Lent is a curious later work (circa 1967) written for his short collection ‘Pocket Myriads’. A total decoding seems impossible though the basic theme is relatively clear. The first verse speaks of noble Christian pursuits. Ignatius is the Saint Ignatius who founded the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). This line carries a Joycean ring -Dedalus attended a Jesuit boarding school (as did Joyce); given this the rhyme ‘blooms’ is hardly coincidental. The intimation seems to be about speech as local and not able to travel beyond the speaker. This is unsettled by the usage of the term epistle, which aside its religious connotation also means letter. The resolution seems to be that the words Ignatius spoke cannot be carried by the voice (wings: the wind, the air, the voice) and hence they become epistles (written) of prospect (hope).
The second verse contrasts the lofty Christian ideal with the action of defecation straight into the earth. ‘Vision’ as a more ideal sense (and no doubt the idea of ‘a vision’ is contrasted with smell, and darkness (lack of vision) as the potency (efficacy) of this need. The third suggests that true transcendence is not achieved through ‘lofty thought’ but rather through laughter in the face of the body -as opposed to disgust.
Zithers chambered in stately rooms,
Ignatius spake fine rocks that landed blooms;
Wings lament they could not carry,
These epistles of prospect -though neither do they tarry.
“What? No seat is fit for my waste of care,
No being so fit as earthy gap and lair,
And vision woes strangely that it could be see,
This darkening and foetid efficacy”
Resolve this then if you can or will,
Fix this dialectic with your doctors pill,
Lofty thoughts that aspire to an after,
Must greet this abysmal stool always with laughter