Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets
Cosmic Oratory
28th Jun 2016Posted in: Edwardian and Georgian Canadian Poets 0

Of this edition of Cosmic Oratory by “Regis,” two hundred and fifty copies have been printed. This chap-book is a product of The Ryerson Press, Toronto, Canada.

Copyright, Canada, 1929 by The Ryerson Press.

In response to a request for a biographical note, the author of Cosmic Oratory wrote:
“Regis’ has always been a noteless wanderer and stranger on the face of the earth and prefers to remain so. His voice has never been heard in the land before. He is a newcomer among Canadian poets, and seems to have stumbled among them like a bull moose plunging in the midst of a picnic party.” [inside front cover]

Cosmic Oratory

By Regis

ANNUNCIATION

I have not been born into the world for nothing,
To die unspoken like an insensate clod
(If there is such a thing in all this quivering universe
Where every atom and hundred-millionth division of an atom
Sparkles and spits and radiates enormous energies).
Do you think that because I am unknown and always will be unknown
That my name and history will pass away like the wake of a ship,
Or the trail of a meteor.
Despised, rejected, the most inconsequential poet that ever tapped inexpertly on a typewriter,
That ever forlornly followed his own ideas:
I, too, among the greatest have come to deliver an imperishable message.
My words will echo to the remotest corners of the wide-mapped galaxies.
For I speak not only to the populations of the earth:
I am no mundane trifler with temporal subjects:
I speak to the islanded universes moored in space.
I speak to all ages, to all people:
To all forms of organic and ignoranic life wherever it is sown. [page 1]

TONGUELESS TRAVAIL

Having the earth for my hilltop, the sky for my playground,
The universe of individual existences for my constant audience,
I am proud of my impotence,
Proud of my destitution of worldly decorations.
My practical poverty enhances my appreciation of the invisible riches.
My insecurity on the porch slab of earth strengthens my grip on the misty stairways of the stars.
O, dark tumultuous power of rhythmic language that seizes and shadows me,
And shakes me as the tempest shakes the forests,
As the waterfall shakes the mists that rise from it,
As thunder shudders the sky without a raindrop:
O great thoughts, emerging from the gloom of inarticulate mind,
Like large animals emerging from forests to drink at calm lakes:
I recognize you as cometary visitors from other heavens searching vainly
For a home, begging an utterance and dispensation
And finding nothing in me but dumbness and antagonizing wind:
I salute you.
I bow my head because I cannot entertain and introduce you.
At the same time I rejoice because your going and coming indicate to me
That I am a primary personality,
An originator and reflector.
I have been countersigned by the god of creative life.
I am no mere futile flotsam,
No discarded remnant of this cosmic factory.
I am baptized with an immortal baptism.
There is confided to me the utterance of an original message
That will be reverberated by the eloquent stars.
The coals from a cosmic altar have been pressed against my lips
and I have been bidden “Speak.”
I cannot keep silent.
I cannot die until I have added my book to the constellated libraries of all the heavens.
My sentences will clamour on the shores of golden worlds,
And pierce the mists that wrap the swaddled nurslings of the skies
Like an imperative annunciation to be born,
Like the first fiat uttered over earth—Let there be light.

I declare it with the strength of a demonstrable conviction:
That within the elastic boundaries of this universe,
There is not an organism nor any part of an organism
Not born to deliver and record for ever and ever more
An authentic message such as no other being can utter or record. [page 2]

THE UNPOPULAR ONION

I take you to the odious onion.
The most laughed-at vegetable that bulges in the earth.
The mirth excited by it has brought tears to the eyes.
It is the symbol of mock grief, the instant divorcer of close friends,
The exuder of an odour from which men and women shrink.
And yet, derided, feared, associated indissolubly with hypocrisy,
Partaken of in solitude like a forbidden fruit,
This crisp, luscious vegetable is eddied within its circumference like an evolving star,
And through its close-wrapped jacket discharges a measured wave-length of 200-milli-microns
That stimulates the growth of neighbouring plants.

THE MAJOR MUSIC

And I am a living man, supposed to be the apex of communicative creation.
Shall I take a second place to ants, microbes, onions.
Shall I consider myself less a poet than the clouds, the rivers,
The articulate dust and the small things that run in it?
Shall I consider myself less than Shakespeare, less than Michael Angelo, less than Mozart or Newton
Because I am not adept with the mechanical transmission of ideas,
When all the time I share the universal effusiveness of publication?
For what are poems, sculptures, music scores, edifices that poke the sky,
Canvases daubed with gaudy colours, algebraic formulae:
Do you think they are the complete or even the approximate express of a living being?
The best of them would not do credit to the lowest effluences of a cow.
The lucent light of a lion’s eye is finer than Turner sunset.

THE CLAMOROUS UNIVERSE

O what portentous effusions are flowing out of every living thing!
There is no ebb to their circles.
The air swirls and vibrates with them.
The clouds are rippled by them.
The rivers roar with them, their secret burden.
The woods are tumultuous with them.
The thunder is astounded by them.
The lightning leaps from their impressment like a deer from covert.
The sun wallows in them like a strong swimmer in high flood,
Like a rotund singer in the full swell of the orchestra.
I am surrounded and deafened by their glorious chorus. [page 3]
And shouting with them above the uproar with a shout that is beyond 
The gamut of the human voice, beyond the compass of the human ear,
With a shout like the dinning resonance of soundless light,
I am aware that our trumpetings of the larynx in the gusts of oratory, in the heights of singing,
And the whirlwind of writing that forever continues to the thunder of revolving presses:
Yea, all the books and songs and speeches that ever were promulgated:
All the multitudinous, leaf-like mantlings of the human mind:
Are but snatched fragments of fleeting forms,
Fugitive flames of an infinite conflagration,
Handfuls of random dust,
Side dribblings of a mighty waterfall,
The plashing of a hand in deep river,
A spit in the wind,
Faint, evanescent northern lights, reflections of a thousand suns,
The mere sweat upon the hand of creation:
Miserably inadequate to tell of the mighty messages that throng through
The arteries of the meanest organism.
Let them scribble and carve and paint and trust to the piecemeal,
Faulty articulations of the human mind to prolong their fame:
Their books will rot or be forgotten;
Their pictures fade or be put in a cellar or be superseded by freakish atrocities of a new school:
Their statues will stand silent and stationary in unregarded obsolescence;
Their buildings grow grimy, be out-topped or demolished;
Their grand music be played to empty seats while the famous impresario tours the world
Complaining of the decadence of taste:
Yea, all will perish or recede, grow wan or feeble in oblivion.
But the creations of the spirit propagated every moment 
With the velocity of light will never age nor pass away,
Never lack for a responsive audience.
They are written on the indelible air;
They are gathered up with the irrefragable harmonies of which the wind is but a feeble echo.
They tell their stories to the stars which are kept busy 
Repeating the message in magnifying chords.
For the stars are the chimes of heaven,
They ring the day out and the night in.
They shake back upon the earth and diffuse in all directions the daily journalism of living things.
They publish with their silent eloquence the secret sayings of the heart. [page 4]
They are the interpreters of man.
There is not a beetle that has not some share in the largest planet.
Let the silent rejoicings of the heart know that somewhere it is heard.
Somewhere its ecstasies are translated into intelligible grammar.
Wherefore I am not dashed in the least to hear that a certain author
Has written his twenty-fifth play or his one-hundredth novel.
My spirit promulgates more volumes in an hour than the most facile novelist in a lifetime.
And so does he in the recordless sessions of his spirit.

INVICTUS

O how wonderfully independent, how inviolably immortal I am.
No one can take the least part of my being away from me.
None can interfere so much as for a moment with the course of my destiny.
No one can delete one word from the message I was born to deliver.
You cannot tag rejection slips on thoughts.
As well gather into sheaves the northern lights and burn them.
The uncensorable moments receive my perpetual dictation.
The pages of my destiny are indestructible.

THE SMITHYING SUN

How malleable is everything under the silent hammering of light.
On the flaming, circular anvil of the sun we are all smithied.
Under its beamy blows, molten worlds are shaped.
The hardest rocks, the softest clouds, the fragile snowflake that a warm breath can melt
Are beaten into perpetually changing patterns;
Infinite in outward form and multiplex dimensions.
I have seen mountains in moonlight fade away into faint shadows,
Huge, rugged bulks stamped by that soft white light into dimmest silhouettes.
We are all shadows that go or stand still,
Appear flat or round, of one dimension or twenty dimensions.
According as the sun’s wave-lengths synchronize with ours.
And I, with a fulgent sun concentrated in my mind
Am master of the motions and dimensions of worlds.
I can halt the sun as Joshua did.
I can arrest the tides in ridges of curled crests.
The instantaneous lightnings will prolong their flashes indefinitely at my command.
The swift clouds pause wonderingly at my imperious apostrophe.
I have my hand on the fulcrum of planets. [page 5]
When I declare I know, I know nothing.
When I declare I have allied myself with this party or that party I have only lied.
I cannot attached myself.
Can we snap one shadow to another with patent fasteners.
There is nothing fixable or adhesible about me.
Never can I become a corporate member of any corporation.
I am dismembered forever and forever like bread upon the waters.
And yet…

THE POSITIVE SOUL

There is a fixed and identifiable amid dissolutions and confusions.
There is a peace that is never broken.
There is a destiny that is never thwarted.
There is an identity never fractured nor dissolved.
There is a character that never depreciates, is never ignored, or undervalued.
There is a realm immediately around us in which every action and word of worth
Is paid for at its proper price.
No mistake is ever made; the balance is juster than a chemist’s.
For this reason, I am not disturbed by the inconsistencies and paradoxes of this superficial life.
Let the thick-skulled pugilist, the scurvy politician, the obese bootlegger, the unctuous sophist, 
The flatterers and fawners, and all the low-crawling parasites
Of human society receive their millions and estates:
While the virtuous, open-hearted, intelligent, serviceable persons receive their pittances:
Let persecution’s fires be built around the prophets,
Let silence shut out the speech of those who should be heard;
Let all the artifices and stratagems of organized cant and crime
Be massed around the virile mind and the free tongue:
Still, I do not avert my face,
I am not staggered with a sense of doom.
Neither I nor they who are like me, mind in the least success of the undeserving,
Nor the secret conspiracies against ourselves:
We are invincible.
Our thoughts cannot be expunged, our mouths cannot be stopped.
The message we were born to deliver will fashion its own trumpet, its own microphone.
The winds will rush with it on beating flights;
The stars toss it from world to world in clanging waves,
The whole earth and air ring and shimmer with its accumulated choruses. [page 8]

THE RYERSON POETRY CHAP-BOOKS

Lorne Pierce—Editor


 

The Sweet o’ the Year Charles G.D. Roberts
Companionship and the Crowd W.H.F. Tenny
Forfeit and Other Poems Kathryn Munro
The Ear and Trumpet* Annie C. Dalton
A Vale in Luxor* W.V. Newson
The Prophet’s Man* Geoffrey B. Riddehough
Sheep-Fold Leo Cox
The Shepherd of the Hills* Agnes Joynes
By Cobequid Bay Alexander Louis Fraser
Twelve Poems Esme Isles-Brown
Songs for Swift Feet Gostwick Roberts
Ecstasy and Other Poems Elaine M. Catley
Bits o’ Verse in Scots* William P. McKenzie
Destiny and Other Poems* Mary Matheson
Fowls O’ the Air and Other Verses in Scots William P. McKenzie
The Battle of St. Julien Kate Colquhoun
Spendthrifts Guy Mason
The Tide of Love Thomas O’Hagan
Fragments of Fantasy Nelda MacKinnon Sage
XII Poems F. Elsie Laurence
Cosmic Oratory “Regis”

Fifty Cents


 

A Pool of Stars* Lionel Stevenson
Spring in Savary* Alice Brewer
The Captive Gypsy*  Constance Davies-Woodrow
The Lost Shipmate Theodore Goodridge Roberts
A Breath of the Woods* Lilian Leveridge
Vagrant Frederick B. Watt
What-Nots Geoffrey Warburton Cox
Twenty and After* Nathaniel A. Benson
The Cry of Insurgent Youth Guy Mason
The Poet Confides H.T.J. Coleman
Later Poems and New Villanelles S. Frances Harrison (Seranus)

Sixty Cents


 

Songs* John Hanlon
Other Songs* John Hanlon
Cockle-Shell and Sandal-Shoon H.T.J. Coleman
Waifs of the Mind* W.V. Newson

Seventy-five cents


 

Paul Pero R.D. Cumming

One Dollar


 

*The Chap-Books marked with an asterisk are now out of print. [inside back cover]

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