Lord Childe

To be published before my death.

The obversations of Lord Childe dealing with animal, plantal and spiritual transformations; the airy vapours of a primordial forest, a heaving up of vegetation with its horrible affinity with human passions.

Extracts from the manuscript:
   The ravishment of the young Lord by the phantom Bebella cleaved his spiritual body in two. "At last!" he cried, "we are One!" The phantasm of ghostly yearning shimmering in the darkness fell upon him and enveloped him whole, such terrifying ecstasy the youthful Lord Childe had not known before. And like a lucid dream of levitation he rose into the air, incorporeal and phantasmal, shadowed in the assumptive form of a beautiful young bride of sixteen years. "I died of Scarlet Fever," sighs the young lord. Or is it Bebella, who on dropping her girdle as if in the afterthought of rapture whispers: "We have fallen asleep."

   The glossy leaves, leathery and margined with hairs, touched my lips, and I opened my mouth. I come upon a creature in the forest, and I perceive subtle forms rising from her aged body; her skin, thinner than the skin of fruit is near transparent, and I endeavour to prove it mortal. In inspiration her belly swells by the lifting up the bowels, and her womb passes from side to side, and the flesh of the belly were as circles of the sphere, like an open porch or gallery, and she rose and fell before the motions of the equinox and passed through the vertices of following stars.

    '"If you would have my body, and make my breasts firm and my hair black and sleek, then you will make the birds to fly, and stirring their wings, as appears plain enough from the rushing noise, they will bend upwards, and with the bending of the feathers we will be pressed towards each other, supported on the teeming air by pillars of blood-coloured marble, and vines of gold above beds of rosemary and lavender.
   '"If you would have my body, and make my breasts full and my skin firm and porcelain white, then you will have magnificence in the first ages as in later times, as from old temples and broken amphitheatres half buried in the earth, and figments of towers and subterranean vaults will support your airy body, dressed in fine light damasks, and confess the difference between an old devotee and a young beauty.
   "And if you would restore me to youth, smooth and fine-textured, and ripe, and hot and moist, then you will be studded with buds and leaves and blossoms, and all creatures will breathe the pleasing fragrance of a perpetual spring, and the breezes of the morning will wind their courses and degrees, enfolding the fiery sun and the watery moon, caressing most intimately between mouth and thigh that spongy excrescence called a nipple."

   With simple water I swallowed my dose of green tea. The fruit of the pod is like that of a bean, and though my fits of fainting or anxiety ceased upon rest or breathing the vapour of vinegar, the pulp of the fruit (abating thirst and correcting purification), which is spread on a sort of bread or rusk disordered my bowels and occasioned the contents to turn pasty. Weak and tender as I was, I required repeat purges and a total absence of farinaceous foods. Disagreeable symptoms previously discharged in a living state and subject to spectral illusions, I was to be fed with bread victuals, and a wet-nurse to assist in suckling who, in consequence of getting rest, resembled many gold coloured discous flowers, in umbel-like clusters. She has a good nose for smelling, being reckoned a very subtle creature. "He will feed on roots, herbs, or what-not, to fill his belly", said she, mockingly reflecting upon Noah and the curse of Cain. I sometimes perceived her motion as a creeping under the skin. The appellation of facial tumours was derived from mucur, mouldy. When her eyes are shut, the external edges meet, and the eyelashes, preserved at a small distance from each other, are somewhat transparent, covered with small shining crystals. 

   It was a curious instance that while her underthings were brilliantly white, the limbs were so delicately turned and speckled, as, when she was half immersed in a broad and engulfing bosom, to render her almost imperceptible. Of this resemblance she was so conscious, that whenever she found herself in want of a man she pulled her skirt over her head, and there continued motionless. She owed her security to this stratagem. Thus concealed she seized upon and devoured all the smaller kinds of men who incautiously approached her. She acknowledged that in her dreams she might unconsciously have assumed the existence of forces according to some mathematical function, though she did not deny the transient combination of simple ideas which have but a short existence anywhere, but in the minds of women. She complained that, whilst in bed, she had been frequently aroused by the strange liberties taken with her person. On such occasions she has been known to entwine herself round the legs of an Englishman. I was anxious to get her rescued. I questioned her upon the subject; I said, ‘Would you like me to attend you when you die?" 
   "Oh no!” she cried. She was a first-rate girl.

   I found a grave in the womb, and the remains of a body in the nearest soft earth. Here I lay, uncoffined and unclaimed by mourning spirits. A sudden cry of pain passed away and was heard no more, and I imagined that among the voices of the forest there was one that whispered within: feel no more. And in the darkness which enshrouded its mouldering tenant I imagined youthful limbs and features of a boy who never mourned the feebleness of aged men; who never looked back to that parting without regret or hung brooding over the newly created world. Now keep in the deep, I said to myself, and timorous creatures shall safe arrive above; and I put under my tongue a sweet morsel of plant, and gave myself the gift of prophesy. I muffed up and covered myself with a garment made of wild hemp and willow bark. And in some remote period, naked to the eye in daytime, the approaching Earth will assume a crescent form and be bright enough to cast a shadow at night. Some rare bodies, pressing against the earth, move upward to the great body of the universe, and with great expansions penetrate into empty spaces. Particles of light attracted from the atmospheric air will lead us back to secret nostrums, and the perpetrators of darkness cannot brook the light. And so the local union between leaf and stem, unprepared by art, is held fit, in its own nature. The eyes dazzle; and crackings heard under children’s beds pass through the nerves down to the clay to be carried off by the furrows. A little greater depth still and we apply a remedy; we shall strongly resist the semi-fluid organism sometimes covered with strong scurf, and with very matted roots.

   "I am Meself." said he, "we shall fornicate away the Sabbath with the dead and the living, that we might exercise supreme authority and dominion over all, as we will at the last day. Let them caresses our three-toed, hairy, hind legs; ears that are rounded, lined with fur; fore-teeth upper eight, two middle ones sharper; lower long and pointed. We are beautifully red by the sides of our head and body; white at our extremities; feet dark brown; margin of the orbits black; naked underneath, and a cock with a curved bone."
   Meself stood at three points of the compass from the direction of the wind, and bent over me. I fell to my knees and cried, "Sir, it is not the pain. It is life!"
   "My Lord Childe, make a wish, which is properly the desire of a man. Or lay still, for I should not wish you to a fairer death."
   I imagined a weight drawn by a thousand weights, equal in gravity to one another; sometimes these weights appear in my dreams, when the spirit leaves the body. But I saw no soul before me, or the image of a thing remembered or imagined. I made a wish beyond the nebulous regions, where the body is born and waxes old in time, and he was gone.

   The earth laboratory of magic consisted of three crystal vials in which the assurance of favour flowed very little. The miracles wrought at Naples were not objects of the divine mind, and it was preposterous that an action could be concealed or that conjurors could talk of the sacrament without offence to those who deserve esteem; and anyway, the art is more formidable in its defects, humoral differences, and mere variation in force. The inductive method is proof of our Natural Theology, our chimerical dreams. And it was my Rosy brother, excellent in the art of concealment, who spoke of tortured waters suffering some alteration, of milk and blood turning to silver and gold. The tears of Hyanthe are sweet. The alchymical will devours the king and makes a bonfire so that the wolf may be quite burned. He said, "If I die, my interest ceases." A man quickened by the dreadful, broad arable acres of the mind. He saddled horsey and galloped away, shrieking, in a spell, by the whip, and beheld the glorious earth, forests and devouring sea.

   The small life of the forest, the earthworms, spiders and woodlice paid me little or no attention and I was sure I would not be remembered by any creature here. Such were my thoughts when I came upon a remarkable sight: petticoats hanging on branches, all of different colours and sizes (I judge these things unsuitable for a man to dwell upon, indeed I did not consider them at all except for one that was most pretty and delicate). My deliverance was not here, I thought, and grew very suspicious of these women’s things left unattended and casually draped over unspeakably curvaceous branches. Indeed, I thought it peculiar that the trees, young birches mostly, were very feminine and not like the muscular oak I passed earlier. It was unusually quite and I seemed to lose all sense of time. "Come, play with us." A girl plucked my leaves; another hung a white petticoat on my lowest branch. I orgasmed in stillness: in splendid unmovable time.

The dream 

  The bodies of babes are marked with figures of things, it confounds the natural order; they stamp with their hind feet and erect their hair, and keep the beaten path until they are driven of the devil. Some wander wide, or far and near, and mothers draw away estranged affections of tenderness, and contrive for themselves an artificial memory called the Soul of the World, suckle empty forms and phantoms, and assume somewhat of their nature, and become of a peculiar kind. Into chaos heat is infused, disseminated, and diffused through the whole mass of the world into one great, perfect and vital body; and into many starting holes a creature is driven, that it may find some shelter, to increase and produce its like, which is said to be come to its animation when the mother is quick with child. Generation of a kind is kindled in the bowels of the earth; and being buried in the ground it will burst out in flames and cause the earth to tremble, a rattling noise in the lowest regions of the air, which seem to pass through arches, and brought as near Nature as possible. In the whole scene of things there is none that has been perfumed with a most odiferous scent than a babe or a changeling, distracted, and wholly evacuated by death. In the mother womb is the field of their birth, born by incision, and violently cut from the stalk; and when the Earth passes through its orbit the viviparous animals of the world, unweaned from the hub, seem to rise higher and become more perfect than all the beasts of the field. But one, induced by the cognition of an immaterial essence, found life within, and near the wilderness, arising from the instinct of her form, she brought forth her young alive; which being wrapped up in thin skins, burst on the seventh day, and leapt like serpents, and crawled: hooked, hollow, and transparent. They gnawed out the belly of the dam, and all the names of things unknown before. They sucked nourishment out of her thighs and breast, and preyed upon body and estate. She was darkened for an instant; and with heavy and duskish light, shone with borrowed beams that traversed the body of a man, received by illumination, and took for fiery comet. Her belly, growing big, and so near her time, received into her body the western wind, which forced the woman to birth the fragrant infant, who crept along to her side lamenting its imperfections. Both its hands were beaten and worn by time, and it did not cease from craving the benefices of living beings endowed with the properties of natural bodies. Its eyes were as a bright scarlet colour, they saw orbs steered by the spirit; and light, receding into darkness and cold, came never out to touch the unfortunate creature. All operations in the abyss increased the creature’s acquaintance with some understanding of the properties of life. It died uncovered, and a dog licked its sores and fell down, and I saw the spirits of both appear under a deep water.

©2017 Jason Potter