Moreover, Giovanni's labour is valuable, not only for the choice of the book — one of the cornerstones of Masonic literature — but also for the refined work of translation, carried out with a research — also lexical — that only an initiate could realize. Too often we see summary translations, indicative of an incompetence in the specific subject. Freemasonry has not only signs and grips, but a jargon that — likewise — escapes the profane world.
And the writer can testify as to the care, the careful search for suitable words, which Lombardo has carried out. In regard to the book: it was said that it is one of the most important within that most spiritual soul of Freemasonry that is flanked not opposed to it to that of a more social and political dimension. It was clear to Wilmshurst the risk he was taking with this work.
He knew that some — those who consider Freemasonry only as a curious ritual and a pastime of good society, perhaps hardly tempered by some very elementary ethical principle — would have branded his work as a work of fantasy. Instead, after almost a century, the work is alive more than ever.
And Giovanni delivers it to us after a painstaking work. Finally, I would like to make a small personal note: it is curious that Giovanni asked me to write a preface to his work. To me, who, between the two concepts of Freemasonry — the spiritual and the social — I find myself more comfortable with the second one. We often talked about it on the phone. I often expressed my discomfort for a vision, mine, essentially intellectual of Freemasonry. But, after all, his request shows what I have always maintained: that the two souls of Freemasonry, which are not opposed but intertwined, live in one body.
And I thank him twice: for his precious work and for thinking of me for this introduction. La forma della Loggia. La posizione dei Dignitari. Le Grandi e le Piccole Luci. Apertura e chiusura dei lavori In grado di Apprendista. Compagno d'Arte. Maestro Libero Muratore. Il Grembiule. Una preghiera per la chiusura dei lavori. La cerimonia di esaltazione. Capitolo V La Massoneria e gli antichi Misteri. Con la traduzione del testo The meaning of Freemasonry , opera di Walter Leslie Wilmshurst del , Giovanni Lombardo compie un'opera altamente meritoria. Troppo spesso si assiste a traduzioni sommarie, indicative di una incompetenza nella materia specifica.
La Massoneria non ha solo segni e toccamenti, ma un gergo proprio che — al pari di quelli — sfugge al mondo profano. Wilmshurst aveva chiaro il rischio che correva con quest'opera. E Giovanni ce la consegna dopo un lavoro certosino. Spesso ne abbiamo parlato al telefono. Spesso gli ho manifestato il mio disagio per una visione, la mia, essenzialmente intellettuale della Libera Muratoria. Ma in fondo questa richiesta di Giovanni dimostra quello che ho sempre sostenuto: che le due anime della Massoneria vivono in un solo corpo, che non sono contrapposte ma intrecciate.
E lo ringrazio doppiamente: per il suo prezioso lavoro e per aver pensato a me. Walter Leslie Wilmshurst was a mystic with a practical knowledge and profound understanding of the religions of the world. The Meaning of Masonry discloses the real purpose of modern Freemasonry and clearly states the true body of teaching and practice concerning the esoteric meanings of Masonic ritual.
Freemasonry is based on the three great principles: brotherly love, relief, and truth. Over the years, brotherly love and relief have been so stressed that the Craft is in serious danger of becoming primarily a social and charitable organization. Truth, the most difficult principle to recognize and thus the most difficult to achieve, has long been neglected.
Wilmshurst carefully places his designs upon the trestle board to build his thesis that the alpha and omega of Freemasonry is not the repetition of the ritual nor the safeguarding of secrets, but the regeneration of the Brethren. This book implores the reader to learn to see in Freemasonry something more than a parochial system enjoining elementary morality, performing perfunctory and insignificant rites, and serving as an agreeable accessory to social life.
The greater system of spiritual doctrine contained in the rituals is strongly emphasized. The Meaning of Masonry was written with a view toward promoting a deeper understanding of the Fraternity, and this goal has been achieved.
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The ideals of the Masonic Fraternity have a wide appeal to the best instincts of men, and the Craft has become one of the greatest social institutions in the world. In this new Aquarian age , when many individuals and groups are working in various ways for the eventual restoration of the mysteries, an increasing number of aspirants are beginning to recognize that Freemasonry may well be the vehicle for this achievement.
We have here a sincere effort by a learned and earnest Brother to point to the source of Masonic Light in elegant, and at times profound, language. They who look with him may enjoy the same felicity. The great value of this book is that it was written by one who sets an example for all Masters of Lodges.
His was a soul filled with the wonder of wisdom, strength, and beauty. In these pages, he whispers the password to those of us who still clamour at the gate, enabling us to enter that inner chamber where we can join the true initiates and share experiences now veiled from all but a handful of Brethren. July, Walter Leslie Wilmshurst era un mistico con una conoscenza pratica e una profonda comprensione delle religioni del mondo.
Il significato della Massoneria rivela il vero scopo della Libera Muratoria moderna e afferma chiaramente il vero corpo di insegnamento e pratica riguardo ai significati esoterici del rituale massonico. In questa nuova Era dell'Acquario , quando molti individui e gruppi stanno lavorando in vari modi per l'eventuale ripristino dei misteri, un numero crescente di aspiranti sta cominciando a riconoscere che la Massoneria potrebbe essere il veicolo per il raggiungimento di questo fine. Abbiamo qui uno sforzo sincero da parte di un fratello dotto e sincero per indicare la fonte della luce massonica in un linguaggio elegante, e a volte profondo.
La sua era un'anima piena di meraviglia della saggezza, forza e bellezza. In queste pagine, sussurra la parola d'ordine a quelli tra noi che ancora chiediamo clamorosamente al cancello, permettendoci di entrare in quella camera interiore in cui possiamo unirci ai veri iniziati e condividere esperienze ora velate a tutti, tranne ad un piccolo numero di Fratelli.
Luglio To all such they are offered in the best spirit of fraternity and goodwill and with the wish to render to the Order some small return for the profit the author has received from his association with it extending over thirty-two years. They have been written with a view to promoting the deeper understanding of the meaning of Masonry; to providing the explanation of it that one constantly hears called for and that becomes all the more necessary in view of the unprecedented increase of interest in, and membership of, the Order at the present day.
The meaning of Masonry, however, is a subject usually left entirely unexpounded and that accordingly remains largely unrealized by its members save such few as make it their private study; the authorities of what in all other respects is an elaborately organized and admirably controlled community have hitherto made no provision for explaining and teaching the "noble science" which Masonry proclaims itself to be and was certainly designed to impart.
It seems taken for granted that reception into the Order will automatically be accompanied by an ability to appreciate forthwith and at its full value all that one there finds. The contrary is the case, for Masonry is a veiled and cryptic expression of the difficult science of spiritual life, and the understanding of it calls for special and informed guidance on the one hand, and on the other a genuine and earnest desire for knowledge and no small capacity for spiritual perception on the part of those seeking to be instructed; and not infrequently one finds Brethren discontinuing their interest or their membership because they find that Masonry means nothing to them and that no explanation or guidance is vouchsafed them.
Were such instruction provided, assimilated and responded to, the life of the Order would be enormously quickened and deepened and its efficiency as a means of Initiation intensified, whilst incidentally the fact would prove an added safeguard against the admission into the Order of unsuitable members — by which is meant not merely persons who fail to satisfy conventional qualifications, but also those who, whilst fitted in these respects, are as yet either so intellectually or spiritually unprogressed as to be incapable of benefiting from Initiation in its true sense although passing formally through Initiation rites.
Spiritual quality rather than numbers, ability to understand the Masonic system and reduce its implications into personal experience rather than the perfunctory conferment of its rites, are the desiderata of the Craft to-day. As a contribution to repairing the absence of explanation referred to these papers have been compiled. The first two of them have often been read as lectures at Lodge meetings. Many requests that they should be printed and made more widely available led to my expanding their subject-matter into greater detail than could be used for occasional lectures, and accordingly they are here amplified by a paper containing fuller notes upon Craft symbolism.
To complete the consideration of the Craft system it was necessary also to add a chapter upon that which forms the crown and culmination of the Craft Degrees and without which they would be imperfect — the Order of the Royal Arch. Lastly a chapter has been added upon the important subject which forms the background of the rest — the relationship of modern Masonry to the Ancient Mysteries, from which it is the direct, though greatly attenuated, spiritual descendant. Thus in the five papers I have sought to provide a survey of the whole Masonic subject as expressed by the Craft and Arch Degrees, which it is hoped may prove illuminating to the increasing number of Brethren who feel that Freemasonry enshrines something deeper and greater than, in the absence of guidance, they have been able to realize.
It does not profess to be more than an elementary and far from exhaustive survey; the subject might be treated much more fully, in more technical terminology and with abundant references to authorities, were one compiling a more ambitious and scholarly treatise. But to the average Mason such a treatise would probably prove less serviceable than a summary expressed in as simple and untechnical terms as may be and unburdened by numerous literary references.
Some repetition, due to the papers having been written at different times, may be found in later chapters of points already dealt with in previous ones, though the restatement may be advantageous in emphasizing those points and maintaining continuity of exposition.
For reasons explained in the chapter itself, that on the Holy Royal Arch will probably prove difficult of comprehension by those unversed in the literature and psychology of religious mysticism; if so, the reading of it may be deferred or neglected. But since a survey of the Masonic system would, like the system itself, be incomplete without reference to that supreme Degree, and since that Degree deals with matters of advanced psychological and spiritual experience about which explanation must always be difficult, the subject has been treated here with as much simplicity of statement as is possible and rather with a view to indicating to what great heights of spiritual attainment the Craft Degrees point as achievable, than with the expectation that they will be readily comprehended by readers without some measure of mystical experience and perhaps unfamiliar with the testimony of the mystics thereto.
Dates, particulars of Masonic constitutions, historical changes and developments in the external aspects of the Craft, references to old Lodges and the names of outstanding people connected therewith — these and such like matters can be read about elsewhere. They are all subordinate to what alone is of vital moment and what so many Brethren are hungering for — knowledge of the spiritual purpose and lineage of the Order and the present-day value of rites of Initiation.
In giving these pages to publication care has been taken to observe due reticence in respect of essential matters. The general nature of the Masonic system is, however, nowadays widely known to outsiders and easily ascertainable from many printed sources, whilst the large interest in and output of literature upon mystical religion and the science of the inward life during the last few years has familiarized many with a subject of which, as is shown in these papers, Masonry is but a specialized form. To explain Masonry in general outline is, therefore, not to divulge a subject which is entirely exclusive to its members, but merely to show that Masonry stands in line with other doctrinal systems inculcating the same principles and to which no secrecy attaches, and that it is a specialized and highly effective method of inculcating those principles.
Truth, whether as expressed in Masonry or otherwise, is at all times an open secret, but is as a pillar of light to those able to receive and profit by it, and to all others but one of darkness and unintelligibility. An elementary and formal secrecy is requisite as a practical precaution against the intrusion of improper persons and for preventing profanation.
In other respects the vital secrets of life, and of any system expounding life, protect themselves even though shouted from the housetops, because they mean nothing to those as yet unqualified for the knowledge and unready to identify themselves with it by incorporating it into their habitual thought and conduct. In view of the great spread and popularity of Masonry to-day — when there are some three thousand Lodges in Great Britain alone — it is as well to consider its present bearings and tendencies and to give a thought to future possibilities.
Those who enter it, as the majority do, entirely ignorant of what they will find there, usually because they have friends there or know Masonry to be an institution devoted to high ideals and benevolence and with which it may be socially desirable to be connected, may or may not be attracted and profit by what is disclosed to them, and may or may not see anything beyond the bare form of the symbol or hear anything beyond the mere letter of the word.
Their admission is quite a lottery; their Initiation too often remains but a formality, not an actual awakening into an order and quality of life previously unexperienced; their membership, unless such an awakening eventually ensues from the careful study and faithful practice of the Order's teaching, has little, if any, greater influence upon them than would ensue from their joining a purely social club.
For "Initiation" — for which there are so many candidates little conscious of what is implied in that for which they ask — what does it really mean and intend? It means a new beginning initium ; a break-away from an old method and order of life and the entrance upon a new one of larger self-knowledge, deepened understanding and intensified virtue. It means a transition from the merely natural state and standards of life towards a regenerate and super-natural state and standard.
It means a turning away from the pursuit of the popular ideals of the outer world, in the conviction that those ideals are but shadows, images and temporal substitutions for the eternal Reality that underlies them, to the keen and undivertible quest of that Reality itself and the recovery of those genuine secrets of our being which lie buried and hidden at "the centre" or innermost part of our souls.
It means the awakening of those hitherto dormant higher faculties of the soul which endue their possessor with "light" in the form of new enhanced consciousness and enlarged perceptive faculty. And lastly, in words with which every Mason is familiar, it means that the postulant will henceforth dedicate and devote his life to the Divine rather than to his own or any other service, so that by the principles of the Order he may be the better enabled to display that beauty of godliness which previously perhaps has not manifested through him.
To comply with this definition of Initiation — which it might be useful to apply as a test not only to those who seek for admission into the Order, but to ourselves who are already within it — it is obvious that special qualifications of mind and intention are essential in a candidate of the type likely to be benefited by the Order in the way that its doctrine contemplates, and that it is not necessarily the ordinary man of the world, personal friend and good fellow though he be according to usual social standards, who is either properly prepared for, or likely to benefit in any vital sense by, reception into it.
The true candidate must indeed needs be, as the word candidus implies, a "white man," white within as symbolically he is white-vestured without, so that no inward stain or soilure may obstruct the dawn within his soul of that Light which he professes to be the predominant wish of his heart on asking for admission; whilst, if really desirous of learning the secrets and mysteries of his own being, he must be prepared to divest himself of all past preconceptions and thought-habits and, with childlike meekness and docility, surrender his mind to the reception of some perhaps novel and unexpected truths which Initiation promises to impart and which will more and more unfold and justify themselves within those, and those only, who are, and continue to keep themselves, properly prepared for them.
And Masonry was designed to teach self-knowledge. But self-knowledge involves a knowledge much deeper, vaster and more difficult than is popularly conceived. It is not to be acquired by the formal passage through three or four degrees in as many months; it is a knowledge impossible of full achievement until knowledge of every other kind has been laid aside and a difficult path of life long and strenuously pursued that alone fits and leads its followers to its attainment. The wisest and most advanced of us is perhaps still but an Entered Apprentice at this knowledge, however high his titular rank.
Here and there may be one worthy of being hailed as a Fellow-Craft in the true sense. The full Master-Mason — the just man made perfect who has actually and not merely ceremonially travelled the entire path, endured all its tests and ordeals, and become raised into conscious union with the Author and Giver of Life and able to mediate and impart that life to others — is at all times hard to find. So high, so ideal an attainment, it may be urged, is beyond our reach; we are but ordinary men of the world sufficiently occupied already with our primary civic, social and family obligations and following the obvious normal path of natural life!
Nevertheless to point to that attainment as possible to us and as our destiny, to indicate that path of self-perfecting to those who care and dare to follow it, modern Speculative Masonry was instituted, and to emphasizing the fact these papers are devoted. For Masonry means this or it means nothing worth the serious pursuit of thoughtful men; nothing that cannot be pursued as well outside the Craft as within it.
It proclaims the fact that there exists a higher and more secret path of life than that which we normally tread, and that when the outer world and its pursuits and rewards lose their attractiveness for us and prove insufficient to our deeper needs, as sooner or later they will, we are compelled to turn back upon ourselves, to seek and knock at the door of a world within; and it is upon this inner world, and the path to and through it, that Masonry promises light, charts the way, and indicates the qualifications and conditions of progress. This is the sole aim and intention of Masonry.
Behind its more elementary and obvious symbolism, behind its counsels to virtue and conventional morality, behind the platitudes and sententious phraseology which nowadays might well be subjected to competent and intelligent revision with which, after the fashion of their day, the eighteenth-century compilers of its ceremonies clothed its teaching, there exists the framework of a scheme of initiation into that higher path of life where alone the secrets and mysteries of our being are to be learned; a scheme moreover that, as will be shown later in these pages, reproduces for the modern world the main features of the Ancient Mysteries, and that has been well described by a learned writer on the subject as "an epitome or reflection at a far distance of the once universal science.
But because, for long and for many, Masonry has meant less than this, it has not as yet fulfilled its original purpose of being the efficient initiating instrument it was designed to be; its energies have been diverted from its true instructional purpose into social and philanthropic channels, excellent in their way, but foreign to and accretions upon the primal main intention.
Indeed, so little perceived or appreciated is that central intention that one frequently hears it confessed by men of eminent position in the Craft and warm devotion to it that only their interest in its great charitable institutions keeps alive their connection with the Order.
Relief is indeed a duty incumbent upon a Mason, but its Masonic interpretation is not meant to be limited to physical necessities. The spiritually as well as the financially poor and distressed are always with us and to the former, equally with the latter, Masonry was designed to minister. Theoretically every man upon reception into the Craft acknowledges himself as within the category of the spiritually poor, and as content to renounce all temporal riches if haply by that sacrifice his hungry heart may be filled with those good things which money cannot purchase, but to which the truly initiated can help him.
But if Masonry has not as yet fulfilled its primary purpose and, though engaged in admirable secondary activities, is as yet an initiating instrument of low efficiency, it may be that, with enlarged understanding of its designs, that efficiency may yet become very considerably increased. During the last two centuries the Craft has been gradually developing from small and crude beginnings into its present vast and highly elaborated organization.
To-day the number of Lodges and the membership of the Craft are increasing beyond all precedent. One asks oneself what this growing interest portends, and to what it will, or can be made to, lead? The growth synchronizes with a corresponding defection of interest in orthodox religion and public worship.
It need not now be enquired whether or to what extent the simple principles of faith and the humanitarian ideals of Masonry are with some men taking the place of the theology offered in the various Churches; it is probable that to some extent they do so. But the fact is with us that the ideals of the Masonic Order are making a wide appeal to the best instincts of large numbers of men and that the Order has imperceptibly become the greatest social institution in the Empire.
Its principles of faith and ethics are simple, and of virtually universal acceptance. Providing means for the expression of universal fraternity under a common Divine Fatherhood and of a common loyalty to the headship and established government of the State, it leaves room for divergences of private belief and view upon matters upon which unity is impracticable and perhaps undesirable. It is utterly clean of politics and political intrigue, but nevertheless has unconsciously become a real, though unobtrusive, asset of political value, both in stabilizing the social fabric and tending to foster international amity.
The elaborateness of its organization, the care and admirable control of its affairs by its higher authorities, are praiseworthy in the extreme, whilst in the conduct of its individual Lodges there has been and is a progressive endeavour to raise the standard of ceremonial work to a far higher degree of reverence and intelligence than was perhaps possible under conditions existing not long ago.
Dott. Raul Vergini
The Masonic Craft has grown and ramified to dimensions undreamed of by its original founders and, at its present rate of increase, its potentialities and influence in the future are quite incalculable. What seems now needed to intensify the worth and usefulness of this great Brotherhood is to deepen its understanding of its own system, to educate its members in the deeper meaning and true purpose of its rites and its philosophy.
Were this achieved the Masonic Order would become, in proportion to that achievement, a spiritual force greater than it can ever be so long as it continues content with a formal and unintelligent perpetuation of rites, the real and sacred purpose of which remains largely unperceived, and participation in which too often means nothing more than association with an agreeable, semi-religious, social institution. Carried to its fullest, that achievement would involve the revival, in a form adapted to modern conditions, of the ancient Wisdom-teaching and the practice of those Mysteries which became proscribed fifteen centuries ago, but of which modern Masonry is the direct and representative descendant, as will appear later in these pages.
The future development and the value of the Order as a moral force in society depend, therefore, upon the view its members take of their system. If they do not spiritualize it they will but increasingly materialize it. If they fail to interpret its veiled purport, to enter into the understanding of its underlying philosophy, and to translate its symbolism into what is signified thereby, they will be mistaking shadow for substance, a husk for the kernel, and secularizing what was designed as a means of spiritual instruction and grace.
It is from lack of instruction rather than of desire to learn the meaning of Masonry that the Craft suffers to-day. But, as one finds everywhere, that desire exists; and so, for what they may be worth, these papers are offered to the Craft as a contribution towards satisfying it.
In the Chronicles of Israel it may be read how that, after long preparatory labour, after employing the choicest material and the most skilful artificers, Solomon the King at last made an end of building and beautifying his Temple, and dedicated to the service of the Most High that work of his hands in a state as perfect as human provision could make it; and how that then, but not till then, his offering was accepted and the acceptance was signified by a Divine descent upon it so that the glory of the Lord shone through and filled the whole house.
So — if we will have it so — may it be with the temple of the Masonic Order. Since the inception of Speculative Masonry it has been a-building and expanding now these last three hundred years. Fashioned of living stones into a far-reaching organic structure; brought gradually, under the good guidance of its rulers, to high perfection on its temporal side and in respect of its external observances, and made available for high purposes and giving godly witness in a dark and troubled world; upon these preliminary efforts let there now be invoked this crowning and completing blessing — that the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding may descend upon the work of our hands in abundant measure, prospering it still farther, and filling and transfiguring our whole Masonic house.
Queste pagine sono state scritte come un contributo a rimediare alla mancanza di spiegazioni. I primi due capitoli sono spesso stati letti durante le tornate di loggia. In queste pagine non sono state trattate, di proposito, questioni di interesse meramente storico o archeologico. Nel dare alle stampe queste pagine sono stato attento a non svelare argomenti essenziali.
Cosa si intende per "iniziazione", delle cui implicazioni pochi candidati sono consci? L'iniziazione segna il passaggio da uno stato meramente naturale ad un altro, rigenerato e super-naturale. Il povero e l'afflitto, sia spiritualmente che economicamente, sono sem-pre fra noi e la Massoneria deve provvedere a entrambi.
Oggi il numero delle logge e dei massoni sta aumentando oltre ogni aspettativa. Alla crescita corrisponde il disinteresse nella orto-dossia religiosa e nella pratica del culto. Se non riescono a interpretarne il senso velato, a penetrare la filosofia sottostante e a comprendere il lin-guaggio simbolico, scambieranno l'ombra per la sostanza, la scorza per la polpa, e desacralizzeranno quello che era stato concepito come mezzo per ottenere la conoscenza spirituale e la grazia.
Even after his admission he usually remains quite at a loss to explain satisfactorily what Masonry is and for what purpose his Order exists.
He finds, indeed, that it is "a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols," but that explanation, whilst true, is but partial and does not carry him very far. For many members of the Craft to be a Mason implies merely connection with a body which seems to be something combining the natures of a club and a benefit society. They find, of course, a certain religious element in it, but as they are told that religious discussion, which means, of course, sectarian religious discussion, is forbidden in the Lodge, they infer that Masonry is not a religious institution, and that its teachings are intended to be merely secondary and supplemental to any religious tenets they may happen to hold.
One sometimes hears it remarked that Masonry is "not a religion"; which in a sense is quite true; and sometimes that it is a secondary or supplementary religion, which is quite untrue. Again Masonry is often supposed, even by its own members, to be a system of extreme antiquity, that was practised and that has come down in well-nigh its present form from Egyptian or at least from early Hebrew sources: a view which again possesses the merest modicum of truth.
In brief, the vaguest notions obtain about the origin and history of the Craft, whilst the still more vital subject of its immediate and present purpose, and of its possibilities, remains almost entirely outside the consciousness of many of its own members. We meet in our Lodges regularly; we perform our ceremonial work and repeat our catechetical instruction-lectures night after night with a less or greater degree of intelligence and verbal perfection, and there our work ends, as though the ability to perform this work creditably were the be-all and the end-all of Masonic work.
Seldom or never do we employ our Lodge meetings for that purpose for which, quite as much as for ceremonial purposes, they were intended, viz. Yet, there exists a large number of brethren who would willingly repair this obvious deficiency; brethren to whose natures Masonry, even in their more limited aspect of it, makes a profound appeal, and who feel their membership of the Craft to be a privilege which has brought them into the presence of something greater than they know, and that enshrines a purpose and that could unfold a message deeper than they at present realize.
In a brief address like this it is hopeless to attempt to deal at all adequately with what I have suggested are deficiencies in our knowledge of the system we belong to. The most one can hope to do is to offer a few hints or clues, which those who so desire may develop for themselves in the privacy of their own thought. For in the last resource no one can communicate the deeper things in Masonry to another. Every man must discover and learn them for himself, although a friend or brother may be able to conduct him a certain distance on the path of understanding.
We know that even the elementary and superficial secrets of the Order must not be communicated to unqualified persons, and the reason for this injunction is not so much because those secrets have any special value, but because that silence is intended to be typical of that which applies to the greater, deeper secrets, some of which, for appropriate reasons, must not be communicated, and some of which indeed are not communicable at all, because they transcend the power of communication. It is well to emphasize then, at the outset, that Masonry is a sacramental system, possessing, like all sacraments, an outward and visible side consisting of its ceremonial, its doctrine and its symbols which we can see and hear, and an inward, intellectual and spiritual side, which is concealed behind the ceremonial, the doctrine and the symbols, and which is available only to the Mason who has learned to use his spiritual imagination and who can appreciate the reality that lies behind the veil of outward symbol.
Anyone, of course, can understand the simpler meaning of our symbols, especially with the help of the explanatory lectures; but he may still miss the meaning of the scheme as a vital whole. It is absurd to think that a vast organization like Masonry was ordained merely to teach to grown-up men of the world the symbolical meaning of a few simple builders' tools, or to impress upon us such elementary virtues as temperance and justice: — the children in every village school are taught such things; or to enforce such simple principles of morals as brotherly love, which every church and every religion teaches; or as relief, which is practised quite as much by non-Masons as by us; or of truth, which every infant learns upon its mother's knee.
There is surely, too, no need for us to join a secret society to be taught that the volume of the Sacred Law is a fountain of truth and instruction; or to go through the great and elaborate ceremony of the third degree merely to learn that we have each to die. The Craft whose work we are taught to honour with the name of a "science," a "royal art," has surely some larger end in view than merely inculcating the practice of social virtues common to all the world and by no means the monopoly of Freemasons. Surely, then, it behoves us to acquaint ourselves with what that larger end consists, to enquire why the fulfilment of that purpose is worthy to be called a science, and to ascertain what are those "mysteries" to which our doctrine promises we may ultimately attain if we apply ourselves assiduously enough to understanding what Masonry is capable of teaching us.
Realizing, then, what Masonry cannot be deemed to be, let us ask what it is. But before answering that question, let me put you in possession of certain facts that will enable you the better to appreciate the answer when I formulate it. In all periods of the world's history, and in every part of the globe, secret orders and societies have existed outside the limits of the official churches for the purpose of teaching what are called "the Mysteries": for imparting to suitable and prepared minds certain truths of human life, certain instructions about divine things, about the things that belong to our peace, about human nature and human destiny, which it was undesirable to publish to the multitude who would but profane those teachings and apply the esoteric knowledge that was communicated to perverse and perhaps to disastrous ends.
These Mysteries were formerly taught, we are told, "on the highest hills and in the lowest valleys," which is merely a figure of speech for saying, first, that they have been taught in circumstances of the greatest seclusion and secrecy, and secondly, that they have been taught in both advanced and simple forms according to the understanding of their disciples. It is, of course, common knowledge that great secret systems of the Mysteries referred to in our lectures as "noble orders of architecture," i. All the great teachers of humanity, Socrates, Plato, Pythagoras, Moses, Aristotle, Virgil, the author of the Homeric poems, and the great Greek tragedians, along with St.
John, St. Paul and innumerable other great names — were initiates of the Sacred Mysteries. The form of the teaching communicated has varied considerably from age to age; it has been expressed under different veils; but since the ultimate truth the Mysteries aim at teaching is always one and the same, there has always been taught, and can only be taught, one and the same doctrine.
What that doctrine was, and still is, we will consider presently so far as we are able to speak of it, and so far as Masonry gives expression to it. For the moment let me merely say that behind all the official religious systems of the world, and behind all the great moral movements and developments in the history of humanity, have stood what St.
Paul called the keepers or "stewards of the Mysteries. From them originated the great school of Kabalism, that marvellous system of secret, oral tradition of the Hebrews, a strong element of which has been introduced into our Masonic system. From them, too, also issued many fraternities and orders, such, for instance, as the great orders of Chivalry and of the Rosicrucians, and the school of spiritual alchemy. Lastly, from them too also issued, in the seventeenth century, modern speculative Freemasonry.
To trace the genesis of the movement, which came into activity some years ago our rituals and ceremonies having been compiled round about the year , is beyond the purpose of my present remarks. It has always been the custom for Trade Guilds, and even for modern Friendly Societies, to spiritualize their trades, and to make the tools of their trade point some simple moral.
No trade, perhaps, lends itself more readily to such treatment than the builder's trade; but wherever a great industry has flourished, there you will find traces of that industry becoming allegorized, and of the allegory being employed for the simple moral instruction of those who were operative members of the industry. I am acquainted, for instance, with an Egyptian ceremonial system, some 5, years old, which taught precisely the same things as Masonry does, but in the terms of shipbuilding instead of in the terms of architecture.
But the terms of architecture were employed by those who originated modern Masonry because they were ready to hand; because they were in use among certain trade-guilds then in existence; and lastly, because they are extremely effective and significant from the symbolic point of view. All that I wish to emphasize at this stage is that our present system is not one coming from remote antiquity: that there is no direct continuity between us and the Egyptians, or even those ancient Hebrews who built, in the reign of King Solomon, a certain Temple at Jerusalem. What is extremely ancient in Freemasonry is the spiritual doctrine concealed within the architectural phraseology; for this doctrine is an elementary form of the doctrine that has been taught in all ages, no matter in what garb it has been expressed.
Our own teaching, for instance, recognizes Pythagoras as having undergone numerous initiations in different parts of the world, and as having attained great eminence in the science. Now it is perfectly certain that Pythagoras was not a Mason at all in our present sense of the word; but it is also perfectly certain that Pythagoras was a very highly advanced master in the knowledge of the secret schools of the Mysteries, of whose doctrine some small portion is enshrined for us in our Masonic system.
What then was the purpose the framers of our Masonic system had in view when they compiled it? To this question you will find no satisfying answer in ordinary Masonic books. Indeed there is nothing more dreary and dismal than Masonic literature and Masonic histories, which are usually devoted to considering merely unessential matters relating to the external development of the Craft and to its antiquarian aspect. They fail entirely to deal with its vital meaning and essence, a failure that, in some cases, may be intentional, but that more often seems due to lack of knowledge and perception, for the true, inner history of Masonry has never yet been given forth even to the Craft itself.
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There are members of the Craft to whom it is familiar, and who in due time may feel justified in gradually making public at any rate some portion of what is known in interior circles. There are signs, however, of a well-nigh universal increase of interest, of a genuine desire for knowledge of the spiritual content of our Masonic system, and I am glad to be able to offer to my Brethren some light and imperfect outline of what I conceive to be the true purpose of our work, which may tend to deepen their interest in the work of the Order they belong to, and what is of more moment still help to make Masonry for them a vital factor, and a living, serious reality, rather than a mere pleasurable appendage to social life.
To state things briefly, Masonry offers us, in dramatic form and by means of dramatic ceremonial a philosophy of the spiritual life of man and a diagram of the process of regeneration. We shall see presently that that philosophy is not only consistent with the doctrine of every religious system taught outside the ranks of the Order, but that it explains, elucidates and more sharply defines, the fundamental doctrines common to every religious system in the world, whether past or present, whether Christian or non-Christian. The religions of the world, though all aiming at teaching truth, express that truth in different ways, and we are more prone to emphasize the differences than to look for the correspondences in what they teach.
In some Masonic Lodges the candidate makes his first entrance to the Lodge room amid the clash of swords and the sounds of strife, to intimate to him that he is leaving the confusion and jarring of the religious sects of the exterior world, and is passing into a Temple wherein the Brethren dwell together in unity of thought in regard to the basal truths of life, truths which can permit of no difference or schism. Allied with no external religious system itself, Masonry is yet a synthesis, a concordat, for men of every race, of every creed, of every sect, and its foundation principles being common to them all, admit of no variation.
The admission of every Mason into the Order is, we are taught, "an emblematical representation of the entrance of all men upon this mortal existence. To those deep persistent questionings which present themselves to every thinking mind, What am I? Whence come I? Whither go I? Each of us, it tells us, has come from that mystical "East," the eternal source of all light and life, and our life here is described as being spent in the "West" that is, in a world which is the antipodes of our original home, and under conditions of existence as far removed from those we came from and to which we are returning, as is West from East in our ordinary computation of space.
Hence every Candidate upon admission finds himself, in a state of darkness, in the West of the Lodge. Thereby he is repeating symbolically the incident of his actual birth into this world, which he entered as a blind and helpless babe, and through which in his early years, not knowing whither he was going, after many stumbling and irregular steps, after many deviations from the true path and after many tribulations and adversities incident to human life, he may at length ascend, purified and chastened by experience, to larger life in the eternal East.
Hence in the E. But, in the advanced degree of M. As the admission of every candidate into a Lodge presupposes his prior existence in the world without the Lodge, so our doctrine presupposes that every soul born into this world has lived in, and has come hither from, an anterior state of life. It has lived elsewhere before it entered this world: it will live elsewhere when it passes hence, human life being but a parenthesis in the midst of eternity. But upon entering this world, the soul must needs assume material form; in other words it takes upon itself a physical body to enable it to enter into relations with the physical world, and to perform the functions appropriate to it in this particular phase of its career.
Need I say that the physical form with which we have all been invested by the Creator upon our entrance into this world, and of which we shall all divest ourselves when we leave the Lodge of this life, is represented among us by our Masonic apron? This, our body of mortality, this veil of flesh and blood clothing the inner soul of us, this is the real "badge of innocence," the common "bond of friendship," with which the Great Architect has been pleased to invest us all: this, the human body, is the badge which is "older and nobler than that of any other Order in existence": and though it be but a body of humiliation compared with that body of incorruption which is the promised inheritance of him who endures to the end, let us never forget that if we never do anything to disgrace the badge of flesh with which God has endowed each of us, that badge will never disgrace us.
Brethren, I charge you to regard your apron as one of the most precious and speaking symbols our Order has to give you. Remember that when you first wore it it was a piece of pure white lambskin; an emblem of that purity and innocence which we always associate with the lamb and with the newborn child. Remember that you first wore it with the flap raised, it being thus a five-cornered badge, indicating the five senses, by means of which we enter into relations with the material world around us our "five points of fellowship" with the material world , but indicating also by the triangular portion above, in conjunction with the quadrangular portion below, that man's nature is a combination of soul and body; the three-sided emblem at the top added to the four-sided emblem beneath making seven, the perfect number; for, as it is written in an ancient Hebrew doctrine with which Masonry is closely allied, "God blessed and loved the number seven more than all things under His throne," by which is meant that man, the seven-fold being, is the most cherished of all the Creator's works.
And hence also it is that the Lodge has seven principal officers, and that a Lodge, to be perfect, requires the presence of seven brethren; though the deeper meaning of this phrase is that the individual man, in virtue of his seven-fold constitution, in himself constitutes the "perfect Lodge," if he will but know himself and analyse his own nature aright. The relations of these different members among themselves and their functions in the cosmic whole to which they belong are analogous but not identical, of course to those of the corresponding parts of the human organism.
XII, Adelphi [Translator's note. To each of us also from our birth have been given three lesser lights, by which the Lodge within ourselves may be illumined. For the "sun" symbolizes our spiritual consciousness, the higher aspirations and emotions of the soul; the "moon" betokens our reasoning or intellectual faculties, which as the moon reflects the light of the sun should reflect the light coming from the higher spiritual faculty and transmit it into our daily conduct; whilst "the Master of the Lodge" is a symbolical phrase denoting the will-power of man, which should enable him to be master of his own life, to control his own actions and keep down the impulses of his lower nature, even as the stroke of the Master's gavel controls the Lodge and calls to order and obedience the Brethren under his direction.
By the assistance of these lesser lights within us, a man is enabled to perceive what is, again symbolically, called the "form of the Lodge," i. By their help, too, he will perceive that he himself, his body and his soul, are "holy ground," upon which he should build the altar of his own spiritual life, an altar which he should suffer no "iron tool," no debasing habit of thought or conduct, to defile. By them, too, he will perceive how Wisdom, Strength and Beauty have been employed by the Creator, like three grand supporting pillars, in the structure of his own organism.
And by these finally he will discern how that there is a mystical "ladder of many rounds or staves," i. I cannot too strongly impress upon you, Brethren, the fact that, throughout our rituals and our lectures, the references made to the Lodge are not to the building in which we meet. That building itself is intended to be but a symbol, a veil of allegory concealing something else. Paul, "that ye are the temples of the Most High; and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? It is after investment with the apron that the initiate is placed in the N.
Thereby he is intended to learn that at his birth into this world the foundation-stone of his spiritual life was duly and truly laid and implanted within himself; and he is charged to develop it; to create a superstructure upon it. Two paths are open to him at this stage, a path of light and a path of darkness; a path of good and a path of evil. The N. In symbolical language, the N. The seat of the junior members of the Craft is allotted to the north, for, symbolically, it represents the condition of the spiritually unenlightened man; the novice in whom the spiritual light latent within him has not yet risen above the horizon of consciousness and dispersed the clouds of material interests and the impulses of the lower and merely sensual life.
The initiate placed in the N. It is a parable of the dual paths of life open to each one of us; on the one hand the path of selfishness, material desires and sensual indulgence, of intellectual blindness and moral stagnation; on the other the path of moral and spiritual progress, in pursuing which one may decorate and adorn the Lodge within him with the ornaments and jewels of grace and with the invaluable furniture of true knowledge, and which he may dedicate, in all his actions, to the service of God and of his fellow men And mark that of those jewels some are said to be moveable and transferable, because when displayed in our own lives and natures their influence becomes transferred and communicated to others and helps to uplift and sweeten the lives of our fellows; whilst some are immoveable because they are permanently fixed and planted in the roots of our own being, and are indeed the raw material which has been entrusted to us to work out of chaos and roughness into due and true form.
Sea gulls, escaping from the sea, flew low over the ground, screeching. The dog chased their shadows, then stopped, faced the river, and howled. The sheep gathered around Argo, the lambs searching for their mothers. The sky had turned ashen over the mountains and the pewter-colored sea, the undercurrent like veins of blood. Only over the river had the sky kept its spring-like glow, mirror- ing the tender grass. Laio moved his head slightly, as if about to wake up.
The dog was still facing east, howling now and then. On the main road, far behind them, in the distance, carts went by, pulled by oxen. Somewhere, another dog answered. The air was so thin it carried the sounds. Even the surf breaking on the invisible shore could be heard, and it grew louder and louder as the waters rushed from the plain into the river.
The river echoed and throbbed, seemed to swell, its surface tightening, now the same pewter-color as the clouds rising so suddenly from the sea, speeding towards the mountains, with a low rumbling thunder. The waves carried sand upstream, erasing the small veins in the current, the tiny whirlpools under the watercress, the little cascades between the rocks. The sheep were quiet, muzzles raised. Then, a purple lightning flashed across the sky and the clouds crashed together, echoing in the mountains. Alla nuova curva anche Argo scompare.
Pure corre. In un angolo della cucina, seduto sul mucchio delle patate, sta un uomo vecchissimo e sconosciuto, con pochi fili bianchi di barba per il mento. Attizza il fuoco prima che muoia. Si volge al vecchio. Il vecchio sorride con malizia e sussurra: - Oro. The sun is blazing and the quartz sparkles. The dust dries in a hot cloud behind the meander- ing sheep vanishing around the bend. At the next curve, Argo disappears as well. Still he runs. He almost smells the hay in the pens, hears the murmur of the spring on the rocks behind the hut and sees the rosemary bush next to the door.
He calms down and goes inside. In a corner of the kitchen, he sees a stranger, an old man sitting on a mound of potatoes. He has a few white whiskers on his chin, and he sits with his legs apart, leaning forward a little, trying to blow on the fire in the hearth on the opposite side of the room. Poke the fire before it dies. Laio always obeys his elders, so he goes to the fireplace to set a log on the burning coals. Laio tries again. He takes the fire in his hands, tries to pull it apart. But he realizes the fire is as cold as ice, as hard as metal.
Even gold needs fire. Why not set me on fire? Burn me. Io sono un vecchio tronco, subito ardo. Bruciami, bruciami. Sentirai che buon profumo spando, e che calore. I giovani devono nutrirsi dei vecchi, i figli usare i padri. Gli risponde un gran rombo che fa tremare il monte e una luce lo investe e lo trascina lontano. Gocce pesanti e chicchi di grandine misti piovendo diritti con violenza, gli bucavano gli oc- chi. Fulmini di un colore marcio traversavano il cielo da occidente a oriente, salivano dal mare a ferire i monti che gemevano dalle viscere profonde. The young must feed on the old; sons must use their fathers.
His answer is a sharp thunderclap that shakes the mountain, then a flash of lightning that hits him and hurls him aside. He looks back, and his hut, struck by lightning, has burst into flames, is being consumed, the carbonized pieces floating up, like burning paper, falling on him, all around him, and as they fall, the pieces are turning yellow, round, shiny: large gold coins that hurt as they strike his face like rain.
With this pain, Laio awoke. Big heavy rain drops and hail were falling, a violent downpour, stinging his eyes and his hands. Flashes of lightning, the color of rot, crisscrossed the sky from west to east, rising from the sea to batter the mountains, making them moan from deep within their bowels. Laio jumped up: he ran toward his flock huddled beneath a poplar tree, and he yelled and waved his arms to drive them away from the tree and onto the main road, as he searched for cover.
They were barely on their way when the rain began spinning in sudden gusts from the whirling winds that made the clouds crash together with a terrible noise. The rain fell straight down, a solid wall. It was more like being submerged in a lake, where some new law made breathing possible. They pressed to the ground, trying to hide in the furrows. Argo, too, unable to help, huddled with them, bark- ing pitifully.
Now and then, Laio heard the sweet bleating of the lambs, growing ever weaker. Groping around in the dark, he picked up two, tucking one inside his cloak, setting the other on his shoulders. But now walking was exhaust- ing. The ground was saturated, a muddy mire, and he sank in Rozier. Andava avanti senza pensiero, accompa- gnato dal sibilo della serpe, dal battito pauroso del cuore dei due pecorini.
Solo allora si accorse di un fragore mo- notono che accompagnava quello della pioggia, ma come di fianco, irregolare e minaccioso. Il lampo venne. Laio aveva fin qui conosciuto Dio onnipotente e giusto, ma ora stava perplesso davanti a quello sperpero di potenza, a quella indecifrabile giustizia.
Dio, mi senti, o forse sei troppo lontano? Che cosa ne fanno del mio armento, la tempesta e il mare? Hanno un corpo da vestire di lana? The blood from its wings filled his mouth and tasted sweet. A little further, he stepped on a snake that wrapped itself around his ankle, hissing, but Laio did not try to shake it off. He kept going, not thinking, accompanied by the hissing of the snake and the frightened heartbeats of the two lambs. Only then did he hear the dull crashing alongside the rain, but this was all to the side, something sporadic, menacing.
Lightning lit up the landscape. This section of the river bank was manmade, with boulders stacked inside metal wire to hold back the wild waves rushing down the rocky gorge. He pleaded for another flash of lightning and the lightning came. It broke through the clouds, came down so close, screaming and burning, that Argo yelped and ran from his master.
Where was the flock? The shepherd poked him gently with his staff, and he knew the lamb was dead. They were all dead. Until now, the shepherd had believed in a just and omnipotent God, and he stood bewildered before such a misuse of power, such indecipherable justice. Can you hear me, God, or are you too far away? What good is my flock to the storm and the sea? Do they have a body that needs to be dressed in wool? Lord, how will my sheep find the entrance to your fields without me? Why punish us so? Who can answer? Do you want this lamb as well?
But no one answered, and he started walking again. Forse io ora dovrei darti anche questa? Ma nessuno rispose e Laio riprese a camminare. Grondava acqua e barcollava. Poi si volse indietro a chi gli aveva aperto e disse: - Hai una stuoia, una coperta o un sacco, una pelle vecchia, qualche cosa per coprire questa mia bestia? E guarda come infanghi tutto. Quando riscendo a valle te la riporto.
La voce taceva. Laio non si muoveva e non guardava, stava nella propria desolazione come in una nebbia. Stava piegato in avanti ad ascoltare con terrore la voce cattiva e tuttavia con le mani rattrappite continuava a dividere le patate sane dalle germogliate. E fu una buona lana davvero. Fu anche mio padre, quando serviva a qualche cosa. Hai promesso. Laio ora batteva i denti dal ribrezzo e sentiva le ginocchia Rozier.
He walked until he hit a wall. He was dripping wet and unsteady on his feet. He went to the table, took the lamb from inside his cloak and set it down. Get out. For the love of God -- that I can do. But only if you promise never to bring it back. Just give it to me. There, in the corner, on a pile of potatoes, sat a very old man with a few white whiskers on his chin. Terrified, he was leaning forward to listen to the evil voice and meanwhile his stiff old hands divided the good potatoes from the bad.
And a real old goat as well. And my father besides, back when he was still worth something. La voce riprese, avvicinandosi: - Su, pastore, che cosa aspetti? Prendi quanto hai chiesto e vattene. Pareva che fosse meno vecchio, fuori dalla casa del figlio, si moveva con un certo vigore e senza lamenti. Il vecchio certo doveva conoscere i luoghi e sapere dove voleva andare se moveva con tanta certezza. Il vecchio con gesti brevi indicava a Laio il passo e i pericoli. Il vecchio accettava tutto con naturalezza, ma non parlava.
Laio volle seguirlo, invece cadde di schianto in terra chiamandolo. They looked each other in the eye, as if trying to recognize each other. Then the shepherd bowed his head and let the old man leave first. Laio picked up the lamb. Besides, going back to the hut would be useless; better to find some village and ask for work there.
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If the old man walked so decisively, he had to know where they were going. They walked all night without a word, across washed-out paths, across ditches and landslides. With brief gestures the old man showed him where to go and what to avoid. Finally, by dawn they reached the main road and rested in a hayloft. The shepherd made a pallet for his companion and lit a small fire between two stones where the old man could dry himself and warm up.
And what was there to say? When daylight broke and the rain had slowed, the old man awoke and prepared to leave. Laio stood to follow, but then collapsed to the ground, calling out. Who knows where it is. But at least I wanted you, a father to love and comfort.
Ieri io aspet- tavo te. Mi volevi per figlio? Allora il vecchio rise: - E poi mungermi, Laio? Laio non capiva: - Mungerti, padre? Quanto Dio ha stabilito. Cattivo Dio. Dio che stabilisce ci sia un figlio che regala via suo padre. Un padre. Difficile da capire. Forse capire non si deve. Solo ubbidire si deve. Ubbidire alla legge. Le dieci leggi. E se il padre ha detto: - Dormi - Laio deve dormire e se il padre dice: - Svegliati.
Laio si sveglia. Doveva essere passato molto tempo. Un poco di sole entrava nel fienile e in quel poco sole stava il vecchio, che sorrideva con arguzia: - Alzati. Lo seguiva. Oh, poor flock of mine, what are you doing at the bottom of the sea? Yesterday, I was the one waiting for you. You wanted me for a son? Love you! Help you cross the meadow. Feed you. Evil God. A father. Obey the law. The Ten Commandments. Time had passed. Outside, under a sky of fluffy clouds sat a crimson cart drawn by white oxen. The old man climbed in and gestured for Laio to sit beside him.
They set off, along a wide winding road through the young Rozier. I bovi si mossero. Laio si meravigliava, il suo compagno rispondeva con un cenno del capo, donne e bambini, misteriosamente avvertiti, uscivano dai casolari per guardarli. Forse qualcuno potrebbe darmi lavoro.
Lasciami scendere a chiedergliene. At the first bend in the road, they came out of a grove of pop- lars, and they climbed, surrounded by dwarf vineyards and fields of corn and alfalfa. Farmers, hearing the cart, stopped their work to see who was going by, and they shielded their eyes from the ever- rising sun, and seeing the old man, they greeted him with humble words of respect and devotion.
Laio was surprised; his companion responded with a nod; women and children, somehow aware of their presence, came out of their homes to watch them pass. Maybe one of them might give me work. Let me go ask. Now the fields returned, stretched out in a valley cut by stands of poplars and thickets of cane, here and there, water spar- kling behind them. The sun was almost in the middle of the sky and the old man slumped over more and more from the heat. Soon they were in a gentle meadow, following a river that flowed from the mountains to the sea, under a sky of the palest green, the air smelling like mint.
The shepherd thought of the day before, of Argo and his sheep that drowned, and he covered his eyes with his hands. When he looked again he saw flocks of sheep grazing on pasturelands. Laio stood up in the cart. He looked to the right, to the left, as though searching, seeing. A dog ran to meet them, and he almost called out, but he stopped and a tear rolled down his face. Let me milk one of these sheep and give you a little milk. Un cane corse loro incontro e lui fece per chiamarlo, ma si trattenne e una lacrima gli scendeva per il volto. Lascia che io munga una di queste pecore e ti dia un poco di latte.
I contadini sanno che, da ora in poi, debbono a te chiedere opere, tetto e nutrimento. Non era per questo che ti ho chiamato padre: non voglio che possa essere per questo. Prendi dunque la guida del carro e sii il padrone, Laio. Mi aveva preso tutto quel che conosceva essere mio. Se fosse venuto a saperlo mi avrebbe ucciso. Ci sono io a difenderti. Portami nella tua casa - e gli volgeva, sereno, una fronte piena di bianca luce. I bovi ripresero lenti il cammino percorso.
Laio guardava con Rozier. Because those flocks are mine, the houses and the farms you saw belong to me. He saw the old man from his dream, and he was frightened. All this belongs to your other son, your flesh and blood, even if he rejected you. Now take the reins, Laio. Drive the cart. He was no longer thinking about his dream, about himself, about the miracle that was happen- ing to him.
He took everything he thought was mine. But I hid most of it away. I wanted to give it to him later as a surprise. I trust you. Now take me to your home. The oxen slowly turned and were on their way again. Deeply moved, Laio stared at the road ahead, at the fields all around, a young man who sees the woman he loves sleeping for the first time, her face tinged with modesty and mischief.
The old man was no longer watching the road, the oxen, or all that was his; he was watching his son, his greatest possession. Now, you must use the same care and lead me away from the land and the reasons that make men want to live. A professional journalist, she lives in Rome where she works for RAI. Anthony Molino is an award-winning translator, anthropolo- gist, and psychoanalyst.
Gray Sutherland is the author of five collections of poetry and a novel. In he began translating contemporary Italian poetry into English. Sea and sky are perfect, the dying sun marries them. Pure volume, lucid height. Yet without islands there is no solace. Born under the plunge of the sun, their frailty, like ours, dies with the light.
Their single flaw makes distance real. They are the riddle that solves the night. Before Islands The fret of motion stirs the world to being. It sees hunger, feigns a mouth. Hunger is aloft, an eye, a beak, raging at the sea. All this was before islands, before the first cliff that shouldered up and snagged the sky. Perfetto il mare, perfetto il cielo mentre il sole morente li sposa.
Volume puro, lucido slancio. Il loro solo torto rende vera ogni distanza. Vede la fame, finge una bocca. La fame aleggia, un occhio, un becco, furibondi col mare. Keros Gulls describe a cliff weaving it back and forth with the strong thread of a sail A surf of hills makes its lunge against a wilder blue They say a goatherd lives on Keros, or a monk.
I like to think he is the harpist who plays the mad music of the wind. The Rehearsal Dawn. A me piace pensare che sia il suonatore di arpa che mette in musica la follia del vento. Incipit Alba. Gold hastens to the rock. It is all one chord of light struck from the silent gong, rehearsing another day. But whose, you say, the hand that closed that fist? It is no matter. Five-pointed like a star it lies open, generous and its fingers stream infinity— back into stone. The Rival Poet Yours the tree in whose shadow I lie yours the river whose current carries me resistless or resisting to the snagged branch that fishes me Yours the mountain from whose height a boulder crashes through the caverns from black to blacker might toward cataracts of dawn.
How then shall I praise thee? How then shall I not deny thee? Stone by stone, I subtract your temple. Word by word, I rebuild your world. Ma di chi, dirai, la mano che chiuse quel pugno? Non importa. Come, allora, elogiarti? Come, allora, non rinnegarti? Pietra per pietra sottraggo al tuo tempio. Parola per parola, rifaccio il tuo mondo. You must bring it yourself. A man, too naked for clothing, bestrides an anvil.
He has come from a place without beginning and he goes to one without end. We must imagine the rain. He moves through it. It comes from nowhere and goes to nowhere, but the rain, the rain we must bring ourselves. The data are enough. We stare until a tear collects in each eye and then the rain then the rain will fall and nothing we can do will make it stop. Devi portarcela tu. Arriva da un luogo senza inizio e va verso un luogo senza fine.
Dobbiamo immaginarcela, la pioggia. Viene da nessun dove e da nessuna parte va, ma la pioggia, la pioggia, dobbiamo portarla noi. I dati sono sufficienti. He has pub- lished articles in Italian and in English on medieval, modern and contemporary Italian literature, English and American literature, Italian-American literature, and comparative litera- ture. Livorni has also published three collections of poems: Prospettiche illusioni Illusions of Perspective , Nel libro che ti diedi. Sonetti In the Book that I gave you.
The collec- tion Onora il Padre e la Madre Honor Thy Father and Mother , which gathers previously published and new poems, was released in October Blakesley Livorn. Non chiedermi calma. Lettera al Padre Eccomi, Padre. Ormai anche il tempo ha ceduto il suo scettro imbiancato e torni, ancestrale figura, o forse son io che percorro la strada.
Eccomi, Padre. O Padre! The hour hand lies suspended over your breast: man speaks waiting for death he scratches out segregating syllogisms. Letter to the Father Here I am, Father. By now time has ceded its whitened scepter and you return, ancestral figure, or perhaps it is I who walk along this road. Father, I was already old when you made me and I am certain that my first cries bit into your chest, like a vision.
That crown of dreams, racing down your forehead, still burns you, as if it were ironclad blackmail; tell me, Father, would you ever have overcome the full and complete enchantment of the late moons? Here I am, Father. The night watches you, and sleep, heavier than tears, overwhelms you, and everything that I feel and do breaks like glass. Father, I followed the fights in vain, and like a raging lion I clawed away at the ice, enchanted by a dissolving vision in my eyes.
Oh Father! Ribelle al passato ne sento il fascino come tortura, come passione le vene mi gonfia e certo capisci quel che ti dico. Padre, non vedi che brucio? Soltanto se guardi le mani, vedi ogni dito proteso in cerca, proteso con cura verso ogni grido che forte trionfa dentro le tempie. Sentii una voce venire dal fondo della tua stanza e dapprima mi parve essere un vento che si sfaldava in un coro di fiati. A rebel against the past, its fascination tortures me; like passion, it swells my veins, and you certainly know what I am telling you.
Father, do you not see I am burning? Just look at my hands, you will see every finger stretched out, carefully searching for every cry that loudly triumphs in my temples. Father, every crevice in my mind, like a failed action, repeats an ancient ritual of disgraced generations. I heard a voice coming from deep in your room and at first it seemed to be a wind crumbling into a chorus of sighs.
Father, I feel my guts stolen away, as if I were a child, and it is atrocious to sense once more the dancing breath leaf through the list of my crimes. You, Father, are a necessary evil; now I understand what I saw and one day we will join our faces, when a new child comes, a rebel. Now I am here, and I attend to my rituals and I live each day precariously, risking each day by tempting all the fates: Father, why have you forsaken me?
He has recently begun working as a freelance literary scout and editorial advisor. Baret Magarian was born and raised in London, but he is of Armenian extraction and currently lives in Italy. In London he directed fringe theatre and cabaret. Zibetti and Magarian hope to stage the piece again in in Torino.
He can be contacted at this email address: baretbmagarian hotmail. They told me to drive to the guy, the big guy, the boss, the genius, the man who pisses pink champagne, and who craps caviar. I knocked on his door in Lincoln, Nebraska, he handed me the package. I had to make it all the way to Los Angeles. The final stages of the trip entailed a hypnotized spell in the Mojave desert with its honey mesquite trees and tumbleweeds and cacti and lizards and a blowtorch sun and the unreal skies and the desolation and the cosmic American landscape.
Just me, the car, the package, the bottles of Miller beside me offering to lubricate my soul, so long as no cops spotted me as I trailed a blaze of toxic speed, dust clouds blooming around my tires, the smell of gasoline in the wind, taint- ing that pristine nothingness of the desert. That nothingness was perfect for me because that nothingness was my life. Pressing the gas, driving the machine hard, the wind vacuuming off the dust between the cracks, the elemental tapestries being weaved around me, and for a moment, for a second, it was perfect, the music vibrating, a low hum, the engine purring, the sirotti.
Il pezzo grosso, il boss, il genio, quello che piscia champagne rosa e caca caviale. Avevo bussato alla sua porta a Lincoln, Nebraska, e mi aveva dato il pacchetto. Con quel coso in mano sprigioni un tale calore da inviare in orbita una navicella spaziale. Dunque avevo preso il pacchetto, maneggiandolo con cura manco fosse la versione digitale rimasterizzata della fica di Clau- dia Schiffer. Dovevo arrivare fino a Los Angeles. Davo gas, andavo al massimo. Consciousness seemed to expand in vibrating rings, pulsing out like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The light was fading, the evening was coming. There was no stopping it. I glanced at the package slumped on the back seat. It was still intact. No ants had eaten into it, gaffer tape squeezed it like bandages round an Egyptian mummy. I pulled up at a desert motel. I needed showering, a bed, some kind of sanctuary for a few hours. Time had decomposed the place. In fact it looked like it had been abandoned years ago. Discarded branches were scattered before its entrance like cigarette butts and the wooden sign that announced it was slanted at an acute angle, hanging from a tall stump of wood, looking like it might decapitate a passing stranger.
The windows were thick with grime. Despite all this the place attracted me and I pulled into the parking lot, where plastic bags stirred in the residual wind. I parked with precision and care, picked up the package. The package was cold to the touch, icy cold. It felt as if it had just been sitting in a freezer.
I got out shakily, cradling the package and walked up to the reception. A large, bovine woman was behind the counter. She made me think of a squashed cream puff. She nodded up from her airport novel and glanced at me without a flicker of interest. She began to write care- fully with a half chewed biro.
I clutched the package protectively. La coscienza sembrava espandersi in cerchi vibranti, che sgorgavano pulsanti come il petrolio fuoriuscito nel Golfo del Messico. La luce si smorzava, scendeva la sera. Inutile provare a fermarla. Lanciai uno sguardo al pacchetto appoggiato sul sedile posteriore. Era ancora integro. Non era stato aggredito dalle formiche, i nastri telati lo strizzavano come bende intorno a una mummia egiziana. Mi fermai a un motel nel deserto. Avevo bisogno di farmi la doccia, di un letto, di qualche ora di ristoro. Il tempo aveva decomposto un luogo che, in effetti, pareva in abbandono da anni.
Le finestre erano spesse di sudiciume. Parcheggiai con cura e precisione e raccolsi il pacchetto. Scesi barcol- lando dalla macchina, tenendo il pacco con circospezione e mi avviai alla reception. Afferrai il pacco con aria protettiva. Could be terrorism. Or could be drugs. You a writer? Payment upfront. Check out 10 am.
The master I mentioned at the start. It was his work. His editor was in LA, you see. He types on an old Olivetti, makes a single carbon copy for himself when he types. He has ruled out the computer, the fax, the attachment, the email, this fucker wants his masterpiece to be handed in person to his associate as though it were an aluminum case stuffed with loot. Non ho nulla, a parte il pacco. Per via del terrorismo. O potrebbe esserci la droga. Sono venti dollari per la camera. Pagamento anticipato. Stanza libera entro le dieci. Era opera sua. Il suo editor stava a Los Angeles, tutto qui. Ha messo al bando computer, fax, allegati, e-mail.
He is the Elvis of literature. As I said he craps caviar and he pisses pink champagne. He is as eccentric as Howard Hughes and as classic as a Ferrari. He writes prose of a beauty that makes grown men weep and women squirt. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the final word in Final Words, the Writer whose every phrase gets emblazoned onto the fabric of consciousness as surely as if it were a laser beam. His second, Prototype of Love , was told from the point of view of a pregnant man. The Sound of Extinction was about meet- ing God who turns out to be this little guy who goes around with a supermarket trolley.
The books grew larger and more ambitious. The Philosopher King was set in a remote village in Cyprus whose inhabitants are pig ignorant and primitive. Next came The Millions , a page satire about an agency in New York that specializes in faking alternate lives for people whose own lives are boring and uneventful.
The agency produces documents, diplomas, certificates, letters, emails, creates an illustrious, exotic past for those who come knocking at its door. E io sono il corriere. Poi, un bel giorno, vi prende la residenza uno straniero. Il suo aspetto esotico suscita ogni tipo di dicerie e il paese si divide in due parti: quelli che lo amano e quelli che lo odiano. The fake biographies sabotage the actual until reality itself becomes one vast and bloated invention.
The Overhaul chronicled the decline of a wealthy American family over four generations. The narrative spanned hundreds of years, evoking in hallucinatory detail the Na- tive American genocide, episodes from the American civil War, the assassination of Martin Luther King and the attack on the World Trade Center. What finally emerges is the complete culpability of money. After the midnight celebrations die down he offers the surviving family members port of a rare vintage from a diamond-encrusted decanter.
The port has been laced with strych- nine and the whole clan, including Riley, goes into convulsions and asphyxiates. The book garnered tremendous critical acclaim and several death threats and there were rumors that the CIA and the FBI had subsequently opened files on him. No one knew the subject of his latest novel. No one even knew the title. I wrestled with the key and stepped in. I placed the package carefully on a side table and switched on the lamp. Dirty light, dirty windows. Light, dark.
The place was a lousy dump. But it would do. I was exhausted. La verifica registra il declino di una ricca famiglia americana attraverso quattro generazioni. Riley organizza una festa pantagruelica di fine anno trasformando la magione avita in un vortice di ogni esempio concepibile di lussuria e decadenza. Esauriti i festeggiamenti di mezzanotte, egli offre ai membri su- perstiti della famiglia un porto di una rara annata, mescendolo da una caraffa incastonata di diamanti. Il vino era stato avvelenato con la stricnina e tutto il clan, Riley compreso, ha le convulsioni e muore di asfissia.
Nessuno sapeva neppure il titolo. Armeggiai con la chiave ed entrai in camera. Luce sporca, finestre sporche. Luce, buio. Quel posto era un letamaio, ma avrebbe fatto al caso mio. Ero sfinito. What lay inside it? What gems and what pearls? Did that package somehow contain the guy?
Did it contain his essence? All that was best about him? Was that pack- age, in the final count, more real, more destined for immortality than the man himself? It had been made abundantly clear to me that on no account was I to open it. It had been made digitally clear that if that package were tampered with my balls would be neatly severed from my scrotum. I stared hard at the thing. Or maybe what lay in there was no good after all, was just scrambled shit… The motel room was stuffy.
I walked over and yanked open a window. I stared outside at nothing, at the barren night, approaching like the onset of a disease, the night of longing and sexual desire and unanswered calls for companionship. Then I took one of those interminable pisses, one of those that last so long that your legs begin to buckle and you have to prop yourself up against the wall with your arms. I pulled out a Marlboro and smoked it right down to the tip. I walked back over to the package. It was warm. The damn thing was emanating heat like a computer. What was going on with this package?
First it was freezing cold, now it was warm, it was as though the thing had been plugged into an electrical source. It seemed as if the package was alive, it seemed to be a living thing. I managed to foil a mad impulse to open it. I was beginning to feel scared. I took the thing over to the cupboard and shoved it inside. I walked out into the corridor and over to my car, opened it up, pulled out the bottles of beer and returned with them and opened one up and took a long gulp.
That steadied me a little bit and I spread out on the bed. The springs whined in protest. Then I finished off all the beer. Before I knew it I was sleeping. But it was short-lived and I woke up a few hours later. I stared at my watch. It was 2. I switched on the bedside lamp and went over to the cupboard. I touched the package. It was no longer warm and no longer cold. But it was true, the package had been cold, had been hot. It was an insane package, it had been driven mad by its contents, or maybe it was a package that was subject to the freakish extremities of climate change.
Guardai fisso il pacchetto. Quali perle e gemme di saggezza? Conteneva la sua essenza? La sua parte migliore? Mi era stato abbondantemente spiegato che non avrei dovuto aprirlo per nessuna ragione. Mi era stato chiarito con digitale precisione che se quel pacco fosse stato manomesso mi avrebbero staccato di netto le palle dallo scroto. Fissai attonito quel coso. Mi avvicinai alla finestra e la spalancai.
Senza risultato. Tirai fuori una Marlboro e la fumai fino al filtro. Poi tornai al pacco. Era caldo. Non scherzo. Quel maledetto coso emanava calore quasi fosse un computer. Che succedeva al pacco? Prima era gelido, ora caldo, come se qualcuno lo avesse infilato in una presa di corrente. Riuscii a trattenere il folle impulso di aprirlo. Cominciavo ad aver paura. Le molle gemettero, contrariate. Poi scolai la birra.
Prima che me ne rendessi conto, mi addormentai. Ma fu un sonno di breve durata e dopo alcune ore mi svegliai. Erano le due e mezzo. Tastai il pacco. Per un attimo pensai di essermi immaginato le sue alterazioni ter- miche.
Ma era vero, il pacco prima era freddo, poi era caldo. Era un pacco pazzo, era il suo contenuto ad avergli fatto perdere il senno, o forse era soggetto ai bizzarri eccessi del cambiamento climatico. It was hard to identify what was making the sound. I glanced out of the window where I found nothing but the parking lot half swal- lowed in the void of night.
This was the desert. The desert where life existed, but barely, where the only friends to be had were the shadows, rustling like leaves and pattering like leaves on the fringes of consciousness. There was nothing here, not even a yellowing skeleton in the cupboard that might be dragged out and danced with in a last ditch attempt to ward off terminal loneliness.
The next part of this whole thing is rather hard to describe. As I was sitting there, feeling myself sinking deeper and deeper, I began to have the impression that the boundaries of reality were being redrawn, that they were shifting, that a seismic shift was taking place and that my motel room was no longer a motel room, that it was more like a chamber passing through space. I continued to stare out of the window. I turned away but, when I turned back again, at once — with the awful certainty that accompanies dread—I knew that something was wrong. I looked through the murky window.
A tall, dark figure with his back to me, standing motionless and inert. He just stood there, looking out into space, wrapped up in a brown raincoat. What the hell was he doing out there in the dead of night? I watched, the curtain pulled toward me to conceal my presence. It might have been a statue as opposed to an actual human being. As I watched I began to feel my throat growing dry. I needed water, so with two long strides made it to the bathroom. I let the faucet run and downed a glass. When I had returned to my vantage point he, it, was still there.
Indivisible horror was rising, spinning its sticky web. I was aware of my hands tighten- ing into fists as I stood there. It was as though the weight of what I saw was pushing against, crushing, my ability to interpret it. I was seized with the idea that if I could just catch a glimpse of its face my curiosity would be laid to rest so I decided to venture out there, leave my safe room and stare the thing in the eyes, but I could feel my heart vaulting as I hurried down the corridor, and my legs sirotti.
Era difficile capire la causa di quel rumore.
Guardai dalla finestra e non vidi che il parcheggio mezzo inghiottito nel vuoto della notte. Questo era il deserto. Continuai a guardare dalla finestra. Attraverso il vetro offuscato vidi una figura alta e scura che mi dava le spalle, immobile e inerte. Scrutai, la tenda tirata verso di me per nascondere la mia presenza. Avrebbe potuto essere una statua piuttosto che un essere umano. Guardando, sentii la gola farsi secca. Non riuscivo a staccare lo sguardo da lui. Un indis- solubile orrore cresceva, tessendo la sua tela appiccicosa.