It’s a gem! cried he, ecstatic.
Oh, look at it, is it not wonderful?
He held it aloft to family, friends,
Eager to share his joy, his pride.
I found this gem, he proclaimed.
It was all me, don’t you see?
This is my life. Can you see it?
My life, gleaming and glinting,
Sparkling stardust. Inanimate, you call it?
Fools! What know ye of life?
Where are your gems, may I ask?
Does any possess the sheer majesty,
The clarity, the quality of mine?
I thought not.
Yes, they said, yes, it is a wonderful gem indeed.
But, remember when, in your younger days,
When your mind was naive and vain,
When you understood far less than you claimed,
When you set about taking a hammer
To your own treasure trove – – yes, I see
You do remember – – Well, there was that
Stupid thing you did, you see.
There is that, they all said. That is undeniable.
And so, said they, and so why should you
Hold this gem? Are you not the squanderer?
Are you not the man of pilf, the creator
Of refuse, of waste, of negative energy?
Are you, then, deserving of this gem?
Do you not do it a disservice, coveting it,
Caressing it with your bungling hands?
Give it up, gems are not for you, dearest.
We know what is in store for you,
It may sound rough, but it is true.
Confound you! he cried. Beasts and parasites all.
A man hath done wrong, has he no claim
To righting himself again? Are you so pure,
Then, that you bear no blemish on your
Evil, conniving countenances? Is not your
Covetousness a crime more severe, done,
As it is, out of malice, not ignorance?
Come ye one or all, come ye to seize it
From me, and I shall show thee the wrath
Of Achilles. Hector, at least, had honour.
What honour in your actions? Beasts, I say,
And parasites all. Do I not see amongst
Your pretty words, the forked tongue
Of Milton’s serpent? Blind do you think me?
Round they crept, vermin of the masses.
Clawing, creeping, ever closer, groping.
Clutched he to his chest his gem, weeping.
Who could he turn to? Lord, he cried,
Save me, not for me, for I have forsaken thee,
But for thy gem, thy most wondrous creation.
Save it, and in saving it, save me.
Fool, they cried, there is no penitence
For the wrongdoers. Penitence comes
At a dear price, a price you are not prepared
To pay, turn you then to the Lord? Bah!
That brooding moisture you feel about you,
That is the the disgorged spit of contempt.
The Lord hath forsaken thee, now forsake
Thee this gem, that we may rightfully honour
It by virtue of souls more worthy.
The first of the masses, the friends he held dear
Clasped at his ankles, flaying skin
And severing tendons, causing anguish,
But no anguish compared to the prospect,
Nay, the now tangible fear of losing the gem
To the greed of the world. The question,
Never uttered, never proclaimed, burned
Through the windows to their wretched souls
And showed him, in all worldly lucidity
Their inmost thoughts.
If we can’t have it, why should he?
Are we not worthy, gem, of thee?
Flailing, he was brought to the ground
By the remorseless advance of the host.
Still he clasped, in hope, still they lunged
At it, probing, wrenching.
At last, naught was left of him but sinews
And dried blood. And search as they might,
They found no gem, only clay and death.