Paracelsus:

By Diane di Prima b. 1934 Diane di Prima
Extract the juice which is itself a Light.

Pulp,   manna,   gentle
                    Theriasin, ergot
like mold on flame, these red leaves
bursting
                    from mesquite by the side
of dry creekbed.         Extract


the tar, the sticky
substance
                    heart
                                of things
(each plant a star,        extract


the juice of stars
                                by circular stillation
smear
            the inner man w/the coction
till he burn
            like worms of light in quicksilver
not the false
            puffballs of marshfire,      extract


the heart of the empty heart
                     it is full
of the star soul that paces fierce
in the deeps of earth
                       the Red Man,
                                                 healer
in furs
            who carries a club
who carries
             the pale homunculus
in his belly.
                         For you are angel, you call
the soul from plants


                      or pearls of ambergris
out of the grudging sea.
                       Extract arcanum.  Separate
true Archeus from the false
                       the bitter
is not less potent—nor does clarity
bespeak truth.


                        Out of the heart of the ineffable
draw the black flecks of matter
                               & from these
the cold, blue fire.
                               Dry water.   Immerse
yourself
              though it be but a drop.
                                                           This Iliaster
flowers like the wind.
               Out of the ash, the Eidolon of the world


Crystalline.
                  Perfect.

Diane di Prima, “Paracelsus:” from Pieces of a Song. Copyright © 1990 by Diane di Prima. Reprinted by permission of City Lights Books.

Source: Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems (City Lights Books, 1990)

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Poet Diane di Prima b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Subjects Nature, Arts & Sciences, Sciences, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Feminist Beat poet Diane di Prima was born in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Swarthmore College for two years before moving to Greenwich Village in Manhattan and becoming a writer in the emerging Beat movement. There, she developed friendships with poets Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O’Hara, and Audre Lorde. After joining Timothy Leary’s intentional community in upstate New York, she moved to San Francisco . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Arts & Sciences, Sciences, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Beat

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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