Time: The following day from Dawn till Night
Place: The Cave of Prometheus
‘Twill soon be dawn,
The dark is frail,
And a short way up the sky
We see a thin left-handed moon.
Now listen finely,
‘Tis too soon to watch.
We lean our heads to catch
The slightest sound.
What was it I heard?
A little bubbling noise broke in the silence.
That was the first bird.
I hear a sound
Like a footstep;
‘Tis gone or drowned
In a shower of little songs.
The dawn comes on in shifts,
Each one a clearer, paler grey.
And something darker moves in the dim light.
CHORUS OF VOICES
A blot – a shape – a man – Prometheus.
It is Prometheus,
He’s coming straight
Towards his cave,
He’s stiff with damp and dew,
His back is stooped,
His arms with their loose-clasped hands
Hang like a loop,
His eyes see nothing but his cave,
His jaw droops.
He has reached his cave;
Inside it still is almost dark,
Upon the ground
His heavy skins of beasts are strewed;
He wraps them round him,
Spreads them for a bed,
He’s lying down,
Outside a yellow delicate light
Begins to trickle through the hills,
And runs like honey over the dark ground.
And the Storyteller comes,
His hair on fire like a marigold,
Running across the bright longshadowed fields.
Prometheus, wake and sing.
No singing now but rest and ease.
Fire is more full of ease
Than big-dropped rain that falls –
Beginning at twilight
With a shuddering sound in leaves.
Go soft – no sound –
I’m full of drowsiness.
Fire is drowsier
Than lying on a bank
Under a close fine rain
Transfused with sunlight;
And songs of many larks
At several heights.
You sing, but I dissolve your song in sleep.
Fire is more comforting than sleep, even sleep
That’s drawn out thin and fine between two dreams.
The coloured light is gone,
But still ’tis morning time.
Full of bewildering light,
Still there’s a misty haze behind the trees,
There where the seagulls fly;
You’ll scarcely see them move against the grey
Till the light catches them
And they’re like stars.
Prometheus, wake and sing.
The Storyteller fears their song may cease
Before their dream of fire has enough strength
To break the thin but tough transparent film
That hangs between reality and dream.
Prometheus, sing with me,
Wake up and sing.
Sleep drags me down,
I slowly drop
In circling rounds
More wide and slow;
Then suddenly like a bubble to the top,
And your voice about me
Is all splintered sounds.
Wake up and sing with me,
I’ve always sung with you,
I’ve seldom let
A noise of voice or footstep trouble you,
Inside a ring of silence that I made;
The light that makes you sing,
I’ve half neglected while I heard your song.
Prometheus, fling sleep aside,
Sing to the rhythms you get from fire or give fire,
Strain arms and voice,
As a chestnut tree
Strains every branch
To tantalize the sky
With all its buds.
A sudden leap –
To force the Storyteller to the ground;
Gliding, evading –
The Storyteller tries
To move with rhythm and sing;
Movement in the dimness,
Gaps of light,
Noises of their feet,
Round and round
For a long space of time.
The noon is white and wide, and in the heat
The beech trees drop their little scruffy flowers;
In the small edge of shadow goats lie down.
In the closeness of the cave;
Closing and widening in rings;
Rhythm and singing at intervals,
Outside the enduring stare
For a long space of time.
At last, worn out the Storyteller lies
In the far dark of the cave while Prometheus ties
His feet and hands with grass,
Heaps over him heavy skins,
And weights them down with stones;
Prometheus throws himself on the ground and sleeps.
The evening light outside,
Driving its long stretching shadows
Over the ground, reaches Prometheus’ cave;
Feelingly edging over its threshold,
Searching and lengthening into the darkness,
It touches Prometheus’ shoulder.
At the touch of the light he springs away,
And the ray falls rippling on the uneven ground.
A strange long cry –
Emptiness turned to sound.
We warned Prometheus against the song,
Yet when the song had become half his mind . .
The Storyteller’s song is a straw
Blown up against the sky by the wind.
He slights the Storyteller’s song;
He’s heedless when the Storyteller calls.
Because the night fell while he searched for fire,
Though the night always falls.
Again the ray of light has found Prometheus;
Prometheus shrinks again into the gloom.
‘Tis true we sometimes come
To where intensity calls back itself –
Withholding, like the crush of colours
That makes the darkness of a blackbird’s wing.
With its last slender stretch
A thread of lights falls on Prometheus’ face;
Prometheus shifts his place.
Prometheus has got
Caught up inside the movement of a storm,
And a storm
Swings on a blind, dumb, hollow spot.
There are no shadows now, the light
Has taken all the shadows, and the light
Is pale and grey.
The end of day –
Clouds move –
There is a change.
Prometheus cannot rest;
His face is strange.
The strangeness of his face
Makes us remember
How once we saw the beach
After a storm,
And high above the shore the seaweed hung
On the new Summer trees,
And boughs of trees
Lay on the shelly rocks,
And the sea swung,
Carrying green branches
To and fro,
And salt water drenched
Sweet sycamore leaves.
With hands and teeth Prometheus frees
The Storyteller’s bands of grass,
While the wind rummages the tops of trees.
The Storyteller rushes from the cave,
Prometheus follows him and sings –
STORYTELLER and PROMETHEUS
Fire is tense
And dreadful as the red ash-coloured hawk
That hovers and strains back its wings.
End of Part III