Michaelmas Poem: “Fellowship of the Setting Sun”

Please find a companion poem here.

On starry fields of battle
The dragon draws a rattling breath
And like a gutsy bellows
Belches forth a snaking river
Of yellow sulphur-flame
A flame that scorches space’s sinews
Scalding the hand that stitches time
And torching memory’s halls
So the burning heavens, groan
And slowly cease to turn
And the stream of moments runs awry
The gods, agape, with wild eyes
And gasping, emotions churning,
From high up on aristocratic porches
Lofty-mounted in the celestial vault
Their breath is frozen in their throats
While the straining skies
Are rending at the seams:

Behold! There in the Western skies
With spear of gold and brand of light
The bold Archangel and his host
Bedight in armour shining,
They ride on fiery steeds of hematite
Iron filings streak the sky behind them
A mighty slughorn raised,
The sound of clarion abounding
About the stationed stars,
Resounding from the hearts of men
Which on the threshold of their ken
They faint yet sure surmise:
Some as a swelling of the breast
Before despair whose name is ‘legion’
Some as the welling in the throat
Which runneth o’er as speech that’s true
Some as the secret telling sign
Of intuition in the depths of mind—

A second call, the air is tense
A final note and then they charge
Upon the dragon, mean and large
With rearing head and gnashing maw
He fights with fiery, tooth and claw
And infernal magic that confounds
The mind and mangles sense
So that up is down and here is thence.

Michaël, grim, with knotted brow
Squares off against his adversary
One blow, the dragon parries with his basalt tail
Another, the dragon counters,
Then advances to assail
The Archangel with a bout of fumes
But Michaël, taking up his spear in hent
And holding firm with intent divine
Plunges it into the dragon’s side
Piercing through the scaled obsidian hide,
It lodges deep in brackish brine
It fizzles as a blacksmith’s iron
Sputters when in a barrel it is suddenly cooled
And like a coil of rope unspooled,
The dragon, slouching, slumps off of Heaven’s edge
Downward, writhing, with a horrible shriek
And curses no man may ever speak
Or utter, downward plunging
Upon the sleeping Earth to land
To insinuate its shadow deep in every man.
Now the Archangel’s work is done,
Now our battle is begun
Fellowship of the setting sun
Now our battle is begun.

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