Our birth being so bright a light
casts the shadow of our every deed
for good or ill, of all deeds that touch us,
forward, tangled, overlapping, all down the line.

So the clean walls of ourselves are always
dappled, stippled, rippling with the rapid distorted
shadow-play: tall deeds cast long shadows.
Here a groping hand, there a broken-winged sin
describe their old selves in this flat theatre.
The flickering chiaroscuro, confusing; where they cross
haphazard patterns slither and leap, resembling none
of the originals.


Our life being so large a room
has almost infinite reverberance: our every word,
and all addressed to us, echo,
bounce, howl, mutter and whisper, all down the line.

So the deep silence of the soul is broken
by the muddy endless murmur: harsh words echo loudest
longest. Our own protests
mingle, merge, mate with enduring lies; hiss and growl
of consonant and vowel, confusing. Tangling
and competing they build hybrid phrases, unidentifiable,
pretending to be new.

— GPL 1988 D. A. Clarke

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