Prelude To A Dream
Poem By A. L. Breitling
In the eighth mensis of the Roman year,
when Nox enfolded in her arms
the holy Eve of Saints,
and the lum’nous vapors of the Poles
swept down to dance with Terpsichore
in glorious choreography
against a canopy of black,
the single taper near my transom was snuffed out.
And all the figures born of light,
which frolicked on my chamber walls
dissolved and fled into the night.
Yet I half-sunk in slumber
hardly wondered what stray breeze
had swept into my chamber
and the chandler lightly kissed,
departing through the casement,
fading in to nothingness.
Then Morpheus on the heels of darkness
slowly crept beside my bed,
dispersing his sweet opiate
with every silent step,
and leaning closely over me, was satisfied I slept.
Thus content, he turned and sent
a missive up to Mother Night,
commanding every sylphid creature
of the ether to convene.
That wraith and fay and bogle
cease their endless celebration
and journey by the lunar stream
to the arena of the Dream.
Then as a shroud on some ethereal stage,
the gauze upon my casement
played in the wind of ‘proaching wings;
While I as one with palsy lay
and prayed that Dawn
would shortly stray the sheets of sleep
to stir the morning’s breath.
But prayers of men composed in fear
are lost like tears in rain.
Ere long into my chamber spilt
the incorpóreal of night,
who, summoned there by Morpheus,
had stopped their spectral merriment –
And mounted each on argent steeds,
they poured like blazing mercury
onto the mirror of my chamber floor.
From the viscid silver light emerged
the polymorphic forms of night,
which danced and twined about the room
until a single strand was wound
three times around my bed.
Spinning back against the clock,
the spectral beings carried on
‘till their shape became amorphous
and an aureole was born
out of the luminescent danse.
-Then as quickly as it started,
it was halted by a sound -
Perched upon the casement’s sill
a cageling of the dark was resting,
looking on the cursed cotillion
stilled by his arrival.
At once the taper by the transom
came to life in leaping flame,
iridescing on the atramentous
pinions of the Raven.
This provider to Elijah,
silhouetted by the moon,
gazed into the silent chamber
as the Sphinx of ancient Giza
stared out on the sands of time.
And I in feignéd slumber, wondered
what ill wind of Fate
had carried this wounded carbon bird
onto my window’s frame.
For even through the umbra,
I perceived a bead of crimson,
hung in delicate suspension
on the somber pluméd temple
of the Raven – just arrived.
Yet this single sanguine stain
shimmered fiercely in the flame,
like the rubicund corundum
mined in the climes of Africanus;
or as the star within Orion’s belt,
bright Betelgeuse incrusts the night...
But the belladonna ‘bout the room
had muddied my perception,
for this was no red effluxion
which befouled the raven’s head;
Instead, an orb of hell
that like a well contained the blood
of all the damned who’d sold their souls
into the hands of Lucifer.
A solitary eye of evil,
surveying all the chamber.
Then as the haze upon the harbour
joins the waves at morning-tide,
so did the children of the Night
evanesce to spectral light
and like the fog which flees the Sun,
withdraw into the arms of Nox –
leaving Morpheus, the raven
and the curtains on the casement,
slightly drifting like deserted sails
of stranded ships at sea.
Within my breast, a heart enflamed,
a hapless organ pending o’er the very pyres of hell –
while parasitic fear traversed the chambers
like some intangent larvae,
slowly creeping through the coffin
to speed the passage into dust.
Dust – the memory of presence –
swirled as smoke about the room.
Intermingling with the light,
it formed a brumous bridge that joined
the cageling of the night
and the sleepy god of dreams.
Then Morpheus from the hearth arose,
accompanied by the raven,
and linked us with a golden zone –
mortal man and pennant spirit.