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SIX

Enderby saw, in gloomy clarity, going back to 96th Street on the IRT, that the area of freedom was very small. Ein wenig frei was about right. He was not free, for instance, not to be messily beaten up by the black gang Lloyd Utterage had, in sincere and breathy confidence with much African vowel-lengthening, promised to unleash on him during the weekend. He was not free not to feel excruciating stabs in his calves, something probably to do with the silting up of the arteries, which had now come upon him as he embraced the metal monkey pole in the IRT train, all the seats having been taken by young black and brown thugs just out of school, who should by rights be forced to stand up for their elders. But he was free to leave America. A matter of booking on a plane to Madrid and then another to Tangier. Being free in this area, however, he decided not to make use of his freedom. Which meant he would not be free not to be messily beaten up etc. etc. Which meant he was choosing to be messily etc. They would bruise and rend his body, but there would be a thin clear as it were refrigerated self deep within, unbruisable and unrendable and, as it were, free. Augustine of Hippo, whom he now saw blanketed and shockhaired like Lloyd Utterage, was waiting for him back in the apartment to sort out other aspects of freedom for him. But, wait-he had to appear on a television talk show sometime this evening, didn't he? He must not forget that, he must keep track of the time. Ein wenig frei to speak out for Gerard Manley Hopkins, sufferer, mystic, artist, pre-Freudian.

As he let himself into the apartment, he was aware of the ghost of the cardiac attack, if that was what it was, earlier-not shooting but already shot, a sort of bruised line of trajectory. It was obvious that he was intended to be doing some urgent thinking about death. He gloomed at the mess of the kitchen, lusting for a pint of strong tea and a wedge of some creature of Sara Lee's. He gave way to the lust defiantly, grumbling round the sitting room while the water boiled, searching for his ALABAMA mug. He found it eventually, full of warmish water that had once been ice. Soon he was able to sit on a pouffe, gorging sponge and orange cream out of one fist, the other holding the handle of the mug of mahogany tea like a weapon against Death, what time he looked at a children's cartoon programme on television. It was all talking animals in reds, blues, and yellows, but you could see the chained wit and liberalism of the creators escaping from odd holes in the fabric: that legalistic pig there was surely the Vice-President? Might it be possible to get the story of Augustine and Pelagius across in cartoon form?

Back in the study-bedroom with his draft, he saw how bad it was and how much work on it lay ahead. And yet he was supposed to start thinking of death. It was the leaving of things unfinished that was so intolerable. It was all very well for Jesus Christ, not himself a writer though no mean orator, to talk about thinking not of the morrow. If you'd started a long poem you had to think of the bloody morrow. You could better cope with the feckless Nazarene philosophy if you were like these scrounging dope-takers who littered the city. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, as also the dope thereof.


Augustine said: If the Almighty is also Allknowing,

He knows the precise number of hairs that will fall to the floor

From your next barbering, which may also be your last.

He knows the number of drops of lentil soup

That will fall on your robe from your careless spooning

On August 5th, 425. He knows every sin

As yet uncommitted, can measure its purulence

On a precise scale of micropeccatins, a micropeccatin

Being, one might fancifully suppose,

The smallest unit of sinfulness. He knows

And knew when the very concept of man itched within him

The precise date of your dispatch, the precise

Allotment of paradisal or infernal space

Awaiting you. Would you diminish the Allknowing

By making man free? This is heresy.

But that God is merciful as well as Allknowing

Has been long revealed: he is not himself bound

To fulfill foreknowledge. He scatters grace

Liberally and arbitrarily, so all men may hope,

Even you, man of the northern seas, may hope.

But Pelagius replied: Mercy is the word, mercy.

And a greater word is love. Out of his love

He makes man free to accept or reject him.

He could foreknow but refuses to foreknow

Any, even the most trivial, human act until

The act has been enacted, and then he knows.

So men are free, are touched by God's own freedom.

Christ with his blood washed out original sin,

So we are in no wise predisposed to sin

More than to do good: we are free, free,

Free to build our salvation. Halleluiah.

But the man of Hippo, with an African blast,

Blasted this man of the cool north


No no no, Enderby said to himself. It could not be done. This was not poetry. You could not make poetry out of raw doctrine. You had to find symbols, and he had no symbols. The poem could not be written. He was free. The paper chains rustled off. He stuffed them into the wastebasket. Free. Free to start writing the Odontiad. Hence bound to start writing the Odontiad. Hence not free.

He sighed bitterly and went to the bathroom to start tarting himself up for the television show. Clean and bleeding, he put on garments bequeathed to him by Rawcliffe and stood, at length, to review himself at length in the long wall mirror near the bedroom door. Seedy Edwardian, recaller of dead glories, finale of Elgar's First Symphony belting out Massive Hope for the Future. There was an empire in those days, and it was assumed that the centre of the English language was London. Wealthy Americans were still humble provincials. Ichabod. He put on the sculpted overcoat and his beret and, swordstick pathetic in his feeble grip, went out. The subway had not yet erupted into violent nocturnal life. His fellow-passengers on the downtown express to Times Square were as dimly ruminant as he, perhaps recalling dimly the glories of other departed empires-Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Pharaonic. But one black youth in a rutilant combat jacket saw drug-induced empires within-under the pax alucinatoria the rhomboid and spiral became one. Enderby looked again at the torn-off corner of the abandoned poem on which he had written Live Lancing Show 46th Street or somewhere like that. He had time, also two ten-dollar bills in his pocket. He would go to the Blue Bar of the Algonquin Hotel, a once very literary place, and have a quiet gin or so. He felt all right. The black tea and Sara Lee were worrying the heart combat troops: why was not the rutilant enemy scared?

He got out quite briskly at Times Square and walked down West 44th Street. In the lobby of the Algonquin there were, he saw, British periodicals on sale. He bought The Times and leafed through it standing. In a remote corner of it, he saw, a Merhber of Parliament was pleading for a special royal commission to clean up the Old Testament. Dangers even in great classics, provocation to idle and affluent youth etc. In the Blue Bar there were some conspiratorial and lecherous customers at tables, but seated on a bar stool was a rather loud man whose voice Enderby seemed to recognise. Good God, it was Father Hopkins himself. No, the man who played him in the film. What was his name now?

"So I said to him up yours, that's what I said."

"That's it, Mr. O'Donnell."

Coemgen (pronounced Kevin) O'Donnell, that was the man. Enderby had met him briefly at a little party after the London preview, when he had been affably drunk. No coincidence that he was here now: the Algonquin took in actors as much as writers. Sitting at a stool two empty stools away from O'Donnell, Enderby asked politely for a pink gin. O'Donnell, hunched to the counter, heard the voice, swivelled gracelessly, and said:

"You British?"

"Well, yes," Enderby said. "British-born but, like yourself I presume, living in exile. Look, we've already met."

"Never seen you before in my life." The voice was wholly American. "Lots of guys like you, seen me in the movies, assume acquaintanceshhh. Ip. You British?"

"Well, yes. British-born but, like yourself I presume, living in."

"You said all that crap already, buster. All I asked was a straight queschhh. Un. Okay, you're British. Needn't keep on about it. No need to eggs hhhibit the flag tattooed on your ass. And all that sort of. What? What?"

"The film," Enderby said. "The movie. The Wreck of the Deutschland."

"I was in it. That was my movie." He thrust his empty tumbler rudely towards the bartender. He was most unpriestlike in his dress, glistening cranberry suit, violet silk, shoes that Enderby took to be Gucci. The face was a rugged corner-boy's, apt for some slum baseball-with-the-kids Maynooth-type priest, but hardly for the delicate intellectual unconscious pederast ah-my-dear Hopkins.

"The point is," Enderby said, "that I too was in it in a sense. It was my idea. My name was among the credits. Enderby," he added, to no applause. "Enderby," to not even recognition. Coemgen O'Donnell said:

"Yeah. I guess it had to be somebody's idea. Everything is kind of built on the idea of some unknown guy. You seen the figures in this week's Variety? Sex and violence, always the answer. But the guy that wrote the book was not like the guy I played in the movie. No, sir. The original Father Hopkins was a fag."

"A priest a fag?" the bartender said. "You don't say."

"There are priests fags," O'Donnell said. "Known several. Have it off with the altar boys. But in the movie he's normal. Has it off with a nun." He nodded gravely at Enderby and said: "You British?"

"Listen," Enderby said, "Gerard Manley Hopkins was not a homosexual. At least not consciously. Certainly not actively. Sublimation into the love of Christ perhaps. A theory, no more. A possibility. Of no religious or literary interest, of course. A love of male beauty. The Bugler's First Communion and The Loss of the Eurydice and Hairy Ploughman. Admiration for it. 'Every inch a tar, of the best we boast our sailors are.' 'Hard as hurdle arms, with a broth of goldish flue.' What's wrong with that, for Christ's sake?"

"Broth of goldfish my ass," O'Donnell said. "Has that guy from the front office come yet?" he asked the bartender.

"He'll come in here, Mr. O'Donnell. He'll know where you are. If I was you, sir, I'd make that one the last. Until after the show, that is."

"Show?" Enderby said. "Are you by any chance on the-" He consulted the tear-off from his pocket. "Live Lancing Show?"

"Hey, that's good. Sperr would like that. Not that it's live, old boy, old boy. Nothing's live, not any more." And then: "You British?"

"I've said already that I-"

"You a fag? Okay okay. That's not what I was going to ask. What I was going to ask was-What was I going to ask?" he asked the bartender.

"Search me, Mr. O'Donnell."

"I know. Something about a bugle boy. What was that about a bugugle boy?"

"The Bugler's First Communion?"

"That's it, I guess. Now this proves that he was a fag. You British? Yeah yeah, asked that already. That means you know the town of Oxford, where the college is, right? It was my father."

"What?"

"Got that balled up, I guess. Big army barracks there. Cow cow cow something."

"Cowley?"

"Right, you'd know that, being British. Another scatch on the-"

"Sorry, Mr. O'Donnell. You yourself give me strict instructions when you started."

"Okay okay, gotta be with old Can Dix. Sending a limousine."

"Who? What?"

"Sending a car around. This talk show."

"I," Enderby said, "am on the other one, the Spurling one. What," he said with apprehension, "are you going to tell them?"

"Listen, old boy old boy, not finished, had I, right? Right. It was my mother's father. British, with an Irish mother. Sent him off to be good Catholic. Right? One hell of a row, father was Protestant."

"Yes," Enderby said. " 'Born, he tells me, of Irish / Mother to an English sire (he / Shares their best gifts surely, fall how things will).' "

"Not finished, had I, right?"

"Sorry."

"No need to be sorry. Never regret anything, my what the hell do you call it slogan, right? Went over to Ireland with my mother's father's mother, he was my mother's father, you see that?"

"Right."

"Married Irish, the British all got smothered up. Well, that was his story."

"What was his story?"

"Had him down there in what do you call it presbyt presbyt, his red pants off of him and gave him, you know, the stick. Met him again in Dublin when he was some sort of professor, reminded him of it. Made him very sick. Very sick already."

"Oh God," Enderby said.


O now well work that sealing sacred ointment!

O for now charms, arms, what bans off bad

And locks love ever in a lad!

Let me though see no more of him, and not disappointment

Those sweet hopes quell whose least me quickenings lift


"I can't believe it," Enderby said. "I won't." He had intimations of a renewal of quasi-lethal pains ready to shoot from chest to clavicle to arm. No, he wouldn't have it. He frightened the promise away with a quick draught of gin. "So," he said. "You're going to tell them all about it?"

"Not that," O'Donnell said. "Crack a few gags about nuns. I was with this dame in a taxi and she was a nun. She'd have nun of this and nun of that."

"What a filthy unspeakable world," Enderby said. "What defilement, what horror."

"You can say that again. Ah, Josh. It is Josh? Sure it's Josh. How are things, Josh? How's the kids and the missus? The old trouble-and-strife, our British friend here would say." His Cockney was tolerable. "A cap of Sara Lee and dahn wiv yer rahnd the ahzes."

"Getting married next month," this Josh said unrelatedly. He looked Armenian to Enderby, hairy and with an ovine profile.

"Is that right, is that really right, well I sure am happy for you, Josh. Our friend here," O'Donnell said, "has been talking about our movie, Kraut Soup." He stood up and appeared not merely sober but actually as though he had just downed a gill of vinegar. He was, after all, an actor. Could you then believe anything he said or did? But how did he know about the barracks at Cowley? "What defilement, what horror," he said, in exactly Enderby's accent and intonation.

"Is that right?" Josh said. "We'd best be on our way, Mr. O'Donnell. There may be a fight with the autograph hounds."

"Say that story isn't true," Enderby begged. "It can't be true."

"My granddaddy swore it was true. He always remembered the name. We had a Mrs. Hopkins who cleaned for us. He had nothing against priests, he said. He was a real believer all his life."

Though this child's drift / Seems by a divine doom channelled, nor do I cry / Disaster there

"The car's waiting, Mr. O'Donnell."

"And he saw it wasn't real sexual excitement. Not like he'd seen in the barracks. It was all tied up with-Well, his hands were shaking with the joy of it, you know." Low-latched in leaf-light housel his too huge godhead. Too huge, my dear. "Come on, Josh, let's go. He was only a kid but he saw that." He nodded very soberly. "So I had to do the part, I guess." O'Donnell waved extravagantly to the bartender and Guccied out, shepherded by Josh. Enderby had another pink gin, feeling pretty numb. What did it matter, anyway? It was the poetry that counted. I am gall, I am heartburn, God's most deep decree / Bitter would have me taste. And no bloody wonder.

The ways leading to the television place on 46th Street were warming up nicely with the threat of violence. Violence in itself is not bad, ladies and gentlemen. In a poem you would be entitled to exploit the fortuitous connotations-violins, viols, violets. We need violence sometimes. I feel very violent now. Beware of barbarism-violence for its own sake. It was a little old theatre encrusted with high-voltage light bulbs. There was a crowd lining up outside, waiting to be the studio audience. They would see themselves waving to themselves tomorrow night, the past waving to the future. The young toughs in control wore uniform blazers, rutilant with a monogram SL, and they would not at first let him in by the stage door: you line up with the rest, buster. But then his British accent convinced them that he must be one of the performers. Then they let him in.


| The Clockwork Testament (Or: Enderby 's End) | SEVEN