Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Yellow Book

The Yellow Book

“means of forgetfulness—
modes by which he could
escape”—Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Decadence—dalmatics of white satin and pink silk damask—decorated with tulips and dolphins and

fleurs-de-lis—altar frontals of crimson velvet and blue linen—and many corporals, chalice-veils and

sudaria—in the mystic offices to which such things are put—performance that quickens Dorian’s jaded

imagination—for these treasures and everything
that he collects in his lovely house, are to be for

him means of forgetfulness—modes by which he can escape for a season—without reason from fear that

seems to him at times—to be almost too great to be borne—upon the walls of that lonely locked room

where he’d spent so much—of his boyhood
hanging with his own hands—the terrible portrait

whose changing features—showed him the real degradation of his life—in front of it draped the

purple-and-gold pall as a curtain—for weeks not going there—forgetting the hideous painted thing

getting back his gay heart again—his wonderful joyousness & passionate absorption—in mere

existence but suddenly some nights—he’d creep
out of the house—down to dreadful places near the

Blue Gate Fields—staying there day after day
until he was driven away—then on his return he’d

sit in front of the portrait—watching with that pride that’s half fascination and sin—smiling with a certain

secret pleasure at his own—misshapen double
having to bear the burden—that should have been

his own—rich decadent Dorian wearing ecclesiastical vestments—as indeed he had everything connected

with the service of the Church—long cedar chests lining—the west gallery of his house storing away

many rare and beautiful—raiments of the Bride
of Christ—enjoying purple and jewels and fine linen

while the pallid macerated—bent miscreant Other
upstairs suffered that name—that dares not speak

its own name—wounded by Dorian’s self-inflicted pain—possessed by gorgeous capes—of rich Papal

crimson silk and goldthread damask—figured with
repeating patterns of golden pomegranates—set in

six-petalled formal blossoms—beyond which on
either side pale pineapple—devices wrought in

seed-pearls—delicate orphreys divided into panels
representing scenes—from the life of the Dark

Virgin—the coronation of the Dark Prince figured
in colored silks upon—rare Italian crowns of the

fifteenth century—capes of green velvet embroidered
with heart-shaped groups—of acanthus-leaves

smothered with—long-stemmed white blossoms
the details of which—were woven with silver thread

and colored crystals—a stag with seraph's head
in gold-thread raised work—orphreys woven in

diapers of red and gold silk—starred with medallions
of many saints and martyrs—among whom were

many ancient and—modern-day St. Sebastians clothed in amber-colored—smooth silken loincloths

and gold brocade—with tart yellow lemon arrows
piercing the air with—citrus pricks of gilded pain

figured with representations—of the Passion
and Crucifixion of Christ—embroidered with lions

peacocks and other de Medicis—mourning masks
Florentine black velvet—powdered crescents and

descending suns—curtains of darkness with leafy wreaths and garlands—figured upon gold and silver

backgrounds fringed—along the edges with broideries of pearls—standing in a room hung

with rows of queenly devices—cut black velvet upon cloths of silver—Louis XIV royal embroidered gold

caryatides—fifteen feet high in his apartment
the royal bed of Sobieski—the King of Poland

made of Smyrna gold brocade—embroidered in turquoises with verses—from the Yellow Book

books of silver gilt—beautifully chased and
profusely set—with enameled jeweled medallions

taken from sordid Baghdad camps—Abu Ghraib
and grim Guantánamo—beneath a tremulously

quivering neocon-gilded canopy—so that for a whole year Dorian sought—to accumulate the most

exquisite specimens he could find—of exile and tortuously embroidered decadence—dainty Delhi

muslins finely wrought with—gold-thread palmates
and stitched over with—iridescent beetles' wings

Dacca gauzes—their transparency known in the
East as "woven air" and "running water" and

"evening dew"—strange figured cloths from Java elaborate yellow Chinese hangings—books bound in

tawny yellow satins and fair blue silks—wrought with
fleurs-de-lis, birds and images—veils of lapis lazuli

worked in Hungary point—Sicilian brocades and
stiff Spanish velvets—Georgian work with gilt coins

Japanese Foukousas—with their green-toned golds and their marvelously—special plumaged birds

how different it was with—these luxurious things which had been passed from—the great crocus-

colored robes—worn by the gods who fought against the giants—who had known the pleasures of Athena

the huge velarium—that Nero had stretched across the Coliseum at Rome—Titans sailing into the soft

purple velvet curtains—representing the starry sky
and young Apollo driven—by chariots drawn by

gilded Ganymedes on reined steeds—the longing to
see the curious table-napkins—wrought by the

Priests of the Sun—on which were displayed all
the dainties & viands—that could be wanted for a

funeral feast—the mortuary cloth of King Chilperic with its three hundred golden bees—fantastic robes

exciting the indignation—of the Bishop of Pontus and figured with—"lions, panthers, bears, dogs, forests

landscapes, rocks, hunters”—all in fact that a painter could copy from nature—the coat that Charles of

Orleans once wore—on the sleeves of which were embroidered the verses—of a song beginning with

"Madame, je suis tout joyeux"—with the musical accompaniment of the words—being wrought in gold

thread and each note—of square shape in those days formed with four pearls—Dorian reading in the room

of the Yellow Book—his palatial library for the use of Queen Joan of Burgundy—decorated with thirteen

hundred and—twenty-one parrots made in broidery and blazoned—with the king's arms and five hundred

and sixty-one monarch butterflies—whose wings were similarly ornamented with the arms of the

Size Queen Catherine—the whole worked in gold
described by Henry VIII—on his way to the Tower

previous to his coronation—wearing a jacket of raised gold—the placard embroidered with diamonds

and other rich stones—a great bauderike about his neck of large balasses—earrings of emeralds set in

red-gold Armour—studded with jacinths and collars of gold roses set—with turquoise-stones and a

skull-cap parseme with pearls—the ducal hat of Charles the Rash—the last Duke of Burgundy

hung with pear-shaped pearls—and studded with sapphires—how exquisite life had once been!!!

how gorgeous in its pomp—and decoration!!!
reading of such luxury—of the dearly departed

causing Dorian to turn his attention—to lush embroideries and tapestries—performing the office

of frescoes in the chilly rooms—of northern European nations—as he investigated each decadent subject

as always with that—extraordinary faculty of his becoming absolutely—absorbed for the moment

in whatever he took up—almost saddened by the reflection of the ruin—that time brought on beautiful

and wonderful things—Dorian at any rate escaping each summer followed summer—as the yellow

jonquils bloomed and died—many times and nights of horror repeating—the story of his shame leaving

Dorian unchanged—no winter marring his face or staining his flowerlike bloom—wreathed in a crown

of sardius with the scorn—of the horned snake inwrought so that—no man might poison him

in his bedroom—two golden apples of the sun
which were two carbuncles—so that the gold

might shine by day—and the carbuncles by night
like Lodge's strange romance—Margarite America

telling the story that—in the chamber of the queen he could become—"all the chaste ladies of the world”

inchased out of silver—looking through fair mirrors
of chrysolites, rubies—sapphires & greene emeraults

like Marco Polo having seen—inhabitants of Zipangu place rose-colored pearls—in the mouths of the dead

sea-monsters enamored with pearls—fetched by
nude young Polynesian divers—from fathoms deep

King Perozes having slain—the young thief and mourning for seven moons—over his sad loss

The King of Malabar—showing off a certain Venetian rosary of three hundred & four pearls—one for every

god that he worshipped—while the Duke de Valentinois son of Alexander VI—visited Louis XII

of France—his horse loaded with gold leaves
according to Brantome—his cap with double rows

of rubies that threw out—a great neon-red light
Charles of England riding in stirrups—hung with four

hundred and—twenty-one icy diamonds while
Richard II with a coat—valued at thirty thousand

marks delicately covered—with balas rubies
telling undiscovered—wonderful stories about jewels

Alphonso's Clericalis Disciplina—mentioning a serpent with eyes of real jacinth—and in the

romantic history of—Alexander the Conqueror of Emathia—about whom it was once said that a lowly

camel boy found in the—shadows of the Pyramids a young pharaoh with lips—of dark emerald kisses

turquoise eyes—like gems in the brain of a dragon
according to Philostratus—telling us about ancient

exhibitions of golden letters—and mandrill-assed
monsters that could be thrown—into magical sleep

and slain—according to Pierre de Boniface the
great alchemist—Diamond Man wizard-invisible

agate India eloquent-tongued—cornelian youths
full of hyacinth-provoked sleep—amethyst dreams

driving away the fumes of wine—garnets cast out by hydropicus—delirious rings of Saturn waxed and

waned with the—meloceus blood of Leonardus Camillus—white stones taken from the brain of

a newly killed toad—certain antidotes against poisonous bezoar creeps—found in the heart

of the Arabian deer—a charm that could cure the plague—nests of Arabian birds and aspilates

the King of Ceilan riding—through his city with a large ruby in his hand—for the ceremony of his

coronation—behind the gates of the palace where
young John the Priest—gets exquisitely laid

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