. Tao let out an agonizing scream as a machete came down like a hammer on the arm that he was holding the gun with. The machete was slightly dulled and it got lodged in Tao’s arm.

“FUCK!” he screamed, dropping to one knee while looking at the blade stuck in his arm. He looked back up in horror at the man standing over him.

“Hezekiah!” Saori screamed.

Hez unflinchingly dislodged the machete raising it back into the air violently, and bringing it  swiftly down a second time upon Tao who tried to block the blow with the same arm, but this time the machete cut all the way through, spraying blood all over the floor, and sending Tao’s arm to the ground with a thud. Tao was now screaming incessantly, and Hez did not hesitate, the man’s screaming drove him to continue for fear that the noise would alert somebody outside the house. Hezekiah mercilessly brought the machete back down on Tao’s head splattering blood all over Hez’s clothes and face, Tao continued to scream as his eyes began to roll back into his head. Hez landed several more blows to Tao’s head, and by the second one, Tao was silent, by the third and fourth his body collapsed lifelessly to the floor. Hez quickly picked up Tao’s gun as he heard the pounding footsteps of men running on the hardwood floor in the hallway.

“Get on the floor!” Hez yelled at Saori, with blood dripping from his nose and chin. Hez kneeled down by the wall on the left side of the room and focused all of his attention on the door. After a moment of silence, the door crashed open violently as someone kicked it in, breaking the door jam in the process. Hez did not see anyone, but squeezed off two rounds blindly, aiming for the center of the door. The bullets passed right through the door and hit one of the men; sending him crashing to the floor. When Hez saw he had not killed the man, he let off another round, hitting the man square in the head. Silence came over the room. Hez motioned for Saori to crawl under the bed, not once taking his eyes off the doorway. The door creaked as it swung slowly on its hinges, tapping against the wall and then swinging back until it encountered the man he had shot, and it came to rest there. The silence and tension was immense. Hez waited for the first sign of movement, but none came. He then heard the sound of the Suburban’s engine starting up.

“Shit!” Hez yelled as he scrambled to his feet and ran out of the room. Hez sprinted down the hall and crashed through the door at the end, rolling on the ground outside the house. When he got his bearings he spotted the Suburban reversing towards the gate. Hez stood up and took aim at the driver’s side. He let off two rounds which hit the glass to no avail, the windshield was bullet proof. Hez knew he was going to have to move quickly. He bolted towards the Suburban sending the driver into a panic. The driver hit the accelerator, but was not looking where he was going and he slammed into the outer wall of the mission. Hez got to the driver’s side door, and noticed that it was unlocked. He opened the door quickly, and the china-man inside shot frantically, hitting the bulletproof window which Hez was taking cover behind. The man quickly put the SUV into drive, but Hez aimed his gun from behind the door and unloaded the entire clip into the driver. The driver’s body, out of reflex, pushed down on the accelerator and the SUV took off rapidly. Hez was thrown to the ground by the impact of the door, and he watched as the SUV sped up and crashed into a large palm tree, bringing all of the violence to an end. Hez sat in the dirt in a daze as the dust coagulated in the blood which covered his arms and legs.

Saori! He suddenly thought getting up and running toward the house. God Damn Bastards! He thought as he approached her room. When he got there, even he was shocked by its appearance. Glass from the doors littered the floor, and there was blood covering the walls, the floor, and was even dripping down from the ceiling. Saori sat on her bed in a state of shock. She looked up at the bloody image of Hez with glazed over eyes. Hez stood over Tao, and then glanced up at Saori who had a mixed expression of relief and fear on her face. Hez turned to peer into the mirror on the dresser by the wall, and was stunned by what he saw. His whole face was red with blood, and his hair was matted with it as well.  Who was this man who looked back at him? He had just killed three men, and not even stopped to think.

“Hez…” Saori said quietly, breaking the silence, “Where is Father Lewis?”

“I don’t know.” He replied, still looking in the mirror.

“Maybe we should go find him?” She suggested, as she wiped the tears from her face, and stood up shakily.

They found him on the floor of the kitchen in a daze. The men had hit him over the head with their guns before running to check on Tao.

“Wha?” the priest let out in exasperation as Saori kneeled down next to him. Father Lewis smiled when he saw Saori’s face, and he brought his hand up and patted her gently on the cheek… “How did you?” Saori motioned towards the doorway with her head, and Father Lewis slowly looked over, his head propped up on the cabinets next to where he fell. “Hezekiah?” Father Lewis asked, not recognizing the bloody man standing in the kitchen. Hez knelt down next to Father Lewis, grabbing a napkin from the counter and ironically wiping the blood from the priest’s forehead.

“It’s ok.” Hez said gently, “They are all dead.”

Saori watched Hez gently wiping the blood and sweat from Father Lewis’s brow, and could not comprehend what had just happened. How could someone so gentle, do something so frighteningly violent? She thought back to the merciless way Hez had ended Tao’s life, and yet she felt no fear, she felt no disgust. He had become to her, justice incarnate. The darkness had come for her with determination, and he had destroyed it without mercy and without question. He had drenched himself in the blood of evil men, for her. Hez looked up at her and put his hand under her cheek, rubbing her face lightly with his thumb, and smiling a smile of relief.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I had of lost you.” Hez said softly, his white teeth contrasting strongly with the now dried blood on his face.

“I didn’t think I’d see you again…” She said putting her hand to her mouth as she again tried to hold back her emotions.

Hezekiah nodded lightly and continued to look into her eyes.

“Are you going to be ok?” Hez asked.

“I am now.” She said softly then pausing for a second, “We have to leave this place…” she continued sadly.

“I know.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Taken as an excerpt from the novel I am working on, Courage in a World Full of Darkness

The Beauty Of Existence – Thoughts from G.K. Chesterton

These are excerpts of thoughts and poems from Gilbert Keith Chesterton, an early twentieth century writer and poet, written in his early twenties while he was immersed in the dark pessimism of his time (the 1890’s) in art college. He wrote these as he struggled with his own existential questions, and this is the start of his journey to a life of writing on the important things in life. Beautiful stuff.

You Say Grace
You say grace before meals
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in ink.

Here Dies Another Day
Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

“… no man knows how much he is an optimist, even when he calls himself a pessimist, because he has not really measured the depths of his debt to what ever created him and enabled him to call himself anything. At the back of our brains, so to speak, there was a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life was to dig for this submerged sunrise of wonders; so that a man sitting in a chair might suddenly understand that he was actually alive, and be happy.”

“Mere existence reduced to its most primary limits, was extraordinary enough to be exciting. Anything was magnificent as compared with nothing. Even if the very daylight were a dream, it was a day-dream; it was not a nightmare. THe mere fact that one could wave one’s arms and legs about… showed that it had not the mere paralysis of a nightmare. Or if it was a nightmare, it was an enjoyable nightmare. In fact, I had wandered to a position not very far from the phrase of my puritan grandfather, when he said that would thank God for his creation if he were a list soul. I hung on to the remains of my religion by one thread of thanks. I [had discovered a] way of looking at things, with a sort of mystical minimum of gratitude.”

He wrote the following poem for his wife when they got married.

Between the perfect marriage day
And that fierce future proud, and furled,
I only stole six days – six days
Enough for God to make the world.
For us is a creation made
New moon by night, new sun by day,
That ancient elm that holds the heavens
Sprang to its stature yesterday –
Dearest and first of all things free,
Alone as bride and queen and friend,
Brute facts may come and bitter truths,
But here all doubts shall have an end.
Never again with cloudy talk
Shall life be tricked or faith undone,
The world is many and is mad,
But we are sane and we are one.

Looking Back: 12 Months of Poetry

Here are Poems that I wrote in the last 12 months or so (not as many poems as you may think) and have been in posts on this blog and on facebook. So for those of you that haven’t read my poetry, here is a ton of it in one place to get a feel. Those that have, I assume you enjoy reading it or you wouldn’t be here, so I hope some of it is new to you that you may have missed.Some are titled, some are not uniformity doesn’t really matter does it? If a poem isn’t doing it for you move on to the next, if several don’t maybe my poetry isn’t for you =)

Enjoy (at least the cynics will.)

Scarlett

It’s been said
That I am a romantic
And this, from time to time, may be true
But tonight
I am a cynic
I am Bukowski
Driving around Los Angeles in the rain
With tears in his eyes
And a broken heart
Searching
Searching
But it’s hard to find anything
When it’s always dark
And always raining

Like Atlas

Every time I go it alone
I end up on my knees
Crawling helplessly through the night
Looking for my bed
Where I can brace myself
And whisper words
Toward my heart
Toward the sky
Toward Jerusalem
Whispers of desperation.
I foolishly act like Atlas at times
But I am just a man
And the burden is always to much to bare
I need a divine hand

The Wild Within

You are like the wild
Dangerous and vast
And I wish to get lost in you.
You are a river
That flows around my heart
You sweep me away
You make the banks of my heart
Spring forth with life
And in the wild
Or within you
My head and my heart
Are made new.

…….

Every heart broken coldly,
Every love trampled upon,
Every infidelity,
Every hurtful word,
Every little stab taken,
At the divine dignity of humanity
Is all just a prelude
To the end of the age.
And the end will come upon us
Swiftly and unexpectedly
Because we have forgotten
How to love one another
The way that God had first loved us.

…….

The young girls of today live in a world
Where the odds are stacked against them.
The world stands waiting to devour them.
From pornography, to diets, to abortion, to T.V.
They are forced and molded into pre-packaged commodities,
And those that aren’t are thrown out,
Discarded,
Disowned.
By fourteen years of age
Boys expect them to perform like pornstars,
And by eighteen they have become them.
All the while, modern society wonders,
“Where did true love go?”
Did it ever exist?
Does it go by another name?
But the truth is,
Society has fucked true love into oblivion.
And only the few who stand in contrast
Ever have a chance of finding it.
What chance does innocence have
In a world consumed with hunger and guilt?
Babies produced to be pop stars,
And pop stars produced to make greedy men rich.

……

God created each of us,
Even the most dysfunctional,
More beautiful than the universe itself.
All people were made beautiful,
It is us who have made them ugly.
It is us who have deemed some
More worthy than others.
And us who have destroyed the world we live in.
Suffering is man made.
Inequality, racism, genocide – man made.
We are the mediums used
In the dark arts of the occult.
We are a beautiful painting,
Covered in the ash of a great inferno,
Waiting for the waters of redemption
To put out the fire
And wash the canvas clean once again.

…….

What chance does beauty have
In a world full of darkness and fire?
Beauty, fragile like a flower
Stands defenseless and alone,
And the dark
Ravenously pursues her.
Waiting to tear away her innocence
Waiting to crush her spirit.
Who might stand up to the inferno?
Who might pluck her from this night,
And plant her back down
In a fortress of peace and love?

On: The Existence Of God

You say my sweet
That you can’t see
But God is love
And I love thee

My Love, I Long For Thee!

My Love, I long for Thee!
Thou art The Guide of history
Thou art the champion of my soul
And renewer of my heart.
Thou art the Truth
In which I long to dwell.
Thou art the Air
That causes my lungs to swell.

I can be,
Because Thou art.
And I am naught
Without Thee!

Oh Lover of my soul!
Defeater of death,
The Life in every breath,
May I always walk in thy light,
And finish strong thy good fight!

That Is Grace

I long for rest
I wish to be alone with You
To sit with You and the sea.
You are my heart’s desire.
Though I am a whore,
Spreading my love amongst petty nothings,
You continue to love me fully.
You call my name,
And I constantly turn away,
For I can’t bear to show my face.
Yet You tell me
“That is grace!”
This world keeps trying to drown me,
And I keep on trying to climb out
Of this poison reservoir,
But the arms of darkness grip me tight.
I need Your might!
I am weary
And long for solace!
I long for it to be,
You and me,
And the spray filled sea.

Broken Bones
Broken bones don’t hurt
Like a broken heart.

Self Righteous
Standing outside the clubs
These people think they are the shit
And I want to tell them
They are…
They really are,
The shit.
But I am tired of being the cynic
So I keep my thoughts to myself

True Lonliness
Dignity
Lost to bluntness and desperation
“Is there a chance I’d get laid tonight?”
He asks her.
Awkwardness surrounds
And I just sit and stare
Quietly in disbelief
Of his desperate attempts.

The World
Television
Sleep
Alcohol
Bills
Gasoline
People I meet,
All cheat
All steal
All tear and destroy
The passions that’s within me

Tell me…
How does a passionate man
Make it through
This modern life?

The Heart Of Man
There’s a blackness in the hearts of men
An urge to bloody our swords
To kill one another and betray our friends
A blackness that pervades history
A mar on the face of the universe
A black hole larger than any dead star
The size of God, absent within us.
A black hole which consumes all it can
All the alcohol, the sex, the broken beauty of nature
And yet it only grows larger till it consumes
Our soul, and from there, the world.

Self Pity
On this dark night
It’s as though all the violence
Of nature and man
Came solely from my own heart.
O Sorrow!
Deep rooted sorrow!
Bring forth the tears of frustration and hurt
Make wet the ground you stand on
Till the mire takes hold and pulls you down
I’ve reached my limit
I am not Christ!
I hate the world
Everything and everyone
My love is not unlimited!
My forgiveness is all dried up!
I hate the world,
But I hate myself more.

……

This temporary sorrow
Cannot find me
When I am with You.
When I sit by Your river,
In the light of Your sun,
In the whispers of Your breeze.
I am free to be content,
Free to smile.
Leaving man’s world,
And entering into Yours,
A taste of Heaven.

……

What magnificence there is to life
Not just intelligent beings
But even the silent life
From grass to the tallest trees
So simple, but so complex
The way they cling to the earth
Soaking in its nutrients.
The oak tree cares not
For philosophy or politics or the frivolous things of man.
The oak tree cares not
And within that there is a beauty.
It is alive
It lives for summer and spring
And sleeps in the winter.
It has character in its branches
And kindness in its shade
Hints of a premeditated design
As though it were created to shade lovers on a summer day
And yet
Whether in the park or in the wild
It sits in magnificence
As a monument to someone greater than man.

……

Thoreau had it right
Peace in the midst of turmoil
God’s presence clearly felt
In the cathedral of His creation.
Away from the darkness of men.
For when he stood against the machine
All they could do was imprison him
Where else could God’s word
Sink deep
But away from the world in solitude and silence
Just God, the pond, and His peculiar little geese

……

The people I see along the river
I would judge harshly
If I saw them on the street
But here, they are the same as me
And it is clear,
We all need solace and silence.
Not a word is ever spoken
Except a rare and polite hello.
The world makes you self righteous
But here we experience our equality
Unless of course
I see someone throw something in the river,
Then I am all fire and brimstone
And wish the worst on them
Until love brings me back.

……

Supernatural
This word implies there is more to what we are
Something more natural than our current state.
As though our senses have been dulled
A natural state with a connection between mind and heart
That has been lost
The bridge has been swept away.
The further we stroll from God
The more open we are to oppression
From an enemy we can no longer see
Except in the darkness
And man’s predicament grows worse
With light almost absent from the world
Apart from where Christ lives.
The strong eat the weak
And the image of God is blurred,
Replaced by ugliness, darkness, and hate
And value of men’s lives become worthless,
Innocence is lost
And war reigns.

……

You’ve taken root deep within,
And you are growing like wildflowers
In my heart.
The prairies are covered with your beauty,
And I am always longing,
To be covered by it as well.

…….

If the weight of what’s been lost
Outweighs the weight of glory
Then what we’ve gained
Is greater
Than the splendor of all the stars
In the consuming sky above me.

…….

It is a planet of sorrows that we inhabit
Where everyday men kill themselves,
And everyday, men kill each other.
Some in the most fallen and literal way,
Others in  more subtle and devastating ways
Deep within the abandoned temples of their hearts.
If Adam only knew what he was about to do to his children
Maybe we’d have been spared the pain.
The future brings hope, and hope brings joy,
But the present is full of bitter fruit
The spoils of Eden lost
And it sours in my stomach.
My heart yearns and my heart overflows
For what I’ve only seen shadows of
And until redemption comes
My pen shall move in search of peace
And tears shall stain these pages.

……

Madness!
All of life is madness!
All of life is sorrow,
If this is all of life.
If when our flames go out
Its just darkness,
Madness, not reason!
Madness and sorrow
For there’d be no tomorrow.

……

Violent sparks burn inside my torso
Hints of spring enrage the inferno
Drunk on life and the eternal summer sun
I’ve stopped living just to have fun.
This desire is etched into my spirit
A longing for freedom and meaning
Amidst the directionless and dying
The cynics rule the night
But hope wins with daylight.
Don’t give me man made philosophy
Its just endless people who disagree.
Don’t give me science
Its just unreasonable beings trying to think reasonably.
Give me faith,
And you think me mindless
But it’s the only true fire
Which engulfs me.
When I walk from the fire,
Sorrow painfully turns me back
And I wonder if I ever knew
What life really was in the cold dead world
Before His sacrifice gave me God
And God gave me life…

……

People would die for pleasure
Before they would die for truth
And it’s exhausting
All this apathy
All the innocence lost to pettiness
And beauty replaced with emptiness.
I’m looking for the source
Of all the shadows.
I have no more tears
To shed for darkness
And no more time to give

……

Teacher! Teacher!
Listen to me!
Isn’t this what you want to hear?
Isn’t this what you want to see?
My thoughts are not my own,
But my words are.
Indoctrinate me!
And I will tell you what you want to hear
Regurgitate the propaganda
And find no peace
Because the truth continues to torment
Those who live in lies
And foolishness fills my days.

……

America was built by savages
Or so the scholars say.
Look at all the blood!
Tasteless, cynical critics
Unable to see
We’ve been up to our noses in blood
Since Cain killed Abel.
The world is drenched in it,
Yet no man has been freer
And no dream by foolish mortal men
Has ever been grander than this liberty
Til all the world comes to an end
No greater country will there be
Than this land of the free.

……

He gave us eyes
So we could comprehend color,
He gave us hearts
So we could see beauty,
He gave us the stars
So we’d know His greatness,
He gave us music and canvas
So we’d create portraits of our souls
And pictures of how our souls see the world.
He gave us all His love
So we’d know He’s real
And He gave me you
So through our love
You’d know it too.

……

Sometimes these words
Are the words of a madman.
Maybe since our fall
We are all a little mad.
And the only way to stay sane
Is to realize
It’s not about cars,
It’s not about sex,
It’s not about science,
Or the pursuit of our “rights.”
And they dismiss order
To embrace dysfunction
And live as though they won’t die
But they always do
And I will too.

My Heart

My heart is in Carolina.
Where do I go
If my heart is not with me?
A part of me is missing.
I feel as though
It’s a struggle to get through the week.
Where is she?
Flying over Mississippi
New York,
Or Tennessee?

Water

Water
Always in my dreams
Crashing through the walls
To take me from my love
And sweep me out to sea.
Love and water
Standing on the shore
With lightning on the horizon
And wind in her hair
With quiet smiles in the sand
And a longing in her heart
But the water
Always there
Before I wake.

The Rocks Of Heaven

The sun beats down
Upon the rocks of heaven.
The water flows through the center of Eden
But I have no desire to hide.
I’ve longed for this
Though it is still shadows
If only I could open my eyes
To see what’s truly there.
So close to God
And yet so far.

Fighting

What is this world
That men have to spend their whole lives
Fighting and then dying
For one ray of sunshine
For a slight glimpse of justice?

Outrage

Lets get outraged
Lets get together and talk about injustice
Lets all yell and be angry
But don’t ask us to take action
Don’t ask us to do something
My outrage excuses me
From having to fight

………

I can see the smoke of civilization
Rising just off on the horizon,
Black smoke,
And though it rains all day
The fires don’t go out.
Yet all the smoke is on the horizon,
It is still a ways out.
Don’t bother trying to evacuate
Don’t go back inside to get your things
It will be here soon
And you won’t escape it.
Prepare yourself to the depths
Because in the end
The depths are the only thing
That you’re going to have left.

………

The cosmos
Had a beginning
But they exude subtle references
That point toward a sense
Of Eternity.
A timelessness within time
As though they had been before
Trapped or stored in the back of your mind
Like a painting finally painted.
Divine scarring in our spirit
That lets us know the answer
is discoverable,
For it was once our pleasure
Once within the palm of our
Spiritual hand.

………

Unless you know death,
You can not know life.
Unless you are awake,
You are asleep.
Unless you’ve seen light
You will not know darkness.
And unless you’ve awoken from the dream
You will not know reality.

………

I live
In the darkness of night
With open eyes
And cautious feet
Until the embers burn me
And I awaken
From this dream

………

To say you don’t know God
Is to say you do not know yourself
For He created you.

Out of the rock,
He sculpted your soul.
Out of the water,
He wrote your story.
He took his love
And placed it within your heart.

To say you don’t know God
Is to say you do not know love.
To say you do not know God
Is to say you don’t know anything at all.

………

Are you certain?
What is there to be certain of
If all you draw from
Is the finite faculty of your human mind?
All that is known
Is all that has been revealed.
To say there is not something deeper
To the mysteries of life
Is to say you know all things
And that is where proud men fall.
All have to face the truth
That we are infinitely finite
And all that is known
Is what has been revealed to us by God.
We are,
Because He told us we are,
And we are not
If we are all that there is.

………

What is the point of philosophy,
What is the point of science,
If all we know is mere chaos?
Why do men who mock spirituality
Claim they’re looking
For the reason we are here?
If the universe is chaos,
If all is random,
Then there is no answer.
There is no reason.
In a very real sense
We don’t even exist.
We are but a spark
Ascending from the fire.

The Everlasting Man – God and Comparitive Religion – G.K. Chesterton

Below is an entire chapter from the book The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton. It is profound and talks of the emergence of paganism in the ancient world… I know it doesn’t sound riveting but it is. Read it, you will not be disappointed.  He writes so clearly, and has a very unique take on history and life. The Everlasting Man is hands down my favorite book. Any bolding of paragraphs or sentences or words are by me to highlight that which stood out to me or I thought was interesting. Enjoy.

********************

I was once escorted over the Roman foundations of an ancient British city by a professor, who said something that seems to me a satire on a good many other professors. Possibly the professor saw the joke, though he maintained an iron gravity, and may or may not have realized that it was a joke against a great deal of what is called comparative religion. I pointed out a sculpture of the head of the sun with the usual halo of rays, but with the difference that the face in the disc, instead of being boyish like Apollo, was bearded like Neptune or Jupiter.

‘Yes,’ he said with a certain delicate exactitude, ‘that is supposed to represent the local god Sul. The best authorities identify Sul with Minerva; but this has been held to show that the identification is not complete!

That is what we call a powerful understatement. The modern world is madder than any satires on it; long ago Mr. Belloc made his burlesque don say that a bust of Ariadne had been proved by modern research to be a Silenus. But that is not better than the real appearance of Minerva as the Bearded Woman of Mr. Barnum. Only both of them are very like many identifications by ‘the best authorities’ on comparative religion; and when Catholic creeds are identified with various wild myths, I do not laugh or curse or misbehave myself; I confine myself decorously to saying that the identification is not complete.

In the days of my youth the Religion of Humanity was a term commonly applied to Comtism, the theory of certain rationalists who worshipped corporate mankind as a Supreme Being. Even in the days of my youth, I remarked that there was something slightly odd about despising and dismissing the doctrine of the Trinity as a mystical and even maniacal contradiction; and then asking us to adore a deity who is a hundred million persons in one God, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

But there is another entity, more or less definable and much more imaginable than the many-headed and monstrous idol of mankind. And it has a much better right to be called, in a reasonable sense, the religion of humanity. Man is not indeed the idol; but man is almost everywhere the idolater. And these multitudinous idolatries of mankind have something about them in many ways more human and sympathetic than modern metaphysical abstractions. If an Asiatic god has three heads and seven arms, there is at least in it an idea of material incarnation bringing an unknown power nearer to us and not further away. But if our friends Brown, Jones, and Robinson, when out for a Sunday walk, were transformed and amalgamated into an Asiatic idol before our eyes, they would surely seem farther away. If the arms of Brown and the legs of Robinson waved from the same composite body, they would seem to be waving something of a sad farewell. If the heads of all three gentlemen appeared smiling on the same neck, we should hesitate even by what name to address our new and somewhat abnormal friend. In the many headed and many handed Oriental idol there, is a certain sense of mysteries becoming at least partly intelligible; of formless forces of nature taking some dark but material form, but though this be true of the multiform god it is not so of the multiform man. The human beings become less human by becoming less separate; we might say less human in being less lonely. The human beings become less intelligible as they become less isolated; we might say with strict truth that the closer they are to us the farther they are away. An Ethical Hymn book of this humanitarian sort of religion was carefully selected and expurgated on the principle of preserving anything an and eliminating anything divine. One consequence was that a hymn appeared in the amended form of ‘Nearer Mankind to Thee, Nearer to Thee.’ It always suggested to the sensations of a strap-hanger during a crush on the Tube.

But it is strange and wonderful how far away the souls of men can seem, when their bodies are so near as all that.

The human unity with which I deal here is not to be confounded with this modem industrial monotony and herding, which is rather a Congestion than a communion. It is a thing to which human groups left to themselves, and even human individuals left to themselves, have everywhere tended by an instinct that may truly be called human. Like all healthy human things, it has varied very much within the limits of a general character, for that is characteristic of everything belonging to that ancient land of liberty that lies before and around the servile industrial town. Industrialism actually boasts that its products are all of one pattern; that men in Jamaica or Japan can break the same seal and drink the same bad whiskey, that a man at the North Pole and another at the South might recognize the same optimistic label on the same dubious tinned salmon. But wine, the gift of gods to men, can vary with every valley and every vineyard, can turn into a hundred wines without any wine once reminding us of whiskey; and cheeses can change from county to county without forgetting the difference between chalk and cheese. When I am speaking of this thing, therefore, I am speaking of something that doubtless includes very wide differences; nevertheless I will here maintain that it is one thing. I will maintain that most of the modem botheration comes from not realizing that it is really one thing. I will advance the thesis that before all talk about comparative religion and the separate religious founders of the world, the first essential is to recognize this thing as a whole, as a thing almost native and normal to the great fellowship that we call mankind. This thing is paganism; and I propose to show in these pages that it is the one real rival to the Church of Christ.

Comparative religion is very comparative indeed. That is, it is so much a matter of degree and distance and difference that it is only comparatively successful when it tries to compare When we come to look at it closely we find it comparing things that are really quite incomparable. We are accustomed to see a table or catalogue of the world’s great religions in parallel columns, until we fancy they are really parallel. We are accustomed to see the names of the great religious founders all in a row: Christ; Mahomet; Buddha; Confucius.

But in truth this is only a trick; another of these optical illusions by which any objects may be put into a particular relation by shifting to a particular point of sight. Those religions and religious founders, or rather those whom we choose to lump together as religions and religious founders, do not really .show any common character. The illusion is partly produced by Islam coming immediately after Christianity in the list; as -Islam did come after Christianity and was largely an imitation of Christianity. But the other eastern religions, or what we call religions, not only do not resemble the Church but do not resemble each other. When we come to Confucianism at .the end of the list, we come to something in a totally different world of thought. To compare the Christian and Confucian religions is like comparing a theist with an English squire or asking whether a man is a believer in immortality or a hundred-per-cent American. Confucianism may be a civilization but it is not a religion.

In truth the Church is too unique to prove herself unique. For most popular and easy proof is by parallel and here there is no parallel. It is not easy, therefore, to expose the fallacy by which a false classification is created to swamp a unique thing when it really is a unique thing. As there is nowhere else exactly the same fact so there is nowhere else exactly the same fallacy. But I will take the nearest thing I can find to such a solitary social phenomenon in order to show how it is thus swamped and assimilated. I imagine most of us would agree that there is something unusual and unique about the position of the Jews. There is nothing that is quite in the same sense an international nation; an ancient culture scattered in different countries but still distinct and indestructible. Now this business is like an attempt to make a list of Nomadic Nations in order to soften the strange solitude of the Jew. It would be easy enough to do it by the same process Of putting a plausible approximation first and then tailing off to totally different things thrown in somehow to make up the list. Thus in the new list of nomadic nations the Jews would be followed by the Gypsies; who at least are really nomadic if they are not really national. Then the professor of the new science of Comparative Nomadics could pass easily on to something different; even if it was very different. He could remark on the wandering adventure of the English who had scattered their colonies over so many seas and call them nomads. It is quite true that a great many Englishmen seem to be strangely restless in England. It is quite true that not all of them have left their country for their country’s good. The moment we mention the wandering empire of the English, we must add the strange exiled empire of the Irish.

For it is a curious fact, to be noted in our imperial literature, that the same ubiquity and unrest which is a proof of English enterprise and triumph is a proof of Irish futility and failure. Then the professor of Nomadism would look round thoughtfully and remember that there was great talk recently of German waiters, German barbers, German clerks, Germans naturalizing themselves in England and the United States and the South American republics. The Germans would go down as the fifth nomadic race; the words Wanderlust and FolkWandering would come in very useful here. For there really have been historians who explained the Crusades by suggesting that the Germans were found wandering (as the police say) in what happened to be the neighborhood of Palestine. Then the professor, feeling he was now near the end, would make a last leap in desperation. He would recall the fact that the French army has captured nearly every capital in Europe, that it marched across countless conquered lands under Charlemagne or Napoleon; and that would be wanderlust and that would be the note of a nomadic race. Thus he would have his six nomadic nations all compact and complete and would feel that the Jew was no longer a sort of mysterious and even mystical exception. But people with more common sense would probably realize that he had only extended nomadism by extending the meaning of nomadism; and that he had extended that until it really had no meaning at all. It is quite true that the French soldier has made some of the finest marches in all military history. But it is equally true, and far more self-evident, that if the French peasant is not a rooted reality there is no such thing as a rooted reality in the world; or in other words, if he is a nomad there is nobody who is not a nomad.

Now that is the sort of trick that has been tried in the case of comparative religion and the world’s religious founders all standing respectably in a row. It seeks to classify Jesus as the other would classify Jews, by inventing a new class for the purpose and filling up the rest of it with stop-gaps and second-rate copies. I do not mean that these other, things are not often great things in their own real character and class. Confucianism and Buddhism are great things, but it is not true to call them Churches; just as the French and English are great peoples, but it is nonsense to call them nomads. There are some points of resemblance between Christendom and its imitation in Islam; for that matter there are some points of resemblance between Jews and Gypsies. But after that the lists are made up of anything that comes to hand; of anything that can be put in the same catalogue without being in the same category.

In this sketch of religious history, with all decent deference to men much more learned than myself, I propose to cut across and disregard this modem method of classification, which I feel sure has falsified the facts of history. I shall here submit an alternative classification of religion or religions, which I believe would be found to cover all the facts and what is quite as important here, all the fancies. Instead of dividing religion geographically and as it were vertically, into Christian, Moslem, Brahmin, Buddhist, and so on, I would divide it psychologically and in some sense horizontally, into the strata of spiritual elements and influences that could sometimes exist in the same country, or even in the same man. Putting the Church apart for the moment, I should be disposed to divide the natural religion of the mass of mankind under such headings as these: God; the Gods; the Demons; the Philosophers. I believe some such classification will help us to sort out the spiritual experiences of men much more successfully than the conventional business of comparing religions and that many famous figures will naturally fall into their place in this way who are only forced into their place in the other. As I shall make use of these titles or terms more than once in narrative and allusion, it will be well to define at this stage for what I mean them to stand. And I will begin with the first, the simplest and the most sublime, in this chapter.

In considering the elements of pagan humanity, we must begin by an attempt to describe the indescribable. Many get over the difficulty of describing it by the expedient of denying it, or at least ignoring it; but the whole point of it is that it was something that was never quite eliminated even when it was ignored. They are obsessed by their evolutionary monomania that every great thing grows from a seed, or something smaller than itself. They seem to forget that every seed comes from a tree, or from something larger than itself. Now there is very good ground for guessing that religion did not originally come from some detail that was forgotten because it was too small to be traced. Much more probably it was an idea that was abandoned because it was too large to be managed. There is very good reason to suppose that many people did begin with the simple but overwhelming idea of one God who governs all and afterwards fell away into such things as demon-worship almost as a sort of secret dissipation. Even the test of savage beliefs, of which the folk-lore students are so fond, is admittedly often found to support such a view. Some of the very rudest savages, primitive in every sense in which anthropologists use the word, the Australian aborigines for instance, are found to have a pure monotheism with a high moral tone. A missionary was preaching to a very wild tribe of polytheists, who had told him all their polytheistic tales, and telling them in return of the existence of the one good God who is a spirit and judges men by spiritual standards. And there was a sudden buzz, of excitement among these stolid barbarians, as at somebody who was letting out a secret, and they cried to each other, “Atahocan! He is speaking of Atahocan!’

Probably it was a point of politeness and even decency among those polytheists not to speak of Atahocan. The name is not perhaps so much adapted as some of our own to direct and solemn religious exhortation; but many other social forces are always covering up and confusing such simple ideas. Possibly the old god stood for an old morality found irksome in more expansive moments; possibly intercourse with demons was more fashionable among the best people, as in the modern fashion of Spiritualism. Anyhow, there are any number of similar examples. They all testify to the unmistakable psychology of a thing taken for granted as distinct from a thing talked about. There is a striking example in a tale taken down word for word from a Red Indian in California, which starts out with hearty legendary and literary relish: ‘The sun is the father and ruler of the heavens. He is the big chief. The moon is his wife and the stars are their children’; and so on through a most ingenious and complicated story, in the middle of which is a sudden parenthesis saying that sun and moon have to do something because ‘It is ordered that way by the Great Spirit Who lives above the place of all.’ That is exactly the attitude of most paganism towards God. He is something assumed and forgotten and remembered by accident; a habit possibly not peculiar to pagans. Sometimes the higher deity is remembered in the higher moral grades and is a sort of mystery. But always, it has been truly said, the savage is talkative about his mythology and taciturn about his religion. The Australian savages, indeed, exhibit a topsy-turvydom such as the ancients might have thought truly worthy of the antipodes. The savage who thinks nothing of tossing off such a trifle as a tale of the sun and moon being the halves of a baby chopped in two, or dropping into small talk about a colossal cosmic cow milked to make the rain, merely in order to be sociable, will then retire to secret caverns sealed against women and white men, temples of terrible initiation where “‘to the thunder of the bull-roarer and the dripping of sacrificial blood the priest whispers the final secrets, known only to the initiate: that honesty is the best policy, that a little kindness does nobody any harm, that all men are brothers and that there is but one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible.

In other words, we have here the curiosity of religious history that the savage seems to be parading all the most repulsive and impossible parts of his belief and concealing all the most sensible and creditable parts. But the explanation is that they are not in that sense parts of his belief; or at least not parts of the same sort of belief. The myths are merely tall stories, though as tall as the sky, the waterspout, or the tropic rain. The mysteries are true stories, and are taken secretly that they may be taken seriously. Indeed it is only too easy to forget that there is a thrill in theism. A novel in which a number of separate characters all turned out to be the same character would certainly be a sensational novel. It is so with the idea that sun and tree and river are the disguises of one god and not of many. Alas, we also find it only too easy to take Atahocan for granted. But whether he is allowed to fade into a truism or preserved as a sensation by being preserved as a secret, it is clear that he is always either an old truism or an old tradition. There is nothing to show that he is an improved product of the mere mythology and everything to show that be preceded it. He is worshipped by the simplest tribes with no trace of ghosts or grave offerings or any of the complications in which Herbert Spencer and Grant Allen sought the origin of the simplest of all ideas. Whatever else there was, there was never any such thing as the Evolution of the Idea of God.

The idea was concealed, was avoided was almost forgotten, was even explained away; but it was never evolved. There are not a few indications of this change in other places. It is implied for instance in the fact that even polytheism seems often the combination of several monotheisms. A god will gain only a minor seat on Mount Olympus, when he had owned earth and heaven and all the stars while he lived in his own little valley. Like many a small nation melting in a great empire, he gives up local universality only to come under universal limitation. The very name of Pan suggests that he became a god of the wood when he had been a god of the world. The very name of Jupiter is almost a pagan translation of the words ‘Our Father which art in heaven.’ As with the Great Father symbolized by the sky, so with the Great Mother whom we still call Mother Earth. Demeter and Ceres and Cybele often seem to be almost incapable of taking over the whole business of godhood, so that men should need no other gods. It seems reasonably probable that a good many men did have no other gods but one of these, worshipped as the author of all.

Over some of the most immense and populous tracts of the world, such as China, it would seem that the simpler idea of the Great Father has never been very much complicated with rival cults, though it may have in some sense ceased to be a cult itself. The best authorities seem to think that though Confucianism is in one sense agnosticism, it does not directly contradict the old theism, precisely because it has become a rather vague theism. It is one in which God is called Heaven as in the case of polite persons tempted to swear in drawing rooms But Heaven is still overhead, even if it is very far overhead. We have all the impression of a simple truth that has receded until it was remote without ceasing to be true. And this phrase alone would bring us back to the same idea even in the pagan mythology of the West. There is surely something of this very notion of the withdrawal of some higher power, in all those mysterious and very imaginative myths about the separation of earth and sky. In a hundred forms we are told that heaven and earth were once lovers, or were once at one, when some upstart thing, often some undutiful child thrust them apart; and the world was built on an abyss; upon a division and a parting. One of its grossest versions was given by Greek civilization in the myth of Uranus and Saturn. One of its most charming versions was that of some savage Negroes who say that a little pepper-plant grew taller and taller and lifted the whole sky like a lid, a beautiful barbaric vision of daybreak for some of our painters who love that tropical twilight. Of myths, and the highly mythical explanations which the modems offer of myths, something will be said in another section; for I cannot but think that most mythology is on another and more superficial plane. But in this primeval vision of the rending of one world into two there surely something more of ultimate ideas. As to what it means, a man will learn far more about it by lying on his back in a field and merely looking at the sky than by reading all the libraries even of the most learned and valuable folklore. He will know what is meant by saying that the sky ought to be nearer to us than it is, that perhaps it was once nearer than it is, that it is not a thing merely alien and abysmal but in some fashion sundered from us and saying farewell.

There will creep across his mind the curious suggestion that after all, perhaps, the myth-maker was not merely a mooncalf or village idiot thinking he could cut up the clouds like a cake, but had in him something more than it is fashionable to attribute to the Troglodyte’, that it is just possible that Thomas Hood was not talking like a Troglodyte when he said that, as time went on, the tree-tops only told him he was further off from heaven than when he was a boy. But anyhow the legend of Uranus the Lord of Heaven dethroned by Saturn the Time Spirit would mean something to the author of that poem. And it would mean, among other things, this banishment of the first fatherhood. There is the idea of God in the very notion that there were gods before the gods. There is an idea of greater simplicity in all the allusions to that more ancient order. The suggestion is supported by the process of propagation we see in historic times. Gods and demigods and heroes breed like herrings before our very eyes, and suggest of themselves that the family may have had one founder; mythology grows more and more complicated, and the very complication suggests that at the beginning it was more simple. Even on the external evidence, of the sort called scientific, there is therefore a very good case for the suggestion that man began with monotheism before it developed or degenerated into polytheism. But I am concerned rather with an internal than an external truth; and, as I have already said, the internal truth is almost indescribable. We have to speak of something of which it is the whole point that people did not speak of it; we have not merely to translate from a strange tongue or speech, but from a strange silence.

I suspect an immense implication behind all polytheism an paganism. I suspect we have only a hint of it here and there in these savage creeds or Greek origins. It is not exactly what we mean by the presence of God; in a sense it might more truly be called the absence of God. But absence does not mean nonexistence; and a man drinking the toast of absent friends does not mean that from his life all friendship is absent. It is a void but it is not a negation; it is something as positive as an empty chair. It would be an exaggeration to say that the pagan saw higher than Olympus an empty throne. It would be nearer the truth to take the gigantic imagery of the Old Testament, in which the prophet saw God from behind; it Was as if some immeasurable presence had turned its back on the world. Yet the meaning will again be missed if it is supposed to be anything so conscious and vivid as the monotheism of Moses and his people. I do not mean that the pagan peoples were in the least overpowered by this idea merely because it is overpowering. On the contrary, it was so large that they all carried it lightly, as we all the load of the sky. Gazing at some detail like a bird or a cloud, we can all ignore its awful blue background; we can neglect the sky; and precisely because it bears down upon us with an annihilating force it is felt as nothing. A thing of this kind can only be an impression and a rather subtle impression; but to me it is a very strong impression made by pagan literature and religion. I repeat that in our special sacramental sense there is, of course, the absence of the presence of God. But there is in a very real sense the presence of the absence of God. We feel it in the unfathomable sadness of pagan poetry for I doubt if there was ever in all the marvelous manhood of antiquity a man who was happy as St. Francis was happy. We feel it in the legend of a Golden Age and again in the vague implication that the gods themselves are ultimately related to something else, even when that Unknown God has faded into a Fate. Above all we feel it in those immortal moments when the pagan literature seems to return to a more innocent antiquity and speak with a more direct voice, so that no word is worthy of it except our own monosyllable. We cannot say anything but ‘God’ in a sentence like that of Socrates bidding farewell to his judges: ‘I go to die and you remain to live; and God alone knows which of us goes the better way!‘ We can use no other word even for the best moments of Marcus Aurelius: ‘Can say dear city of Cecrops, and canst thou not say dear city of God?’ We can use no other word in that mighty line which Virgil spoke to all who suffer with the veritable cry of a Christian before Christ: ‘0 you that have borne things more terrible to this also God shall give an end!’

In short there is a feeling that there is something higher than the gods; but because it is higher it is also further away. Not yet could even Virgil have read the riddle and the paradox Of that other divinity, who is both higher and nearer For them what was truly divine was very distant, so distant that they dismissed it more and more from their minds. I had less and less to do with the mere mythology of which I shall write later. Yet even in this there was a sort of tacit admission of its intangible purity, when we consider what most Of the mythology is like. As the Jews would not degrade it by images, so the Greeks did not degrade it even by imaginations. When the gods were more and more remembered only by pranks and profligacy’s, it was relatively a movement of reverence. It was an act of piety to forget God. In other words, there is something in the whole tone of the time suggesting that men had accepted a lower level, and still were half conscious that it was a lower level. It is hard to find words for these things; yet the one really just word stands ready. These men were conscious of the Fall if they were conscious of nothing else; and the same is true of all heathen humanity. Those who have fallen may remember the fall, even when they forget the height. Some such tantalizing blank or break in memory is at the back of all pagan sentiment. There is such a thing as the momentary power to remember that we forget. And the most ignorant of humanity know by the very look of earth that they have forgotten heaven. But it remains true that even for these men there were moments like the memories of childhood, when they heard themselves talking with a simpler language; there were moments when the Roman, like Virgil in the line already quoted, cut his way with a sword-stroke of song out of the tangle of the mythologies; the motley mob of gods and goddesses sank suddenly out of sight and the Sky-Father was alone in the sky.

This latter example is very relevant to the next step in the process. A white light as of a lost morning still lingers on the figure of Jupiter, of Pan or of the elder Apollo; and it may well be, as already noted, that each was once a divinity as solitary as Jehovah or Allah. They lost this lonely universality by a process it is here very necessary to note; a process of amalgamation very like what was afterwards called syncretism. The whole pagan world set itself to build a Pantheon. They admitted more and more gods, gods not only of the Greeks but of the barbarians; gods not only of Europe but of Asia and Africa. The more the merrier, though some of the Asian and African ones were not very merry. They admitted them to equal thrones with their own; sometimes they identified them with their own. They may have regarded it as an enrichment of their religious life; but it meant the final loss of all that we now call religion. It meant that ancient light of simplicity, that bad a single source like the sun, finally fades away in a dazzle of conflicting lights and colors. God is really sacrificed to the Gods; in a very literal sense of the flippant phrase, they have been too many for him.

Polytheism, therefore, was really a sort of pool; in the sense of the pagans having consented to the pooling of their pagan religions. And this point is very important in many controversies ancient and modem. It is regarded as a liberal and en lightened thing to say that the god of the stranger may be as good as our own; and doubtless the pagans thought themselves very liberal and enlightened when they agreed to add to the gods of the city or the hearth some wild and fantastic Dionysus coming down from the mountains or some shaggy and rustic Pan creeping out of the woods. But exactly what it lost by these larger ideas is the largest idea of all. It is the idea of the fatherhood that makes the whole world one. And the converse is also true. Doubtless those more antiquated men of antiquity who clung to their solitary statues and their single sacred names were regarded as superstitious savages benighted and left behind. But these superstitious savages were preserving something that is much more like the cosmic power as conceived by philosophy, or even as conceived by science. This paradox by which the rude reactionary a sort of prophetic progressive has one consequence very much to the point. In a purely historical sense and apart from any other controversies in the same connection, it throws light, a single and a steady light, that shines from the beginning on a little and lonely people. In this paradox as in some riddle of religion of which the answer was sealed up for centuries, lies the mission and the meaning of the Jews. It is true in this sense humanly speaking, that the world owes God to the Jews. It owes that truth to much that is blamed in the Jews, possibly to much that is blameable in the Jews. We have already noted the nomadic position of the Jews amid the other pastoral peoples upon the fringe of the Babylonian Empire, and something of that strange erratic course of theirs blazed across the dark territory of extreme antiquity, as they passed from the seat of Abraham and the shepherd princes into Egypt and doubled back into the Palestinian bills and held them against the Philistines from Crete and fell into captivity in Babylon; and yet again returned to their mountain city by the Zionist policy of the Persian conquerors; and so continued that amazing romance of restlessness of which we have not yet seen the end. But through all their wanderings, and especially through all their early wanderings, they did indeed carry the fate of the world in that wooden tabernacle, that held perhaps a featureless symbol and certainly an invisible god. We may say that one most essential feature was that it was featureless. Much as we may prefer that creative liberty which the Christian culture has declared and by which it has eclipsed even the arts of antiquity, we must not underrate the determining importance at the time of the Hebrew inhibition of images. It is a typical example of one of those limitations that did in fact preserve and perpetuate enlargement, like a wall built round a wide open space. The God who could not have a statue remained a spirit. Nor would his statue in any case have bad the disarming dignity and grace of the Greek statues then or the Christian statues afterwards. He was living in a land of monsters. We shall have occasion to consider more fully what those monsters were, Moloch and Dagon and Tanit the terrible goddess. If the deity of Israel had ever had an image, he would have had a phallic image. By merely giving him a body they would have brought in all the worst elements of mythology; all the polygamy of polytheism; the vision of the harem in heaven. Ibis point about the refusal of art is the first example of the limitations which are often adversely criticized, only because the critics themselves are limited. But an even stronger case can be found in the other criticism offered by the same critics. It is often said with a sneer that the God of Israel was only a God of Battles ‘ a mere barbaric Lord of Hosts’ pitted in rivalry against other gods only as their envious foe. Well it is for the world that he was a God of Battles. Well it is for us that he was to all the rest only arrival and a foe. In the ordinary way, it would have been only too easy for them to have achieved the desolate disaster of conceiving him as a friend. It would have been only too easy for them to have seen him stretching out his hands in love and reconciliation, embracing Baal and kissing the painted face of Astarte, feasting in fellowship with the gods; last god to sell his crown of stars for the Soma of the Indian pantheon or the nectar of Olympus or the mead of Valhalla. It would have been easy enough for his worshippers, to follow the enlightened course of Syncretism and the pooling of all the pagan traditions. It is obvious indeed that his followers were always sliding down this easy slope; and it required the almost demoniac energy of certain inspired demagogues who testified to the divine unity in words that are still like winds of inspiration and ruin. The more we really understand of the ancient conditions that contributed to the final culture of the Faith, the more we shall have a real and even a realistic reverence for the greatness of the Prophets of Israel. As it was, while the whole world melted into this mass of confused mythology, this Deity who is called tribal and narrow, precisely because he was what is called tribal and narrow, preserved the primary religion of all mankind. He was tribal enough to be universal. He was as narrow as the universe.

In a word, there was a popular pagan god called Jupiter~Ammon. There was never a god called Jehovah-Ammon There was never a god called Jehovah-Jupiter. If there had there would certainly have been another called Jehovah-Molach. Long before the liberal and enlightened amalgamators had got so far afield as Jupiter, the image of the Lord of Hosts would have been deformed out of all suggestion of monotheistic maker and ruler and would have become an Idol far worse than any savage fetish; for he might have been as civilized as the gods of Tyre and Carthage. What at that civilization meant we shall consider more fully in the chapter that follows; when we note how the power of demons nearly destroyed Europe and even the heathen health of the world But the world’s destiny would have been distorted still more fatally if monotheism had failed in the Mosaic tradition. hope in a subsequent section to show that I am not without sympathy with all that health in the heathen world that mad its fairy-tales and its fanciful romances of religion. But I hope also to show that these were bound to fail in the long run and the world would have been lost if it had been unable to return to that great original simplicity of a single authority in all things. That we do preserve something of that primary simplicity, that poets and philosophers can still indeed in some sense say an Universal Prayer, that we live in a large and serene world under a sky that stretches paternally over all the peoples of the earth, that philosophy and philanthropy are truisms in a religion of reasonable men, all that we do most truly owe, under heaven, to a secretive and restless nomadic people; who bestowed on men the supreme and serene blessing of a jealous God.

The unique possession was not available or accessible to the pagan world, because it was also the possession of a jealous people. The Jews were unpopular, partly because of this narrowness already noted in the Roman world, partly perhaps because they had already fallen into that habit of merely handling things for exchange instead of working to make them with their hands. It was partly also because polytheism had become a sort of jungle in which solitary monotheism could be lost; but it is strange to realize how completely it really was lost. Apart from more disputed matters, there were things in the tradition of Israel which belong to all humanity now, and might have belonged to all humanity then. They had one of the colossal cornerstones of the world: the Book of Job. It obviously stands over against the Iliad and the Greek tragedies; and even more than they it was an early meeting and parting of poetry and philosophy in the morning of the world. It is a solemn and uplifting sight to see those two eternal fools, the optimist and the pessimist, destroyed in the dawn of time. And the philosophy really perfects the pagan tragic irony precisely because it is more monotheistic and therefore more mystical. Indeed the Book of Job avowedly only answers mystery with mystery. Job is comforted with riddles; but he is comforted. Herein is indeed a type, in the sense of a prophecy, of things speaking with authority. For when he who doubts can only say ‘I do not understand,’ it is true that he who knows can only reply or repeat ‘You do not understand. And under that rebuke there is a sudden hope in the heart; and the sense of something that would be worth understanding. But this mighty monotheistic poem remained unremarked by the whole world of antiquity, which thronged with polytheistic poetry. It is a sign of the way in which the Jews stood apart and kept their tradition unshaken and unshared, that they should have kept a thing like The Book of Job out of the whole intellectual world of antiquity.

It is as if the Egyptians had modestly concealed the Great Pyramid. But there were other reasons for a cross-purpose and an impasse, characteristic of the whole of the of paganism. After all, the tradition of Israel had only got hold of one-half of the truth, even if we use the popular paradox and call it the bigger half. I shall try to sketch in the next chapter that love of locality and of personality that ran through mythology; here it need only be said that there was a truth in it that could not be left out, though it were a lighter and less essential truth. The sorrow of Job had to be joined with the sorrow of Hector; and while the former was the sorrow of the universe the latter was the sorrow of the city; for Hector could only stand pointing to heaven as the pillar of holy Troy. When God speaks out of the whirlwind he may well speak in the wilderness. But the monotheism of the nomad was not enough for all that varied civilization of fields and fences and walled cities and temples and towns; and the turn of these things also was to come, when the two could be combined in a more definite and domestic religion. Here and there in all that pagan crowd could be found a philosopher whose thoughts ran on pure theism; but he never had, or supposed that he had, the power to change the customs of the whole populace. Nor is it easy even in such philosophies to find a true definition of this deep business of the relation of polytheism and theism. Perhaps the nearest we can come to striking the note, or giving the thing a name, is in something far away from all that civilization and more remote from Rome than the isolation of Israel. It is in a saying I once heard from some Hindu tradition; that gods as well as men are only the dreams of Brahma; and will perish when Brahma wakes. There is indeed in such an image something of the soul of Asia which is less sane than the soul of Christendom. We should call it despair, even if they would call it peace. This note of nihilism can be considered later in a fuller comparison between Asia and Europe. It is enough to say here that there is more of disillusion in that idea of a divine awakening than is implied for us in the passage from mythology to religion. But the symbol is very subtle and exact in one respect; that it does suggest the disproportion and even disruption between the very ideas of mythology and religion; the chasm between the two categories. It is really the collapse of comparative religion that there is no comparison. between God and the gods. There is no more comparison than there is between a man and the men who walked about in his dreams. Under the next heading some attempt will be made to indicate the twilight of that dream in which the gods walk about like men. But if anyone fancies the contrast of monotheism and polytheism is only a matter of some people having one god and others a few more, for him it will be far nearer the truth to plunge into the elephantine extravagance of Brahmin cosmology; that he may feel a shudder going through the veil of things, the many-handed creators, and the throned and haloed animals and all the network of entangled stars and rulers of the night, as the awful eyes of Brahma open like dawn upon the death of all.