And that's fine with me, said Marguerite,
For otherwise, judging by what I've heard,
You'd just read them into the record now.
Juvenilia, you know, is often crap.
Even prodigies who reach their peak young
Would recant such work, were they not dead,
Or burnt out husks or drunks by age six.
Don't think, parrot, that age improves thought.
Your dying words, should fate give you the chance,
Will prove just as empty and infantile.
And don't expect they'll somehow hang there,
Glow awhile for survivors to jot down.
If anyone at all attends your death
He'll likely press pillows over your face
To cut off your breath and muffle your words,
To give you peace and to take some himself.
But just listen to what I'm saying now.
My youth, in human form, was paradise.
And though that mercy didn't last long
I grew to adulthood human throughout
And enjoyed all the virtues of that state
Along with small samplings of minor vice.
Normal appetites did accumulate
As growth triggered the organs and hormones
Dormant in early stages of boyhood
And gave a new and stronger sense of will
To otherwise listless, indolent flesh.
Normal hungers, cravings, thirsts and desires,
Diverse in content but united in form,
Drove my organism forward and back
With atavistic determination,
Pushed me around and yet kept me in place,
Kept me distracted while teaching me dance.
Young ladies soon learned it might be best
To stand well outside my tight ambit,
Although those who didn't, didn't complain,
And many who did looked on with regret.
Many taverns refused to sell me drink,
And many male peers shunned my company
After talk, innocent conversation,
Led to broken limbs, in one case death.
And along with desires came frustrations,
And the certain mild dissatisfactions
That any young man must encounter.
I learned to contend, to argue and curse,
And sometimes I would shout out a warning,
But only to avoid household accidents,
Never for impending global disasters.
All my political and religious beliefs
Were bland, undistinguished and commonplace,
And I didn't then hold strong opinions,
Other than those I shared with close neighbours.
The entire village disliked Assyrians,
An ancient, deep-held, racial enmity
Compounded by the heavy tax burden
They'd inflicted throughout their great empire,
But hostility rarely turned ugly,
Rarely turned to automatic weapons
Or suicide bombers disguised as nuns,
Unless swift reprisal seemed unlikely.
It looked as though my future course of life
Would follow the age-old human patterns,
Work hard, marry, raise children, retire,
Sleep and eat and drink and sleep some more,
Copulate, praise the Lord, and then die,
Until strange revisions of circumstance
Brought forth the profound change you see.
It's now my purpose to relate the tale
Of those actions and reactions that brought
God to punish me in this odd fashion.
And this punishment might've gone much worse,
I suppose, given all that I now know,
But Godhead in endless mercy refrained
From putting all his weight behind the punch.
And had he chosen, he might've delivered
A really lethal and heavy-handed swat
And thus with this single, casual blow
Project my three dimensional volume
Across some two dimensional surface
As if I were a mere, irritant fly.
He might've splattered my soft viscera
Over floral themes on his parlour walls,
A grim sign, deterrent to other pests.
Liber Jonae Contents