Am I Not Worthy, You Haughty Bards?

A Riddle

I have hated my creator, and sought his destruction; I have watched him die in his bitterness; in my despair I sought the Northernmost extremity of the globe and there I followed him into that final darkness.

I have died again, when all laughed and saw no evil, and died smiling; in the lightless halls below the earth I have waited against the weeping of all creation; my brother in his jealousy sat dry-eyed and so I returned no more to the bright days above.

I have dreamed, even in my death, dreamed beneath the waves, within my ancient city, and waited for the stars to turn round at last and our nebulousness to rise again from the Pacific.

I have walked, alive, through the darkened vale; I have climbed the sunny mountain; I have seen the turning of the spheres. On the southern shores I have been rebuked by Cato of Utica for my love of music.

I have seen loneliness, and been outraged; I have meddled, and seen my folly in a mystery; I have had high standards, and been punished with marriage. I was a wood house, by and by, by and by, nightly.

I have been loyal to a tyrant; I have sworn blood oaths against what must be; I have sipped the sweetish poison and fallen next to my oath-brothers; my death pleased most the Raven.

I have been a whore; I have been married; I have been a whore.

I have gone searching for water in the middle of the world and found a spring; I have left my jars upon the shore and gone down entranced through the weeds; I have left a lover for a lover; I have broken a fellowship; I have founded a game.

I have sailed all the seas of the world searching for myself; I have killed and found fellowship; I have seen the terror of the white; I have sailed for days in the boat of the dead.

I have circled the world and seen the continents in the ocean. I have seen the Gypsy and the Tom and the Crow. I have watched the crawling eye; spoken to the cave dwellers.

I was brilliant, I was beautiful. I have given birth four times. I have seen my children surpass me. I have known the mitochondria and the farandolae.

Of the ruins of Edom I was the inheritor. First was I, and first spurned, and first betrayed. First have I been in jealousy. I have sought the night and the wastelands, and found them.

Ethiopia claims my heritage for their kings. I have riddled Solomon, pleased him with my gifts, baffled him with my questions. I have seduced the wise, enticed the many-married.

And still I weep, though centuries roll past, for my children, who were twelve, are no more, and every day I see their killer, and every night I see their killer. Every day brings new arrows to prick my conscience; every night arrows to taunt my pride. And so I cry, and do not repent.

My greatest pupil turned his hand against me, and was cast down. I have found him again, and been struck down, and returned more powerful yet. The twins I took, and hid, and fostered, before ever their father knew them.

I have measured out my life in coffee spoons. I have walked upon the shore and heard the mermaids crying, each to each. (Did I dare to eat a peach?) But they would not sing to me, no, they would not sing to me.

I have been faithful to a faithless lord. I have played host to parasites. I have seen what I most desired, mirrored in another’s hand. I have spoken in the woods to voices unseen. I have been a teacher, and been betrayed by my greatest pupil, proof against all my dark arts.

Ere I ever founded an empire, a she-wolf gave me suck. I have been a twin. There will be a party when the wolf comes home.

I have felt the stones for the Son of Aleph. I have been forgiven as I forgave. I have turned my eyes to the east, I have seen the face of my tormentors transformed in epiphany.

The roses of Carterhaugh were my special care, that none should pluck them, none break the wand. Too loving have I been, and too little; a thousand maiden heads have I brushed, and only one wife taken.

In my Hall I have seen two gods humbled, and known terror. I bade them feast between Old Age and Wild Fire, slake their thirst with the mighty ocean, race the short road between Thought and Memory.

I have spoken prophecy in the Mantuan fields. I have been a guide for seven gods, and climbed the three hardest steps for the sake of a love I might never feel. I have been the riddle and the answer; the question and the allegory.

Fencing I know, and fighting; climbing, too, and poisons. I have wrestled a giant among the boulders of the pathway. Five years I lost in the water, and fifty. I have passed a coat of chocolate, and found true love.

Emperor indeed was I, of billions God and King, and by billions hated. I have sent my billions to Teegeeack, and left them to die in volcanic holocaust. I have been sealed away forever.

Four and three am I, and one. I have seen the waters of the world, and the dry land emerging. I have been a pillar of fire and a column of smoke have I been.

If the war should end tomorrow, I am where the party will be held. I am a mountain; I am a lion; I am a movement.