'An Alchemist about to discover the Grand Secret' by James Nasmyth (1808-1890)


… still having issues with the formatting… grrrrr.



Wild-eyed, hirsute men of old
in dark laboratories hung with smoke and fire
and musty pages
writ-across with secrets;
giving their life’s last breath for


For the divine transmutation
of the ordinary stuff of earth
into something untold;

to the universe.

Mad with the ancient chemical
understanding that
it is all here
indeed,          at    hand
every needed thing-
if he could but


to work the crawling mystery
of God-in-man.

And you, there, Poet,

bare-headed and unshorn,
creeping to your garret rooms, o’ black, unruly nights,
chased by the same dazzled visions
of something


       –Solve et Coagula-

For you have seen that
words are solvent in the
grey, snaking folds of the brain
distilling into hands
and gut
and passion.

Paper alchemist of wind and spirit,
the same spark of eternity
in you smoldering-
then leaping
of a moment






Until, with far-seeing eyes
and a preternatural
you sit
at windows
beneath all the falling stars.
dreaming of that too-elusive formula
for the changing of ink and quill
and small, sharp movements of the hand

one true,
from the ravishing, God-wracked vineyards
of Infinity.


7 responses to “Alchemy

  1. Just an amazing piece of writing: the setting of the alchemist’s laboratory, the quest for arcane truth, then the effortless shift to the poet in his garret, working with the alchemy of words… just brilliant.

  2. flame and fever and burn.
    this is so viscerally wonderful!

  3. This was wonderful! The comparisons between poets and alchemists was brilliant, the transmutations and wonder on the greater quest were captured so well here.

  4. This is brilliant writing, poetry at its most evocative. You drew me right in…..”the divine transmutation…into something untold….new to the universe.” Wowzers. This is poetry!!!!!

  5. lots of good fall out from this one, like a beautiful creation.

  6. thanks so much.
    still bugging about the lameness of the layout, but until i can get some html guru to come show me the magic words…

    appreciate the kind comments – i’ve been secretly in love with alchemy since the first time i read 100 years of solitude. the poetry of it… and the symbolic imagery… captivating.

  7. I loved this! I have a bit of a fascination with the imagery and subject matter of alchemy too and thought this was a beautiful and brilliant piece.

    I wrote an alchemy inspired piece once –

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