Issue 118, Spring 1991
Heaven has become empty space for us,
a fair memory of things that were.
But our heart glows, and secret unrest
gnaws at the root of our being.
From my father I learned astrology and medicine. Aged sixteen I entered the university at Basel but went away dissatisfied. I traveled to Würzburg yet there again I could not find what I wanted, nor at the metallurgic school of Sigismund Fugger. In the Savon valley at the
convent of St. Andrew dutifully I listened to august bishops—to Mathias Schacht of Freisingen, Mathias Scheydt of Rottgach, and to Eberhardt Baumgartner. Yet all for what? I have traveled to München, Regensburg, Nördlingen, Amberg, Hongary, Meran, Krain, Mähren, St. Gallen and Kärnthen, encountering emptiness everywhere. Out of Germany I wandered through Italy and France to the gloomy Netherlands, to England, Scandinavia and Russia, but what did I gain? Aged twenty three I returned to Basel, there to be crowned Professor! Hah! Like some mud-plastered Swiss boar reeking dung I pretended to wallow among obsequious compliments while plucking feathers from the tails of malt-worm pseudologues in blue velvet that strutted, preened and croaked from the dais like pigeons on a ledge. Now look at my reward! Say that I clutched a plough, greased wheels, served cabbage or played the lute—all would understand my trade. I would be welcome in any province. But for challenging dead doctrine and seeking the universal catholicon I am reviled by medicasters lost at the back of the world rammy and wet, blaring like goats to prank up themselves—gowned vultures, cock-chafers jumbling on the bed, temple thieves boasting more toes than teeth, maskers with legs aspew like arches under a bridge and tails more noteworthy than their heads. Oily saltimbanks! Brangling knaves! Fabulists! Strokers and scrapers with the eyes of blood-letting Saldanian chymists that prescribe a dying man twenty poisons for one. Mewling advocates of Greek sophistry. Red-brindled Hungarian pigs that mistake the Danube for the sea. What confounds them they curse as Beelzebub’s work! Curs barking after genius that think to bite my shoe! Hah! What are their names in the street? Sycophants vomiting yellowed lies, sons of cuckolds that grope toward paradise in a milkmaid’s crotch. Indentured almond-pickers prescribing slough water and sow-piss, brewing emetics of rinsings. I hear better medicine whistle from a cheese-monger’s bung. So they cry out how I inveigh upon Doctors, Councillors, Chirurgeons, green-pizzle Pan-tologists. And this is true. But why? Because I know what they are made of because Nature has put her autograph on them. I despise the house which is faulty and lets in rain. Jiggish imposters! Rogues jabbering dead prayers! And there are others so numerous I do not name them. I have met plenty.