How came you to be down there.
Sir Alfred Ayer:
You mean in Logical Positivism’s chair?
And generally in such infernal spot.
Specifically, it is a seat best known as hot-
However, others burn intensely for theirs it’s not.
Bertrand Russell, Berkeley, Hume and Wittgenstein, you mean?
Precisely and many others now not read or seen.
Daubed with the mud of metaphysics, you can see where they’ve been;
Off verifying nonsense, their minds are not clean.
And why are you in the Seventh Circle?
I thought you’d never ask.
Will you answer?
To compel me is your task.
I was once the greatest thinker that the world had seen,
Venerated by my peers, knighted by the Queen,
Published Language, Truth and Logic when I was seventeen…
That you are not up here is odd.
Don’t you recall? You kicked me out, you clod.
Ah yes, I remember-you disbelieved in God.
And now I’ve changed. My ideas are rearranged.
When I was a young punk the argument from design `stunk’;
`It’s the philosophy of nonsense’, I said-
‘Nietzsche was romancing when he called God dead’…
Grey gruel of a deity melted in my prism, darkly.
All this I set out in purple prose quite starkly.
I bluntly had a go at those who crushed to their bosom a multi-foliate rose
And challenged them, that pack led by the nose to a transcendent God.
And yet, over this ground I trod when considering your application.
I would never, could never refuse someone merely spurning supplication.
In another age you might have been reviled, shunned, attacked, gagged, exiled-
Instead of chats up on Hickory Hill, they would be issuing a license to kill…
And if you had suffered for choosing to resist, not only upon entrance but on
sainthood I’d insist.
Then is it true, indeed, that martyrs exist?
You die, therefore you are. A priori, one is often far
From absolutes, in these bizarre echelons; for all I know,
Hell is merely Purgatorio – a stop on the way for devils so
They can be cleansed by fire before they go;
Returned then to earth, themselves to know.
You can play that game anyway you wish-
Sinner, imp, archangel, fish…
Does one sense DOUBT amongst the seraphim?
As to the old man, they’ve not seen him.
And what, indeed, has he done lately?
Deeds never really mattered greatly.
Some are tired of waiting for a sign
That the word, chiefly, is not in decline
But I decline to guess. If you press me
As to doubt, forget it but not so weariness.
As to that, I am afraid, the answer’s ‘yes’.
But I digress. Prithee, if you will, confess
Why you we denied when others gained access.
I had eyes to see and wouldn’t.
Vide Milton, who did, although he couldn’t.
I dream I’m Jesus, sometimes, I confess;
In my latest dream, which recurs with great success,
I’m cognizant at birth of the event and its great worth.
Gifts are brought via Morpheus,
A light is made in my corner-things are what they seem.
All the holy books are cryptograms and I know the numbers, in my dream.
Men clash and things collide; as I ride a simple beast from town to town, they coincide,
I dream of myself lecturing those of age and scholarship and they stop to hear.
I see myself depicted often-whether crudely or not, the image is not clear.
Magic and wisdom I spread and work, my fame is kindled, spreads and burns,
Doubt and wealth I overturn.
My brow furrows and I wonder; ‘Is this pain a dream?’
Then I awake, heavy-handed and wet-
‘Is it stigmata?’ I scream.
You felt, you saw, you heard, you smelt, you remembered
And knew nothing.
Did you know? How do I know you knew? How do you know you knew?
Just so-only when one is wracked by fire.
I received my bank statement in the mail, all yellow and inflamed,
Got another tax notice, marked in red and framed,
The heating charges tumbled through the letterbox en masse
And now, out of the blue, arrives a letter from my no-good brother.
He, too, once thought, ‘If I be a vision in a dream,
What entity will murder me by waking with a scream?’
But these and other scraps I drop into the too-hard basket.