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  • The Titles Sequence From the Adventures Of Lucky Pierre
  • Robert Coover

(Cantus.) In the darkness, softly. A whisper becoming a tone, the echo of a tone. Doleful, a soft incipient lament blowing in the night like a wind, like the echo of a wind, a plainsong wafting distantly through the windy chambers of the night, wafting unisonously through the spaced chambers of the bitter night, alas, the solitary city, she that was full of people, thus a distant and hollow epiodion laced with sibilants bewailing the solitary city.

And now, the flickering of a light, a pallor emerging from the darkness as though lit by a candle, a candle guttering in the cold wind, a forgotten candle, hid and found again, casting its doubtful luster on this faint white plane, now visible, now lost again in the tenebrous absences behind the eye.

And still the hushing plaint, undeterred by light, plying its fricatives like a persistent woeful wind, the echo of woe, affanato, piangevole, a piangevole wind rising in the fluttering night through its perfect primes, lamenting the beautiful princess become an unclean widow, an emergence from C, a titular C, tentative and parenthetical, the widow then, weeping sore in the night, the candle searching the pale expanse for form, for the suggestion of form, a balm for the anxious eye, weeping she weepeth.

The glimmering light, the light of the world, now firmer at the center, flickers unsteadily at the outer edges, implications of tangible paraboloids amid the soft anguish, the plainsong exploring its mode, third position athwart, for among all her lovers there are none to comfort her, and the eye finding a horizon, discovering at last a distant geography of synclinal nodes, barren, windblown, now blurring, now defined.

Now defined: a strange valley, brighter at its median and upon the crests than down the slopes, the hint there perhaps of vegetation, like a grove of pines buried in the snow, and still the chant, epicedial, sospirante, she is driven like a hunted animal, C to C and F again, she findeth no rest. How many have died here?

The plainchant, blowing through the gloomy valley like an afflicted widow, continues to mourn the solitary city. Overtaken amidst the narrow defiles. Continues to grieve, ignoring the gradual illuminations, a grief caught in secret acrostics, gone into captivity. All her gates are desolate. The eye courses the valley to its yawning embouchure, past a scattering of obscure excrescences with bright tips, courses the dark defile to its radical, this pinched and woebegone pit, mourning its uprooted yew, her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted. Gravis. Innig. In bitterness, yes con amarezza, she is with bitterness.

Beyond this gnurled foramen, crumpled crater too afflicted to expose its core to chant or candle, lies a quieter brighter field, yet one ringed about with indices of a multitude of transgressions, tight with uncertainty and attenuation, and, as it were, mere propylaeum to the ruptured conventicle of extravagance and savagery just beyond, just below...

Ah! what a sight, this wild terrain cleft violently end to end and exposed like an open grave! The light flares and wanes, flutters, as though caught in a sudden gale, as though eclipsed by a flight of harts. O woe, her princes are denied a pasture, nature is convulsed, and a terrible commotion, sundered by plosives, sounds all about. Angoscioso and disperato, rising and falling intervals in the tremulous matinal gloom.

Black bars radiate from this turbulent arena, laid on the surrounding hills like the stripes of a rod in the day of wrath, and at the end of the black bars, like whipstocks for the maimed: letters. Flickering neumes. VAGINAL ORIFICE. LABIA MAJORA. And not a propylaeum: a PERINEUM. ANUS. Alas, despised because they have seen her nakedness. C to C and F again. Like the echo of letters, the shadow of codes, the breath of labia, yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward, a simple canticle, notations writ on the ass end of a kneeling woman, this kneeling woman, this ass end: URETHRA, CLITORIS, black indications quavering in this ghostly light, the light of the world, the light of a solitary city at the end of night...

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