Island of Yesterday
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
─John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I
It is the window of a prison they left him, and an island.
That fatal year, with frenzy and a goal, a goal that still reverberated in his vein during those sleepless nights, he faced the impossible and the multitude.
Battlefield, blood, reeking breath, memory, religion and philosophy are all trapped in a heated discussion of life and death. He was an Achilles, mighty and fearless, his men used to call him. No, never an Achilles. Achilles was swollen with his feet. His feet had been well shaped by birth and dimmed in the sobbing Styx, entirely. He was Beowulf, the epic and the one man that pulled heaven and earth apart.
Or he should be the great Ozymandias, king of kings, he once contended.
And yet, even Ozymandias cheated no death and passed into obscurity. They offered him Scylla and Charybdis. Meet the great Ozymandias in his ruin or become self-exiled Moses. He knew the Holy Book better.
So he came down to this island, an island of his own. The day he cursed for failing him to join the ghost comrades. He would have better resisted solitude that way. At nights, he wished he had chosen to be the decaying legend of bards, to talk history with the mighty King.
Secluded and locked up in his own universe, he remained. The dark cell now embraced his existence as he kept sunken to its hellish deep.
A sealed window allowed great view from the cell but he never came close to it. A view to the open was a view to the land he did not claim, the kingdom he never built. A view led not to the glory but whispered deceased dream from yesterday. He would not have come close to it.
Then it follows that one day a most unexpected guest comes to visit. It is a sky-lark that perches on the window. They say the bird is of a rare species that do not even show up in the mainland where the spring echoes the sound of nature. The bird has scarcely argued for its presence before it lets loose the melodies.
He would not have listened for it sings of beauty that exists but he lets pass all too easily, in the years when he went to war, in the year before it. He would not have listened to the melodies that satirize his island of one’s own.
But sings and sings the skylark. The bird, they say, never sings but when it does, the world stands still. For it could not be stopped till overpowered by death. A death song celebrating life, even right in the burning of it.
Like the Phoenix being reborn from the ashes of fire. It never sings but it cracks, of life.
And the window breaks.