primeval

             [L]ater you still entertained,
at least as hypothesis, the notion
      of a not impossible love, requited passion;
              or resolved modestly to learn
some craft, various languages.
      And all those sparks of future
             winked out behind you, forgettable. So—
the present. Its blessings
      many today:
             the fresh, ornate
blossoms of the simplest trees a sudden
      irregular pattern everywhere, audacious white,
             flamingo pink in a haze of early warmth.
But perversely it’s not
      what you crave. You want
             the past. Oh, not your own,
no reliving of anything—no, what you hanker after
      is a compost,
             a forest floor, thick, saturate,
fathoms deep, palimpsestuous, its surface a mosaic
      of infinitely fragile, lacy, tenacious
             skeleton leaves. When you put your ear
to that odorous ground you can catch the unmusical, undefeated
      belling note, as of a wounded stag escaped triumphant,
             of lives long gone.

Denise Levertov, from “The Past III,” Sands of the Well (New Directions, 1996)

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The world man knows, the world in which he has settled himself so securely and snugly - that world is no more. The turbulence which accompanied the arrival of Dionysus has swept it away. Everything has been transformed. But it has not been transformed into a charming fairy story or into an ingenuous child’s paradise. The primeval world has stepped into the foreground, the depths of reality have opened, the elemental forms of everything that is creative, everything that is destructive, have arisen, bringing with them infinite rapture and infinite terror. The innocent picture of a well-ordered routine world has been shattered by their coming, and they bring with them no illusions or fantasies but truth - a truth that brings on madness.

Walter F. Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult