Ralph Waldo Emerson |
I LIKE a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains or pensive smiles;
Yet not for all his faith can see 5
Would I that cowl¨¨d churchman be.
Why should the vest on him allure
Which I could not on me endure?
Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought; 10
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle:
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came 15
Like the volcano's tongue of flame
Up from the burning core below ¡ª
The canticles of love and woe;
The hand that rounded Peter's dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome 20
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew;¡ª
The conscious stone to beauty grew.
Know'st thou what wove yon woodbird's nest 25
Of leaves and feathers from her breast?
Or how the fish outbuilt her shell
Painting with morn each annual cell?
Or how the sacred pine tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads? 30
Such and so grew these holy piles
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon
As the best gem upon her zone;
And Morning opes with haste her lids 35
To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O'er England's abbeys bends the sky
As on its friends with kindred eye;
For out of Thought's interior sphere
These wonders rose to upper air; 40
And Nature gladly gave them place
Adopted them into her race
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and with Ararat.
These temples grew as grows the grass; 45
Art might obey but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o'er him planned;
And the same power that reared the shrine
Bestrode the tribes that knelt within. 50
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host
Trances the heart through chanting choirs
And through the priest the mind inspires.
The word unto the prophet spoken 55
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told
In groves of oak or fanes of gold
Still floats upon the morning wind
Still whispers to the willing mind. 60
One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost.
I know what say the fathers wise ¡ª
The Book itself before me lies ¡ª
Old Chrysostom best Augustine 65
And he who blent both in his line
The younger Golden Lips or mines
Taylor the Shakespeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear
I see his cowl¨¨d portrait dear; 70
And yet for all his faith could see
I would not this good bishop be.
Carl Sandburg |
(Handbook for Quarreling Lovers)I THOUGHT of offering you apothegms.
I might have said, “Dogs bark and the wind carries it away.”
I might have said, “He who would make a door of gold must knock a nail in every day.”
So easy, so easy it would have been to inaugurate a high impetuous moment for you to look on before the final farewells were spoken.
You who assumed the farewells in the manner of people buying newspapers and reading the headlines—and all peddlers of gossip who buttonhole each other and wag their heads saying, “Yes, I heard all about it last Wednesday.”
I considered several apothegms.
“There is no love but service,” of course, would only initiate a quarrel over who has served and how and when.
“Love stands against fire and flood and much bitterness,” would only initiate a second misunderstanding, and bickerings with lapses of silence.
What is there in the Bible to cover our case, or Shakespere? What poetry can help? Is there any left but Epictetus?
Since you have already chosen to interpret silence for language and silence for despair and silence for contempt and silence for all things but love,
Since you have already chosen to read ashes where God knows there was something else than ashes,
Since silence and ashes are two identical findings for your eyes and there are no apothegms worth handing out like a hung jury’s verdict for a record in our own hearts as well as the community at large,
I can only remember a Russian peasant who told me his grandfather warned him: If you ride too good a horse you will not take the straight road to town.
It will always come back to me in the blur of that hokku: The heart of a woman of thirty is like the red ball of the sun seen through a mist.
Or I will remember the witchery in the eyes of a girl at a barn dance one winter night in Illinois saying: Put off the wedding five times and nobody comes to it.
Henry Lawson |
The boy cleared out to the city from his home at harvest time --
They were Scots of the Riverina, and to run from home was a crime.
The old man burned his letters, the first and last he burned,
And he scratched his name from the Bible when the old wife's back was turned.
A year went past and another. There were calls from the firing-line;
They heard the boy had enlisted, but the old man made no sign.
His name must never be mentioned on the farm by Gundagai --
They were Scots of the Riverina with ever the kirk hard by.
The boy came home on his "final", and the township's bonfire burned.
His mother's arms were about him; but the old man's back was turned.
The daughters begged for pardon till the old man raised his hand --
A Scot of the Riverina who was hard to understand.
The boy was killed in Flanders, where the best and bravest die.
There were tears at the Grahame homestead and grief in Gundagai;
But the old man ploughed at daybreak and the old man ploughed till the mirk --
There were furrows of pain in the orchard while his housefolk went to the kirk.
The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned;
And the old man died at the table when the old wife's back was turned.
Face down on his bare arms folded he sank with his wild grey hair
Outspread o'er the open Bible and a name re-written there.
William Butler Yeats |
May God be praised for woman
That gives up all her mind,
A man may find in no man
A friendship of her kind
That covers all he has brought
As with her flesh and bone,
Nor quarrels with a thought
Because it is not her own.
Though pedantry denies,
It's plain the Bible means
That Solomon grew wise
While talking with his queens.
Yet never could, although
They say he counted grass,
Count all the praises due
When Sheba was his lass,
When she the iron wrought, or
When from the smithy fire
It shuddered in the water:
Harshness of their desire
That made them stretch and yawn,
pleasure that comes with sleep,
Shudder that made them one.
What else He give or keep
God grant me - no, not here,
For I am not so bold
To hope a thing so dear
Now I am growing old,
But when, if the tale's true,
The Pestle of the moon
That pounds up all anew
Brings me to birth again --
To find what once I had
And know what once I have known,
Until I am driven mad,
Sleep driven from my bed.
By tenderness and care.
pity, an aching head,
Gnashing of teeth, despair;
And all because of some one
perverse creature of chance,
And live like Solomon
That Sheba led a dance.
William Butler Yeats |
Epilogue to "A Vision'
MIDNIGHT has come, and the great Christ Church Bell
And may a lesser bell sound through the room;
And it is All Souls' Night,
And two long glasses brimmed with muscatel
Bubble upon the table. A ghost may come;
For it is a ghost's right,
His element is so fine
Being sharpened by his death,
To drink from the wine-breath
While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.
I need some mind that, if the cannon sound
From every quarter of the world, can stay
Wound in mind's pondering
As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound;
Because I have a marvellous thing to say,
A certain marvellous thing
None but the living mock,
Though not for sober ear;
It may be all that hear
Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.
Horton's the first I call. He loved strange thought
And knew that sweet extremity of pride
That's called platonic love,
And that to such a pitch of passion wrought
Nothing could bring him, when his lady died,
Anodyne for his love.
Words were but wasted breath;
One dear hope had he:
Of that or the next winter would be death.
Two thoughts were so mixed up I could not tell
Whether of her or God he thought the most,
But think that his mind's eye,
When upward turned, on one sole image fell;
And that a slight companionable ghost,
Wild with divinity,
Had so lit up the whole
Immense miraculous house
The Bible promised us,
It seemed a gold-fish swimming in a bowl.
On Florence Emery I call the next,
Who finding the first wrinkles on a face
Admired and beautiful,
And knowing that the future would be vexed
With 'minished beauty, multiplied commonplace,
preferred to teach a school
Away from neighbour or friend,
Among dark skins, and there
permit foul years to wear
Hidden from eyesight to the unnoticed end.
Before that end much had she ravelled out
From a discourse in figurative speech
By some learned Indian
On the soul's journey. How it is whirled about,
Wherever the orbit of the moon can reach,
Until it plunge into the sun;
And there, free and yet fast,
Being both Chance and Choice,
Forget its broken toys
And sink into its own delight at last.
And I call up MacGregor from the grave,
For in my first hard springtime we were friends.
Although of late estranged.
I thought him half a lunatic, half knave,
And told him so, but friendship never ends;
And what if mind seem changed,
And it seem changed with the mind,
When thoughts rise up unbid
On generous things that he did
And I grow half contented to be blind!
He had much industry at setting out,
Much boisterous courage, before loneliness
Had driven him crazed;
For meditations upon unknown thought
Make human intercourse grow less and less;
They are neither paid nor praised.
but he d object to the host,
The glass because my glass;
A ghost-lover he was
And may have grown more arrogant being a ghost.
But names are nothing. What matter who it be,
So that his elements have grown so fine
The fume of muscatel
Can give his sharpened palate ecstasy
No living man can drink from the whole wine.
I have mummy truths to tell
Whereat the living mock,
Though not for sober ear,
For maybe all that hear
Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.
Such thought -- such thought have I that hold it tight
Till meditation master all its parts,
Nothing can stay my glance
Until that glance run in the world's despite
To where the damned have howled away their hearts,
And where the blessed dance;
Such thought, that in it bound
I need no other thing,
Wound in mind's wandering
As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound.
Oxford, Autumn 1920
William Blake |
The vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
Thine has a great hook nose like thine;
Mine has a snub nose like to mine.
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind;
Mine speaks in parables to the blind.
Thine loves the same world that mine hates;
Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.
Socrates taught what Meletus
Loath’d as a nation’s bitterest curse,
And Caiaphas was in his own mind
A benefactor to mankind.
Both read the Bible day and night,
But thou read’st black where I read white.
Was Jesus gentle, or did He
Give any marks of gentility?
When twelve years old He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When after three days’ sorrow found,
Loud as Sinai’s trumpet-sound:
‘No earthly parents I confess—
My Heavenly Father’s business!
Ye understand not what I say,
And, angry, force Me to obey.
Obedience is a duty then,
And favour gains with God and men.’
John from the wilderness loud cried;
Satan gloried in his pride.
‘Come,’ said Satan, ‘come away,
I’ll soon see if you’ll obey!
John for disobedience bled,
But you can turn the stones to bread.
God’s high king and God’s high priest
Shall plant their glories in your breast,
If Caiaphas you will obey,
If Herod you with bloody prey
Feed with the sacrifice, and be
Obedient, fall down, worship me.’
Thunders and lightnings broke around,
And Jesus’ voice in thunders’ sound:
‘Thus I seize the spiritual prey.
Ye smiters with disease, make way.
I come your King and God to seize,
Is God a smiter with disease?’
The God of this world rag’d in vain:
He bound old Satan in His chain,
And, bursting forth, His furious ire
Became a chariot of fire.
Throughout the land He took His course,
And trac’d diseases to their source.
He curs’d the Scribe and Pharisee,
Trampling down hypocrisy.
Where’er His chariot took its way,
There Gates of Death let in the Day,
Broke down from every chain and bar;
And Satan in His spiritual war
Dragg’d at His chariot-wheels: loud howl’d
The God of this world: louder roll’d
The chariot-wheels, and louder still
His voice was heard from Zion’s Hill,
And in His hand the scourge shone bright;
He scourg’d the merchant Canaanite
From out the Temple of His Mind,
And in his body tight does bind
Satan and all his hellish crew;
And thus with wrath He did subdue
The serpent bulk of Nature’s dross,
Till He had nail’d it to the Cross.
He took on sin in the Virgin’s womb
And put it off on the Cross and tomb
To be worshipp’d by the Church of Rome.
Was Jesus humble? or did He
Give any proofs of humility?
Boast of high things with humble tone,
And give with charity a stone?
When but a child He ran away,
And left His parents in dismay.
When they had wander’d three days long
These were the words upon His tongue:
‘No earthly parents I confess:
I am doing My Father’s business.’
When the rich learn?d Pharisee
Came to consult Him secretly,
Upon his heart with iron pen
He wrote ‘Ye must be born again.’
He was too proud to take a bribe;
He spoke with authority, not like a Scribe.
He says with most consummate art
‘Follow Me, I am meek and lowly of heart,
As that is the only way to escape
The miser’s net and the glutton’s trap.’
What can be done with such desperate fools
Who follow after the heathen schools?
I was standing by when Jesus died;
What I call’d humility, they call’d pride.
He who loves his enemies betrays his friends.
This surely is not what Jesus intends;
But the sneaking pride of heroic schools,
And the Scribes’ and Pharisees’ virtuous rules;
For He acts with honest, triumphant pride,
And this is the cause that Jesus dies.
He did not die with Christian ease,
Asking pardon of His enemies:
If He had, Caiaphas would forgive;
Sneaking submission can always live.
He had only to say that God was the Devil,
And the Devil was God, like a Christian civil;
Mild Christian regrets to the Devil confess
For affronting him thrice in the wilderness;
He had soon been bloody Caesar’s elf,
And at last he would have been Caesar himself,
Like Dr. Priestly and Bacon and Newton—
Poor spiritual knowledge is not worth a button
For thus the Gospel Sir Isaac confutes:
‘God can only be known by His attributes;
And as for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost,
Or of Christ and His Father, it’s all a boast
And pride, and vanity of the imagination,
That disdains to follow this world’s fashion.’
To teach doubt and experiment
Certainly was not what Christ meant.
What was He doing all that time,
From twelve years old to manly prime?
Was He then idle, or the less
About His Father’s business?
Or was His wisdom held in scorn
Before His wrath began to burn
In miracles throughout the land,
That quite unnerv’d the Seraph band?
If He had been Antichrist, Creeping Jesus,
He’d have done anything to please us;
Gone sneaking into synagogues,
And not us’d the Elders and Priests like dogs;
But humble as a lamb or ass
Obey’d Himself to Caiaphas.
God wants not man to humble himself:
That is the trick of the Ancient Elf.
This is the race that Jesus ran:
Humble to God, haughty to man,
Cursing the Rulers before the people
Even to the Temple’s highest steeple,
And when He humbled Himself to God
Then descended the cruel rod.
‘If Thou Humblest Thyself, Thou humblest Me.
Thou also dwell’st in Eternity.
Thou art a Man: God is no more:
Thy own Humanity learn to adore,
For that is My spirit of life.
Awake, arise to spiritual strife,
And Thy revenge abroad display
In terrors at the last Judgement Day.
God’s mercy and long suffering
Is but the sinner to judgement to bring.
Thou on the Cross for them shalt pray—
And take revenge at the Last Day.’
Jesus replied, and thunders hurl’d:
‘I never will pray for the world.
Once I did so when I pray’d in the Garden;
I wish’d to take with Me a bodily pardon.’
Can that which was of woman born,
In the absence of the morn,
When the Soul fell into sleep,
And Archangels round it weep,
Shooting out against the light
Fibres of a deadly night,
Reasoning upon its own dark fiction,
In doubt which is self-contradiction?
Humility is only doubt,
And does the sun and moon blot out,
Rooting over with thorns and stems
The buried soul and all its gems.
This life’s five windows of the soul
Distorts the Heavens from pole to pole,
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not thro’, the eye
That was born in a night, to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in the beams of light.
Did Jesus teach doubt? or did He
Give any lessons of philosophy,
Charge Visionaries with deceiving,
Or call men wise for not believing?…
Was Jesus born of a Virgin pure
With narrow soul and looks demure?
If He intended to take on sin
The Mother should an harlot been,
Just such a one as Magdalen,
With seven devils in her pen.
Or were Jew virgins still more curs’d,
And more sucking devils nurs’d?
Or what was it which He took on
That He might bring salvation?
A body subject to be tempted,
From neither pain nor grief exempted;
Or such a body as might not feel
The passions that with sinners deal?
Yes, but they say He never fell.
Ask Caiaphas; for he can tell.—
‘He mock’d the Sabbath, and He mock’d
The Sabbath’s God, and He unlock’d
The evil spirits from their shrines,
And turn’d fishermen to divines;
O’erturn’d the tent of secret sins,
And its golden cords and pins,
In the bloody shrine of war
Pour’d around from star to star,—
Halls of justice, hating vice,
Where the Devil combs his lice.
He turn’d the devils into swine
That He might tempt the Jews to dine;
Since which, a pig has got a look
That for a Jew may be mistook.
“Obey your parents.”—What says He?
“Woman, what have I to do with thee?
No earthly parents I confess:
I am doing my Father’s business.”
He scorn’d Earth’s parents, scorn’d Earth’s God,
And mock’d the one and the other’s rod;
His seventy Disciples sent
Against Religion and Government—
They by the sword of Justice fell,
And Him their cruel murderer tell.
He left His father’s trade to roam,
A wand’ring vagrant without home;
And thus He others’ labour stole,
That He might live above control.
The publicans and harlots He
Selected for His company,
And from the adulteress turn’d away
God’s righteous law, that lost its prey.’
Was Jesus chaste? or did He
Give any lessons of chastity?
The Morning blush?d fiery red:
Mary was found in adulterous bed;
Earth groan’d beneath, and Heaven above
Trembled at discovery of Love.
Jesus was sitting in Moses’ chair.
They brought the trembling woman there.
Moses commands she be ston’d to death.
What was the sound of Jesus’ breath?
He laid His hand on Moses’ law;
The ancient Heavens, in silent awe,
Writ with curses from pole to pole,
All away began to roll.
The Earth trembling and naked lay
In secret bed of mortal clay;
On Sinai felt the Hand Divine
Pulling back the bloody shrine;
And she heard the breath of God,
As she heard by Eden’s flood:
‘Good and Evil are no more!
Sinai’s trumpets cease to roar!
Cease, finger of God, to write!
The Heavens are not clean in Thy sight.
Thou art good, and Thou alone;
Nor may the sinner cast one stone.
To be good only, is to be
A God or else a Pharisee.
Thou Angel of the Presence Divine,
That didst create this Body of Mine,
Wherefore hast thou writ these laws
And created Hell’s dark jaws?
My Presence I will take from thee:
A cold leper thou shalt be.
Tho’ thou wast so pure and bright
That Heaven was impure in thy sight,
Tho’ thy oath turn’d Heaven pale,
Tho’ thy covenant built Hell’s jail,
Tho’ thou didst all to chaos roll
With the Serpent for its soul,
Still the breath Divine does move,
And the breath Divine is Love.
Mary, fear not! Let me see
The seven devils that torment thee.
Hide not from My sight thy sin,
That forgiveness thou may’st win.
Has no man condemn?d thee?’
‘No man, Lord.’ ‘Then what is he
Who shall accuse thee? Come ye forth,
Fallen fiends of heavenly birth,
That have forgot your ancient love,
And driven away my trembling Dove.
You shall bow before her feet;
You shall lick the dust for meat;
And tho’ you cannot love, but hate,
Shall be beggars at Love’s gate.
What was thy love? Let Me see it;
Was it love or dark deceit?’
‘Love too long from me has fled;
’Twas dark deceit, to earn my bread;
’Twas covet, or ’twas custom, or
Some trifle not worth caring for;
That they may call a shame and sin
Love’s temple that God dwelleth in,
And hide in secret hidden shrine
The naked Human Form Divine,
And render that a lawless thing
On which the Soul expands its wing.
But this, O Lord, this was my sin,
When first I let these devils in,
In dark pretence to chastity
Blaspheming Love, blaspheming Thee,
Thence rose secret adulteries,
And thence did covet also rise.
My sin Thou hast forgiven me;
Canst Thou forgive my blasphemy?
Canst Thou return to this dark hell,
And in my burning bosom dwell?
And canst Thou die that I may live?
And canst Thou pity and forgive?’
Then roll’d the shadowy Man away
From the limbs of Jesus, to make them His prey,
An ever devouring appetite,
Glittering with festering venoms bright;
Crying ‘Crucify this cause of distress,
Who don’t keep the secrets of holiness!
The mental powers by diseases we bind;
But He heals the deaf, the dumb, and the blind.
Whom God has afflicted for secret ends,
He comforts and heals and calls them friends.’
But, when Jesus was crucified,
Then was perfected His galling pride.
In three nights He devour’d His prey,
And still He devours the body of clay;
For dust and clay is the Serpent’s meat,
Which never was made for Man to eat.
Seeing this False Christ, in fury and passion
I made my voice heard all over the nation.
What are those…
I am sure this Jesus will not do,
Either for Englishman or Jew.
William Blake |
Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burdend air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep
Once meek, and in a perilous path,
The just man kept his course along
The vale of death.
Roses are planted where thorns grow.
And on the barren heath
Sing the honey bees.
Then the perilous path was planted:
And a river, and a spring
On every cliff and tomb;
And on the bleached bones
Red clay brought forth.
Till the villain left the paths of ease,
To walk in perilous paths, and drive
The just man into barren climes.
Now the sneaking serpent walks
In mild humility.
And the just man rages in the wilds
Where lions roam.
Rintrah roars & shakes his fires in the burdend air;
Hungry clouds swag on the deep.
As a new heaven is begun, and it is now thirty-three years
since its advent: the Eternal Hell revives. And lo! Swedenborg is
the Angel sitting at the tomb; his writings are the linen clothes
folded up. Now is the dominion of Edom, & the return of Adam into
Paradise; see Isaiah XXXIV & XXXV Chap:
Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and
Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good &
Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason[.] Evil is the active
springing from Energy.
Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.
The voice of the Devil
All Bibles or sacred codes. have been the causes of the
That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a
That Energy. calld Evil. is alone from the Body. & that
Reason. calld Good. is alone from the Soul.
That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his
But the following Contraries to these are True
Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is
a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses. the chief inlets
of Soul in this age
Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is
the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
Energy is Eternal Delight
Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough
to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps its place &
governs the unwilling.
And being restraind it by degrees becomes passive till it is
only the shadow of desire.
The history of this is written in Paradise Lost. & the Governor
or Reason is call'd Messiah.
And the original Archangel or possessor of the command of the
heavenly host, is calld the Devil or Satan and his children are
call'd Sin & Death
But in the Book of Job Miltons Messiah is call'd Satan.
For this history has been adopted by both parties
It indeed appear'd to Reason as if Desire was cast out. but the
Devils account is, that the Messi[PL 6]ah fell. & formed a heaven
of what he stole from the Abyss
This is shewn in the Gospel, where he prays to the Father to
send the comforter or Desire that Reason may have Ideas to build
on, the Jehovah of the Bible being no other than he, who dwells
in flaming fire.
Know that after Christs death, he became Jehovah.
But in Milton; the Father is Destiny, the Son, a Ratio of the
five senses. & the Holy-ghost, Vacuum!
Note. The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of
Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he
was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it
A Memorable Fancy.
As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the
enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and
insanity. I collected some of their Proverbs: thinking that as
the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs
of Hell, shew the nature of Infernal wisdom better than any
description of buildings or garments.
When I came home; on the abyss of the five senses, where a
flat sided steep frowns over the present world. I saw a mighty
Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock,
with cor[PL 7]roding fires he wrote the following sentence now
percieved by the minds of men, & read by them on earth.
How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?
Proverbs of Hell.
In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity.
He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.
The cut worm forgives the plow.
Dip him in the river who loves water.
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom: no
clock can measure.
All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap.
Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth.
No bird soars too high. if he soars with his own wings.
A dead body. revenges not injuries.
The most sublime act is to set another before you.
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise
Folly is the cloke of knavery.
Shame is Prides cloke.
Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.
The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the
stormy sea, and the destructive sword. are portions of
eternity too great for the eye of man.
The fox condemns the trap, not himself.
Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.
Let man wear the fell of the lion. woman the fleece of the sheep.
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
The selfish smiling fool. & the sullen frowning fool. shall be
both thought wise. that they may be a rod.
What is now proved was once, only imagin'd.
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbet; watch the roots, the
lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits.
The cistern contains: the fountain overflows
One thought. fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid
Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn
of the crow.
The fox provides for himself. but God provides for the lion.
Think in the morning, Act in the noon, Eat in the evening, Sleep
in the night.
He who has sufferd you to impose on him knows you.
As the plow follows words, so God rewards prayers.
The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction
Expect poison from the standing water.
You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than
Listen to the fools reproach! it is a kingly title!
The eyes of fire, the nostrils of air, the mouth of water, the
beard of earth.
The weak in courage is strong in cunning.
The apple tree never asks the beech how he shall grow, nor the
lion. the horse; how he shall take his prey.
The thankful reciever bears a plentiful harvest.
If others bad not been foolish. we should be so.
The soul of sweet delight. can never be defil'd,
When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a portion of Genius. lift up
As the catterpiller chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs
on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.
To create a little flower is the labour of ages.
Damn. braces: Bless relaxes.
The best wine is the oldest. the best water the newest.
Prayers plow not! Praises reap not!
Joys laugh not! Sorrows weep not!
The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the
hands & feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the
The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl, that every thing
Exuberance is Beauty.
If the lion was advised by the fox. he would be cunning.
Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without
Improvement, are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires
Where man is not nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be
Enough! or Too much
The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or
Geniuses calling them by the names and adorning them with the
properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations,
and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city &
country. placing it under its mental deity.
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of &
enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the
mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood.
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounced that the Gods had orderd such
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.
A Memorable Fancy.
The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel dined with me, and I asked
them how they dared so roundly to assert. that God spake to them;
and whether they did not think at the time, that they would be
misunderstood, & so be the cause of imposition.
Isaiah answer'd. I saw no God. nor heard any, in a finite
organical perception; but my senses discover'd the infinite in
every thing, and as I was then perswaded. & remain confirm'd;
that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared
not for consequences but wrote.
Then I asked: does a firm perswasion that a thing is so, make
He replied. All poets believe that it does, & in ages of
imagination this firm perswasion removed mountains; but many are not capable of a firm perswasion of any thing.
Then Ezekiel said. The philosophy of the east taught the first
principles of human perception some nations held one
principle for the origin & some another, we of Israel taught
that the Poetic Genius (as you now call it) was the first
principle and all the others merely derivative, which was the
cause of our despising the Priests & Philosophers of other
countries, and prophecying that all Gods [PL 13] would at last be
proved. to originate in ours & to be the tributaries of the
Poetic Genius, it was this. that our great poet King David
desired so fervently & invokes so patheticly, saying by this he
conquers enemies & governs kingdoms; and we so loved our God.
that we cursed in his name all the deities of surrounding
nations, and asserted that they had rebelled; from these opinions
the vulgar came to think that all nations would at last be
subject to the jews.
This said he, like all firm perswasions, is come to pass, for all
nations believe the jews code and worship the jews god, and what
greater subjection can be.
I heard this with some wonder, & must confess my own
conviction. After dinner I ask'd Isaiah to favour the world with
his lost works, he said none of equal value was lost. Ezekiel
said the same of his.
I also asked Isaiah what made him go naked and barefoot three
years? he answerd, the same that made our friend Diogenes the
I then asked Ezekiel. why he eat dung, & lay so long on his
right & left side? he answerd. the desire of raising other men
into a perception of the infinite this the North American tribes
practise. & is he honest who resists his genius or conscience.
only for the sake of present ease or gratification?
The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire
at the end of six thousand years is true. as I have heard from
For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to
leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole
creation will be consumed, and appear infinite. and holy whereas
it now appears finite & corrupt.
This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.
But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his
soul, is to be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the
infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and
medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the
infinite which was hid.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would
appear to man as it is: infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro'
narrow chinks of his cavern.
A Memorable Fancy
I was in a Printing house in Hell & saw the method in which
knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.
In the first chamber was a Dragon-Man, clearing away the
rubbish from a caves mouth; within, a number of Dragons were
hollowing the cave,
In the second chamber was a Viper folding round the rock & the
cave, and others adorning it with gold silver and precious
In the third chamber was an Eagle with wings and feathers of
air, he caused the inside of the cave to be infinite, around were
numbers of Eagle like men, who built palaces in the immense
In the fourth chamber were Lions of flaming fire raging around
& melting the metals into living fluids.
In the fifth chamber were Unnam'd forms, which cast the metals
into the expanse.
There they were reciev'd by Men who occupied the sixth
chamber, and took the forms of books & were arranged in
The Giants who formed this world into its sensual existence
and now seem to live in it in chains; are in truth. the causes
of its life & the sources of all activity, but the chains are,
the cunning of weak and tame minds. which have power to resist
energy. according to the proverb, the weak in courage is strong
Thus one portion of being, is the Prolific. the other, the
Devouring: to the devourer it seems as if the producer was in
his chains, but it is not so, he only takes portions of existence
and fancies that the whole.
But the Prolific would cease to be Prolific unless the
Devourer as a sea recieved the excess of his delights.
Some will say, Is not God alone the Prolific? I answer, God
only Acts & Is, in existing beings or Men.
These two classes of men are always upon earth, & they should
be enemies; whoever tries [PL 17] to reconcile them seeks to
Religion is an endeavour to reconcile the two.
Note. Jesus Christ did not wish to unite but to seperate
them, as in the Parable of sheep and goats! & he says I came not
to send Peace but a Sword.
Messiah or Satan or Tempter was formerly thought to be one of
the Antediluvians who are our Energies.
A Memorable Fancy
An Angel came to me and said. O pitiable foolish young man!
O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon
thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art
going in such career.
I said. perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal
lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your
lot or mine is most desirable
So he took me thro' a stable & thro' a church & down into
the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro' the mill
we went, and came to a cave. down the winding cavern we groped
our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appeard
beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this
immensity; but I said, if you please we will commit ourselves
to this void, and see whether providence is here also, if you
will not I will? but he answerd. do not presume O young-man but
as we here remain behold thy lot which will soon appear when the
darkness passes away
So I remaind with him sitting in the twisted [PL 18] root of
an oak. he was suspended in a fungus which hung with the head
downward into the deep:
By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke
of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance was the sun,
black but shining[;] round it were fiery tracks on which revolv'd
vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew or rather
swum in the infinite deep, in the most terrific shapes of animals
sprung from corruption. & the air was full of them, & seemd
composed of them; these are Devils. and are called Powers of the
air, I now asked my companion which was my eternal lot? he said,
between the black & white spiders
But now, from between the black & white spiders a cloud and
fire burst and rolled thro the deep blackning all beneath, so
that the nether deep grew black as a sea & rolled with a terrible
noise: beneath us was nothing now to be seen but a black tempest,
till looking east between the clouds & the waves, we saw a
cataract of blood mixed with fire and not many stones throw from
us appeard and sunk again the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent.
at last to the east, distant about three degrees appeard a fiery
crest above the waves slowly it reared like a ridge of golden
rocks till we discoverd two globes of crimson fire. from which
the sea fled away in clouds of smoke, and now we saw, it was the
head of Leviathan. his forehead was divided into streaks of green
& purple like those on a tygers forehead: soon we saw his mouth &
red gills hang just above the raging foam tinging the black deep
with beams of blood, advancing toward [PL 19] us with all the
fury of a spiritual existence.
My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill;
I remain'd alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found
myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moon light
hearing a harper who sung to the harp. & his theme was, The man
who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds
reptiles of the mind.
But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my
Angel, who surprised asked me, how I escaped?
I answerd. All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics: for
when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing
a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you
yours? he laughd at my proposal: but I by force suddenly caught
him in my arms, & flew westerly thro' the night, till we were
elevated above the earths shadow: then I flung myself with him
directly into the body of the sun, here I clothed myself in
white, & taking in my hand Swedenborgs volumes sunk from the
glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to
saturn, here I staid to rest & then leap'd into the void, between
saturn & the fixed stars.
Here said I! is your lot, in this space, if space it may be
calld, Soon we saw the stable and the church, & I took him to the
altar and open'd the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which
I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses
of brick, one we enterd; in it were a [PL 20] number of monkeys,
baboons, & all of that species chaind by the middle, grinning and
snatching at one another, but witheld by the shortness of their
chains: however I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then
the weak were caught by the strong and with a grinning aspect,
first coupled with & then devourd, by plucking off first one limb
and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk. this
after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devourd
too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off
of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoyd us both we went
into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body,
which in the mill was Aristotles Analytics.
So the Angel said: thy phantasy has imposed upon me & thou
oughtest to be ashamed.
I answerd: we impose on one another, & it is but lost time
to converse with you whose works are only Analytics.
Opposition is true Friendship.
I have always found that Angels have the vanity to speak of
themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident
insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning:
Thus Swedenborg boasts that what he writes is new; tho' it
is only the Contents or Index of already publish'd books
A man carried a monkey about for a shew, & because he was a
little wiser than the monkey, grew vain, and conciev'd himself as
much wiser than seven men. It is so with Swedenborg; he shews the
folly of churches & exposes hypocrites, till he imagines that all
are religious. & himself the single [PL 22] One on earth that ever
broke a net.
Now hear a plain fact: Swedenborg has not written one new
truth: Now hear another: he has written all the old falshoods.
And now hear the reason. He conversed with Angels who are
all religious, & conversed not with Devils who all hate religion,
for he was incapable thro' his conceited notions.
Thus Swedenborgs writings are a recapitulation of all
superficial opinions, and an analysis of the more sublime, but no
Have now another plain fact: Any man of mechanical talents
may from the writings of Paracelsus or Jacob Behmen, produce ten
thousand volumes of equal value with Swedenborg's.
and from those of Dante or Shakespear, an infinite number.
But when he has done this, let him not say that he knows
better than his master, for he only holds a candle in sunshine.
A Memorable Fancy
Once I saw a Devil in a flame of fire. who arose before an
Angel that sat on a cloud. and the Devil utterd these words.
The worship of God is. Honouring his gifts in other men
each according to his genius. and loving the [PL 23] greatest men
best, those who envy or calumniate great men hate God, for there
is no other God.
The Angel hearing this became almost blue but mastering
himself he grew yellow, & at last white pink & smiling, and then
Thou Idolater, is not God One? & is not he visible in Jesus
Christ? and has not Jesus Christ given his sanction to the law of
ten commandments and are not all other men fools, sinners, &
The Devil answer'd; bray a fool in a morter with wheat. yet
shall not his folly be beaten out of him: if Jesus Christ is the
greatest man, you ought to love him in the greatest degree; now
hear how he has given his sanction to the law of ten
commandments: did he not mock at the sabbath, and so mock the
sabbaths God? murder those who were murderd because of him? turn away
the law from the woman taken in adultery? steal the labor of others
to support him? bear false witness when he omitted making a defence
before Pilate? covet when he pray'd for his disciples, and when he
bid them shake off the dust of their feet against such as refused to
lodge them? I tell you, no virtue can exis without breaking these
ten commandments: Jesus was all virtue and acted from im[PL 24]pulse:
not from rules.
When he had so spoken: I beheld the Angel who stretched out
his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose
Note. This Angel, who is now become a Devil, is my
particular friend: we often read the Bible together in its
infernal or diabolical sense which the world shall have if they
I have also: The Bible of Hell: which the world shall have
whether they will or no.
One Law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression
A Song of Liberty
The Eternal Female groand! it was heard over all the Earth:
Albions coast is sick silent; the American meadows faint!
Shadows of Prophecy shiver along by the lakes and the rivers
and mutter across the ocean! France rend down thy dungeon;
Golden Spain burst the barriers of old Rome;
Cast thy keys O Rome into the deep down falling, even to
eternity down falling,
In her trembling hands she took the new, born terror howling;
On those infinite mountains of light now barr'd out by the
atlantic sea, the new born fire stood before the starry king!
Flag'd with grey brow'd snows and thunderous visages the
jealous wings wav'd over the deep.
The speary hand burned aloft, unbuckled was the shield,
forth went the hand of jealousy among the flaming hair, and
[PL 26]hurl'd the new born wonder thro' the starry night.
The fire, the fire, is falling!
Look up! look up! O citizen of London. enlarge thy
countenance; O Jew, leave counting gold! return to thy oil and
wine; O African! black African! (go. winged thought widen his
The fiery limbs, the flaming hair, shot like the sinking sun
into the western sea.
Wak'd from his eternal sleep, the hoary, element roaring
Down rushd beating his wings in vain the jealous king: his
grey brow'd councellors, thunderous warriors, curl'd veterans,
among helms, and shields, and chariots horses, elephants:
banners, castles, slings and rocks,
Falling, rushing, ruining! buried in the ruins, on Urthona's
All night beneath the ruins, then their sullen flames faded
emerge round the gloomy king,
With thunder and fire: leading his starry hosts thro' the
waste wilderness [PL 27]he promulgates his ten commands,
glancing his beamy eyelids over the deep in dark dismay,
Where the son of fire in his eastern cloud, while the
morning plumes her golden breast,
Spurning the clouds written with curses, stamps the stony
law to dust, loosing the eternal horses from the dens of night,
Empire is no more! and now the lion & wolf shall cease.
Let the Priests of the Raven of dawn, no longer in deadly
black, with hoarse note curse the sons of joy. Nor his accepted
brethren whom, tyrant, he calls free; lay the bound or build the
roof. Nor pale religious letchery call that virginity, that
wishes but acts not!
For every thing that lives is Holy
Robert Frost |
Her teacher's certainty it must be Mabel
Made Maple first take notice of her name.
She asked her father and he told her, "Maple—
Maple is right."
"But teacher told the school
There's no such name."
"Teachers don't know as much
As fathers about children, you tell teacher.
You tell her that it's M-A-P-L-E.
You ask her if she knows a maple tree.
Well, you were named after a maple tree.
Your mother named you. You and she just saw
Each other in passing in the room upstairs,
One coming this way into life, and one
Going the other out of life—you know?
So you can't have much recollection of her.
She had been having a long look at you.
She put her finger in your cheek so hard
It must have made your dimple there, and said,
'Maple.' I said it too: 'Yes, for her name.'
She nodded. So we're sure there's no mistake.
I don't know what she wanted it to mean,
But it seems like some word she left to bid you
Be a good girl—be like a maple tree.
How like a maple tree's for us to guess.
Or for a little girl to guess sometime.
Not now—at least I shouldn't try too hard now.
By and by I will tell you all I know
About the different trees, and something, too,
About your mother that perhaps may help."
Dangerous self-arousing words to sow.
Luckily all she wanted of her name then
Was to rebuke her teacher with it next day,
And give the teacher a scare as from her father.
Anything further had been wasted on her,
Or so he tried to think to avoid blame.
She would forget it. She all but forgot it.
What he sowed with her slept so long a sleep,
And came so near death in the dark of years,
That when it woke and came to life again
The flower was different from the parent seed.
It carne back vaguely at the glass one day,
As she stood saying her name over aloud,
Striking it gently across her lowered eyes
To make it go well with the way she looked.
What was it about her name? Its strangeness lay
In having too much meaning. Other names,
As Lesley, Carol, Irma, Marjorie,
Signified nothing. Rose could have a meaning,
But hadn't as it went. (She knew a Rose.)
This difference from other names it was
Made people notice it—and notice her.
(They either noticed it, or got it wrong.)
Her problem was to find out what it asked
In dress or manner of the girl who bore it.
If she could form some notion of her mother—
What she bad thought was lovely, and what good.
This was her mother's childhood home;
The house one story high in front, three stories
On the end it presented to the road.
(The arrangement made a pleasant sunny cellar.)
Her mother's bedroom was her father's still,
Where she could watch her mother's picture fading.
Once she found for a bookmark in the Bible
A maple leaf she thought must have been laid
In wait for her there. She read every word
Of the two pages it was pressed between,
As if it was her mother speaking to her.
But forgot to put the leaf back in closing
And lost the place never to read again.
She was sure, though, there had been nothing in it.
So she looked for herself, as everyone
Looks for himself, more or less outwardly.
And her self-seeking, fitful though it was,
May still have been what led her on to read,
And think a little, and get some city schooling.
She learned shorthand, whatever shorthand may
Have had to do with it--she sometimes wondered.
So, till she found herself in a strange place
For the name Maple to have brought her to,
Taking dictation on a paper pad
And, in the pauses when she raised her eyes,
Watching out of a nineteenth story window
An airship laboring with unshiplike motion
And a vague all-disturbing roar above the river
Beyond the highest city built with hands.
Someone was saying in such natural tones
She almost wrote the words down on her knee,
"Do you know you remind me of a tree--
A maple tree?"
"Because my name is Maple?"
"Isn't it Mabel? I thought it was Mabel."
"No doubt you've heard the office call me Mabel.
I have to let them call me what they like."
They were both stirred that he should have divined
Without the name her personal mystery.
It made it seem as if there must be something
She must have missed herself. So they were married,
And took the fancy home with them to live by.
They went on pilgrimage once to her father's
(The house one story high in front, three stories
On the side it presented to the road)
To see if there was not some special tree
She might have overlooked. They could find none,
Not so much as a single tree for shade,
Let alone grove of trees for sugar orchard.
She told him of the bookmark maple leaf
In the big Bible, and all she remembered
of the place marked with it—"Wave offering,
Something about wave offering, it said."
"You've never asked your father outright, have you?"
"I have, and been Put off sometime, I think."
(This was her faded memory of the way
Once long ago her father had put himself off.)
"Because no telling but it may have been
Something between your father and your mother
Not meant for us at all."
"Not meant for me?
Where would the fairness be in giving me
A name to carry for life and never know
The secret of?"
"And then it may have been
Something a father couldn't tell a daughter
As well as could a mother. And again
It may have been their one lapse into fancy
'Twould be too bad to make him sorry for
By bringing it up to him when be was too old.
Your father feels us round him with our questing,
And holds us off unnecessarily,
As if he didn't know what little thing
Might lead us on to a discovery.
It was as personal as be could be
About the way he saw it was with you
To say your mother, bad she lived, would be
As far again as from being born to bearing."
"Just one look more with what you say in mind,
And I give up"; which last look came to nothing.
But though they now gave up the search forever,
They clung to what one had seen in the other
By inspiration. It proved there was something.
They kept their thoughts away from when the maples
Stood uniform in buckets, and the steam
Of sap and snow rolled off the sugarhouse.
When they made her related to the maples,
It was the tree the autumn fire ran through
And swept of leathern leaves, but left the bark
Unscorched, unblackened, even, by any smoke.
They always took their holidays in autumn.
Once they came on a maple in a glade,
Standing alone with smooth arms lifted up,
And every leaf of foliage she'd worn
Laid scarlet and pale pink about her feet.
But its age kept them from considering this one.
Twenty-five years ago at Maple's naming
It hardly could have been a two-leaved seedling
The next cow might have licked up out at pasture.
Could it have been another maple like it?
They hovered for a moment near discovery,
Figurative enough to see the symbol,
But lacking faith in anything to mean
The same at different times to different people.
Perhaps a filial diffidence partly kept them
From thinking it could be a thing so bridal.
And anyway it came too late for Maple.
She used her hands to cover up her eyes.
"We would not see the secret if we could now:
We are not looking for it any more."
Thus had a name with meaning, given in death,
Made a girl's marriage, and ruled in her life.
No matter that the meaning was not clear.
A name with meaning could bring up a child,
Taking the child out of the parents' hands.
Better a meaningless name, I should say,
As leaving more to nature and happy chance.
Name children some names and see what you do.
Emily Dickinson |
The Bible is an antique Volume --
Written by faded men
At the suggestion of Holy Spectres --
Subjects -- Bethlehem --
Eden -- the ancient Homestead --
Satan -- the Brigadier --
Judas -- the Great Defaulter --
David -- the Troubador --
Sin -- a distinguished Precipice
Others must resist --
Boys that "believe" are very lonesome --
Other Boys are "lost" --
Had but the Tale a warbling Teller --
All the Boys would come --
Orpheus' Sermon captivated --
It did not condemn --
Robert Burns |
RASH 1 mortal, and slanderous poet, thy name
Shall no longer appear in the records of Fame;
Dost not know that old Mansfield, who writes like the Bible,
Says, the more ’tis a truth, sir, the more ’tis a libel!
Note 1. These are rhymes of dubious authenticity.—Lang. [back]