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When Compared to the Fathomless Joy Awaiting 22
by Carl Halling
06/24/12
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An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s

To See You at Every Time of Day
Is a song lyric, penned in 2003,
But heavily based on one composed
Almost certainly in 1974,
And which I originally sang
In a voice I stole from Bryan Ferry,
Who'd begun his career
As a conventional Glam Rock icon,
But who by '74,
Had reinvented himself as an old-style
Crooner cum matinee idol,
And it was his eccentric version of
These Foolish Things
That was the direct inspiration
For the lyric in question,
Indeed the song as a whole.

To See You Every Time of Day
 
To see you in the morning
Be with you in the evening
To see you here
At every time of day
Such a simple prayer
To see you at every time of day
 
To hold you when you're laughing
Console you when you're crying
Take care of you
At every time of day
Such a simple prayer
To see you at every time of day
 
So tell me why you push me away
When I've sworn to be forever true
When I've pledged
My pure and simple heart to you?
How can you be so cruel?
 
To see you in the morning
Be with you in the evening
To see you here
At every time of day
Such a simple prayer
To see you at every time of day.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1970s
 
The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate
Was based largely on writings
Created possibly as early as 1976.
And as such, it's been reproduced
More or less word for word,
Despite having been recently edited
And subject to basic versification.
And in its original form,
It constituted some kind of
Unfinished fantastical novel
Centred on the titular
Athlete, Poet and Reprobate,
An absurdly self-exalting
Version of the original.
For within less than two decades
Of penning these self-same words,
I'd come to saving faith in Christ Jesus.
 
As to novels reflecting the luxurious lifestyle
Of a bygone age,
None had been even remotely completed
By the time of writing,
And unless I'm grossly mistaken,
I was several years shy of becoming an actor.
That said, the timidity described
Is at least partially accurate,
And I did feel the need to provide
An outward show of my significance
Through a peacock display of dandyism,
Which included
Some wildly idiosyncratic behaviour,
As well as the subtle deployment of cosmetics.
 
The Athlete, the Poet and the Reprobate
 
"I can't decide," she said,
"Whether you're an aesthete
Or an athlete
A poet or a reprobate."
 
"Even when I'm a lout,
I'm an aesthete," he answered,
"I lure, rather than seek."
 
"So why do you
Need to dress up?"
 
"Like Ronald Firbank,
I suffer from a need
To give an outward show
Of my significance.
 
His lifestyle is an uncanny
Parallel
To my own young manhood
 
I alienated people
Through a crippling shyness
Which I disguised
With my violently idiosyncratic
 
Behaviour, wore cosmetics
And wrote novels
That reflected the luxurious
Lifestyle of a bygone age.
 
The sensation
Of never quite belonging
Lingered about me always
That's why
I became an actor.
 
Through heavy experiences
I have built up
A stoned wall
Resistance
Against arrogance and aloofness
 
I am a sophisticated cynic
With a kind heart
And a tendency towards regret."

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s
 
The origins of An Actor Arrives
Lie in the barest elements
Of a story started but never finished
In early 1980,
While I was working at the Bristol Old Vic
Playing the minute part
Of Mustardseed the Fairy
In a much praised production
Of Shakespeare's celebrated
A Midsummer Night's Dream.
 
It was originally rescued in 2006,
From a battered notebook in which I habitually scribbled
During spare moments offstage
While clad in my costume
And covered in blue body make-up
And silvery glitter. And while doing so,
Some of the glitter was transferred from the pages
With which the were stained
More than a quarter of a century previously
Onto my hands...an eerie experience indeed.
 
An Actor Arrives (at the Bristol Old Vic)
 
I remember the grey slithers of rain,
The jocular driver
As I boarded the bus
At Temple Meads,
And the friendly lady who told me
When we had arrived at the city centre.
I remember the little pub on King Street,
With its quiet maritime atmosphere.
 
I remember tramping
Along Park Street,
Whiteladies Road and Blackboy Hill,
My arms and hands aching from my bags,
To the little cottage where I had decided to stay
And relax between rehearsals,
Reading, writing, listening to music.
I remember my landlady, tall, timid and beautiful.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

Nineteen Eighty Tell Me
Has been reproduced more or less
As it was originally scrawled
In a red Silvine memo book
In the very summer of 1980,

Almost certainly as I was waiting
To go on as Mustardseed the Fairy
During the London run of a much-praised
Bristol Old Vic production
Of A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Nineteen Eighty Tell Me
 
Nineteen Eighty, tell me,
Where are you?
What are you trying to be?
This week, you're 1963
And there's even
Talk of a rebirth of '67
But that's next week.
Nineteen Eighty, tell me,

When will you be mine?
A little bit '59,
I'll not share you with a Beatnik
Take a rest after the exertions,
Punk revolutions,
Before our old friend,
Sweet nostalgia,
Goes round the bend.

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s

1.

Thanks to the large quantity
Of notes I committed to paper
While at Leftfield College, London,
My beloved college can live again
Through sundry writings
Painstakingly forged out of them,
Such as the poetic pieces that follow,
Which is to say, Some Sad Dark Secret,
Sabrina's Solar Plexus,
She Dear One that Followed Me,
And I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces.
And as in the case of all
My memoir-based writings,
The names of people and institutions
Have been changed
In the solemn name of privacy.

2.

Some Sad Dark Secret was inspired
By words once spoken to me
By a former tutor and mentor
Of mine at Leftfield in around 1982 or '83.
And which then ended up
As informal diary notes
On a piece of scrap paper,
Consisting of both
The words themselves,
And my own perhaps
Partly fantastical
Reflections on them.
Some quarter of a century later,
They were edited and versified,
And then the process was repeated
A half decade or so after that.

3.

I Hate Those Long, Long Spaces
Was recently conceived
From thoughts confided to a notebook
Sometime between 1981 and '83
While I was a student
At the University of London.
 
As I see it, they betoken
An undiagnosed depressive condition
Which ultimately led to my contracting
A serious drinking problem,
And ultimately some kind of crack-up,
From which I emerged while not unscathed
 
Another man entirely,
And while I'm still the victim
Of a depressive condition, it's not as it was,
Which is to say, one alleviated
By spells of great elation,
And yet fundamentally rooted in desperation.
 
Today, it's seen by its sufferer as long term
Yet temporal, to be dispelled,
Once he comes into a new glorious body,
Which is his hope and his prayer,
So all the sicknesses of the old,
Will be a thing of the past, never to return again.

Some Sad Dark Secret

"Temper your enthusiasm,"
She said,
"The extremes of your reactions;
You should have
A more conventional frame
On which to hang
Your unconventionality."
"Don't push people,"
She said,
"You make yourself vulnerable."

She told me not to rhapsodise,
That it would be difficult,
Impossible, perhaps,
For me to harness my dynamism.
The tone of my work,
She said,
Is often a little dubious.
She said
She thought
That there was something wrong.

That I'm hiding
Some sad
Dark secret from the world.
"Temper your enthusiasm,"
She said,
"The extremes of your reactions;
You should have
A more conventional frame
On which to hang
Your unconventionality."

Sabrina's Solar Plexus
 
"You were frightening, sinister,
You put everything into it
I took a step back
You get better every time
How good can you get?"
 
People are scared of fish eyes
They confuse, stun, fascinate
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes
Sucked dry of life fish eyes...
 
Sabrina was unselfish,
Unselfconscious,
Devoted, unabashed,
Spontaneous,
A purring lioness:
"Yes," she said,
"I can imagine people
Wanting to possess you."
 
People are scared of fish eyes;
They confuse, stun, fascinate;
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes;
Sucked dry of life fish eyes...
 
Sabrina said: "I'm sorry;
I'm just possessive
I'm frightened of my feelings
You'll miss me a little,
Won't you?
You should read Lenz.
I'm sure you'd
Identify
With the main character."
 
People are scared of fish eyes;
They confuse, stun, fascinate;
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes;
Sucked dry of life fish eyes.
 
Have I written about the
Crack-up?
When I came home
Empty-handed
And I just couldn't
Articulate
For latent tears.
But am I so repelled
By intimacy?
When will someone
Get me there (the solar
Plexus) as Sabrina said.
 
People are scared of fish eyes;
They confuse, stun, fascinate;
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes;
Sucked dry of life fish eyes.
   
"You look beautiful;
I wish you didn't,
Malignant
Flim Flam Man."
"I like it when you really feel
Something;
But then it's so rare."
 
People are scared of fish eyes;
They confuse, stun, fascinate;
Coldly indifferent
Fish eyes;
Sucked dry of life fish eyes.
 
She Dear One Who Followed Me

It was she, bless her,
who followed me...
she'd been crying...
she's too good for me,
that's for sure...
"Your friends
are too good to you...
it makes me sick
to see them...
you don't really give...
you indulge in conversation,
but your mind
is always elsewhere,
ticking over.
You could hurt me,
you know...
You are a Don Juan,
so much.
Like him, you have
no desires...
I think you have
deep fears...
There's something so...so...
in your look.
It's not that
you're empty...
but that there is
an omnipresent sadness
about you, a fatality..."

I Hate Those Long Long Spaces

I hate those long, long spaces
Between meals and drinks
Specifically the afternoon
And after midnight.
 
I hate mornings too
Until I can smell the bacon
And coffee. I cheer up
Towards the end of the afternoon,
 
But my euphoria stops short
Of my final cup of tea.
I sink into another state of gloom
Until my second favourite time of the day.
 
My favourite is that of my
First drink and cigarette.
I hate those long, long spaces,
Specifically the afternoon and after midnight

An Autobiographical Narrative: 1980s
 
Verses for Tragic Lovers
Adolphe and Ellenore
Is based on an essay I wrote
Around 1983
For a former mentor at university,
Who sadly died in 2008,
And who features
As Dr Elizabeth Lang
In various autobiographical
Writings of mine.
 
It concerns the protagonist
Of French writer Benjamin Constant's
1816 novel Adolphe,
(Which its author emphatically insisted
Was not autobiographical;
Nor a roman a clef),
Who is a prototypal victim
Of what has been termed
Le Mal du Siecle,
Or the sickness of the century...
 
Which, born in the wake of the Revolution,
And arising from a variety of causes,
Political, social, and spiritual,
Depending on the sufferer in question,
Produced such qualities as
Melancholy and acedia,
And a perpetual sense of exile,
Of alienation,
That found special favour within
The great Romantic movement in the arts.
 
Although as a phenomenon,
Weltschmerz was hardly a novel one,
For after all, does the Word of God not say
That there is nothing new
Under the sun?
But it was possibly unprecedented
In terms of pervasiveness and intensity
At the height of Romanticism
And I'd have no hesitation
In labelling it tragic as a result.
 
In terms of my own pre-Christian self,
It was almost overwhelmingly powerful,
And so believer that I am, I feel compelled
To expose it as potentially ruinous,
For after all, is it not still with us
In one way or another,
Having been passed on by the Romantics
To kindred movements coming in their wake,
From the Spirit of Decadence
To the Rock Revolution?
 
And could it not also be said
That the peculiar notion
Fostered by Romanticism
Of the artist as a spirit
Set apart for some special purpose,
Of which pain is so often an essential part
Is also still among us?
Of course it could,
And I'd have no hesitation
In labelling it tragic as a result.
 
This Mal du Siecle
Is surely especially melancholy
In the case of tragic lovers,
Adolphe and Ellenore,
For it results in Adolphe effectively
Drifting into a romance
With another man's mistress,
A young mother, Ellenore,
Who sacrifices everything for him
Only to discover he no longer loves her.

For Adolphe is in some respects
A work within the tradition
Of the libertine novel
Of the Age of Enlightenment,
And yet at the same time,
By no means an endorsement of libertinage.
Is rather perhaps, in many respects,
A powerful indictment of this tendency,
And thence as much a reproach
To the tradition; as a late addition to it.
 
And the forlorn figure of Adolphe
Was ultimately to prove influential,
Notably in Mother Russia,
Where he allegedly served in part
As model to Pushkin's fatal dandy,
The Byronic Eugene Onegin,
And if Tolstoy's Count Vronsky
Was also partially based on Adolphe,
Then there is of course a marked kinship
Between Ellenore and Anna Karenina.
 
In the end, though, one can only weep,
At the tragedy these eminently romantic
And sympathetic figures
Made of their lives. And I speak as one
Who was once in thrall to the tragic worldview,
But who came to view life
As something infinitely valuable,
To be lived fully under the guidance of God,
And not sacrificed like some beautiful bauble
For the bitter-sweet pleasures of the world.
 
Verses for Tragic Lovers Adolphe and Ellenore
 
Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.
 
We know little of the physical appearance
Of Adolphe, but in all probability
He possesses the youthfully seductive charm
Of Romantic heroes,
Werther, Rene and Julien Sorel.
 
Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.
 
Adolphe is preoccupied with himself
In the classic manner
Of the contemplative, melancholy,
Faintly yearning, hypersensitive,
Isolated, perceptive Romantic hero.
 
Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.
 
Perhaps he is somebody who believes
That self-interest is the foundation
Of all morality, but then, he announces:
"While I was only interested in myself,
I was but feebly interested for all that."
 
Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.
 
There is much genuine goodness
In Adolphe,
But much of it is subconscious,
Surfacing only
At the sight of obvious grief.
 
Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.
 
The cause of this inability to feel
Spontaneously, is very probably the result
Of the complex interaction
Between a hypersensitive nature
And a brilliant if indecisive mind.
 
Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.
 
By reflecting on his surroundings
To an exaggerated degree,
Adolphe feels a sort of numbness,
A premature world-weariness
Lucid thoughts and intense emotions confused.
 
Ellenore initially resists Adolphe's advances
But after a great deal of persuasion,
Agrees to see him on a regular basis,
And soon falls in love.

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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