A Rude Awakening

How Nogood Boyo’s 4th Great-Grandfather, in the Small Hours of 19th March,
1798, had to Resort to Some Quick Thinking and was Thereafter Subject to an Agonizing Wait

The Spirit of the Vasty Deep
came and plucked me out of sleep.
He swooped across black plains of space
and wrapped dark folds about my face;
and in a voice sepulchral, dread,
quoth ‘I am the Lord: and thou art Dead’.

Nay, Lord’, quoth I (with my long-johns on)
and feeling wondrous live and strong,
‘Thou came’st as Saviour; this I see.
For in my sleep had come to me
a hellish dark nightmarish dream
(before Thou arrive’st upon the scene).
To hellish dark nightmarish men
was I delivered – unto them.
But Thou step’st up behind me then
with Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and – Ben,
and all the angels in Thy team,
and an awful power and a light serene
did smite those hellish nightmare men
who cast lots for my body, when
I lay there quaking, sure to go,
but Thou, O Lord, did open the door.
Nay, Lord, I’m alive’, quoth I, ‘not dead.
See’st not I’m sitting on my bed?
And mine eyes see light and my heart doth beat,
and the good earth firm beneath my feet?
And the clock ticketh on? And the cock doth bellow?
– and I hear my neighbour berating his fellow –
and my breath’s on the casement, and I smell wild thyme…
and they’re getting impatient at the front of Thy line!
Thou made’st a mistake!‘ quoth I, afeared,
and mine eyes aburst with salty tears.
‘They entered my sleep. I was beat and bound.
They diced for my soul – but now I’m found
Thou made’st a mistake’, countered I to Him.

He surveyed. He frowned. He looked all grim.
And not all the fiends in my dark dream’s den
could have scared me more than He scared me then –
for the look of the Lord was the look of doom,
of his cohorts cant’ring the Vale of Gloom,
sable the steeds, black nostrils aflare,
flanks a-shiver, wild eyes a-glare,
hoofs striking brimstone, spilling sparks,
traversing the floor of that valley stark.
Long, long He looked from all His darkling throng.
Intransigent as stone. The clock ticked on.

‘Thou made’st a mistake… ‘ An echo of my mind
alone – no voice. Then the Lord did sigh. 
The sigh of the Lord was the wind that roars
from the uplands in winter down to our doors
and lifts the latch and the bolt doth rattle,
as though demons without prepare for battle;
that whines through the farmyard and blasts the byre
and reddens the ashes low in the fire;
that huddles the sheep on the bald hillsides;
that knocks and taps in the ancient mines.
‘Thou made’st a mistake…‘ pulsed my foolish heart,
                    alone in hope – not mine.
Intransigence. Hope gone. ‘Then dear Lord – ‘ groped I,
‘ – grant unto your son one smile?‘

A-sudden, did I fancy then some shimmer in all that
                    deathly gloom
as first light, stealthy stranger, creeps into a room
unbidden? Unbid, but joyous – in a space
to banish ghastly darkness to some other time,
                    some other place,
and sudden, astounded by the dawn, the day is live?
And the Lord, the Lord, and did he smile?

Oh! The smile of the Lord was the ripple that grows
on the sea’s twilight waters and turns it to gold;
‘twas the flash of the dew on the grass in the morn
when the air is a-tremble as bird-song is born;
‘twas the sheen and the silver of clouds as they run
in the high open spaces about the old sun …
Yea, a-sudden, astounding as the dawn, pity sundered
                    that almighty face,
and turning to his host, quoth the Lord, with grace:
‘Matthew, Mark, Luke, and – Ron;
get back to bed… with thy long-johns on’.

[From ‘Welsh Past and Present’]

3 thoughts on “A Rude Awakening

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