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The Paradise of Darkness


Premonition

The green and yellow of the season render
the music to a symphony of dreams;
not a good year for daffodils, it seems,
but those that grew show off in perfect splendour.
The waves caress the shoreline in a tender
embrace, the propagating grassland teems
with merry birds, rejuvenating beams
of a forgotten sun awake the slender
daisies who had been sleeping for so long
in Winter’s black and unforgiving shade,
the brambles that were dead are twice as strong,
and where the poet’s viewing spot is laid
he calmly listens to the skylark’s song
- these are the days when tragedies are made.


Prophecy

Dark Ages cast their shadows on our dwelling,
beyond the shadows we can see no light,
and through the gloom hoarse voices are foretelling,
'With such a past your future won't be bright!'


Falling Asleep

Feel the wrath of night approaching
when the day is analysed
and the nightmares are encroaching
on a mind unsupervised.

From a conscience overflowing
with a billion words unsaid
by the world, your fear is growing
like a weed out of the dead.

Feel the night of wrath approaching
characters like me and you,
freeing demons we’ve been poaching
so our nightmares may come true.


Darkness Ahead

Darkness ahead will find us
before we reach our aim;
forget the light behind us
way back from where we came.

Darkness ahead will blind us
before our eyes can see,
the chains we forged will bind us
before our destiny.

With red-hot blade thou carvest
monuments that won’t last,
for presently we harvest
the future of the past.


Dark Corners

I love dark corners. Though they say
the creatures of the dark
are evil, and to stay away
is best, I seek their spark.

They told me that all darkness hosts
a gathering of sons
of Lucifer of whom the ghosts
are the most harmless ones.

‘The dark is where I’ll always roam –
I’m not afraid,’ I sneered,
‘because dark corners are my home,
and I’m the one who’s feared.’


How Black is the Night?

’How black is the night?’ she asked him
as the carriage rode into the night.
‘More black than the coal in the furnace
that you saw when you lost your sight.’

’How black is the night?’ she asked him
as he gently escorted her down.
‘More black than the carriage that brought us
to this forest so far from the town.’

’How black is the night?’ she asked him
in a voice trembling more than before.
‘More black than the bog in the forest
holding so many secrets of yore.’

’How black is the night?’ she asked him
as her pupils dilated with fear.
‘As black as the heart of the husband
who paid me to bring you here.’


Dolciamara

Her pale breasts bring the fullness of Nature
while her wings overshadow the land
as her lips go from blossom to blossom
and from evil to evil her hand.

And she stamps on the earth as it trembles,
and her spirit is whiter than snow,
and she flies when we try to persuade her,
and she follows wherever we go.

At her feet we find cherries and berries,
from her hands we take vermouth and bile,
and she talks when there's no one to talk to,
and she smiles when there's nothing worthwhile.

And the touch of her wing carries poison,
and the clasp of her hand squashes coals,
and her hands clasp this world ever tighter,
and her wings touch our bodies and souls.


Shadows of the Night

The old ruin oversees
hill and grove with all its trees;
ancient dwellers left their mark
and deceased, but when it’s dark
one can see a dusky light
strangely, strangely in the night.

And that light casts shadows which,
blacker far than tar and pitch,
scare the hapless souls that find
out what’s going on behind
those grey walls while beasts take flight
strangely, strangely in the night.

Those who meet them can’t escape
their compelling force, change shape,
lose their selves and heed the call,
join the shadows in the hall
and forever share their plight
strangely, strangely in the night.

If you ever climb the hill
in that petrifying still
of a sombre night, stay clear
of the building where the drear
spirits of the past delight
strangely, strangely in the night.


Our Home

On the roof of the world there are swallows
who all chirp from the depth of their breast,
there are sparrows and crows who are jousting
and the stork who is building his nest.
The odd squirrel collects the odd acorn
that got stuck in the tiles, and the sky
wears his friendliest blue for his creatures
with his light fluffy clouds sailing by.

In the garden most colourful flowers
are inviting the children to play,
and the living room sees happy people
as they rest at the close of the day.
Of all those who examine the basement
none comes back, yet the host stays polite;
he gets orders and thoughts in his bedroom
from the voices he hears in the night.

In the basement the gremlins are dwelling,
spraying carbon monoxide through cracks
in the ceiling; they poison the water
in the pipes and launch vermin attacks,
whisper slogans and chants through the floorboards
of the bedroom to kill and destroy:
they prepare for the day they'll take over
to get rid of all beauty and joy!

But even the gremlins are fearful
of the place that no tenant dare name,
for to think of (or mention!) the attic
brings disaster, misfortune and shame.
You may hear a strange scream, someone howling,
the strange silence that follows all woe -
but nobody knows what is up there,
and nobody wants to know.


Fear is a City

Fear is a city. Its majestic gate
stands open and unguarded night and day,
yet no one dares approach it, for the fate
of those who leave remains unknown. They say
what lies beyond is worse than what we bear,
although they’ve never been there nor have heard
a witness’ tale, but all the same they swear
the fact no one returned is proof. Each word
is carefully selected to ensure
it cannot be misquoted, and at night,
to demonstrate their way of life is pure,
citizens don’t draw curtains, and the light
stays on to show they’ve naught to hide as they
observe their neighbours with suspicion, and,
if those are interviewed and dragged away
from home to disappear, they understand
that their suspicions had been justified.

Fearians love their freedom and their pride.


The End of the Night

The clearest, the bluest, the coldest of all,
this indigo night leaves her brand on my soul,
the full moon implies with her mystical light:
there's always, there's always an end of the night.

The birches are pale in the light of the moon,
the swans are asleep in the cradle of June,
the river convinces me, moved by my plight:
there's always, there's always an end of the night.

For freedom I hunger, and freedom I'll find -
the peace of the churchyard enlightens my mind.
Between all the stones I hear voices that say:
the end of the night is not always the day.


Deep Sea World

Now the sea is calm and peaceful,
and the sunlight isn’t shy,
and the quiet ocean mirrors
an unclouded azure sky.

But below the pleasant surface,
far beneath the photic zone,
lies a world of cold and darkness
most of which remains unknown.

Where Leviathan delights in
questionable merriments,
this is where we witness Nature’s
hideous experiments.

Countless monsters under pressure
have to feed and procreate,
and each ray of light is nothing
but a predatory bait.

Every time you meet new people,
notably the ones who strike
you as friendly, you should wonder
what their deep sea world is like.


Down in Uncanny Valley

Amongst unnatural slopes casting shadows
on its pastures whose ominous chill we can feel
lies a valley with studios, gardens and meadows
where everything functions and nothing is real.

The flowers are perfect in Uncanny Valley,
but nothing will ever grow or die;
its rivers and lakes look like liquid blue jelly,
and all living creatures perturbedly pass by.

The locals of Uncanny Valley are gentle
unless they’ve been programmed otherwise,
but, though they are mindless, there is something mental
about them which shows in their speech and their eyes.

Set up as a fairground of tourist attractions,
the village is shunned like a bog in the night,
for the residents’ language, demeanour and actions
appear almost human, but still not quite.

They creep out the visitors while they are giving
the children a scare who then try to abscond;
their valley, my friend, is no place for the living,
and no one discovered what lies beyond.


A Basket of My Dreams

Though it is not in season,
I weave - in vain, it seems -
my legacy of reason,
a basket of my dreams.

A briar of compassion,
a twig of common sense,
a wicker of discretion,
and weaving can commence.

A stalk of love is threaded
around the justice reed;
one part is to be added,
the final piece I need:

As future's spurned believer,
the greenest blade of hope
is chosen by the weaver,
a human allotrope.

But there are other baskets,
woven from toxic weeds
of human minds with gaskets
that make them fit their needs.

And anyone who slumbered
near those will soon be swayed,
by toxic fumes encumbered
that make him more afraid.

Nothing on earth is duller
than cowards' thoughts at night;
my dreams are all in colour,
their nightmares black and white.

And where the fearful tarry
at Lethe's potent streams,
nine pallbearers will carry
the casket of my dreams.


The Smile of Daniel Emilfork

When you retire and say good night
to face the time of day you dread,
the smile of Daniel Emilfork
will find you when you go to bed.

You know the shepherd on the scene
as you are counting pliant sheep:
the smile of Daniel Emilfork
will harrow your uneasy sleep.

You’ll find the sandman in the vaults:
amongst the penetrating screams
the smile of Daniel Emilfork
will permeate your troubled dreams.

After you wake and smell the tea
your lover brings you in a cup,
the smile of Daniel Emilfork
will follow you when you get up.


The Detox Man

A demon on a mission,
too hideous to tell,
the red-eyed apparition
that you have called from Hell,

The Detox Man will find you
when you’re asleep at night,
and he’ll sneak up behind you
to wake you with a fright!

The Detox Man will get you
just when you think that things
could not get worse; he’ll set you
straight with the fits he brings.

He’s utterly appalling,
unwavering and grim;
you almost feel like calling
the beast that conquers him.

The Detox Man will take you
where no man went before,
he’ll burn and chill and break you,
and then you’ll burn once more.

He’ll torture, poke and sting you,
and once he’s through with you,
the Detox Man will bring you
back to the world you knew.


The Bells of St Columbus

The bells of St Columbus
have tolled for me: I burn
the bridge of life, becoming
a pilgrim of no return.

The halls of St Columbus
are teeming with the seeds
of philosophic flowers
nobody ever heeds.

The yard of St Columbus
is haunted by the shades
of those who once were human
and now are renegades.

And if you keep on doing
the things your teachers do,
the bells of St Columbus
will soon ring out for you!


The Tearing of the Veil

Oh daughter, my dear daughter,
you look so sick and pale:
where have you spent the night, and
what happened to your veil?

Oh father, my dear father,
I walked the woods till dawn,
the night was wild and stormy -
that´s how the veil was torn.

Oh daughter, my dear daughter,
it was a quiet night:
what happened in the forest,
and why are you so white?

Oh father, my dear father,
I didn´t see the thorn
when I ran through the bushes -
that´s how the veil was torn.

Oh daughter, my dear daughter,
you shouldn´t tell a lie
to your beloved father
the moment that you die.

Oh father, my dear father,
to Helos in the morn
the rose must ope her petals -
that´s how the veil was torn.


The Falling Star

They stood together in the night
to watch the stars afar,
and as they held each other tight,
they saw a falling star.

The moon was hiding his disguise
and shared their mutual bliss:
they made their wish and closed their eyes
and kissed the longest kiss.

The morning came without a sound,
the woods and fields were still,
and as it dawned, her husband found
their bodies on the hill.


Samhain

It was the night of Samhain; white
and thoughtful was the moon,
and at the river sat Marie
and hummed a lovers' tune.

The wood was cold, the raven croaked,
the air was fresh and mild.
The waters parted; from the waves
her husband rose and smiled.

'Beloved Edward! Do you come
from Heaven or from Hell?
What's God, what are his angels like,
and do they feed you well?

'And if you'd like to meet a friend,
would you be free to go?
Do you have knowledge of the things
you always longed to know?' -

'What makes you think that all is clear
after your final breath?
How silly is it to believe
you're wiser after death.

'Here is no road to walk upon,
no guide to Fiddler's Green,
no angels come to show the way,
no Lord has yet been seen.

'Here is no Heaven and no Hell,
here is no Golden Shore:
we walk in darkness night and day,
just as we did before.

'Our souls live on, and still we have
to struggle and to strive;
we don't know more 'bout afterlife
than you do know 'bout life.

'Our souls live on - we have no choice
to be or not to be;
our souls live on - and from this life
no death will set us free!' -

'Oh Edward, how I miss your love,
your kindness and your kiss!'
And, stepping closer to the shore,
she put her hands in his.

'You married me 'cause I was rich;
you killed me for the same
reason - I want to take revenge,
and this is why I came.'

He kissed her gently and embraced
his spouse and held her tight,
'From now on I will cling to you
till death do us unite!'

He pressed Marie against his breast,
his smile was cold and grim,
and where the river meets the sea,
he pulled her down with him.


Into the Light

After he had watched her dancing
with a soldier in the hall,
laughing while not even glancing
at her man, he left the ball.
And the Novachord kept playing
Irrlicht as the storm clouds veiled
Longdendale’s full moon while, straying
in the wilderness, he paled.

On the moor his concentration
failed him as he sought his way
home, and his predestination
led him more and more astray.
And the Novachord kept playing
Irrlicht as the storm clouds veiled
Longdendale’s full moon while, straying
in the wilderness, he paled.

Soon the vault of darkness coated
vale and mountains in the night,
but upon the ridge he noted
an emerging gentle light.
And the Novachord kept playing
Irrlicht as the storm clouds veiled
Longdendale’s full moon while, straying
in the wilderness, he paled.


Fatalissimo

Rain keeps knocking at my heart,
hardening with every blow
as its kernel falls apart
and the ashes cease to glow.

The day is bleak and bleak the night
in which my gods embark,
and every fleeting ray of light
intensifies the dark.

No home below, no home above,
I roam this barren mire,
continuing my search for love
like a salmon his quest for fire.

Rain keeps knocking at my heart,
hardening with every blow
as its kernel falls apart
and the ashes cease to glow.


Evensong

When at dusk your shadow lingers
in the forests where we wait,
we, the sombre Stygian singers,
sound the hollow note of Fate.

Zeus remains our trusted drummer
as the force of Day takes flight:
we’re the birds of little summer,
we’re the harbingers of Night!


Who are These That Ride in the Shadows

Who are these that ride in the shadows
with the sign we all know in their palms,
those whose eyes and whose bodies are hollow,
with the ten-horned child in their arms?

Who the horses that leave not a hoof print
in the snow or the sand or the mud,
who don’t even slow down in their gallop
when up to the bridle in blood?

And, pray tell, who are these that are watching
and conclude this occurrence must mean
it’s the end of the world; what, I wonder,
would they think if they’d see what I’ve seen?


Melanelle

A sombre rainbow in black skies
deluminates the sable rose
where my tenacious raven flies.

The spirits of the night arise,
and dusky storm clouds now disclose
a sombre rainbow in black skies.

As Charon sits on deck and sighs,
the murky Stygian current flows
where my tenacious raven flies.

I trace his journey with my eyes
and wish that I could trace the crow’s;
a sombre rainbow in black skies

Ushers me to its end - there lies
the full allowance of my woes
where my tenacious raven flies.

I know the news this scene implies:
the vision of my future shows
a sombre rainbow in black skies
where my tenacious raven flies!


Evening

Evening. Darkness. Midnight. Fear.
He sat. He lit a fag. He spoke.
Spoke to the wind. The trees. The gentry.
Far from the woods. The wolves were howling.
And suddenly thunder and lightning and horror
was filling the place, and the beasts ran in terror,
but could not escape their destruction and death!
The storm broke the trunks of invisible trees
and shattered the rocks and the faith in the gods,
leaving a trace of blood behind him
as he moved eastwards to the city.
He sat. He lit a fag. He spoke.
Midnight. Morning. Sunrise. Fear.


The Morrigu

Wherever there is concord,
wherever there is need,
wherever bards are encored
she spreads the evil seed.

She preys on others’ slackness,
the bird who everywhere
into the dark brings blackness
and to the dead despair.

She angrily raged through the
island with her shrill voice
and finally came to the
weird county of my choice.

But she’s a bird of passage:
once my ordeal is through,
with one more urgent message
I’ll send her back to you.


The Haunted World

The full moon's silver bowl is poured
into the indigo of night,
sinister brightness drowns the earth
with houses dead and graves alive,
and Death is dancing on the roof.

The wolf obeys the lunar call,
the raven preys upon the rose,
the silent ocean claims her share;
the air is still, the air is cold,
and Death is dancing on the roof.

His hollow eyes are watching us:
they follow every living thing,
and patiently he takes his aim,
and suddenly he strikes his blow,
as Death is dancing on the roof.

The sharp blade of his sickle glints
intensely through the purple night,
his cape is blacker than our fate,
his drinking horn filled to the brim,
as Death is dancing on the roof.


The Night of Nights

Tonight’s the night, beloved one!
The full moon shines upon your charms,
I hold you tightly in my arms,
and soon we both will be as one!

Your breast and lips are touching mine,
and in Selene’s mellow light
our hearts and bodies will unite,
and I'll be yours and you’ll be mine.

Once Death was knocking at my door.
So sinister he looked and grim;
he wanted me to go with him
as he was waiting by the door.

I said that I'd refuse to die,
for Love was but a stranger still;
therefore I’ve never had my fill,
and those who never lived can't die.

He left the house alone that night,
but said that he would come back soon.
So pale and quiet is the moon;
beloved one, tonight's the night!


Breeding Grounds

Our hearts had been caught in a deadlock
when Cupid was making his rounds,
so we married out of wedlock
and met in the breeding grounds.

And when gently we kiss one another
as we say our goodbyes in the street,
there's a part that remains with each other,
like the part that stays home when we meet.

When they sleep, the ones we did marry,
and the cry of the heron sounds,
by the light of the torch that we carry
we meet in the breeding grounds.


The Paradise of Darkness

The Paradise of Darkness
lies at the barren shore
of the fetches’ isle whose starkness
welcomes the weak and sore.

Where crows and vultures flourish
in many a sapless tree
all dreams that you may nourish
become reality.

Old ghost ships in their rancour
spread terror, dread and fear;
a lot of vessels anchor,
but none departs from here.

You’ll lie upon the rubble’s
rough surface sunlight shuns,
forgetting your small troubles
since you found bigger ones.

It always is December
round the dark tow’r of rue,
and in its darkest chamber
your nightmares will come true.


The Black Sonnets

I.

Upon Mount Casablanca Satan stood
and felt the joyful sting of nightly lust,
he watched the planets turning into dust
by love, and he agreed that it was good.
He'd only have to think the word and could
harvest the billion votaries who trust
his foe and brother, but he knows he must
not hurry nor delay. One day he would
reap what he sowed with all its roots and plant
a belladonna herb with rampant twigs
to feed his bird who constantly would chant
beside the soothing ripple of the Styx;
there's fifty stars that move at his command,
but soon there'll be six hundred and sixty-six.

II.

I'm back again: the Raven eats my heart.
So scarlet is the blossom of the rose,
black is the stem and black the leaves; who knows
how it began? The Raven eats my heart.

I was a man; the Raven eats my heart.
The flower's full grave petals will disclose
her sweet and bitter scent to me. Who grows
this poison then? The Raven eats my heart.

To feel the thorn, to feel the faithful thorn!
And then again, forever to depart
from what we never leave; who isn't torn
between his will to live and Beauty's mart,
who's there who never wished that he were born,
or always did? The Raven eats my heart.

III.

Black clouds obscure the moon, the night is rough,
and I expected her. The cold winds blow,
she waits for me upon her stone; we know
that for a life a lifetime is enough.

Blue eyes that spark amongst the blackest fluff
invite me to the hideout of the Crow:
she nods her head, persuading me to go,
and in a bracing gale my spirits luff.

She looks like many a sorceress who hollowed
out my entire heart right from the core
and tore my senses and my flesh and swallowed
my mind and soul in happier days of yore.
The Crow departs; I follow as I followed
black shocks and azure eyes so oft before.


The Raven and the Rose

Shadows fall, the sun's declining
far behind the quiet ocean,
and my heart, my heart is pining
for the land that no one knows.
I smell its scent and tremble with emotion:
who'll bring me there? The Raven or the Rose.

Western winds are softly blowing
from the undiscovered haven,
and my love, my love is growing
for the land I haven't seen.
I hear the voices of the Rose and Raven:
I’ll bring you there where no one's ever been.

I am tired of learning, teaching;
earth and sun and life are hollow,
and my hand, my hand is reaching
for the land where no one goes.
And yet, and yet I know not whom to follow:
who'll bring me there - the Raven or the Rose?


The Ballroom of Erebus

In the ballroom of Erebus night lasts forever,
and no human nor shadow had ever a ball
where the orchestra of the departed are playing
their sad eldritch airs to an empty great hall.

When the unearthly concert is over, the master
of the realm of black darkness will take a deep breath,
and he’ll open the book, and he’ll tell each musician
in which land of his empire they’ll live out their death.

That day or that night when you’ll finally get there
to be told in which part of his realm you will stay
after having presented your last piece of music
in Hades’ vast ballroom, what tune will you play?


The Removed

Where the shadows have no caster,
the horizon has no sky,
and where no one is the master
of his fate, there you and I
soon will settle – this will be
home for all eternity.

Let us hope we’ll be provided
coins to pay the ferryman,
that we may, serenely guided,
cross the river so we can
reach the realm where, as they say,
life has thousand shades of grey.

Past the guard hound to the palace
where at last we’ll have to face
the unmerciful and callous
judge who never lost a case,
and whose sentence for each soul
ne’er includes the word parole.

In this wasteland they employ less
light than in a dungeon cell;
hand in hand we’ll walk the joyless
barren fields of Asphodel,
drink our Lethe from the source
without zest, without remorse.

Soon we’ll be – it may upset us -
joined by friends and those we love;
the Above will then forget us,
as we will forget Above.
What remains, for all it’s worth,
are our handprints on the earth.


© Frank L. Ludwig