The story of “The Wicked Son” up to this point: Dr. Aster and his friends, Pinzle, and Lila, Princess of the Arrid Wastes, search for three wise men to open the book the Universe Of Knowledge. A great chasm is opening up and threatening to engulf the world, unless they are in time to save the world.
Across the River and into the trees
Up to the uplands, down to the seas,
Under the underpass, over the bridge,
Nearby the byeways that run ‘round the ridge.
Hie the high highways, and go the low lanes,
Hasten, our heroes, before the world wanes
And splits all asunder, and slides all askew,
When oceans evulse and mountains unglue.
Pass by the party, you’ve no time to rhyme,
No time to muse over sonnets sublime,
Or are you so soon too late to abate
That grave, grim misfortune, importunate fate?
They travelled everywhere, through swamps and jungles into cities and suburbs over hills and dales—
Across the river and into the grass
Shoot down the rapids, careen through the pass,
Hurdle the hedgerow and hurry ahead,
For the times aren’t turtled, on tippy-toed tread.
Wise man, oh wise man, Oh where can you be?
Over the rainbow or under the sea?
On top of Old Smokey, where only winds wend?
Or a-ways down the road? Or a bit ‘round the bend?
They spoke to professors, confessors, librarians and seminarians, and casual acquaintances—
Across the River and into the Sky,
Those who don’t fly have to jump very high.
Take a good look with your head in a cloud.
Can you see any more than a face in the crowd?
You have to go faster, go faster than fast.
Search out the secret before the die’s cast.
Wander a way where a wise man would go.
Ponder a path that a wise man would know.
The looked in museums and warehouses, haunted houses and caves. And they searched through the classified advertisements
Across the river and into a hole.
Run in a run-a-round, stuck up a pole,
Encircled, emboxed, and surrounded, at last,
No in to the future, no out of the past.
Now that you’re here, since it seems that you’re here,
Are you your very own sincere, sere seer?
If so, do you know what the wise man knows?
Can you go to and fro like the wild goose goes?