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Plate IV: "Tickity-Tock!"



ACT IV: The Clock Room (The Hermit)


- In which the boy examines the timeless machine of time


Ahead the boy heard the sound of relentless marching feet, clicking steadily. Entering a crowded chamber, he saw that the sound was that of hundreds of hundreds of clocks hung, piled, packed, and stacked many deep on the walls and floor. He began a simple song in rhythm to the ticking beat:


"Tickity-tock . . .

Bong! Marked the late hour.

In time, reflections of all action

Will find expression in the silvered

Flow of inexorable history.

Faces call down with clicking, ticking,

The itinerations

Of a vast machine called time.

Tocking, clocking,

Thin sails move in the winds of now.

These movements

Built of mountains of clocks and watches,

Buzzers and beepers,

Appointments, affairs,

Schedules, disappointments,

All fashioned on the invisible march

Marked by a tick-tock, tick-tock:

Relentless beats moving off

Into the empty cavern of history.

Broken into marks and clicks by

The clever, nimble fingers of man.

Yet in all, it has but fashioned

A device to measure the beats of a human heart

As it passes steadily from the womb to the tomb.

Each beat: the breath of a heart, the life of a flower,

Movements of animal pride,

The phases of the moon, the sun,

Marked off into moments of my life.

My loves and hates, dreams and desires,

Squared and packaged,

And all pointing to where

The watch stops, the alarm sounds,

And the heart stops.

Why then, this measure?

Where this power,

This human conceit of a vantage point

Over the eternal?

Perhaps we seek to mirror

The birth and death of all things

Changing in time.

We seek a mirror, our own mirror,

To trap and view the eternal, the changeless,

The formless movement of all in one:

Together, forever a single always.

A senseless division of the indivisible.

And so, a second tick, finds me off again,

Towards unknown appointments."