Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE STUPID OLD BODY, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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THE STUPID OLD BODY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Do not pay too much attention to the stupid old body
Last Line: Which alone after all is death.
Subject(s): Bodies; Religion; Theology


DO not pay too much attention to the stupid old Body.

When you have trained it, made it healthy, beautiful, and your willing
servant,
Why, do not then reverse the order and become its slave and attendant.
[The dog must follow its master—not the master the dog.]
Remember that if you walk away from it and leave it behind, it will have to
follow you—it will grow by following, by continually reaching up to you.
Incredibly beautiful it will become, and suffused by a kind of
intelligence.
But if you turn and wait upon it—and its mouth and its belly and its
sex-wants and all its little ape-tricks—preparing and dishing up pleasures
and satisfactions for these,
Why, then instead of the body becoming like you, you will become like the
body—
Incredibly stupid and unformed—going back in the path of
evolution—you too with fish-mouth and toad-belly, and imprisoned in your
own members, as it were an Ariel in a blundering Caliban.

Therefore quite lightly and decisively at each turning point in the path
leave your body a little behind—
With its hungers and sleeps, and funny little needs and
vanities—paying no attention to them;
Slipping out at least a few steps in advance, till it catch you up again,
Absolutely determined not to be finally bound or weighted down by it,
Or fossilized into one set form—
Which alone after all is Death.





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