the excision of dionysus

[…here a page or more has been torn out of MS from which
all our copies of “The Bacchae” are derived…]

Did you hope to censor me
scribe of the latter god?
Did you hope to tear me out
of the temporal consciousness
of the written world
with your trembling,
novice’s fit of
wholly self-righteous rage?
Such a temper little man!
Did that Greek upset you
With his poesy, his pretty, peerless lines?
Singing them out with his subtle lyre,
so adeptly from that tyrants cave
of my Eleusian mysteries?
Did it so upset you, that long ago,
so long before your god scribe,
had thought to write anything at all,
other gods might have conspired
to save the poor lost child
of hapless mankind
from his own helpless self?
Could you not bear to read
the testimony of my own
triumphant return
riding high the attic blue,
the scudding cirrus sky?
Or did I just remind you too much
Of your own jealous god?
Who you believed to be the one and only
author capable of raining down
judgement and retribution on the head
of the impious earth?
Did I, lacky of the latter god?
Did I?
Yes, I think I did.
So you heaved me out;
Excised me from that ancient book
That sole surviving script,
And left that paragon
Of the playwrights art
With a great pious hole
Right at its beautiful antique heart.
Such vanity little man.
Such smallness of spirit.
For the victory of a god
comes not in words on a page
but lives in lives within the world
and your temples I see falling
or sold
for lack of worshippers,
while my ecstacy and wild spirit
I see blowing through the world
as it ever did
when the thyrus was the rod that
ruled the land,
so whose is the victory
censorious scribe of the Judean god?
You cannot kill that which is
in the hearts of the generations.
So remember when you kneel
at your deserted alter
and raise a glass of this blood of mine
I think you’ll find it tastes like wine.


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