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Chess Morality XIX: Shadow-Chess

There's an Irishman, Arthur O'Shaughnessy--

On the chessboard of poets a Pawn is he;

Though a Bishop or King Would be rather the thing

To the fancy of Arthur O'Shaughnessy. --Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The thumb, in Chiromancy, we give to Venus, the fore-finger to Jove, the midst to Saturn, the ring to Sol, the least to Mercury.

--Ben Jonson, 'The Alchemist' 1610

Im Gebirge ist der naechste Weg von Gipfel zu Gipfel: aber dazu musst du lange Beine haben. Mein Mundwerk-- ist des Volks; Meine Hand-- ist eine Narrenhand. Mein Fuss-- ist ein Pferdefuss; Mein Magen-- ist wohl eines Adlers Magen? --Friedrich Nietzsche, 'Also Sprach Zarathustra'

The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the universe to do. --Galileo

The naturalists say they are generated in the sky by fulgurous exhalation, conglobed in a Cloud by the circumfused humour. --Tollius 1649

Into this house we're born Into this world we're thrown Like a dog without a bone An actor out on loan. --The Doors, 'Riders on the Storm' 1971

Suppose thou hast my Chariot? What wouldst thou do? Canst thou confront the spinning poles and not be swept away by the swift axes of the Worlds? Perhaps you hope for cities of the gods and groves and temples rich with offerings. Nay! Every sign of the Zodiac stokes the skies/ Through which a million risks your voyage lies. --Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book II 1st Century

Mercury the Bishop, Venus the Queen

Mars Knight, Saturn Rook, Jupiter the King--

Caissa's seeming moments like as orbits seen,

The playing field on Earth, each trailing ring

About Sol shapes sun-Falcon's hidden paths,

Bodies streaming equal timed and spaced swaths.

Sol(F): Five planets and two luminosities

Cast set of seven past shadow of a doubt.

Those pairings more than curiosities

Spell down what our work's really all about.

Seven pieces, metals, Wonders, days of week

Seven Pleiades, birds, animals bespeak.

Luna(P): This nineteenth poem observes the command

Of a Lunar event one identifies

By nineteen-year cycle. Even now at hand

The Major Lunar Standstill in Earth's skies!

More moment than shadow of an eclipse

Our paths retraced in ancient megaliths.

Mars(N): Through dread arena of mental events

Grim shadow actors replay "Auld lines' loss."

Shades of the dead, the long-Drawn-out descents,

Full seven gates of nested loops must cross.

Neither Wrestling, Race nor archery can save

Chess woodpushers from sure computer grave.

Mercury(B): With none of trappings that a riddle hath:

Man's height equals seven times length of his foot.

Measure hand's shadow from its middle path

By fingers of another hand well-put.

Count up the length Sundial's shadow endures

To tell what time it is, and we know yours.

Jupiter(K): Chessboard squares 'e1' all act like portal

(Though teleport's more often rough than smooth)

Passing through which objects turn immortal.

From out the shadows comes the gospel truth

Availed most often by the priceless King

Who takes no umbrage that 'the play's the thing.'

Venus(Q): Suppose Queen takes up gauntlet of a King,

Apollo's without lyre, Quixote lance.

What time is it when shadow of a thing

Is equal to the thing itself by chance?

Let's pray that ethos dies 'In Gold they trust'

And scatter to high heaven their Fool's dust.

Saturn(R): As my usual venue's tenebrous,

The forlorn dark-age chess shadows lengthen.

As sphere's volume goes by cubed radius,

Mighty captive-piece ghost armies strengthen--

Their marching orders to betake a sign

Of what would more than approach the divine.

--George William Duke 2006

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Author: George William Duke.
Web page created: 2006-12-27. Web page last updated: 2006-12-27