The End of the World and the Major Arcana

This brief poem by Archibald MacLeish is also a candidate for “tarotization.” It looks like a five-card trump sequence.

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe

This suggests the dexterous skill of the Magician. Call it “sleight-of-toe.”

And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman . . .

Here’s Strength in its more likely manifestation.

. . . while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb

Hmm, this one is a stumper. There are only a couple of instances of human “twoness” in the Waite-Smith Major Arcana and no drums, so this would have to be either a twisted “Lovers” scenario (“Teeny” already looks like she has the best of “Jocko” in that card) or the Devil, in which both of them are at risk of being “swung by the neck.” Since a cough is akin to a bellow, I’ll go with the Devil

Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:

The Tower, in no uncertain terms.

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing — nothing at all.

I’ll stretch just a bit and say this describes the Angel of Judgement in a darker universe. Perhaps it shows what MacLeish really thought of the biblical Last Judgment.

That gives us the Magician, Strength, the Lovers or the Devil (take your pick) the Tower and Judgement.  It suggests the punishment for tempting fate with an excess of pride.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s