Nathaniel Tarn

Johann Sebastian Summoned to the Royal Court


A dream while sitting here, obedient.
To go back to our long white houses,
furthest away from this white palace,
the wicker furniture, also all white,
[as white as foam dreamed on the lips
of  famed thalassa never seen or heard
contrasting with l’azur, l’azur, l’azur,]
in which it would be fine to loll, to
pause for longer times than the time
granted, to play what we desired to
play for once, instead of duty calling
evermore to play the work of friends,
always more friends. Not that there’s
no desire to play the friends, but it is
hard to read two scores without four
eyes. And then to find ourselves again
as we’d once been in morning sunlight
ages ago after the second visitation,
when terror waned, disease retreated,
when all of poverty forgave the rich,
and every universal garden flourished
in all its blooms together, all birdlings
sang amalgams of single melodies to
infinitely variable musics -- this was,
it seemed to us, the dream of paradise
[what if illusion, ah, pitiless illusion!]
which kept us deaf to any summons,
before the ruling classes lost their minds,
their properties; before we served only
burrocrassies as spare-time artists, mere
intellectuals, performing elephants and
fleas. The life which is, which only is,
which never changes into what is not, the
key to all these longings, the single defi-
nition of what we must perform. And then
our counterpoint, our what is left of any-
thing, the sum of all and any definition,
the means whereby a god [specified as
“God”] bleeds out its life into the universe.