Robert Kelly: An Alchemical Journal (2)


And now we have been in the rain. She pulled her shirt off & ran before me up the slope, turning back to note how fast I followed, the eagerness of my address to this step of the operation. There was no measure to this time, no bounds to my eagerness, hence no measure of it, hence no seeming to run faster though I pursued. It was quiet in the place she ran to, very dark grasses tufted across the ground, given among black rocks. The rain had been sturdier before. But what it was mostly was that she didn’t know what she wanted. She was so silent her silence startled her, made her uneasy as an animal is startled by its own shadowy reflection in a still puddle. She showed me a bird’s nest from which the small blue bird she’d seen in it last week had now flown away. On the way back she showed me a big wet grey toad. We stared at it till I couldnt see it any more. Then it jumped. I thought of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, how there is One who leads, & another who looks back (wet hair & broad shoulders) to see if another follows. But then I very often think of that. Perhaps this was at last the right time to think of it, though there had been right times before, & will be after, God willing. The right time is more frequent than I think. Even the toad had something to speak: 

Eines abends spöte
Ging ein Mann einen steilen Weg hinan.
Da sah er eine Kröte —
dies Gedicht ist nicht von Goethe.

Dialect & substandard forms. Popular songs. Old popular ditties. Songs my aunts & uncles knew. Peg o my heart unwobbling pivot? Our chung? It was not enough that I followed, however fast. She had to lead. Poliphilo waltzed with the strawberry blonde. Alchemy is the science of finding the right year to be born.

Only now is it clear that I was walking on that hillside. Midway up the woods there is a fence, & by it a black wet tree. We stopped & planted seeds there, in the middle of the air. There was such silence in the woods, in the wood, & that’s what I’m trying to get away from now. No need for all that silence, no need for all this secrecy, as far as I can see. And there are houses where women sleep. Were we sad because we were silent, & silent because all the secrets had told themselves into the listening rain? Anybody seeing me would have known what was on my mind.

One of the girls was of gypsy parentage, & in the set of her body I saw an intimation of the origin of the Cards. These postures are the way we must be, things being as they are. Yoga will teach a man to live without pulmonary breathing beneath the ground, or extend his subtle nervous system to any distance, or live three hundred years. But it cannot teach him to bend his shanks out forward from the knee, or chew one single grain of rice by grinding down with the upper jaw. The intimation in fact I did not see then looking at her, but only now, reviewing the event. What reckoners we are! Runs hits & errors. Secrecy of the pitcher’s mound, the Magus of Tiphareth rears back & hurls. Yesod’s last chance to knock it over the fence, perimeter, parameter, paramita, into, Malkuth, the actual world. In the shell of the catcher’s mitt, demonmask of his tantric form, the Qlipoth wait. Or if a man should one day mislay his member, he would find it on the Moon. O what liars we are.

Several years ago a team of clinicians discovered that blood of dogs poisoned by carbon monoxide would re-oxygenate faster (in many instances critically so, saving the animal’s life) when exposed to the light of a mercury-vapor lamp.

A moth the size of the ice-box carries the ice-box away. So what it has to do with is that Greek word isos, same as this, same as that. Isomimetic, a man steps through society & enters his house. Shooting methedrine, the bad green heart. Held together by starch. Shooting starch. Filling the lungs with starch.

Riding the forest: 

1) Who or what does the River serve?
2) Where does it hurt?
3) Will I be ruled?
4) When it rains who is it I hear laughing in the night?

Know the inflammation by these signs:


a redness a pain a heat a swelling)—riding the forest, preserving the memorials of the days.

The dream said: And overnight the instrument is changed. But night was a year & a day, & what is an instrument was never an instrument before. How we change. How we use ourselves.

There is beating on the doors of heaven. I am fooling myself. There is beating on the doors of hell.

When I get down to it, there has been little I could really believe in but the heat itself of the process. Baseball game. Today the rodeo: horses quivering in the breathless heat. A shame to use us animals so. The riders. The ridden. The watchers. Gasping the thick valley air, the dust. The calcination of horse & its rider. Spectre of Animal beauty raised in the dust-filled vase, spectre of use, spectre of lost blood.

As another process, not the casting of bronze, is called sang perdu, lost blood, lost bread, the song perdu, the elided melody of all-my-life, a purple flower, iris, orchis, testes. A sign & proof of the truth whereof it is the signature. A process of lost blood, choking the vessel, lost.

[…to be continued]

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