We Must Break The Back Of Summer, Brothers

Brothers! Merely walking from my apartment to the subway has felled me with a most grievous stroke from the sun’s blazing hand. The Dolorous Finger of Auguste — the treacherous pommel of Ƿēodmōnaþ, the brown-breath’d thrust of the Grass Month — has laid waste to the beauty of my perfect knightheart and knightbody, and I am struck all over with swooning and great dole. I am passing heavy, yes exceeding heavy in calefaction and grief. Brothers, we must gather together and break the seething spine of summer! We must wrest Sirius the Scorcher from his minatory pursuit of Great Orion across the heavens, must check his course and wrest him down from the sky before his ascension is achieved, lest he breathe fevers and aching miasmas over the brows of men for ever.

Sirius! Dog-star, yes, but faithful never, who passes in hateful heat over the heads of true knights, stifling the artichoke-flower and heaving clouds of grasshoppers into the dust, trading crops for the shrill and wearing song, parching the hearts of women and the throats of men. Sirius, who blights the flesh of trees and spoils riverbeds and strikes thirsty to wrest the sweetness out of the very earth, who kindles a fire at the back of the tongue and boils the languid Sea, who blights the ports with ravenous infections and worries wounds, chasing the healing wand of Asclepius from stifled cities, who wastes the moon til she drips sweating-sickness from her very horn!

It is too hot, my gentle brothers-in-arms! I say again that it is too hot, and we must alight our own counter-wakefires of clean wood and clean bones, to drive out the benighted heats of this new and dog-demented sun! Garnish the counter-fire with green birch and white flowers, with long fennel and cooling strips of mint; heap upon it the costliest bracelets and most delicate of love-tokens, and also lamps of glass and branches of iron, the pale blossom of the fern-in-bloom, also singed earth from last year’s Twelfth-Night fire, for the new sun birthed in that festival was no true son at all, but a perfidious and hateful ember of the deadly Sol Invictus, who drove madness into the minds of the final gibbering cult-kings who tore Rome apart with blister-white and scalding teeth! A great mad boar charges across the solar vault of heaven with live and glowing coals in his champing mouth – we must pull him down or be buried under iron and ash! Seethe new wine and olives over the fire, and the seed-pods of last year’s wheat, to purify the flames, and lay over them foxgloves and the dog-rose, to reverse the evil-greening of this swollen, cankerous May-Day! Outside feels like a cat’s mouth and hot poison and nothing is any good at all, not even a little bit!

Only the full force of knighthood can break the back of this overvaulted, overgrown, overfleshed summer now — quickly, brothers, while birds drop dazed and dizzy out of bleached tree-tops, while the sweating clocks still keep cucumber-time, before the steaming, fetid swamp-winds of the bad summer throttle autumn in its cradle, before la morte-saison eats the calendar altogether, rots the cool heart of night forever, birthing snake-woe, sowing a boiling, listless harvest.

Light the counter-fires and offer nine head of each type of living creature; hang the drained bodies in the sacred grove and slake the ground’s heat-thirst with gobbets of blood. Should this fail to split the backbone of this loathsome August, unbury the honored dead and display the best corpses for to feed the hungry honeyglass sky. If seventy-two sacrifices are offered but fail to dwindle the heat, offer next the oxen; if the oxen fail to check it, offer men; if man-flesh displeases, offer kings! Brazen the altars with the ruddy gore! Let the ox-priests spread restful shadows with steady, blood-cooled arms — choke the overheated gods with such a superfluity of meat that the next thousand thousand years of earth will waft with vegetable breezes! Harvest kings, or be harvested else! It’s just too goddamn hot out, boys, and we must drive it out, sake and soke, toll and team, infangthief and all, or else spoil in the fields like old hay!

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