Petra

It seems no work of Man’s creative hand,
By labor wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
Where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
That crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
That first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
Which Man deemed old two thousand years ago.
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time.

– John William Burgon (1845),
Winner of the 1845 Newdigate Prize.

Dante’s Prayer

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and fire

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

 

– Loreena McKennitt, The Book of Secrets (1997)

We Are Shangri-La

We raise and raze our city
like the strangest house of
cards

a ghost-breath mist of snow
where no snow falls

for we are
Atlantis and the town of Prester
John.

Three weeks apart from
never, we dance and do not
fall.

We are
Shangri-la.

History has dreamed
of us. History has dreamed of
this.

Those who know the way,
many times return.

History has
dreamed of us, building up our
city

just to watch it burn.

We
are Shangri-la.

We carry
goddess-dust upon our skin,
wherever we go,

rising with
bright feathers in the
desert.

Blessed by the wind, we
dance; we thrive.

We shimmer in
the never-was.

We are
Shangri-la.

Those who know the
way…

Relieving saddened sleep
and fitful visions, we return.

We
raise our city high. We watch our
city burn.

We are the mirage for
those who dare to come and
see.

The burning in our blood
will set us free.
We are free.

We
are Shangri-la.

 

– S.J. Tucker, Quartered: Songs of Palimpsest (2009)