Death is a sort of Schlieffen Plan.*
It pivots on the young and sweeps the outer edges,
Who are we. Outside the span
Of threescore years and ten, do not its stages
ever toward the
How could you, Count, on campaign maps have failed to see
You drew a sickle, with its fix
Increasingly on reapings grimly sure to be?
And though some few of us become
pockets of resistance, we are not the
Juggernaut rolls on, a
That never ends, or ends in that putrescent tarn
The Pendulum whose fatal pace
Not either discipline or mutiny can slow,
And Time creates of any space.
Count von Schlieffen (1833-1913). Prussian
field marshal. He advocated the plan which bears his name (1895), on
which German tactics were unsuccessfully based in World War I. He envisaged a
German breakthrough in
Gods have the wrong attendants. Why should Mars
Not have the Muses? No one ever called
The Iliad a hymn to peace, or said
Art has no wars. Miscast, Eros attends,
Who most of all should have attendants, first
Among them Mammon. Most of scholarship
Not being in the least original,
The owl whose tenure is beside the ear
Of wisdom any parrot could contest;
And Ceres as a deity of grain
Has ram’s horn as a cornucopia,
A nod to mutton. Javelin, the flash
Upraised in Zeus’s hand is no more apt
In signifying than the triple threat
A trident gleams in firelight; bidents shine
In water. Each could substitute for each
(As Roman names can substitute for Greek).
And does the Father serve the Holy Ghost,
Or with the Holy Ghost attend the Son?
Jehovah’s service from the earliest
Has held out for the nothing less than all,
Defaulting to the priestesses of Baal.
Mohammed, prophet of, not son of God,
Is outside these assessments. Buddha’s tree
Was in Siddhartha’s servitude as shade;
A lifeless canopy would serve as well.
One god, of course, will never lack for shade.
Has he a name? Yes, many, but is one:
More uniform than any other god.
And all of us, in our variety
So inappropriate as hangers-on,
End facing eastward, supine at his feet.
Cassity, Turner. “Poems.” The New Compass: A Critical Review 1 (June 2003) <http://www.thenewcompass.ca/jun2003/cassity.html>