St. John

by D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence

JOHN, oh John,
Thou honourable bird
Sun-peering eagle.
Taking a bird's-eye view
Even of Calvary and Resurrection
Not to speak of Babylon's whoredom.
High over the mild effulgence of the dove
Hung all the time, did we but know it, the all-knowing
Of John's great gold-barred eagle.
John knew all about it
Even the very beginning.
"In the beginning was the Word
And the Word was God
And the Word was with God."
Having been to school
John knew the whole proposition.
As for innocent Jesus
He was one of Nature's phenomena, no doubt.
Oh that mind-soaring eagle of an Evangelist
Staring creation out of countenance
And telling it off
As an eagle staring down on the Sun!
The Logos, the Logos!
"In the beginning was the Word."
Is there not a great Mind pre-ordaining?
Does not a supreme Intellect ideally procreate the Universe?
Is not each soul a vivid thought in the great consciousness
stream of God?
Put salt on his tail
The sly bird of John.
Proud intellect, high-soaring Mind
Like a king eagle, bird of the most High, sweeping the
round of heaven
And casting the cycles of creation
On two wings, like a pair of compasses;
Jesus' pale and lambent dove, cooing in the lower boughs
On sufferance.
In the beginning was the Word, of course.
And the word was the first offspring of the almighty Johannine
Chick of the intellectual eagle.
Yet put salt on the tail of the Johannine bird
Put salt on its tail
John's eagle.
Shoo it down out of the empyrean
Of the all-seeing, all-fore-ordaining ideal.
Make it roost on bird-spattered, rocky Patmos
And let it moult there, among the stones of the bitter sea.
For the almighty eagle of the fore-ordaining Mind
Is looking rather shabby and island-bound these days:
Moulting, and rather naked about the rump, and down in
the beak,
Rather dirty, on dung-whitened Patmos.
From which we are led to assume
That the old bird is weary, and almost willing
That a new chick should chip the extensive shell
Of the mundane egg.
The poor old golden eagle of the creative spirit
Moulting and moping and waiting, willing at last
For the fire to burn it up, feathers and all
So that a new conception of the beginning and end
Can rise from the ashes.
Ah Phoenix, Phoenix
John's Eagle!
You are only known to us now as the badge of an insurance
Phoenix, Phoenix
The nest is in flames
Feathers are singeing.
Ash flutters flocculent, like down on a blue, wan fledgeling.

Last updated January 14, 2019