A Different Air

(Apologies to Hermann Hesse)

“Come out now, sweet love, and play.
Let us laugh away the day.”

“No, my love, I cannot come.
Within my breast my joy’s entombed.”

“Pleasure surely isn’t dead.
Come and lie with me in bed.”

“My repose lives within me.
The soul gives immortality.
Truth and honor can I find
Upon exercise of mind.
I admit your pleasure’s fair,
But now I breathe a different air.”

“Demian, would you have me flee
To find my song out on the street?
For such is what I’d have to do
Were all I sought so hard as you.”

“Time is now, my fruitful friend
To earthly love to put an end.
Let us hoe the garden’s weeds.
Together plant lovelier seeds.”

“I think I find, my Demian,
The toil you wish will be undone
By human joy, like mine, for joy
In that which little time employs.
So why desire that which will die
For lack of care by caring eyes?”

“Man, my sweet, is like the wolf
And jumps at pleasures for himself.
The skin, but not the mind or soul,
O’er it he has but few controls.
And finds he must follow the whims
Which chase and always o’ertake him.
So follow me now to my sheets
And ecstasy between them meet.”

“There’s ecstasy, fair lover, in
The peace my soul lavishes in.
Forgive me if I track not men.
My joy lies not as that of them.
Their pleasures have for years the same
Been for them all with diff’rent names.
My father loved as you would wish.
His father, too, and his, and his.
Such delights stagnate for the whole
They never change nor ever grow.
But contemplative pleasures change.
They bring insights and rearrange
The false beliefs of ages past.
And for myself no die is cast
Which shapes and styles my heart and soul.
Over myself I’ve that control
Which, I must say, it pleasures me
To know, as few, that I am free.
The day is short, so I must try
To plant the seed that rarely cries
For lack of liquid sustenance
Or dies for need of indulgence
Into the sense that once when met
Are now the same as those you’ll get
Tomorrow or the next day should
We chase the joys with little good.”

“I must admit I’ve never felt
The pleasures you say can envel’pe
My life’s joys and make them new.
My needs force me to follow you.
(Though of body, they’re of more, too)
So, if I’m allowed shall we join
And till the garden? (though I’m pained
From my desires to thus refrain.)”

“It pleasures me that you, my pet
Have seen the hope of hopes not yet.
Together we can play as one
Marvelling at the Moon, the Sun
Within our world we’ll ever grow.
Each day new worlds we’ll come to know.
And surely we’ll experience
The hopes and joys intelligence
Can bring to us apart from earth.
For, more than beast, we can truth search,
And times will come we’ll need a rest
From all our self’s self-searchingness;
At these times we will, if you too,
Desire the man as he wants you,
Survey the joys that make us Man
And seeds of passion also plant.”

— Circa 1972