By Br. Tobias the Shoeless, 1689
Translated by Josef Vintras,
Pelluvium Press, 1959
NOTE: There are many versions of this peculiar document. Legend says it was written in verse on scraps of paper in Tobias’ own blood and smuggled out to adherents during his long imprisonment. Various members later published them while on the run.
Of course, the difficulties inherent in even writing such a poem made interpretation difficult. But the language of the original apparently was in a peculiar peasant dialect similar to Occitan and in an odd rhyming scheme as well. And of course, though nearly illiterate, Tobias was famous for his odd, hallucinatory imagery and impenetrable metaphors.
New verses and alternative readings are still being discovered. However, once the document became popular with pot-hunters, versions were altered, translations falsified and the whole situation further muddied, if that were possible.
In short: caveat lector!
So through a trick in magic’s tomb
Long it lay buried in an ancient womb
Raised at last from caverns of blood
No cyclopean temple in Apollo’s wood
But under a high plinth placed again
Watched o’er ever by an unseen guardian…
In Morven’s shrine at dawn’s first ray,
Piercing deep on the longest day,
Behind the wall of light unbroken,
Rests the truth of forgiveness given….
High protector the worst betrayer became
But not out of greed for wealth or fame
Only through love of Christ’s holy Church
Uttered he the fateful words to launch the search:
“The holy tub that to Heaven was lost
Can be found on Earth despite all cost.”
For the sanguine serpent spoke no guile
To Satan’s courtiers scheming schism vile
And the red priest with sudden terror,
Saw all lofty hopes collapse in error.
His well-meant words an instant blunder
Resounding through the land like thunder,
Bringing no peace or brotherly feeling
But deadly war without hope of healing.
Once a score of years near Morven,
The invisible third eye shall open
In sacred silence of the flitting night,
When Diana swoops low in full flight
Comes so near to this world of tears,
A sweet sight to soothe all fears.
When ever-virgin full-swollen appears,
Twixt Centaur’s dart and Scorpion’s sting,
Then shall come that moment of which we sing.
From a shining mirror with a hidden stain,
The spirits shall proceed in stately mien,
In ghostly vision of heavenly light.
For the faithful who wait in holy fear,
This shortest night of the year,
Made longest by vigil ever kept,
By anxious pilgrims who have not slept.
To them, a sign of salvation is given,
In a glimpse, all wrongs forgiven,
As weeping regret to pure joy turns,
The fiery sting of sin no longer burns.
Then She shines in dawn’s first rays
As summer blossoms on the longest days,
For after ending the fast racing night,
Mounts hot Apollo, following bright,
Climbing to his high station all alone,
Then will the shadowless way be shown,
To where the font of forgiveness is meet,
‘Neath sainted Hoprig’s holy seat.
While the Mother blushes with light,
In her shadow Death gives fright.
To light and life the true way is found
Through Death and Hell far underground
In the belly of Behemoth in the deep
Secret rites of the holy ones we keep
That when fatal time comes again at hand
Our pure doctrine shall cleanse the land...
…There let it rest until the world is ended
And broken hearts at last are mended.
In latter days a champion shall appear
From sunset lands devoid of fear
A charlatan called to end illusion
And break the lies of ancient confusion.
From the sky he falls for freedom’s cause
To save fair France from gray barbarians
Yet cut down by order of her guardians.
Hider of relics who found a dragon,
His children shall complete his mission.
To the Holy Mother he will return her dish.
Innocent fools will get their wish
Beholding after the deadly night
By the year’s most exalted light
Reveals in the Virgin’s recess
A fatal ending or final success?
There the sign of the trickster
Shows where they must enter
Marking that forbidding spot
Where awaits the Sacred Pot.
Their caution betrayed by greed
The madman at last will succeed.
A sacrifice on the altar must land
When flies fatal seed from his hand,
The victim with cloth of gold is hidden
The hero ascends to Heaven unshriven
Else fate will laugh at them in the end
When Death covers all like dust in the wind.