Took It To Extremes Poem by Patrick White
Took it to extremes to see how much
people would care if they were told
it was in their own self-interest to look after
another. That feeding the poor, easing
the fever of the ill, might be the privilege
of privileges for those who call themselves healers.
If money is the root of all evil, don’t
stick your nose in flowers with tainted pollen
or you’ll go the way of the honey bees.
None of the petals love you and green
is the most perishable colour of them all. Comes
the fall and that wad of bills will shed you
like a turncoat for opening you’re wallet
like a pine cone in the middle of winter.
What you want to do is learn to bloom in fire
like the udumbara flower once every
seven thousand years. Do you see how
inflammable the tears of the dolorous conifers are?
You can make a little fire for yourself
of dry moss, twigs, and birch bark and not
let anyone else sit at it but the elect
in the board rooms of an ancient religion.
I eat you. Now you eat me. That way
we’re always full. Leavened bread
from genetically modified wheat
rises like a loaf of the harvest moon.
We can talk to the mythically inflated shadows
within the magic circle of our own
prophetic skulls in a Stonehenge of moondogs
haloed with a hint of brass on the clouds
or the aura of fool’s gold glowing at night
on the low hanging branches of an avalanche
of windfalls when the moon descends like an ax
on the nape of snakey apples in the grass.
We can remember the war bonnets we tarred
and feathered like black swans for non-compliance
with starmaps that sounded more like treaties
than a land grab. O the music of the spheres
is a celestial requiem. The lightyears are paced
like professional mourners learning how to dance
like ghosts, and the plumes on the horses
of the hearse are black as the turkey vultures that circle
and swarm the corpse of the Great Square of Pegasus
going down in the west over the Lanark hills,
slowly dying like an inspired sacrifice in
the name of humanity in myself and others
I quickly came to hate for the sake of the tribute,
not knowing if it was a comic death or
the life of the party that was hardest to believe.
I celebrated against the odds that praise
was enough to overcome the triumphs
that we suffered in a holy war where the cause
was already lost long before we took our vows
to terminate ourselves before we caught on
like a firewall that didn’t work to stop the flames.
The whole hillside is burning its slash off
like the ashes of the sacred clowns who
polka-dotted their faces they painted in the spit paste
of an urn that had scattered them prematurely
like the blossoms of a rootfire breaking into the open.
Patrick White's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Took It To Extremes by Patrick White )
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Edgar Allan Poe
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)