SOULS OF THE LABADIE TRACT

In 1684, members of a Utopian Quietist sect, consisting mainly of Dutch followers of the French Separatist Jean de Labadie, left their headquarters at Wieuwerd in the Netherlands in order to spread the new oeuvre de dieu while preparing themselves for the coming millennium. They settled in Bohemia Hundred, Cecil County, Maryland, where Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland meet. The 3,750 acre Labadie Tract, consisting of four necks of land, was bordered on the west by Long Creek, on the north by the cart road to Reedy Island, on the east by the Appoquinnimink Path, and on the South by Great Bohemia Creek. They called it New Bohemia.

I found the term ‘Labadist’ in reference to the genealogical research of Wallace Stevens and his wife Elsie Kachel Moll Stevens during the 1940s.

Jean de Labadie. His reach is through language hints; through notes and maps. In the lapse of time the pressure of others. So it’s telepathic though who knows why or in what way

Labadists believed in, among other things, the necessity of inner illumination, diligence and contemplative reflection. Marriage was renounced. They held all property in common (including children) and supported themselves by manual labor and commerce.

In 1702, a Swedish pastor recalled his visit to the group in Maryland. “There are also the Apostles, who were on the Labady at Bohemia when I arrived in this country. Their number is now quite small.” In 1722, the community dissolved. When Samuel Bownas visited the site in 1727, “these people were all scattered and gone, and nothing of them remained of a religious community in that shape.”

In 1795, Dennis Griffith’s landmark map of Maryland noted a “labadie poplar” at the northern extremity of the Labadie Tract. It was the one tree singled out on the entire map of the state.

 

The wind had seized the tree and ha, and ha,
Wallace Stevens

 

Indifferent truth and trust
am in you and of you air
utterance blindness of you

That we are come to that
Between us here to know
Things in the perfect way

 

 

While I blunder in our blind
world and the public under-
current here grave Nemesis

Greenest green your holy cope
feigned cope and tinsel cap

 

 

Green cloud conceals green
valley nothing but green
continually moving then

silt moth fly mulberry tree
Come and come rapture

 

 

Poetry you may do the
map of Hell softly one
voice with viol in green
habit or consort twelve

Maniacs and Fantastics
in measured epic dactyl
Far back thinner coranto
one Labadist one Cynic

 

 

I’ll borrow chapel voices
Song and dance of treble
bass for remembrance Stilt-
Walker Plate-Spinner air
piebaldly dressed heart’s
content embroidered note
Distant diapason delight

 

 

Chrononhotonthologos
henchman four giants
four skin coats of eyes

Either late or soon
Calling out intervals
One after the other

 

 

One Christographia
ink not steadfast a
screech-owl feather

Chipped these words
Strict to the number
The rest come after

 

 

Anti-masque of five senses
arms and legs from Alciato
Naked emblemata for pack-

saddle with contiguous volte-
face in this sense ownerless

 

 

Door of surrender in the old
black letter picture in Alciat
I’d have gone in for you as I

am out and you’re forever in
Oh—but of course of course

 

 

This sythe alone signifies time
sometimes with its pall pickaxe
paradox a curious little figure

from into the way that leads to
Oh—but how would you know

 

 

Authorize me and I act
what I am I must remain
only suffer me to tell it

if I can beginning then
Then before—and then

 

 

Relict of you predestined
to remain obscure but as
civil lacunae to the least

ramshackle manacle as if
in dark as to lake effect

 

 

Now go back to sleep we
can’t be crazy the truth is
we couldn’t we couldn’t

we’re the past—we’re too
close—to covet—you’re
not to be afraid—breathe

 

 

Analyze duration as you
wish to the world we are
from this moment forth

quick light clay dust we
dressed today in a hurry

 

 

You may amend as you find
The rest are escaped of which
But one escaped in printing

Strife of self this is for flesh
Swim for why not unbelief

 

 

To swim for sake of rhyme
for meter faint letter slield
in pencil after subscribeth

Shorthand on it because of
streights all glue for strife

 

 

White line of a
hand’s breadth
A white wall a
door any place

Millennial hopes
certainly part of it

 

 

Labadist theology
Faith its condition
Obedience its sign

Tall clocks some of
them odd and not in
the humbler houses

 

 

Great emptiness as
simple as that went
So straight before—

had not been able
then not being idle
went absent away

 

 

Now faith is not what we
hereafter have we have a
world resting on nothing

Rest was never more than
abstract since it is empty
reality we cannot escape

 

 

Reason throws light open
Who is that phantom in
the foreground after you

Don’t be afraid—free as air
Light presupposes open
Distant if a foe not you

 

 

Shadowy hush twilight
Mortal piety two doves
three white pigeons wire
artificial bats and owls
Feigned persons pass by
crying out “Oh, Oh—”

Night presently descending
Ample and stately night

 

 

To go down the bay or
cross back bridle time
hold fast mere wanton
gilding almost nothing 
Thus poems diagrams
crying out “Oh, Oh—”

We are strangers here
on pain of forfeiture

 

 

Oh I see—I have to see
you fresh as those rough
streams are as power is

Caught—and wide awake

Oh—we are past saving
Aren’t odd books full of us
What do you wake us for

 

 

Aren’t we the very same
as we long ago saw and
little by little thought of it

Oh partly—not altogether

it isn’t as if long ago—No
I mean the secret between
my age or any age—you

 

 

We needn’t dot any i’s
We know what we know
We needn’t dot any i’s

Frivolity step to and fro
Our cross-laced sandles
you dusty ideate echo

 

 

Crossroad two antithetical
crossroads motif of mirror
civilly silver when and if

You you loose ramshackle
extract poem do hold ashes
as history qua history half

 

 

Those bones the Indian tall
as tall lucky old man as you
cold chilliness yes yes you

with me here between us—of
our being together even in
english half english too late

 

 

I keep you here to keep
your promise all that you
think I’ve wrought what

I see or do in the twilight
of time but keep forgetting
you keep coming back

 

 

Stern wars—each are all
in the night here together
Cloth and choir of slate

Hypothesis doesn’t stop
What each thought cost
What barbarous claim

 

 

Larceny—you may protest
in time you have the start
on our old idols—Apostate

or some torn pieces of sixth
sense at its most fragile in
range of some others of us

 

 

“Here we are”—You can’t
hear us without having to be
us knowing everything we

know—you know you can’t

Verbal echoes so many ghost
poets I think of you as wild
and fugitive—“Stop awhile”

 

 

“On his head an oake growing”
Historical distance Campion’s
rule of thumb its prior under-

current here on so-called Earth
“in a skin coate of grasse greene
a mantle painted full of trees”

 

 

See—I have lost your world
I can’t for life of me recall
it might have been for light
comes quickly out of itself

I can’t attempt to cross-over
step by step forgive forgive

 

 

Not so—come closest call
for mortality—yes vizard
None on either side where

Empty as ever—yes vizard
Closer or closest naught a
faint no to your telescope

 

 

Go on go on assuage what
is not who is that phantom
who fell asleep in Christ at
night about two hours after
the sun setting 1660 out of
the frying pan into the fire

Song to Echo in stilt couplet
I’ll thine and mine strophe

 

 

Web rosette and winged effigy
Sleep of the Just over against
truth of the Truth near as you
can assume cut from the hard
dark slate of Pin Hill Quarries
Now turn to the other side just

here in the other angle yes yes
we’ve been dying to show you

 

 

When I see bravery I admire
everything I hear she didn’t
marry did she move too fast
for you I don’t see her as too
little in silence in that silent
other place—owls and honor

apart in the dark range others
She left the sect which split

 

 

I am too much your mother
as half daughter your quiet
part to go where the gospel
has not been named if I am
willing to hunt in the wood

after sinners it’s only after—
Before you are forever after

 

 

The place is full of shields blue
satin robes treble cornets an old
enchantress dull Melancholy in
her blue habit sings a short call

Leap-frogging the Middle Ages
I see you and you see I see you

 

 

There it is there it is—you
want the great wicked city
Oh I wouldn’t I wouldn’t

It’s not only that you’re not
It’s what wills and will not

 

 

Longing and envying rest
after a little—garden under
trees but better still likely

to be still more anxious to
get to just daylight all I’ve
always pushed backward

 

 

That’s the ‘Labadie Poplar’
Labadists—New Bohemia
little is otherwise known
Our secret and resolute woe
Carolled to our last adieu
Our message was electric

Will you forget when I forget
that we are come to that

 

 

“America in a skin coat
the color of the juice of
mulberries” her fantastic

cap full of eyes will lead
our way as mind or ears
Goodnight goodnight