Writings Contents
Early Verse

Lonely Town

Amidst the houses of this sleeping town
Where summer showers damply rustle down
In counterpoint to muted footsteps on the street
My lonely footsteps in the cool of night
Beyond the street-lamps haloed hole of light—
This is my world unbounded, this is my retreat.
Between the houses and beyond the hills
The moon upon the resting rain mist spills
Its glow and silvers roofs and dew-sparks shadowed trees.
Shopwindow neons impotent and tired
Hang silently and dead and uninspired
Behind the rain-begotten, moon-reflective frieze.
And, echoing each foot behind the last,
I walk, and mark upon the things I've passed
No memory or wishful dream or passing thought—
My shadow crosses here and there a sound may touch
But once I have passed on, the ground will bear no print.
In this, my world, I am but naught.
    Ross Chamberlain—1958

Youthful angst abounds in this one; I still rather like it. I recorded it once against a recording of Nathan Milstein playing Rain in the Village (I don't know who the composer is; input would be appreciated) and it worked perfectly.


The Fool

I said,
In the morning splendor
That he who does not rise from sleep
To see this hushed glory of the sun
Is a fool.
I said,
As I looked out across the shimmering sea
That he who will not spend a little time
To contemplate the beauty of the sunlit ocean
Is a fool.
And Satan heard my words and laughed
And struck my eyes so that I could no longer see.
I said,
As I lay in the grass beside a woodland waterfall
That he who does not stop to listen to the songs of birds
And the rush of wind in branches
And the throbbing roar of falling water
Is a fool.
I said,
As a hundred voices sang of joy
To the mighty music of Beethoven's Choral Symphony
That he who makes no attempt
To love the music of the great
Is a fool.
And Satan heard my words and frowned
And struck my ears to that I could no longer hear.
I said,
As I bathed in a summer pond
That he who cannot spare the time
To relax in the firm and soothing arms
Of an abundant world
Is a fool.
I said,
As I felt the warm touch of my love's lips upon my own
And tasted the warm salt tears upon her cheeks
That he who will not love
Is a fool.
And Satan heard my words and, angered,
Paralyzed my body, so that I could no longer sense
The world about me.
I said,
As I dreamed my dreams and remembered memories
That he who does not appreciate
The things he has until he loses them
Is a fool.
I said,
As I dwelt in the dark, confining world
That was myself
That he who will not place his faith in God
Is a fool.
And Satan heard my words and in despair
Struck his final blow, and thus I died.
Now,
I can see the sunrise and the shining sea
For I am a part of them.
And I can hear the songs of birds
The rush of wind and the roar of water
And I can hear a hundred thousand voices
Raised in song, for I am a part of them.
And I can feel the coolness of the summer pond
And I can feel the warmth of my love's lips
And taste her tears
For I am a part of them.
And I have found my faith in God
For He had faith in me
And I am a part of Him.
And Satan
Is a fool.

    Ross Chamberlain—Summer, 1959

My spiritual viewpoint has fluctuated between faith and agnosticism over most of my life. I do believe there's Something More and that many of our wisest and most enlightened souls have caught more than glimpses of it, but conveying it to even the most devoted followers who have not shared the vision distorts it to near incomprehensibility. Witness, if you will, the difficulties most of us have even with many of the relatively provable discoveries of science, such as Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, or Quantum Physics. In each case there are phenomena that seem contrary to our normal mode of perception and yet can be determined through observable processes of natural law, backed up by mathematics. How much less is it possible for man to comprehend matters that must be taken on faith?


Sucker for punishment? Or just like to see some of my other early works of verse and story? Here is a collection of Creative Writings that range from 1951, when I was 13 or 14, to a couple from the very early 1960s, and the quality level varies considerably...
Writings Contents

The Dream

Early on one morn I dreamed,
And as I softly dreamt it seemed
I sat amongst a group of men
Their number slightly over ten
Upon a gently sloping knoll
At ease and safe from worry's call.
Below us, babbling at our feet
A cheerful stream, its passage fleet
Flowed by, and by its side
A pleasant path, not very wide,
But passable, followed its way
Along the laughing brook at play.
Somehow I knew, by that odd power
One has in dreams that in that hour
In Judea's land was where I lay
And the time was long before our day.
The men were dressed in robes of blue,
Maroon and green and varied hue,
And one among them robed in white
In contrast to the robes less light
That most of those about me wore—
I'll later speak of this one more.
My interest just then I found
Was on a child who stood his ground
Before us on the path that made its way
Along the stream, who said the words
That broke the peaceful morn—"I say
The Messiah is not yet born."
A hush for a second, and then the one
Whose robe of white was seamless spun,
He who stood out among the crowd
By his gold-brown hair on a head unbowed
By age, though his gentle eyes
Bore a look both old and wise—
Leaned forth and raised his kind strong hand—
The hand that had both built and planned
Houses and boats in Nazareth
And raised at least one man from death,
And healed the sick and helped the poor—
Said to the child, "Son, are you sure?"
There was a silence then as they
Watched for what the child would say.
Somehow it seemed as though those two,
For all the people then in view,
Were in the center of a ring
Of spectators who were listening.
About them both there seemed a light
Shining from their clothes of white—
We knew that what the child would say
Could not be lightly cast away,
But that in spite of what they knew
The childish words would be quite true.
He said, "The Messiah is not yet born,"
And walked away. Compassion torn,
The men sat still, and he in white
Gazed after the child—And now the light
Goes dim, my visions break
And I arouse myself, awake.
    Ross Chamberlain—Jan. 7, 1955

This was an actual dream I had. The verse was written later that same morning, after composing a somewhat less florid prose version. The dream is of course open to all kinds of interpretation, most of the options probably having nothing to do with religion, but the thought that came to me many years later about this is that perhaps the messianic aspects of Jesus were not really born until after his death and resurrection. Since I am not versed in the messianic traditions, this may or may not be a valid viewpoint; still, although to judge by the Gospels he had a great following in the later days of his teaching, his greatest influence on man came in the years that followed his death as his disciples and those who came after, such as Paul, spread his word across the then-known world, eventually to became the official dogma of nations.

Incidentally, if you stumble at the lines "Along the stream, who said the words/That broke the peaceful morn—'I say/The Messiah is not yet born.'" I'd like to say that this was a deliberate ploy related to the content, a kind of jarring of the steady rhythm. I'd like to, but... Hey, think it works that way? Oh, well — I keep looking at it every once in a while to see if I can rework the lines to match the couplet rhyming pattern of all the rest of the poem. Maybe someday it'll come to me.


Brood in Winter

I saw
In the grey and white expansiveness
A silver etching
With highlights of black intensity
Dead limbs screeching toward the greyness
Mottled sky of heavy iron
Ponderously settling
Upon the powder snow
A gloriosity quenched in greylight
And sounds are clear but lost
In skimming against the muffling snow
Become an accent
Newborn yet somehow senile
Now something darts
In unruled penline of sparkled black
And disappears
Only to reappear
Confirming in memory that which I thought
Might not have been
I say goodbye behind a hill
And gaze upon twin trails
All that remain to show
Where he on skis had truly been
But was no more
But the break in monotony now is not
And memory in struggle now subsides
And pretends that it was wrong
The double track now forgets itself
Amidst the grey and white and silver black
Where nothing is but seems
As if it were not
And sadness and joy and submerged
In a strange intensification
Of tranquility
    Ross Chamberlain—c.1955-56

This rather pompous poem is best read in just that fashion, rather like a caricaturization of Dylan Thomas, whom I had in mind while writing it. It wasn't really meant to be so overblown, but I'm afraid that's how it works best. I think it's that key word "gloriosity" that removes it from all pretensions to seriousness, though I loved it at the time.