Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 1, by EDWARD CARPENTER

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 1, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Freedom at last!
Last Line: Written—and of this book.
Subject(s): Democracy; Expressionism - Poets; Freedom; Life; Nations; Politics & Government; Self-consciousness; Liberty


FREEDOM at last!
Long sought, long prayed for—ages and ages long:
The burden to which I continually return, seated here thick-booted and
obvious yet dead and buried and passed into heaven, unsearchable;
[How know you indeed but what I have passed into you?]
And Joy, beginning but without ending—the journey of
journeys—Thought laid quietly aside:
These things I, writing, translate for you—I wipe a mirror and place
it in your hands.


The sun shines, as of old; the stars look down from heaven; the moon,
crescent, sails in the twilight; on bushy tops in the warm nights, naked, with
mad dance and song, the earth-children address themselves to love;
Civilisation sinks and swims, but the old facts remain—the sun smiles,
knowing well its strength.
The little red stars appear once more on the hazel boughs, shining among
the catkins; over waste lands the pewit tumbles and cries as at the first day;
men with horses go out on the land—they shout and chide and strive—and
return again glad at evening; the old earth breathes deep and rhythmically,
night and day, summer and winter, giving and concealing herself.

I arise out of the dewy night and shake my wings.
Tears and lamentations are no more. Life and death lie stretched below me.
I breathe the sweet aether blowing of the breath of God.
Deep as the universe is my life—and I know it; nothing can dislodge
the knowledge of it; nothing can destroy, nothing can harm me.
Joy, joy arises—I arise. The sun darts overpowering piercing rays of
joy through me, the night radiates it from me.
I take wings through the night and pass through all the wildernesses of the
worlds, and the old dark holds of tears and death—and return with laughter,
laughter, laughter:
Sailing through the starlit spaces on outspread wings, we two—O
laughter! laughter! laughter!


Freedom! the deep breath! the word heard centuries and centuries
beforehand; the soul singing low and passionate to itself: Joy! Joy!
Not as in a dream. The earth remains and daily life remains, and the
scrubbing of doorsteps, and the house and the care of the house remains; but Joy
fills it, fills the house full and swells to the sky and reaches the stars: all
O freed soul! soul that has completed its relation to the body! O soaring,
happy beyond words, into other realms passing, salutations to you, freed,
redeemed soul!

What is certain, and not this? What is solid?—the rocks? the
mountains? destiny?
The gates are thrown wide open all through the universe. I go to and
fro—through the heights and depths I go and I return: All is well.
I conceive the purport of all suffering. The blear-eyed boy, famished in
brain, famished in body, shivering there in his rags by the angle of the house,
is become divine before me; I hold him long and silently by the hand and pray to
I conceive a millennium on earth—a millennium not of riches, nor of
mechanical facilities, nor of intellectual facilities, nor absolutely of
immunity from disease, nor absolutely of immunity from pain; but a time when men
and women all over the earth shall ascend and enter into relation with their
bodies—shall attain freedom and joy;
And the men and women of that time looking back with something like envy to
the life of to-day, that they too might have borne a part in its travail and
throes of birth.
All is well: to-day and a million years hence, equally To you the whole
universe is given for a garden of delight and to the soul that loves, in the
great coherent Whole, the hardest and most despised lot is even with the best;
and there is nothing more certain or more solid than this.


Freedom! the deep breath!
The old Earth breathes deep and rythmically, night and day, summer and
winter; the cuckoo calls across the woodland, and the willow-wren warbles among
the great chestnut buds; the laborer eases himself under a hedge, and the frog
flops into the pond as the cows approach;
In the theatre Juliet from her balcony still bends in the moonlight, and
Romeo leans up from the bushes below; in the pale dawn, still, faint with love
he tears himself away; the great outlines of the fields and hills where you were
born and grew up remain apparently unchanged.
If I am not level with the lowest I am nothing; and if I did not know for a
certainty that the craziest sot in the village is my equal, and were not proud
to have him walk with me as my friend, I would not write another word—for
in this is my strength.
My thoughts are nothing, but I myself will reach my arms through time,
constraining you.

These are the days which nourished and fed me so kindly and well; this is
the place where I was born, the walls and roofs which are familiar to me, the
windows out of which I have looked. This is the overshadowing love and care of
parents; these are the faces and deeds, indelible, of brothers and
sisters—closing round me like a wall—the early world in which I lay so
This is to-day: the little ship lies ready, the fresh air blowing, the
sunlight pouring over the world. These are the gates of all cities and
habitations standing open; this is the love of men and women accompanying me
wherever I go; these are the sacred memories of that early world, time may never
And this is the word which swells the bosom of the hills and feeds the
sacred laughter of the streams, for man: the purpose which endures for you in
those old fields and hills and the sphinx-glance of the stars.


I, Nature, stand, and call to you though you heed not: Have courage, come
forth, O child of mine, that you may see me.
As a nymph of the invisible air before her mortal beloved, so I glance
before you—I dart and stand in your path—and turn away from your
heedless eyes like one in pain.
I am the ground; I listen the sound of your feet. They come nearer. I shut
my eyes and feel their tread over my face.
I am the trees; I reach downward my long arms and touch you, though you
heed not, with enamored fingers; my leaves and zigzag branches write wonderful
words against the evening sky—for you, for you—say, can you not even
spell them?
O shame! shame! I fling you away from me (you shall not know that I love
you). Unworthy! I strike you across the face; does the blood mount to your cheek
now? my glove rings at your feet: I dare you to personal combat.
Will you come forth? will you do the daring deed? will you strip yourself
naked as you came into the world, and come before me, and regard unafraid the
flashing of my sword? will you lose your life, to Me?

O child of mine!
See! you are in prison, and I can give you space;
You are choked down below there, by the dust of your own raising, and I can
give you the pure intoxicating air of the mountains to breathe;
I can make you a king, and show you all the lands of the earth;
And from yourself to yourself I can deliver you, and can come, your enemy,
and gaze long and long with yells of laughter into your eyes!


The caddis worm leaves the water, and takes on wings and flies in the upper
air; the walking mud becomes amorous of the winged sunlight, and behaves itself
in an abandoned manner.
The Earth (during its infancy) flies round the Sun from which it sprang,
and the mud flies round the pond from which it sprang.
The earth swims in space, the fish swim in the sea, the bird swims in the
air, and the soul of man in the ocean of Equality—towards which all the
other streams run.

Here, into this ocean, everything debouches; all interest in life begins
anew. The plantain in the croft looks different from what it did before.
Do you understand? To realise Freedom or Equality (for it comes to the same
thing)—for this hitherto, for you, the universe has rolled; for this, your
life, possibly yet many lives; for this, death, many deaths; for this, desires,
fears, complications, bewilderments, sufferings, hope, regret—all falling
away at last duly before the Soul, before You (O laughter!) arising the full
grown lover—possessor of the password.
The path of Indifference—action, inaction, good, evil, pleasure, pain,
the sky, the sea, cities and wilds—all equally used (never shunned),
adopted, put aside, as materials only; you continuing, love continuing—the
use and freedom of materials dawning at last upon you.
O laughter! the Soul invading, looking proudly upon its new kingdom,
possessing the offerings of all pleasures, forbidden and unforbidden, from all
created things—if perchance it will stoop to accept them; the everlasting

From that day forward objects turn round upon themselves with an
exceedingly innocent air, but are visibly not the same;
Fate is leveled, and the mountains and pyramids look foolish before the
glance of a little child; love becomes possessed of itself, and of the certainty
of its own fruition (which it never could have before).

Here the essence of all expression, and the final surrender of Art—for
this the divine Artists have struggled and still struggle;
For this the heroes and lovers of all ages have laid down their lives; and
nations like tigers have fought, knowing well that this life was a mere empty
blob without Freedom.
Where this makes itself known in a people or even in the soul of a single
man or woman, there Democracy begins to exist.
Of that which exists in the Soul, political freedom and institutions of
equality, and so forth, are but the shadows (necessarily thrown); and Democracy
in States or Constitutions but the shadow of that which first expresses itself
in the glance of the eye or the appearance of the skin.
Without that first the others are of no account, and need not be further


Inevitable in time for man and all creation is the realisation: the husks
one behind another keep shelling and peeling off.
Rama crosses to Ceylon by the giant stepping-stones; and the Ganges floats
with the flowers and sacred lamps of pilgrims; Diotima teaches Socrates divine
lore; Benedict plunges his midnight lust in nettles and briars; and Bruno stands
prevaricating yet obstinate before his judges.
The midnight jackals scream round the village; and the feigned cry of the
doe is heard as she crosses the track of the hunter pursuing her young; the
chaffinch sits close in her perfect nest, and the shining leaping waters of the
streams run on and on.
The great stream of history runs on.
Over the curve of the misty horizon, out of the dim past (do you not see
it?) over the plains of China and the burning plains of India, by the tombs of
Egypt and through the gardens beneath the white tower of Belus and under the
shadow of the rock of Athens, the great stream descends:
Soft slow broad-bosomed mother-stream—where the Ark floats, and Isis
in her moon-shaped boat sails on with the corpse of Osiris, and the child-god
out of the water rises seated on a lotus flower, and Brahma two-sexed dwells
amid the groves, and the maidens weep for Adonis.

Mighty long-delaying vagrant stream! Of innumerable growing rustling life!
Out of some cavern mouth long ago where the cave-dwellers sat gnawing burnt
bones, down to to-day—with ever growing tumult, and glints of light upon
thee in the distance as of half-open eyes, and the sound of countless voices out
of thee, nearer, nearer, past promontory after promontory winding, widening,
Now to-day, turbid wild and unaccountable in sudden Niagara-plunge toward
thy nearer oceanic levels descending—
How wonderful art thou!


Lo! to-day the falling waters—the ribbed white perpendicular
seas—shaking the ground with their eternal thunder! Lo! above all rising
like a sign into the immense height of the sky, the columned vapor and calm
exhalation of their agony—
The Arisen and mighty soul of Man!
[The word runs like fire along the ground; who shall contain it? the word
that is nothing—as fire is nothing and yet it devours the land in a

Lo! to-day the eagle soul that stretches its neck into the height, looking
before and after; the living banner calling with audible inaudible voice through
all times; the spirit whose eyes are heavy with gazing out over the immense
world of MAN!
[O spirit! spirit! spirit! spirit! stretching thy arms out over the world,
Calling to thy children—spirit of the brow of love and feet of war and
Thou art let loose within me!
No delicate fiction art thou to me now—the sound of thy steps appals
me with joy as thou stridest—fills me with joy and power.
Go, go, my soul, stream out on the wind with this one—I laugh as the
ancient cities shake like leaves in the din and tumult;.
Go shout on the winds that the world is alive, that the Arisen one controls
I laugh as the ground rocks under my feet, I laugh as I walk through the
forest, and the trees reel to and fro, and their great dead branches
Shout on the winds, though the foaming hell grows hoarse with gusty
thunder, shout that the crashing distracted hurrying eddying world is taken
Prisoner in the highest!]
Ah! the live Earth trembles beneath thy footsteps the passionate deep
shuddering words run along the ground: who shall contain, who shall understand
Surely, surely, age after age out of the ground itself arising, from the
chinks of the lips of the clods and from between the blades of grass, up with
the tall-growing wheat surely ascending———
Deep-muttered, vast, inaudible—they come—the strange new words,
through the frame of the great Mother and through the frames of her children

And among the far nations there is a stir like the stir of the leaves of a
Joy, Joy arising on Earth!
And lo! the banners lifted from point to point, and the spirits of the
ancient races looking abroad—the divinely beautiful daughters of God
calling to their children.

The nations of the old and of the new worlds!
See, what hastening of feet, what throngs, what rustling movement!
Lo! the divine East from ages and ages back intact her priceless jewel of
thought—the germ of Democracy—bringing down! [Gentle and venerable
India well pleased now at last to hear fulfilled the words of her ancient
Lo, Arabia! peerless in dignity, eternal in manhood of love and
war—pivoting like a centre the races of mankind; Siberia, the aged mother,
breaking forth uncontrollable into exultant shouting, from Kokan to farthest
Kamschatka and the moss-morasses of the Arctic Sea!
See how they arise and call to each other! Norway with wild hair streaming,
dancing frantic on her mountain tops? Italy from dreams, from languid passionate
memories amid her marble ruins, to deeds again arising; Greece; Belgium;
Denmark; Ireland—liberty's deathless flame leaping on her Atlantic Shore!
O the wild races of Africa, beautiful children of the sun, hardy and
superb, givers of gifts to the common stock without which all the other gifts
were useless! The native tribes still roaming in the freedom of the earth and
the waters: the Greenlander and his little boy together in their canoe towing
the dead seal, the tawny bronzed Malay, and Papuan, and Australian through the
interminable silent bush tracking infallibly for water or the kangaroo!
Lo! the great users and accumulators of materials, the proud and melancholy
Titans struggling with civilisation! England, ringed with iron and with the
glitter of her waves upon her; Germany; France; Russia—and the flow of East
and West, and the throes of womanhood and the future; lo! Spain—dark,
proud, voiceless, biting her lips, with high white arm beckoning beckoning! And
you, too, ye manifold Stars and Stripes—unto what great destiny!
The peoples of the Earth; the intertwining many-colored streams!
China, gliding seemingly unobservant among the crowd, self-restrained, of
her own soul calmly possessed; the resplendent-limbed Negro and half-caste (do
you not see that old woman there with brow and nose and jaw dating conclusively
back from far away Egypt?); the glitter-eyed caressing-handed Hindu, suave
thoughtful Persian, and faithful Turk; Mexico and the Red Indian (O unconscious
pleading eyes of the dying races!); Japan and the Isles of the Pacific, and the
caravan wanderers and dwellers in the oases of Sahara.
O glancing eyes! O leaping shining waters! Do I not know that thou
Democracy dost control and inspire, that thou, too, hast relations to
these—and a certainty—
As surely as Niagara has relations to Erie and Ontario?


Lo! the spirit floats in the air.
On his lips it kisses the young man from China, and the patient old man,
and the spiritual-faced boy;
And on his lips the long-eyed Japanee; and on his thick lips the Negro:
And to the forlorn emigrant, to the old Irish woman with shriveled brown
anxious face, and to her barefoot beautiful daughter, and to the young
fair-haired woman from Sweden:
And to the Portuguese lad with shining teeth and smiling mouth, and to the
long-haired Italian, and to the ruddy Scot;
And to the young Tamil boy holding up flowers and pouring his morning
libation of water to the Sun, and to his grandmother superintending the
household with quiet loving care; and to the rows of Hindu villagers squatted by
the water tanks at early morning, bathing and chatting, and to the women their
wives cleaning their brass-glancing waterpots; and to the noble Mahratta women,
and to the beautiful almond-eyed women of Egypt, and to the shifty clever
Eurasian, and to the stunted dweller by the sacred unfrozen lake of Thibet:
Come!—and to the wanderers lighting their camp-fires at the feet of
the world-old statues at Thebes; and to the sacred exiles on the march to
Irkutsk; to the wild riders across the plains of Wallachia;
And to the sweet healthy-bodied English girl, and to the drink-marked
prostitute, and to the convicted criminals, the diseased decrepit and destitute
of all the Earth:
Lo! my children I give myself to you; I stretch my arms; on the lips each
one in the name of all I kiss you:
Come! And out of your clinging kisses, see! I create a new world.


Who understands?
Who draws close as a little child?
Ah! who is he who stands closest? And has heard the word, himself, uttered
out of the ground from between the clods?

Who is the wise statesman who walks hand in hand with his people, guiding
and guided?
Who is the child of the people, moving joyous, liquid, free, among his
equals, touching nearest the serene untampered facts of earth and sky?
Who is the poet whom love has made strong strong strong with all strength?
Ah! who is he who says to the great good Mother: Cling fast, O Mother,
and hold me; clasp thy fingers over my face and draw me to thee for ever?


THE scene changes; the sun and the stars are veiled, the solid earth alone
is left. I am buried (I too that I may rise again) deep underfoot among the
Each one a transparent miracle, competent with man and his vast-aspiring
religions and civilisations—but for me they are only dirt.
Level wastes of sand and scrub; mudflats by the mouths of rivers; old
disheveled rocks and oozy snow; trickling slime-places and ponds and bogs and
mangrove marshes and chattering shale-slopes and howling deserted ridges and
heaps of broken glass and old bones and shoes and pots and pans in blind alleys
and fogs along flat shores and crimes betrayals murders thefts respectability,
bad smells by house doors, filthy-smelling interiors of factories and
drawing-rooms, stale scents, gas, dirt, evil faces, drunkenness, cruelty to
animals, and the cruelty of animals to each other—
This is the solid earth in the midst of which I am buried.

O I am mad! the lightning flashes on evil raw places. I stretch uneasily in
my grave and tumble the towers of great cities with my feet; the volcanos lurch
and spill their molten liquor.
I hate those nearest me, and am closed, captious and intolerant. I sweep a
great space round me and sulk in the middle of it.
Now underneath the earth on which you walk I sport in the fire of Hell;
Satan is my friend and vicious blood-spilling lusts and clenched teeth push
the way for me to destruction. I dance in the flames and will claw every one in:
take care how you cross me!
Your talk of goodness I despise. To every conceivable sin I hold out my
hand. My touch blackens you. I crawl forth out of slime and worms and blink at
the sun. I press my way madly through the gallows-crowd to him who bears my
reprieve held up on high.
This is the Cross; these are the eyes of Christ—and of the
This is the Divine love which encloses and redeems all evil. Ah! here is

Flat curtains hang round me in every direction (as they hang round you),
and behind them the live people go dancing and laughing: but we are not going to
be baffled.
Sex still goes first, and hands eyes mouth brain follow; from the midst of
belly and thighs radiate the knowledge of self, religion, and immortality.


The clods press suffocating closer and closer—grit and filth
accumulate in the eyes and mouth, I can neither see nor speak—the devil and
the worms dance around.
The immortal worms make their obeisance to you, and the religious devil
grins at you—they compliment you on your superiority.
The Earth is for you, and all that is therein—save what anyone else
can grab; and universal love is for you—and to sleek yourself smoother than
others in the glass; and to fly on from world to world, leaving sweet odors
behind you, and to get cleverer and cleverer and better and better as you go,
and to be generally superior!
How very nice! the devil and the worms thank you for your kind invitation
to accompany them; but regret that they are engaged.


This is poison! do not touch it—the black brew of the cauldron out of
which Democracy firks its horned and shameless head.
O disrespectable Democracy! I love you. No white angelic spirit are you
now, but a black and horned Ethiopian—your great grinning lips and teeth
and powerful brow and huge limbs please me well.
Where you go about the garden there are great footmarks and an uncanny
smell; the borders are trampled and I see where you have lain and rolled in a
great bed of lilies, bruising the sweetness from them.
I follow you far afield and into the untrodden woods, and there remote from
man you disclose yourself to me, goat-footed and sitting on a rock—as to
the Athenian runner of old.
You fill me with visions, and when the night comes I see the forests upon
your flanks and your horns among the stars. I climb upon you and fulfil my


The heights heighten and the depths deepen; from beneath the eyelids of man
look forth new heavens and a new earth. The glitter of sunlight upon the waves
is there.
Here underneath, the great lubricous roots grasp downward in darkness at
the rocks; there the tall shaft shoots into air, and the leaves float poised in
the sunshine—but the word conceals itself.

Of the goat-legged God peering over the tops of the clouds; of the wild
creature running in the woods of whom the rabbits are not afraid; of him who
peeps his horns in at the windows of the churches, and the congregation cross
themselves and the parson saws his loudest; of the shameless lusty unpresentable
pal; of the despised one hobbling on hoofs—I dream.
Of the despised and rejected, arising with healing in his wings, of the
sane sweet companion in the morning, of the Lover who neither adorns nor
disguises himself—I dream.


O Democracy, I shout for you!

Back! Make me a space round me, you kid-gloved rotten-breathed paralytic
world, with miserable antics mimicking the appearance of life.
England! for good or evil it is useless to attempt to conceal
yourself—I know you too well.
I am the very devil. I will tear your veils off, your false shows and pride
I will trail in the dust,—you shall be utterly naked before me, in your
beauty and in your shame.
For who better than I should know your rottenness, your self-deceit, your
delusion, your hideous grinning corpse-chattering death-in-life business at top?
(and who better than I the wonderful hidden sources of your strength beneath?)
Deceive yourself no longer.

Do you think your smooth-faced Respectability will save you? or that
Cowardice carries a master-key of the universe in its pocket—scrambling
miserably out of the ditch on the heads of those beneath it?
Do you think that it is a fine thing to grind cheap goods out of the hard
labor of ill-paid boys? and do you imagine that all your Commerce Shows and
Manufactures are anything at all compared with the bodies and souls of these?
Do you suppose I have not heard your talk about Morality and Religion and
set it face to face in my soul to the instinct of one clean naked unashamed Man?
or that I have not seen your coteries of elegant and learned people put to rout
by the innocent speech of a child, and the apparition of a mother suckling her
own babe!
Do you think that there ever was or could be Infidelity greater than this?
Do you grab interest on Money and lose all interest in Life? Do you found a
huge system of national Credit on absolute personal Distrust? Do you batten like
a ghoul on the dead corpses of animals, and then expect to be of a cheerful
disposition? Do you put the loving beasts to torture as a means of promoting
your own health and happiness? Do you, O foolishest one, fancy to bind men
together by Laws (of all ideas the most laughable), and set whole tribes of
unbelievers at work year after year patching that rotten net? Do you live
continually farther and farther from Nature, till you actually doubt if there be
any natural life, or any avenging instinct in the dumb elements?—And then
do you wonder that your own Life is slowly ebbing—that you have lost all
gladness and faith?
I do not a bit. I am disgusted with you, and will not cease till I have
absolutely floored you. I do not care; you may struggle; but I am the stronger.

Ah, England! Have I not seen, do I not see now, plain as day, through thy
midst the genius of thy true life wandering—he who can indeed, who can
alone, save thee—
Seeking thy soul, thy real life, out of so much rubbish to disentangle?
Plaintive the Divine Child haply a moment by some cottage door, or by the
side of some mechanic at his bench, lingering, passes on;
Through the great magnificent land, through its parks and country palaces
and bewildering splendors of the resorts of wealth and learning, shy and
plaintive, passes:
Is there no hand held out?
Do not the learned people know him? Have the wealthy nothing to give? Will
not the philanthropic reach a hand to this one?

The guides are all talking. They are settling the affairs of the universe.
[They never cease.]
They have not settled yet which way to go themselves: how shall they give
help to an ignorant child?
They are busy moreover distributing money and pamphlets: and surely nothing
more can be needed.
They are very busy. They are worn out and rest not. Their faces are without
Nevertheless they go on. Was it said that any man could be contented? It is
a lie;—or happy? It is mere foolishness. These things are the dreams of
youthful ignorance.
The affairs of the universe and the continual fluctuations of the Stock
Exchange are too great an anxiety.

Meanwhile the old woman was staggering homeward under a load of
sticks—but none offered to relieve her of her burden. But indeed when you
think of it, how could they? for it would have spoiled their clothes.
The poor boy was taken with a fit upon the doorstep, but it was best not to
take him all dirty and slavering into the nicely-carpeted house!
The criminal had suffered shipwreck in life and was deserted; but of course
it would not have done to be seen consorting with him.
O happy happy guides! to whom such mighty issues are confided!
Happy happy Child! who need not stay to hear the end of their talk! whom I
saw, in vision, silent and musing within itself, pass away from among those


Will you continually deny yourself, you? Will you for ever turn aside?
These are not the times, remember, of canary birds—when the thunder growls
along the horizon.
O England, do I not know thee—as in a nightmare strangled tied and

Thy poverty—when through thy filthy courts from tangles of matted hair
gaunt women with venomous faces look upon me?
When I see the thin joyless faces of their children, and the brick walls
scarcely recognisable as brick for dirt, and the broken windows; when I breathe
the thick polluted air in which not even plants will live; when oaths and curses
are yelled in my ears, and the gibbering face of drink starts upon me at every
When I turn from this and consider throughout the length and breadth of the
land, not less but more hateful, the insane greed of riches—of which
poverty and its evils are but the necessary obverse and counterpart;
When I see deadly Respectability sitting at its dinner table, quaffing its
wine, and discussing the rise and fall of stocks; when I see the struggle, the
fear, the envy, the profound infidelity (so profound that it is almost
unconscious of itself) in which the moneyed classes live:
When the faces of their children come to me pleading, pleading—every
bit as much as the children of the city poor—pleading for one touch of
nature: Of children who have been stuffed with lies all their lives, who have
been told that they cannot do without this and that and a thousand
things—all of which are wholly unnecessary, and a nuisance, (as who should
tell one that it were not safe to walk on the naked Earth, but only on ground
embarrassed with straw and all manner of rubbish up to one's knees;)
Of children who have been taught to mix the nonsense manners and diarrhoea
of drawing-rooms with their ideals of right and wrong; to despise manual labor
and to reverence ridicule; to eat and drink and dress and sleep in unbelief and
against all their natural instincts; and in all things to mingle the disgust of
repletion with the very thought of pleasure—till their young judgments are
confused and their instincts actually cease to be a guide to them;
Of strong healthy boys who positively believe they will starve unless they
enter the hated professions held out to them;
When I see avenues of young girls and women, with sideway flopping heads,
debarred from Work, debarred from natural Sexuality, weary to death with nothing
to do, (and this thy triumph, O deadly respectability discussing stocks!)
When I see, flickering around, miserable spectrums and nostrums of
reform—mere wisps devoid of all body—philanthropic chatterboxes, [Nay,
I do not hold with you! For if you kill me to death talking to me in a
drawing-room, what in the name of heaven are you going to do to the unfortunate
in hospital?]
When I hear and see the droning and see-sawing of pulpits; when the vision
of perfect vulgarity and commonplaceness arises upon me—of society—and
of that which arrogates to itself the sacred name of England;
The puppet dance of gentility—condescension, white hands, unsoiled
dress, charitable proprietorship—in the street, the barracks, the church,
the shop, the house, the school, the assembly,
In eating drinking and saying Good morning and Good night—of the
theory of what it is to be a lady or a gentleman;
Of exclusiveness, and of being in the swim; of the drivel of aristocratic
connections; of drawing-rooms and levees and the theory of animated clothespegs
generally; of belonging to clubs and of giving pence to crossing-sweepers
without apparently seeing them; of helplessly living in houses with people who
feed you, dress you, clean you, and despise you; of driving in carriages; of
being intellectual; of prancing about and talking glibly on all subjects on the
theory of setting things right—and leaving others to do the dirty work of
the world; of having read books by the score, and being yet unable to read a
single page; of writing, and yet ignorant how to sign your name; of talking
about political economy and politics and never having done a single day's labor
in your life; of being a magistrate or a judge and never having committed a
common crime, or been in the position to commit one; of being a parson and
afraid to be seen toping with Christ in a public; a barrister and to travel in a
third class carriage; an officer and to walk with one of your own men;
When I see the sea, spreading, of infidelity, of belief in
externals—in money, big guns, laws, views, accomplishments, cheap
goods—towncouncilors, cabinet ministers, M.P.'s, generals, judges,
bishops—all alike;
When I look for help from the guides and see only a dead waste of aimless
abject closeshaven shabby simpering flat pompous peaked punctilious faces:
O England, whither—strangled tied and bound—whither whither art
thou come?


I choke!
[Or should choke—did I not know very well I could tear all these bonds
to pieces like withes of dry grass: did I not know too that these are after all
in place as they are nor could be better than they are:
The natural sheath protecting the young bud—fitting close,
stranglingly close, till the young thing gains a little more power, and then
falling dry, useless, their work finished, to the ground.]
Strangled, O God? Nay—the circle of gibbering faces draws closer, the
droning noises become louder, the weight gets heavier, unbearable—One
instant struggle! and lo!

It is Over!—daylight! the sweet rain is falling and I hear the songs
of the birds.

Blessings and thanks for ever for the sweet rain; blessings for the fresh
fresh air blowing, and the meadows illimitable and the grass and the clouds;
Blessings and thanks for you, you wild waters eternally flowing: O come
flowing, encroaching, over me, in my ears: I salute you who are pure and sweet
(ah! what designs, what love, are hid within you!)—
I praise you for your faithfulness for ever


To descend, first;
To feel downwards and downwards through this wretched maze of shams for the
solid ground—to come close to the Earth itself and those that live in
direct contact with it;
To identify, to saturate yourself with these, their laws of being, their
modes of life, their needs (the Earth's also), thoughts, temptations and
This—is it not the eternal precept?—is the first thing: to dig
downwards. Afterwards the young shoot will ascend—and ascending easily part
aside the overlying rubbish.
These are not the times of canary birds—nor of trifling with art and
philosophy and impertinent philanthropic schemes; this is the time of grown Men
and Women:
Of or among the people; always living close to the earth and the people,
and creating what they create, out of them.

Young Men and Women, I—though not of myself alone—call you: the
time is come. (Is not the sweet rain falling?)
You—for whom the bitter cup and the sweet are so strangely
mixed—how strangely none but you can tell;
You—in whom divine strength is one with the uttermost weakness;
In soberness of spirit, as to some long and patient task in death alone
ending, I call.

Strong in peace, strong in turmoil and conflict, strong in yourselves,
undaunted, with large hearts, with large strong hands,
Spreaders of health (better than any doctor) to individuals, to the
diseased prostrate nation, sustainers of ridicule, clearers of the ground laden
with the accumulated wreck and rubbish of centuries,
Lovers of all handicrafts and of labor in the open air confessed passionate
lovers of your own sex,
Heroes of the enfranchisement of the body (latest and best gift long
concealed from men), Arise!
As the North wind in summer runs over the world, making a clear light down
to the very horizon—so is the world prepared for you.

Come! I too call you. I too have looked in your eyes, O you of great faith
and few words; you cannot escape, now.
Under your eyelids I have seen, shy, hidden away, pure without taint, one
with the fresh air to sweeten all the world—lo! the greatest faith of all.
You sacred ones, first interpreters, you holders up of new ideals, you
greatest and least,
You who are and by your mere presence create Democracy—Arise!
Thou Woman, gentleborn and sensitive, yet incapable of being shocked or
Thou one strong Man in love sufficient, out of the heart of the


HEROES, lovers, judges; despised, outcast, ridiculed; princes and kings and
destitute; drudges and slaves; mothers, free women and feminine neuters; actors,
parsons, squires, capitalists, rich dinners, fine houses (it is all the same: I
go back upon my own words), the parks and the opera; unobtrusive, unguessed, day
by day, and year by year; talking loud, talking soft, in the fashion, and out;
dreaming of duty, love, release, nature, organisation, hatred, death; ascetic,
lusty, genial, maimed, incoherent, proud; by tradition military, money-broking,
official, commercial, idle, literary, church, chapel and club; in all forms and
in all places; weary yet unwearied; before dawn rising and through the window
peering at the untroubled sky; weak yet indomitable; suffering yet filled with
exceeding joy—
Age after age, under the Earth, hidden, the womb of the dead generations
arising to life again, myriads of seeds, chrysalids, pupae, cysts, rootlets,
transparent white bulbs of souls in Hades, by faith working many miracles;
thrills of magnetism through the whole vast frame, summer heat and winter cold
and the kiss of the living air; death and decay and weakness and prostration and
poisonous inbreaths, and nearer nearer nearer nearer life and joy everlasting.
Through the city crowd pushing wrestling shouldering, against the tide,
face after face, breath of liquor, money-grubbing eye, infidel skin, shouts,
threats, greetings, smiles, eyes and breasts of love, breathless, clutches of
lust, limbs, bodies, torrents, bursts, savage onslaughts, tears, entreaties,
tremblings, stranglings, suicidal, the sky, the houses, surges and crests of
waves, white faces from afar bearing down nearer nearer, almost touching, and
glances unforgotten and meant to be unforgotten.


I do not forget you: I see you quite plainly.

Tangles of social claims, convenances, toy-duties, fine soft-carpeted
house, array of servants, failing and failing health, growing and settled
sadness, ennui, wearisome pleasures, hyper-sensitiveness.
Golden hand-cuffs, the prison life of Custom without one touch of nature,
desperate beating of wings and breast against the bars, trailing slime and
winding web of lies impossible to escape from.
Careful obediences; sleek hat and well-brushed coat; blameless deference to
public opinion; the desk, the counter, the Exchange, the walk home, the
favorable comments of passers-by;
And within, blinding burning hatred, bottomless yawning pits opening in the
midst of life—of love, of jealousy, of desire—vast gales and
whirlwinds carrying away the super-structure and the plans of years.
Waves and storms of the ocean within; shipwreck and disaster of life;
fortune, health, honor, love, gone down seeming irretrievably in the great
signless waste; and still the stars shining calm on the flying spray, and the
immense placid heaven unmoved going back to innumerable other worlds and radiant
birth-places and pilgrimages and possessions of the Soul without end.


I do not forget you. I see you quite plainly.
But why should one god leave his throne to scrape favors at the feet of
other gods?
Surely it is enough to be here—and always to be Here.

I weave these words about myself to form a seamless web without beginning
or ending. I do not spin a yarn for you to reel off at your leisure; nor do I
pour out water into pots.
This is one of my bodies—of the female—which if you penetrate
with true sexual power, clinging it shall conceive, and you shall know me in
part—by the answer of the eyes of children, yours and mine, looking up from
the grass and down from the sky upon you as you walk.
And if you understand me I will draw you away from all sorrow—so that
no evil can happen to you. Not at first will it be so, but afterwards, after a


You cannot escape me (and this place of my Presence I will never leave till
I have saturated myself, till the waves of my love have traveled over the whole
vast ocean of existence from where I stand):
The horse galloping over the plains cannot escape the plains it gallops
Leagues and leagues out in the sunlight I lie, the winds of heaven blow
over me—I desire nothing more, I am perfectly content.

Yes, you cannot escape me.
At night I creep down and lie close in the great city—there I am at
home—hours and hours I lie stretched there; the feet go to and fro, to and
fro, beside and over me.
Oaths and curses and obscene jokes; the group of laughing men and girls
tumbling out of the doors of the beershop, the haggard old woman under the
flaring gas-jet by the butcher's stall (the butcher sometimes gives her a bit of
waste meat in charity), the butcher himself with his smooth grisled hair and
florid face—you cannot escape me.
You, soaring yearning face of youth threading the noisy crowd, though you
soar to the stars you cannot escape me.

I remain where I am. I make no effort. Wherever you go it is the same to
me: I am there already.
The murmuring of many voices is in my ears. As I lie on my side hour after
hour the drowse of mvriads of feet is upon me:
Hour after hour, hour after hour,—and I sleep, well content.


Closer and closer will I come, till I lay hold of you—myself and none
As one grasps a drowning man with a grasp that will not be relaxed, so will
I grasp you—you shall not escape me.

Ah! Death, and Hell with thy gaping jaws, into thee at length I am curious
to descend; curious am I to go where the old empty masks of Fear and Disaster
are kept, and to see where they hang—hereafter useless for ever.


Are you laughed at, are you scorned? Do they gaze at you and giggle to each
other as you pass by? Do they despise you because you are mis-shapen, because
you are awkward, because you are peculiar, because you fail in everything you
do—and you know it is true?
Do you go to your chamber and hide yourself and think that no one thinks of
you, or when they do only with contempt?
My child, there is One that not only thinks of you, but who cannot get on
at all without you.

Are you alone in the world?
Have you sinned? have you a terrible secret within you which must out, yet
you dare not reveal it?
Have you a face so disfigured that no one will look straight in your eyes?
Have you a mortal disease? do you feel the beating pulse of it in the dead
of the night? At midday when the passers by go to and fro in the bright
sunshine, do you feel the shadowy call of it to another world?
Are you tormented with inordinate clutching lusts which you dare not speak?
are you nearly mad with the sting of them, and nearly mad with terror lest they
should betray you?
My child, there is One who understands perfectly. There is nothing
betrayed, and there is nothing to betray.

It is all straightforward.
There is no fraction of your days, your body, your thoughts, your passions,
which has not deliberately and calmly been prepared—and which shall not
deliberately and calmly be removed again when it has played its part.
There is no prejudice here, or weakness or self-righteousness, nor any
apartness at all;
You are included, and all that is done and felt by you is done and felt at
the same instant by not you;
Whatever you are and whatever you do, there is One who will and does look
you candidly in the face, and understands you.

You may recoil from that gaze; but if you learn to encounter and return it
(whether in one or many lifetimes) you will see that from it at length all
secret terrors, shams, disfigurements, death itself, vanish away;
And you will not only not be alone in the world, but you will be a
sovereign lord over the world.


Apart from all evil—from all that seems to you evil—your Soul, my
friend, that towards which you aspire, which will become you one day—your
true Self—rides,
Above your phantasmal self continually.

Do not fear: it is there.
Through all the baffling and confusion, through all the seeming haphazard
and labyrinth darkness of life, it is there—overseeing; quietly selecting,
directing, ordaining. It is lord of all.
If there were chance, it were evil: but there is not The soul surrounds
chance and takes it captive;
And all experience—what you call good and what you call evil,
alike—it takes and greedily absorbs, nor ever can have enough.

Are you not sometimes aware of your own body how it goes about, moving
hither and thither? are you not aware of it in the street among others,
exchanging greetings (and those who exchange the greetings absolutely equal
before you)?
Are you not aware of it at night, lying awake, perhaps in pain? Are you not
aware of it wandering over the hills at sunrise, or out at sea—in the
agonised white faces of the people on board—and the ship is foundering?
Are you not aware of it North and South, East and West, by day and night,
in winter and summer, in childhood and in age, gathering, culling, assimilating,
without end, and with unerring instinct?
And You, all the time—YOU?
What?—Like some great Egyptian King-God, seated, marble, with wide
eyes looking out over the procession, chariots and horsemen, which creeps past
in his honor—over them to the plains and the winding river.

Do not fear; do not be discouraged by the tiny insolences of people. For
yourself be only careful that you are true.
The dreams of the dark-faced yearning swift-souled Egyptians, conceiving
into stone eternal types of calm passion, the dreams of Pheidias, the dreams of
the dreamers of all the earth falling passionate before the visionary beauty of
womanhood and manhood—Are true.
The dust, the wretched blur and distortion are but for a moment. They are
no more than they are. When you shall behold yourself in the clean mirror of God
you shall be wholly satisfied.

The body is a root of the soul. As the body in air, so the soul sustains
itself in love.
The medium in which the Knowledge of Yourself subsists is Equality. When
you have penetrated into that medium (as the young shoot penetrates into the
sunlight) you shall know that it is so—you shall realise Yourself—but
not till then.

Hereafter the face of Nature, the faces of the sea and the fields, the
faces of the animals—hereafter the faces of them that pass in the
street—are changed.
Nothing escapes, the line is cast over them all, they cannot choose but
yield themselves—to you, my friend—delivering the essence of their
life to you.
Hereafter certain things, all-important before, become indifferent; certain
thoughts with which you had tormented yourself torment you no longer; the chains
fall off. On the other hand the ways which were forbidden and inaccessible
become accessible—on all hands the doors stand open to your touch.


Wonderful! The doors that were closed stand open. Yet how slight a thing it
The upturning of a palm? the curve of a lip, an eyelid? Nothing.
Nothing that can be seen with the mortal eye or heard by the ear, nothing
that can be definitely thought, spoken, or written in a book—
Yet the doors that were trebled-bolted and barred, and the doors
weed-overgrown and with rusty old hinges,
Fly open of themselves.


Did you once desire to shine among your peers—or did you shrink from
the knowledge of your own defect in the midst of them?
Did you, friend, covet so to be more beautiful, witty virtuous—to be
able to tell a story or sustain an argument well, or to be able to discourse on
any subject, or to be a skilful rider or a good shot?
Or shrank from the ridicule which the reverse of these excited—which
was certain and is still certain to come upon you?
Was it really your own anxious face you used to keep catching in the glass?
was it really you who had so many things, one way or another, you wanted to
conceal from others—so many opinions too to disguise?

All that is changed now.
But what if your prayers had been granted? What if you had become
exceptional and had secured for yourself a place with the strong and the gifted
and the beautiful?
What if when you arrived the eyes of all had been turned upon you; and when
you had passed by—one by one, sad, thoughtful, depressed, the weak more
conscious of his or her weakness, the stupid more conscious of stupidity, the
deformed more painfully conscious of his or her deformity, to their solitary
chambers they had gone apart and prayed they had never been born?
What if you had taken advantage of the weak and defenceless and oppressed
of the whole Earth—and had bartered away belief in the Soul standing
omnipotent in the most despised things?
What if you had gladly disguised and covered your own defect, allowing thus
the ignorant ridicule of the world to fall more heavily on those who could not
or would not act a lie?
What if you had been a rank deserter, a cowardly slave, taking refuge
always with the stronger side?
Ah! what if to one weary traveler in the world, in the steep path painfully
mounting, you making it steeper stilt had added the final stone of stumbling and
Better to be effaced, crazy, criminal, deformed, degraded. Better instead
of the steep to be the most dull flat and commonplace road.
Better to go clean underfoot of all weak and despised persons—so that
they shall not even notice that you are there;
None so rude and uneducated but you shall go underfoot of them, none so
criminal but you shall when the occasion serves go underfoot of them, none so
outcast but they shall pass along you and not even notice that you are there.


The undistinguished old Earth! the dusty clods!
The mere brown handfuls crumbled through the fingers, out of which proceed
the trees and the grasses and the animals roaming through them, and man with his
vast aspiring religions and civilisations.
The common and universal;
The servant girl tying up her hair before the broken mirror hung from a
nail in the wall; the daisy child-face looking at you from the side of the path
as you pass; the slow humor of old gaffers on the village seat in the sun:
These contain you. With all your ambitions you cannot escape and go beyond
these. It is impossible.
The bride attiring herself in her white veil, the brilliant and admired wit
of the salons, the mathematician in his study, cannot go beyond these.
Any more than the earth can go beyond and fly out of space. It is
impossible; it is unthinkable.

Far around and beyond whatever is exceptional and illustrious in human life
stretches that which is average and unperceived;
All distinctions, all attainments, all signal beauty, skill, wit, and
whatever a man can exhibit in himself, swim and are lost in that great ocean.
The subtle learning of the learned, the beauty of the exceptionally
beautiful, the wit of the witty, the fine manners and customs of the
courtly—all these things proceed immediately out of the common and
undistinguished people and those who stand in direct contact with Nature, and
return into them again.
The course of all is the same; they are tossed up thinner and thinner, into
mere spray at last—like a wave from the breast of the Ocean—and fall
back again.
You try to set yourself apart from the vulgar. It is in vain. In that
instant vulgarity attaches itself to you.
If it did not, you would cease to exist.


Gold is not finer than lead, nor lead than gold (every atom of each has its
own life movement intelligence, and ridicules epithets);
The stars are not more human to the soul than is the deep background of
Night behind them. And what would the shoal of merry leaping children playing
there in the sun be without the mother-love in which they swim all the while as
in an ocean?
To be Yourself, to have measureless Trust; to enjoy all, to possess
That which you have, your skill, your strength, your knack of pleasant
thoughts—they belong to all. It is a fact, and the others looking on you
know it.
That which you have not, your scornful defects, your dumbnesses, your aches
and pains and silent hours of suffering, to understand that you can give of them
too, inexhaustible store—as the old brown earth gives out of her heart, to
men; and she knows it, but they do not know it.

To walk along the path which has an equal good on either hand; to give the
sign of equality;
To entertain no possible fear or doubt about the upshot of things—to
be Yourself, to have measureless Trust:
Perhaps that is best of all.


Curious how much—and the disentangling of self—depends upon
Who is this, for instance, easy with open shirt, and brown neck and
face—the whites of his eyes just seen in the sultry twilight—through
the city garden swinging?
The fountain plashes cool in its basin, and mixes its murmur with the sound
of feet going to and fro upon graveled walks;
The massed foliage above catches the evening light, catches the rising
wind, and sways like the sea on a calm day; the voices of children are
heard—but who is this?
[Who anyhow is he that is simple and free and without afterthought? who
passes among his fellows without constraint and without encroachment, without
embarrassment and without embarrassment and without grimaces, and does not act
from motives?
Who is ignorant or careless of what is termed politeness, who makes life
wherever he goes desirable, and removes stumbling-blocks instead of creating

Grave and strong and untamed,
This is the clear-browed unconstrained tender face, with full lips and
bearded chin, this is the regardless defiant face I love and trust;
Which I came out to see, and having seen do not forget.

And not I alone
See! on the little public round the fountain scattered—on the seats
lounging, or walking to and fro—the strange effect!
The dressed-up man of the world eyes him curiously—and does not
The pale student eyes him; he envies his healthy face and unembarrassed
The delicate lady sees him well, though she does not seem to; secretly now
she loathes her bejeweled lord and desires piteously the touch of this man's
muscular lithe sun-embrowned body;
The common people salute him as their equal and call him by his name; the
children know him: they run after him and catch him by the hand.
Curious! how all the poetry, the formative life, of the scene—the
rushing scent of the lime trees, the evening light, the swaying of the foliage,
the rustle of feet below,
The yearning threads of the fine lady's life—how the sympathy of the
little public by the fountain—all gathers round this figure.
There was a time when the sympathy and the ideals of men gathered round
other figures;
When the crowned king, or the priest in procession, or the knight errant,
or the man of letters in his study, were the imaginative forms to which men
But now before the easy homely garb and appearance of this man as he swings
past in the evening, all these others fade and grow dim. They come back after
all and cling to him.
And this is one of the slowly unfolded meanings Of Democracy.


The world travels on—and shall travel on.
A few centuries shall not exhaust the meanings of it. In you and me too,
inevitably, its meanings wait their unfolding.
No old laws, precedents, combinations of men or weapons, can retard it; no
new laws, schemes, combinations, discoveries, can hasten it; but only the new
births within the Soul, you and me.
Sacred for this is the Day and sacred is the Night, sacred are Life and
Death because, O wonderful, of this!

When Yes has once been pronounced in that region then the No of millions is
nothing at all; then fire, the stake, death, ridicule, and bitter extermination,
are of no avail whatever;
When the Ideal has once alighted, when it has looked forth from the windows
with ever so passing a glance upon the Earth, then we may go in to supper, you
and I, and take our ease—the rest will be seen to;
When a new desire has declared itself within the human heart, when a fresh
plexus is forming among the nerves—then the revolutions of nations are
already decided, and histories unwritten are written.


I charge you, O traveler, that you disbelieve not—a voice comes in the
cool of the evening:
I charge you that in the secret unspoken word you disbelieve not, sacred,
and the first almighty Thing,
Moving among cities and over the open sea—advancing to deliverance in
Night and day, youth and old age, willing and unwilling—advancing to
deliverance in us.
Dumb and of no account, her beauty now and then only (or at night when no
one is near) before the glass disrobing, trembling, lonely, unresponded—yet
mightier than all the array and splendor of the Earth—I charge you that you
do not disbelieve!

Outwards all proceeds: Brahma from himself sheds and shreds the universes;
I from myself, you from yourself.
To-day the slave goes first, in his chains, and the voice less, and those
that are without arguments and always in the wrong;
And the prisoner with slouched head, and the suspected and insulted in
rags, and those whose hearts bleed silently because of what they see;
And the old forsaken mother, and the cast-aside woman, and the child, and
the favorless and the drunkard shall go first;
The mechanic to-day shall go before his master, the bricklayer shall be
saluted in the street before the architect, the navvy shall be accounted more
than the politician, and I will give the illiterate the advantage of those that
read and write.
The scouted and the exiled and the unheard-of, laborers in the fields and
in mines, quarrymen and limekilners and brickburners and makers and cleaners of
drains and house-hold drudges, shall be nearest in honor: the burdened of every
day, and the sufferers, the over-worked and hope-forlorn, and the concealers of
sin and sorrow and despair, shall head the procession.
And with them One (of whom I have spoken) moving unseen hither and
thither—side by side first with one and then with another—shall resume
and make all plain, shall be himself the beginning and ending of it all.


When He descends, when He comes to take dominion—
Do you think that anything else will do? do you think that he will perhaps
be put off by offers sufficiently liberal, and arguments?
Do you think that he will be deeply impressed by your grave How, how? and
It cannot be?—or that he will ascend into your high houses and take his
ease with you, and lounge smoking and looking wearily at the sky till he forgets
what he has come for?
Do you think he will pay great attention to your hat and boots, or to what
they write before or after your name, or to what they say of you next
door—or will ask what church you go to, or what conventicle or schism-shop,
or enquire into the soundness of your investments?
Do you think he will drive about with you in your carriages dispensing
charities like an Oriental prince—and occasionally even say a few words to
the coachman—or that it will be pretence or mere kindly patronage if he
prefers the coachman's company to yours?
Do you think that perhaps he will be very bland and gentle, and never be
rude or coarsely dressed, and that he will be highly interested in what you tell
him, and that he won't at a single look know all that ever you did?
Do you suppose that he will not know which is the top and which is the
bottom of things, or that he will be impressed by your cleverness and smart
repartees, or that he will reckon you up by the number of books you have read?
Do not deceive yourself—for it is yourself that you are trying to
deceive—not Him.


The magistrate sits on the bench, but he does not exercise judgment; the
doctor dispenses medicine but has heard no tidings of what health is; the parson
opens his mouth, but no intelligible sound comes forth; the merchant distributes
evils just the same as goods.

Do you suppose it is all for nothing that disbelief has gone out over the
world; that weariness has taken possession of the souls of the rich, and that
fatal darkness enfolds the head of wealth and education;
That men disbelieve in the human heart and think that the source of power
is set otherwhere than in its burning glowing depths: that the powers which they
worship are but so many withered emblems of power—dead scoriae nodding and
jostling over the living lava-stream?
Do you suppose it is all for nothing that the eyes of brothers avoid in the
street, and none sees what is before him; that the heel is upon the head, and
Earth alone regards the faces of them that are oppressed—that the stones in
the wintry fields are become confidants, and the ground is sown with compressed
thought, like seeds?
[When yet there is peace over the world, as of the Sea swooning away into
its hollows; and differences are sullen like rocks at ebb-tide, and brackish
dismal mudflats lie between, and the sun stands motionless overhead, and
Contempt trickles malarious, and Avoidance and Negation and Fear loom up against
the sky, and men cling like rotting weeds about their bases, and the soul
stifles for the swingeing life of the waves and the breath of the wind that
blows from one end of the world to the other.]

Do you suppose it means nothing that that which satisfied once satisfies
now no more (not till the whole round has been made), but unrest and hunger are
eating through men's souls?
That a new need gone up is more than all precedent, and History shrivels
before the will, even if it be only of one man; that the pilgrimage has begun,
and men are leaving their long-loved homes by thousands—and the
tenderest-hearted are the first to sever the old ties?
That centuries of suffering have compressed thought and purpose into
one—till they are harder than rock; so that you shall remove mountains, but
you shall not remove the word which has gone forth?
That expediency and logic expostulate in vain, and man has become wholly
unreasonable, and is calm to drop utility into the bottomless pit; and the wise
cover their lights, but the fools flash theirs and are whirled away—like
fireflies in a thunderstorm?

Do you suppose it means nothing when the godlike Hand comes forth—the
awful hand, sacred with the kisses of the generations of men?
When the hand of Necessity comes forth from the cloud and covers dark the
faces of them who have never known it, turning them back from their
ruin—but stands in the clear sky, beckoning bright, like a pillar of fire
for weary fugitives?
When the awful vision moves across the sky, and the earth is electric under
it—and the grass stands stiffly, and the blue thistle in the hedge is erect
with meaning,
And men are amorous for the naked stinging touch of the world, and to
wrestle limb to limb with the wind and the waves;
When poverty and hardship smile for their espousal, and fierce endurance is
fused in one passion with love, and the glitter of concealment is torn away, and
the loins are compressed and the eyes aflame with lust,
Towards that which shall surely be born?

When Wealth is slowly and visibly putrefying and putrefying the old order
of things;
When the surface test is final—the rainbow-colored scum—and
society rotting down beneath it; a trick of clothing or speech, metallic chink
in the pocket, white skin, soft hands, fawning and lying looks—everywhere
the thrust of rejection, the bond of redemption nowhere; the sacred gifts all
violated stale and profaned—men and women falling off from them listless,
like satiated leeches;
When Labor is not loyal and true, nor the Laborers loyal and true to each
other; when a man has no pride in the creation of his hands, nor rejoices to
make it perfect; when machinery is perfectly organised and human souls are
hopelessly disorganised;
Do you think all these things mean nothing?


Ah, England! Ah, beating beating heart!
No wonder you are weary! weary of talk!
Weary seeking amid the scramble, amid the scramble of words and the
scramble of wealth,
Amid the fashionable, the scientific, the artistic, the commercial, the
political, the learned and literary scramble—weary
Seeking, seeking, seeking for a God!

As it ever was and will be—
As a thief in the night, silently and where you least expect, Unlearned
perhaps, without words, without arguments, without influential friends or
money—leaning on himself alone—
Without accomplishments and graces, without any liniments for your old
doubts, or recipes for constructing new theological or philosophical
With just the whole look of himself in his eyes—
The Son of Man shall—yes, shall—appear in your midst. O beating
heart, your lover and your judge shall appear.

He will not bring a new revelation; he will not at first make any reply to
the eager questions about death and immortality; he will present no stainless
But he will do better: he will present something absolute, primal—the
living rock—something necessary and at first hand, and men will cling to
him therefor;
He will restore the true balance; he will not condemn, but he will be
absolute in himself;

He will be the terrible judge to whom every one will run;
He will be the lover and the judge in one.

The Son of Man—
Ponder well these words.
After all I cannot explain them: it is impossible to explain that which is
itself initial and elementary.
You will look a thousand times before you see that which you are looking
for—it is so simple—
Not science, O beating heart, nor theology, nor rappings, nor philanthropy,
nor high acrobatic philosophy,
But the Son—and so equally the Daughter—of Man.


I HEAR the sound of the whetting of scythes.
The beautiful grass stands tall in the meadows, mixed with sorrel and
buttercups; the steamships move on across the sea, leaving trails of distant
smoke. I see the tall white cliffs of Albion.
I smell the smell of the newmown grass, the waft of the thought of Death;
the white fleeces of the clouds move on in the everlasting blue, with the
dashing and the spray of waves below.
It comes and recedes again, and comes nearer—out of the waves and the
tall white cliffs and the clouds and the grass.


The towers of Westminster stand up by the river, and, within, the supposed
rulers contend and argue, but they hear nothing. It comes to them last.
The long lines of princely mansions stretch through Belgravia and
Kensington—closelipped, deaf, plaguestricken
Lines of carriages crowd the Park; tier above tier at the Opera are faces
and flowers; there are clubs and literary cliques and entertainments, but of the
voice of human joy, native once more in the world, there is scarcely a note.
Over all the towns and villages of the land the fingers of the spires point
dumb to the driving clouds.
York Minster stands up like a watchtower in the rising sun, and from the
midst of its Roman walls looks out over leagues of meadows and cornfields;
Salisbury stands up, and Ely lonesome among its old-world fens; but they report
nothing seen.
From the Hoe at Plymouth the promenade loafers look down upon the decks of
passing vessels; the line of the breakwater stretches, and the wild sea beyond;
The convicts, thousands, motionless-faced, in yellow-dressed gangs dot the
thinly-grassed rocks and fortress walls of the Isle of Portland.
Victoria, the Queen, peers from the high windows of Osborne back upon
Portsmouth crowded with shipping, and the grass downs of the Island that lies
behind it.
The mail-steamers go to and fro, of Dover and Folke stone, the passengers
arrive from the Continent, idlers are watching the arrivals, and police officers
in disguise—but they report nothing;
Winchelsea and Rye stand forgotten by the water, on rocks beaten now only
by the waving meadows; the old martello towers dot the long low shores.
Down the Thames with the tide the great vessels come swinging; St. Paul's
looks out upon them, white, in far glimpses over the great city; the sea-gulls
dip and hover where the waters meet. The cutters of Yarmouth leave the river and
make between the long sands for the open sea and the banks.


England spreads like a map below me. I see the mud-fiats of the Wash
striped with water at low tide, the embankments grown with mugwort and
sea-asters, and Boston Stump and King's Lynn, and the squaresail brigs in the
Beachy Head stands up beautiful, with white walls and pinnacles, from its
slopes of yellow poppy and bugloss; the sea below creeps with a grey fog, the
vessels pass and are folded out of sight within it. I hear their foghorns
Flamborough Head stands up, dividing the waves. Up its steep gullies the
fishermen haul their boats; in its caves the waters make perpetual music.
I see the rockbound coast of Anglesey with projecting ribs of wrecks; the
hills of Wicklow are faintly outlined across the water. I ascend the mountains
of Wales; the tarns and streams lie silver below me, the valleys are dark. Moel
Siabod stands up beautiful, and Trifan and Cader Idris in the morning air.
I descend the Wye, and pass through the ancient streets of Monmouth and of
Bristol. I thread the feathery birch-haunted coombs of Somerset.
I ascend the high points of the Cotswolds, and look out over the rich vale
of Gloucester to the Malvern hills, and see the old city clustering round its
Church, and the broad waters of the Severn, and the distant towers of Berkeley

The river-streams run on below me. The broad deep-bosomed Trent through
rich meadows full of cattle, under tall shady trees runs on. I trace it to its
birthplace in the hills. I see the Derbyshire Derwent darting in trout-haunted
shallows over its stones. I taste and bathe in the clear brown moor-fed water.
I see the sweet-breathed cottage homes and homesteads dotted for miles and
miles and miles. It comes near to them. I enter the wheelwright's cottage by the
angle of the river. The door stands open against the water, and catches its
changing syllables all day long; roses twine, and the smell of the woodyard
comes in wafts.
The Castle rock of Nottingham stands up bold over the Trent valley, the
tall flagstaff waves its flag, the old market-place is full of town and country
folk. The river goes on broadening seaward. I see where it runs beneath the
great iron swing-bridges of railroads, there are canals connecting with it, and
the sails of the canal-boats gliding on a level with the meadows.
The great sad colorless flood of the Humber stretches before me, the
low-lying banks, the fog, the solitary vessels, the brackish marshes and the
water-birds; Hull stretches with its docks, vessels are unlading—bags of
shell-fish, cargoes of oranges, timber, fish; I see the flat lands beyond Hull,
and the enormous flights of pewits.
The Thames runs down—with the sound of many voices. I hear the sound
of the saw-mills and flour-mills of the Cotswolds, I can see racing boats and
hear the shouts of partisans, villages bask in the sun below me; Sonning and
Maidenhead; anglers and artists are hid in nooks among tall willow-herbs; I
glide with tub and outrigger past flower-gardens, meadows, parks; parties of
laughing girls handle the oars and tiller ropes; Teddington, Twickenham,
Richmond, Brentford glide past; I hear the songs, I hear Elizabethan echoes; I
come within sound of the roar of London.
I see the woodland and rocky banks of the Tavy and the Tamar, and of the
arrowy Dart. The Yorkshire Ouse winds sluggish below me; afar off I catch the
Sussex Ouse and the Arun, breaking seaward through their gaps in the Downs; I
look down from the Cheshire moors upon the Dee.
In their pride the beautiful cities of England stand up before me; from the
midst of her antique elms and lilac and laburnum haunted gardens the grey
gateways and towers of Cambridge stand up; ivy-grown Warwick peeps out of thick
foliage; I see Canterbury and Winchester and Chester, and Worcester proud by her
river-side, and the ancient castles—York and Lancaster looking out seaward,
and Carlisle; I see the glistening of carriage wheels and the sumptuous shine of
miles of sea frontage at Brighton and Hastings and Scarborough; Clifton climbs
to her heights over the Avon; the ruins of Whitby Abbey are crusted with spray.
I hear the ring of hammers in the ship-yards of Chatham and Portsmouth and
Keyham, and look down upon wildernesses of masts and dock-basins. I see the
observatory at Greenwich and catch the pulses of star-taken time spreading in
waves over the land. I see the delicate spider-web of the telegraphs, and the
rush of the traffic of the great main lines, North, West, and South. I see the
solid flow of business men northward across London Bridge in the morning, and
the ebb at evening. I see the eternal systole and diastole of exports and
imports through the United Kingdom, and the armies of those who assist in the
processes of secretion and assimilation—and the great markets.
I explore the palaces of dukes—the parks and picture
galleries—Chatsworth, Hardwicke, Arundel; and the numberless old Abbeys. I
walk through the tall-windowed hospitals and asylums of the great cities and
hear chants caught up and wandering from ward to ward.
I see all over the land the beautiful centuries-grown villages and
farmhouses nestling down among their trees; the dear old lanes and footpaths and
the great clean highways connecting; the fields, every one to the people known
by its own name, and hedgerows and little straggling copses, and village greens;
I see the great sweeps of country, the rich wealds of Sussex and Kent, the
orchards and deep lanes of Devon, the willow-haunted flats of Huntingdon,
Cambridge and South Lincolnshire; Sherwood Forest and the New Forest, and the
light pastures of the North and South Downs; the South and Midland and Eastern
agricultural districts, the wild moorlands of the North and West, and the
intermediate districts of coal and iron.
The oval-shaped manufacturing heart of England lies below me; at night the
clouds flicker in the lurid glare; I hear the sob and gasp of pumps and the
solid beat of steam and tilt-hammers; I see streams of pale lilac and
saffron-tinted fire. I see the swarthy Vulcan-reeking towns, the belching
chimneys, the slums, the liquor-shops, chapels, dancing saloons, running
grounds, and blameless remote villa residences.
I see the huge warehouses of Manchester, the many-storied mills, the
machinery, the great bale-laden drays, the magnificent horses; I walk through
the Liverpool Exchange; the brokers stand in knots; the greetings, the
frock-coats, the rosebuds; the handling and comparing of cotton samples.
Leeds lies below me; I hear the great bell; I see the rush along Boar Lane
and Briggate. I enter the hot machine shops, smelling of oil and wooldust. I see
Sheffield among her hills, and the white dashing of her many water-wheels, and
the sulphurous black cloud going up to heaven in her midst.
Newcastle I recognise, and her lofty bridge; and I look out over the river
gates of the Mersey.


I see a great land poised as in a dream—waiting for the word by which
it may live again.
I see the stretched sleeping figure—waiting for the kiss and the
I hear the bells pealing, and the crash of hammers, and see beautiful parks
spread—as in toy show.

I see a great land waiting for its own people to come and take possession
of it.


The clouds fly overhead still, and the waves curdle in the blue beneath;
the smell of the newmown grass comes and the tall white cliffs stand up.
All depends upon a Word spoken.
Do you think perhaps that there is no answer? do you think that the high
lighthouses looking out over the water, the sea itself careering beyond them,
that the ploughed lands, and the rocks that are hewn into great cities, are
indifferent to who own, to who trespass upon them? that they are dumb, dead, and
of no account?
Do you think that they have nothing to say to all this, that they will not
deliver themselves upon whom they choose, that they have it not in their power
to bless and to curse, ah! that they cannot repay love a hundredfold?
Do you not know that the streets, houses, public buildings of the city
where you live, have tongues, arms, eyes? that they are on the watch? that the
trees and streams around you are alive with answers, and that the common clay
knows the tread of its true owner?
Do you think that England or any land will rise into life, will display her
surpassing beauty, will pour out her love, to the touch of false owners—to
people who finger banknotes, who make traffic, buying and selling her, who own
by force of titledeeds, laws, police—who yet deny her, turning their backs
upon her winds and her waves, and ashamed to touch her soil with their hands?
Do you think that she will arise to the call of these? O do you not know
how she yearns for the mastery of her true owners, how she leans herself
backward, displaying her charms, inviting—breathing courage even into faint
souls to know their manhood—to come upon her boldly, to let none stand
O know well that it shall be. That the land they dweh on, that the Earth,
for whatsoever people is worthy, shall become impossible to be separated from
them—even in thought.

Of those who are truly the People, they are jealous of their land; the
woods and the fields and the open sea are covered with their
love—inseparable from life.
Every hedgerow, every old lumb and coppice, the nature of the soils in
every field and part of a field, the suffs, the bedrock, pastures, ploughlands
and fallows; the quarries and places of the best stone for roadmending,
building, walling, roofing, draining; the best stuff for mending footpaths; the
best water for miles round, and the taste and quality of the various wells and
springs; the clays for puddling and for brickburning, the basseting out and dips
of the beds; the cattle and livestock up and down, their various breeds,
treatment and condition; the moors, forests, streams, rivers, seacoasts,
familiar by sunlight, moonlight, starlight, and on dark nights—every nook
and corner of them; the old trees and their histories, the waterside trees, and
where pheasants frequently roost, and the places for netting rabbits and hares,
or for spearing trout by lantern-light; or where the crab-apple and
cluster-berry and mountain-flax and agrimony grow;
The haunts of the wild duck and snipe, the decoy of the corncrake, the
nests of the storm-cock and the water-hen and the pewit; the legends told of old
hollows and caves and crags; the bold and beautiful headlands, the taste of the
air upon them; the old streets in the towns, and their histories, and the
histories of the houses in them, and of those who lived in the houses; the old
villages and their traditions, customs, specialties, notorious characters,
feasts and frolics;
The knowledge of the arts of sea and river fishing, oyster and scallop
dredging, the trawl, the seine and the drift-net, farming, fruit-growing,
timbergrowing pilling and dressing, canal-making, sea-walling, ship-building,
irrigation; the great crafts in stone, wood, iron—of the mason's, the
smith's, the joiner's, the tool-maker's work; of the clean use of tools, of all
faithful and perfect work, and the joy and majesty that comes of it—
Everything that the land has—calls an answer in the breasts of the
people, and quickly grows love for the use of those that live on it.
Without this love no People can exist; this is the creation nourishment and
defence of Nations. It is this that shall save England (as it has saved
Ireland); which ultimately—of the very Earth—shall become the nurse of

Between a great people and the earth springs a passionate attachment,
lifelong—and the earth loves indeed her children, broad-breasted,
broad-browed, and talks with them night and day, storm and sunshine, summer and
winter alike.
[Here indeed is the key to the whole secret of education.]
Owners and occupiers then fall into their places; the trees wave proud and
free upon the headlands; the little brooks run with a wonderful new music under
the brambles and the grass.
[Determined—is the word henceforth—to worship nothing, no
ownership, which is unreal; no title-deeds, money-smells, respectabilities,
To be arrogant, unpersuadable, faithful, free—not unworthy of the
trees waving upon the high tops and of the earth rolling through the starlit
Government and laws and police then fall into their places—the earth
gives her own laws; Democracy just begins to open her eyes and peep! and the
rabble of unfaithful bishops, priests, generals, landlords, capitalists,
lawyers, kings, queens, patron-isers and polite idlers goes scuttling down into
general oblivion.
Faithfulness emerges, self-reliance, self-help, passionate comradeship.

Freedom emerges, the love of the land—the broad waters, the air, the
undulating fields, the flow of cities and the people therein, their faces and
the looks of them no less than the rush of the tides and the slow hardy growth
of the oak and the tender herbage of spring and stiff clay and storms and
transparent air.

All depends upon a word spoken or unspoken
The clouds fly overhead still, and the smell of the new-mown grass is
wafted by. It comes and recedes again.
I hear the awful syllable Change, and see all things, qualities,
impersonations, gliding from the embraces of their own names; but I hear beyond;

I hear beyond the sound of the hone and strickle, and look in the eyes of
the Mower, under the shade of his broad straw hat.

It comes and recedes again, and comes nearer.
The little waves lip up against the great black ship as she glides down
O sailor sitting on a plank over the side, beware!
The ship itself, the rigging, the tidal river, the docks, the wharves, and
long busy streets, and country beyond—the shows of life and death—
Who makes and who unmakes them?

I touch you lightly. I am the spray.
I touch you that you remember, and forget not who you are.


I look upon him who makes all things.
I sit at his feet in silence as he lights his pipe, and feel the careless
resting of his fingers upon my neck.
I see the fire leaping in the grate; I see the nodding of grasses and
blackberry sprays in the hedges; I hear the long surge and hush of the wind;
I hear his voice speaking to me.

O rivers and hills of Albion, O clouds that sail from the Atlantic to the
North Sea, and wrinkled old Abbeys and modern towers and streets of heavily
laden drays,
Behind your masks I am aware of an imperceptible change: surely it, must be
the appearance of a Face.


The word travels on.
I have been on tramp, and my boots are dusty and hobnailed, and my clothes
are torn: do not ask me into your house; (God knows; I might spoon my food with
a knife!)
Give me a penny on the doorstep and let me pass on. I have sat with you
long, and loved you well, unknown to you, but now I go otherwhere.


The word travels on.
Out of the mists of time, out of innumerable births, of endless journeys,
transfigurements, lives, deaths, sorrows, emerging, my voice sounds to myself,
to you, nearer than all thought: tentatively trying the first notes, wonderingly
at its beauty, of the Song—strange word!—of Joy.
To spread abroad over the earth, to be realised in time: Freedom to be
realised in time, for which the whole of History has been a struggle and a
The dream of the soul's slow disentanglement.

[O Blessed is he that has passed away!]
Blessed, alive or dead, whom the bitter taunts of existence reach
not—nor betrayals protruded from dear faces, nor weariness nor cold nor
pain—dwelling in heaven, and looking forth in peace upon the world.
Blessed, thrice blessed, by day, by night! Blessed who sleeps with him,
blessed who eats walks talks, blessed who labors in the field beside him;
blessed whoever, though he be dead, shall know him to be eternally near.]

I am the poet of hitherto unuttered joy.
A little bird told me the secret in the night, and henceforth I go about
seeking to whom to whisper it.
I see the heavens laughing, I discern the half-hidden faces of the gods
wherever I go, I see the transparent-opaque veil in which they hide themselves;
yet I dare not say what I see—lest I should be locked up!
Children go with me, and rude people are my companions. I trust them and
they me. Day and night we are together and are content.
To them what I would say is near; yet is it in nothing that can be named,
or in the giving or taking of any one thing; but rather in all things.
Laughter, O laughter! O endless journey! O soul exhaled through suffering,
arising free! Little bird petrel through the stormy seas diving darting—thy
boundless home—O clouds and sunshine shattering! Elf in thine own dark eyes
gazing! O beckoner of companions, hastening onward—winged spirit divine,
girt round with laughter, laughter, laughter.


I AM come to be the interpreter of yourself to yourself;
[Do I not stand behind the sun and moon, do I not wait behind the air that
you breathe, for this!]
Born beyond Maya I now descend into materials.

The dandelion by the path, and the pink buds of the sycamore, and the face
of the sweep who comes to sweep your chimney, shall henceforth have a new
meaning to you, (how do you know that I am not the chimney-sweep?)
The nettles growing against the gate post, and the dry log on the grass
where you stop and sit, the faithful tool that is in your hand and the sweat on
your forehead, the sound of the dear old village band across far fields—
These shall be for memorials between us, and I in them will surely draw
towards you.

And to you, when I am dead, they shall deliver the words which still I had
not sense and courage to speak. Hear them.
Where I was not faithful these shall be faithful to you; where I was vain
and silly these shall look you clear of all vanity and silliness; where I was
afraid to utter my thoughts dumb things shall utter for you words impossible to
be misunderstood.
The sun shall shine, the clouds draw across the sky, the fire leap in the
grate, the kettle boil—to purposes which you cannot fathom; the simplest
shall look you in the face to meanings ever profounder and profounder than all
Behind them, behind the woven veil—accepting, not rejecting, my own
vanities, cowardices, giving them also their due place—I too wait in
silence, till the full-armed shall come to give me birth again.


In silence I wait and accept all—the glare of misapprehension I
accept—I sit at the fashionable dinner-table and accept what is brought to
I am a painter on the house-side, the sight of the distant landscape
pleases me, and the scraps of conversation caught from the street below. My back
aches singling turnips through the long hot day; my fingers freeze getting
I help the farmer drive his scared cattle home at midnight by the fitful
flicker of lightning. I go mowing at early morning while the twilight creeps in
the North East—I sleep in the hot hours—and mow again on into the
I am a seeing unseen atom traveling with others through space or remaining
centuries in one place; again I resume a body and disclose myself.
I am one of the people who spend their lives sitting on their haunches in
drawing-rooms and studies; I grow gradually feebler and fretfuler. I am a boy
once more in tall hat and gloves walking wearily among crowds of well-dressed
(hopelessly well-dressed) people, up and down a certain promenade.
I enter the young prostitute's chamber, where he is arranging the
photographs of fashionable beauties and favorite companions, and stay with him;
we are at ease and understand each other.
I dance at the village feast in the upper room of a public; my partner
shows me the steps and figures. The elderly harper, so noble and dignified,
accompanies his son's fiddle—or goes round to collect the pence—but
all the while his thoughts are with his only daughter in Australia.
The wheel turns, but whatever it brings uppermost is well.


I lie abed in illness, and experience strange extensions of spirit. I am
close to those afar off, and the present and near at hand are discounted. I
spend nights of pain and loneliness.
I dream of the beautiful life. I go down to the sea with fisher folk, and
spend chill nights on the great deep under the stars; the sun rises on faces
round me of freedom and experience. I see everywhere the old simple
occupations—the making and mending of nets, the growing of flax and hemp,
the tending of gardens, cattle—the old sweet excuses for existence, their
meaning now partly understood—the faith that grows in the open air and out
of all honest work till it surrounds and redeems the soul.
The blacksmith blows up his fire; he listens for the sound of the great
heat. He taps the glowing iron in advance of the blows of the striker, and turns
it deftly with the tongs.
The budder of roses bends among the low bushes; with a quick motion he
flirts out the wood and binds the bud on the wild stock. The wire-weaver stands
at his loom, working the treadles with his foot and throwing the shuttle with
alternate hand.
The old coach-body maker stands at his bench, grey-haired, worn,
thoughtful—the young apprentice comes down whistling from the trimming shop
to ask him a question.
The sunlight streams in broad shafts through the chinks of the blinds into
the carpenter's shop; with grizzled beard and hair, and something of a stoop in
his shoulders, the governor stands penciling out a fresh job; a tall young
fellow sits astride of a door-style, cutting a mortise, and a dab of light on
the floor sends a reflection up in his arch-humored face.
The bathers in the late twilight, almost dark, advance naked under the
trees by the waterside, five and six together, superb, unashamed, scarcely
touching the ground.
The budding pens of love scorch all over me—my skin is too tight, I am
ready to burst through it—a flaming girdle is round my middle. Eyes, hair,
lips, hands, waist, thighs—O naked mad tremors; in the dark feeding
pasturing flames!

O soul, spreading, spreading—impalpable sunlight behind the sunlight!
The tall thin grey-bearded man I meet daily in the street—with lined
brow, silent, full of experience;
The stout matron in the greengrocer's shop, loquacious, clear-eyed, with
clear indubitable voice;
The thick-thighed hot coarse-fleshed young bricklayer with the strap round
his waist;
The young printer (but he has a wife and family at home) with large dreamy
projecting eyes, going absent, miles away, over his work—thinking of
Swedenborg and the dance of atoms and angels;
The young woman at the refreshment bar, her thick light-colored hair, her
well-formed features, and the bored look in her eyes as she returns the chaff of
the carefully-dressed young man across the counter;
The military-looking official at the door of the hotel—the despondency
of drink which he conceals beneath his loud-voiced smart exterior;
The ragged boy with rare intense eyes not to be misunderstood—in the
midst of much dirt and ignorance the soul through suffering enfranchised,
exhaled—here too shining like the sunlight, redeeming justifying all it
lights on;
The slut of a girl who has become a mother, the ready doubt among her
neighbors who was the father; the stupid loving way in which she crams the child
to her breast—sitting on a stone by the fire-side utterly oblivious of
The good-natured fair-haired Titan at work in the fields; the little woman
with large dark eyes who is so clever and managing among the poor, and with
their children;
The thin close-lipped friz-haired commercial traveler, unwearied, walking
long distances to save railway or coach fare, well posted in all local
information for fifty miles round;
His wife, so comfortable and fore-thoughtful at home, so evil-tongued
abroad, and the bevy of red-haired red-cheeked girls, well drilled in scrubbing
and cooking, and not without a veneer of accomplishments;
The railway lamp-foreman, tall, strong, fleet of foot, with gentle
voice—lover of the fields and flowers, going long walks Sundays or late
evenings by moonlight—sending the balance of his earnings to support his
aged father and mother;
The bright sunny girl-child with long beautiful hair (envied of the other
children) and poignant blossoming lips and eyes;
The girl in the tobacconist's shop, her drooping lashes, her taper fingers,
and provocative inimitable composure—and all the time her mother is
incurably dying;
The hunch-backed cobbler, young, thwarted, thinking incessantly of
Jesus—praying night and day for the gift of preaching;
The drunken father reeling home in the rain across country—he has more
than a mile to go—singing, cursing, tumbling hands and knees in the mire;
his son following unbeknown at a little distance (he had been watching a long
time for his father outside the beershop); the late moon rising on the strange
scene, the hiccuped oaths of the old man through the silence of the night.


Lo! I touch you.
Softly yearningly I touch you, and pass on—dreaming the dream of the
soul's slow disentanglement.

Sharp-cut, thin-lipped, sad, scholastic; plain-featured, unembarrassed,
affectionate; and you, beautiful careless boy! and you, strange eternal anxious

How shall I say what I have to say? How shall I speak the word which sums
up all words that are spoken? How shall I speak that for which the moon and the
stars and running waters and the universe itself subsist, to speak
it?—which if it could be uttered in a word there were no need of all these
O Death, take me away.
Take me away, kindly Death; lead me forth, lead me through the entire
Let me pass; hold me back, I say, no longer; for I am tired, I am sick, of
talking—and I forebode other ways.

For I would be the dust;
And I would be the silver rays of the moon and the stars, and the washing
sound of the midnight sea;
And nourishing sweet air and running water, for the lips of them that I
To pass, to put on the invisible cap, to run round about the world, unseen.

And I will be the plain ungarnished facts of life, with continual
The train arriving at the station shall not be nearer or more solid; nor
the lifting and transporting of boxes and goods, nor the grasp of the handles to
them that open and shut the doors.
I will be the ground underfoot and the common clay;
The ploughman shall turn me up with his ploughshare among the roots of the
twitch in the sweet-smelling furrow;
The potter shall mould me, running his finger along my whirling edge (we
will be faithful to one another, he and I);
The bricklayer shall lay me; he shall tap me into place with the handle of
his trowel;
And to him I will utter the word which with my lips I have not spoken.


I arise and pass.

I am a spirit passing by, a light air on the hills saying unto you: In
death there is peace.
Out of all mortal suffering, out of the bruised and broken heart, out of
tears, tears—falling seen, falling inward and unseen—out of the
withering flame of desire, and out of all illusion,
My spirit exhaled—floats free—my brother and sister—for
you—over the world eternally.
[Joy, O joy!]
For you, too, beyond this visible—through the gates of mortal passion
and suffering—for the exhaled spirit,
For you, too, beyond this broken dream, this bitter waking in tears,
Something—how can I tell it?—which I have seen, which I might
perhaps give you: and yet which I cannot give you, but in me waits also for
you—O how long?
Something that I have promised. I give you the token. Faithfully when you
recognise and return it shall you have that you desire.

I am the light air on the hills—deny me not; my desire which was not
satisfied is satisfied, and yet can never be satisfied.
I pass and pass and pass.
From the hills I creep down into the great city—fresh and pervading
through all the streets I pass,
Him I touch, and her I touch, and you I touch—I can never be
I who desired one give myself to all. I who would be the companion of one
become the companion of all companions.
The lowest and who knows me not, him I know. best and love best;
The child of the suffering heart I take; my arms pass under his shoulders
and under the hollow of his thighs; his arm lies around my neck, my lips yearn
close to his—on my breast at length he slumbers peacefully and long.
The blind and aged woman descends the steps leading to the basement of the
tall London house; the east wind blows bitter with dust along the street; she
feels along the wall, and for the door, and timidly knocks. I cannot see who
opens the door, but it is slammed immediately in her face. I take her by the
hand and speak words to her, and her sightless eyes are as though they saw once

Once I walked the world of rocks and grass, of space and time, of ambition
and action, and could imagine no other—for I was in that one; now I roam
through other fields and have the freedom of worlds innumerable, and am familiar
where before was darkness and silence.


I arise and pass.

In her tall-windowed sitting room—alone—
[The setting sun casts long shafts of light across the path and beneath the
trees where knee-deep in grass a milkwhite calf is browsing,]
In her tall-windowed sitting room, with its antique pier-glasses and
profuse handsome ornaments—alone—
The old dowager sits.
Her silver-grey hair lies smooth under a lace cap; lace and silk are her
dress, her thin fingers are well stocked with rings.
Lonely is the great house; her old life and the voices of children have
long passed away. She goes to the window to pass the time and through the glass
looks out upon the still landscape; after a while she turns and rings a
bell—a tall young footman appears.
Her voice is quiet and gentle as she gives her order, and flexible still
with intelligence; very taking with their old-fashioned refinement are her
But in a moment what she requires is there, and she is alone
again—everything is done for her.
Into her chair once more she resigns herself, to knit an antimacassar.
Without, how peaceful the scene!
The crisp sound of browsing, the liquid blue-violet eyes of the white calf,
her budding horns, her sweet breath, her muscular tongue encircling the tufts of
grass, the impatient sideway thrust of the head with which she tears them,
The fearlessness with which she gives her head to be caressed and hugged by
the little girl just come down from the farm.

The sun withdraws his rays; the many shadows are merged in one;
The sweet odor of the white campion comes floating, and of the wild roses
in neighboring hedgerows, and of the distant bean-fields;
Twilight comes, and dusk comes, and the height of the sky lifts and lifts;
The last of the long daylight fades:
Over the fields and by the hedgerows and along the sprawling suburban
streets of London the last of the long daylight fades:
Over the roof of the high opera-house—late grey and ghostly in
contrast with the myriad twinkling lamps below—by those within unthought
of, it fades:
Where—amid a blaze of light and color, elate, to her full height
drawn, tier upon tier of faces, thousands of eyes confronting, and saturated
with the excitement of the moment, every vein in her beautiful body
The prima donna lifts clear and unfaltering in the finale her splendid

And retires amid a storm of flowers.
The sower goes out to sow, alone in the morning, the early October morning
so beautiful and calm.
The flanks of the clods are creeping with thin vapor, and the little copse
alongside the field is full of white trailing veils of it;
While now like a flood the rising yellow sunlight pours in, among the
brambles and under the square oak-boughs, and splashes through in great streaks
of light over the ploughed land.

Beautiful is the morning. Alone over the field, to and fro, to and fro,
with ample alternate hand-sweep he goes. At every step, right and left, the
grain broadcast flies in a glittering shower.
With the Sun and the Earth for companions, with browned arms and face and
dazzle-lidded eyes, thick-booted, untiring, all day the sower goes sowing—
What in due time shall become daily bread in the mouths of thousands.

The caravan has halted: it is the hour of prayer, the tents are already
On his carpet the old Sheikh kneels upright—his arms and eyes
uplifted; above, the living blue breathless miracle bends—the sky!
The others are round him with their faces buried in the sand; the camels
are tethered a few paces off.
His voice ascends. By the doors of the tents from the scanty fires just
lighted three columns of smoke, perfectly straight, also ascend.

That is all. The smoke creeps upward and is lost continually in the blue;
his voice who prays creeps upward and is lost.
Around spreads, silent, with loose stones and a few weeds, the desert;
above, the sky.
The Sky!


I arise and pass.
After eighty years, having been once like the rest a little vacant-eyed
child in his mother's arms; having thence lived and toiled and enjoyed much
hither and thither over the earth; Now being very weary, and day after day and
week after week growing more and more weary; all all old interests refusing, for
death longing—the old lawyer lies down to sleep.
It is but for an hour or two. Death comes not yet. The leaves still tremble
in the evening wind, the clouds in solemn transformation float on, voices of
children call in the garden below.
The last few miles, the old familiar country—the well-known roads and
garden-lands—yet no glance thereon.
The strange immortal instinct pressing—the veiled figure always in
front, beckoning.

Now at this time the creatures of the forest to their lairs retiring await
the approach of night; the great mountains stand in awe amid the hush of their
own waters; twilight fades and the stars once more appear.
Deep under dead leaves in the wood or buried in the earth, the baby fly,
white and unformed—the two dark specks which will be its eyes just
appearing—in its oak-spangle cradle sleeps. With their mother plaited in a
ball of dry grass, warm and soft, the young fieldmice lie quiet, or chirrup
nosing for their food. The pools of water are full of creatures that cannot
rest; to the starlit surface rising they spread wings and fly forth into the
fields of air. In heaven whirled by resistless tradition and necessity
descending from God knows when, Jupiter the great planet swims—and swathes
itself wondrous in clouds—prophetic.
Heaven bends above, the Earth opens disclosing innumerable births beneath.
He lies weary, slumbering for a moment. The pen, the desk, the half-finished
letter, are there; the gas makes a slight singing noise overhead.

Solid walls and stones grow transparent and penetrable: the earth and all
that is in it fade and recede to make way for the Traveler.


I arise and pass.

An unfinished house standing at the edge of a field is burning—and the
roof has caught first.
One vast sheet of flame ascends spiral in the night, and casts its glare
upon thousands of faces in the street and fields below. above; the dazzling
white and red mixed with the greens and blue-greens of the burning metals; and
the great twisted column of tawny smoke, with red sparkles flying on the wind.
Lo! the strange light cast upon the wall of full-foliaged elms; and far
more wonderful than all, at their feet, the crowd of living faces—
The mad pushing sweating crowd, the flushed eager faces—dominated all,
controlled and riveted by that flaming sign.

Holy! holy! holy!
Night and flame, night and flame, entering in! entering (O arched wonder of
many eyes!) through the visible into the invisible—

Holy! holy! holy!
Night and flame entering in (and one with you, treading softly through the
myriad marvelous chambers)—

To dwell; to dwell for months, years; to transfuse, enlarge, to touch with
wonder, ardor, exultation; to be remembered afterwards, years and years perhaps,
upon his bed, by that child there: the jets of flame through the roof, the
strange wreathing smoke, the solemn dark of the sky, the bravery of the firemen,
the thrill of the falling timbers; to mix with the yearnings of the growing
lonely boy, to be a strange symbol burning in his heart; to fire the slumbering
train (in some compressed girl-soul) of adventurous resolve; to mingle with the
fears of motherhood;
At last to merge and become indistinguishable—in each one of these to
merge, night and flame!—leaving out not one

Holy! holy! holy!
And lo! the crowd still standing.

And now out of all two alone.
By the curbstone, in the forefront of the crowd, a man—a
navvy—with his hands clasped in front of him on the breast of his little
The boy, timid, standing between his father's feet, pressing back against
his legs, with his own little hands the great hands clasping;
The two, equal childlike, with parallel upward eyes by the flame riveted,
Their rapt unconscious demeanor, the strong likeness between them,
And the meanings, apart, which the wonderful roaring gesticulating flame in
the night signifies secretly to each.


I arise and pass.

With struggles and strange exhausting birth-leapings, with long intervals
of sleep,
[When it is all over, with long long sweet sleep;]
With the unwashed wet of birth, of love, still upon me;
With the clinging of the love of men and women, with the sweat of
night-long companions, with the bruised sweetness of love;
With sleep, sleep, with the wine of life and death, with kisses given and
received, with the reaching of arms round neck and shoulder, and the answer of
quiet eyes;
With nakedness unashamed, with divine comradeship, and laughter; with the
enclosing shadow of Death, far lost in daring outposts on the verge of the
Unknown; with soldiership and armor unremitted, exultant;

With childhood and the least trifle content; with eternal Nowness; with
perfected Carelessness; with night, day, rain, sun, winter, summer, morning,
evening, solitude, pain, pleasure, and the looking forth of innumerable faces;
With Chastity and Ascendancy; with invulnerability and superhuman power;
with Unchastity and Effusion; with live clinging threads of love reaching down
to the remotest time;
With the endless journey begun; with trades by sea and land; simple food,
coarse clothing, common features; with the breath of the common air, and the
freemasonry of the old crafts all over the world;
Shaggy coat-shakings, revolts, rejections of accepted things, travels,
disappearances, re-appearances, swoonings away, oblivions; arising again on
earth, irresistible, to supreme mastery,
To Savagery and the wild woods, with unfettered step; to rocks and hanging
branches; to the dens of the animals, to wind and sun, blowing shining through,
and I through them, to evade and arise;
With joy over the world, Democracy, born again, into heaven, over the
mountain-peaks and the seas in the unfathomable air, screaming, with shouts of
joy, whirling the nations with her breath, into heaven arising and passing,
I arise and pass—dreaming the dream of the soul's slow


Where you are:
Where the firelight flickers about your room, and the wind moans in the
window, and the railway whistle over suburban roofs sounds hollow through the
Where you sit alone, and your thoughts spread making a great space about
Where you go forth at early morning with your bass of trusty tools, and
your shadow shoots long before you down the frosty sparkling road—where you
return at evening weary and out of humor with your life,
I dream the dream.

Where you open your eyes upon the world, and the beauty of it is upon you
like the touch of beloved fingers;
Where the still flame burns in your soul, hidden away from the lightest
breath of curious man; where the fire of consecration burns;
Yet the world closes in at last, and the lamp grows dim, and you lie like
one half dead—of the bitter wounds of the faces of men and the taunts of
I dream the dream: I dream the dream of the soul's slow disentanglement.

Where you bend ankle-deep in mud all day in the rice plantations for a few
half-pence; and the sun sails on—slow, slow—over the steamy land;
Where you walk following the old employ, shepherding sheep in the sweet
crisp air of the high lands;
Where you stand pale and worn-eyed in the gloomy North amid the hot smell
of machinery and the wicked scream of wheels; where you stand adjusting the
threads, making the same answering movement of the hand for the millionth time;
Where you lie wedged in under a coal seam, working by the light of a tallow
dip stuck in clay; or grind scythes all day, bending over, or race your wheel
with the racing steel;
Where you sit high up on the fragrant mountains of Ceylon, with a great
flood of moonlight at your feet, leaning your soul out from the verandah to the
slow lifting and floating of palm-fronds in the exquisite breeze; and memories
come trooping back upon you like the clouds of small yellow butterflies that
along your coasts—between the sand and the sea—beat annually up
against the wind;
Where you recline by your camp-fire in the African wild, watching the
moonlight dances of the natives—the fantastic leaps of the dancer, the
rhythmical hand-clapping of the spectators;
Where you drop down the river in the sun, past the dreaded mud-banks and
wildernesses of mangroves;
I dream the dream.


Where you sit in your armchair by the hearth, sleeping long and long; where
you wake to look back upon your life lying hushed below you—like one who
looks back from the summit of a mountain;
And the children that came to you in the morning have gone from you at
evening dusk,
And the lesson of unfulfilled longing is yours, and of the inflow of
Where they go out over the earth, where the children of the universal
mother go; and the wind carries them over the sea, blowing them into all lands;
where they flow through the straits and narrows and over the great oceans of the
earth, dwelling for nights together among the white leaping crests under the
Where strange faces meet, under other-slanting suns, amid new scenes and
Where light encounters dark, and in their meeting glance lie new social
ideals and civilisations slumbering;
Where the mother of them all sits dreaming;

Where the young poet peers in by moonlight through the bars of the tomb of
Dante, and turns away with a silent prayer;
Where the artist with easel and palette sits swathed in coats upon a
hillside watching the untroubled dawn;
Where the old Hindu feeling the approach of death leaves his family and
retires to a hut in the jungle, there to spend his last days in prayer and
Where royalty dwells lonely in spacious chambers, or moves along corridors
past scarlet-coated footmen;
Where young and old at eventide in the dreamy flicker of firelight sit
silent, or go away wandering in thought after the brother, the son, and lover of
their dreams, following quickly softly with each and kissing the sacred
footsteps through the dark;
Where the young mother prays for hours bending over the face of her
sleeping child; where the young man dreams all night of the face of his
new-found friend and the kisses of his lips.
Where the river glides down by night past the great city broadening to the
I dream the dream.

The wind blows up fresh and cold where the waves are slapping against the
jetty; red and green lights skim rapidly over the water;
The cold light of the half moon stands overhead, breaking its way through
combed fleece clouds, the horizon stretches misty white like the edge of an
ice-bound sea;
The moon pushes her way for a moment through the clouds, to look down upon
the stilled scene of human toil and suffering; the wind blows up keen against
those who still linger on the jetty;
Keenly it blows away over the waste sea, and wraps itself round a thousand
solitary watchers of the deep.
On the wind I ride,
And dream the dream of the soul's slow disentanglement,


I have passed away and entered the gate of heaven. I am absolved from all
torment. All is well to me.
A tiny infant am I once more, leaning out from my mother's arms as one
leans from a balcony. But the world hangs flat before me like a painted curtain:
the sun and the moon and men's faces are all alike. This is my dream. The sound
of music comes calling to me, calling, calling. Listening I lean forward with
open mouth and far-distant gaze, and am profoundly still. [Let who looks upon me
see with his own eyes my dark soul's myriad re-awakening.]
I am a wild cat crouching at night in the angle of a bough. I am Arjuna
reasoning on the battle-field with Krishna—learning the lessons of divine
knowledge. I am a teacher scanning the faces of those who sit opposite to me.
All is well.
I labor all day in the drizzle with pick and shovel; the smell of fire I
strike from the rock pleases me; I return home tired and wet in the early dusk
to my tea.
I am one of a rustic party of actors; in the old farm-parlor we rehearse
our parts, with shouts of laughter. I go into the cowshed last thing at night
with my lantern to see that all is well.
I am a shepherd on the breezy hills; the wholesome aromatic odors of the
grass transfuse me; my sheep graze on and on through the noonday; I lie in the
sun and think and speak of little beside ewes and tups.
I stand in the chamber of Death and gaze upon the swathed larval
form—the solid world recedes around it; through the just open window come
the cries of hawkers and the creak of cart-wheels.
I laugh and chat with the other girls and women in the edge-tool warehouse;
I run home in the evening to my old mother and to prepare the dinners for next
The din of the riveting shop goes on round me; I hate the bully red-faced
master coming on his rounds—with his insulting voice—and answer him
not: murderous thoughts haunt my mind.
I plot with others to murder the captain on board ship. I am satisfied with
the deed and experience no remorse. It is off the coast of China. I go ashore
afterwards and spend the night at a sing-song shop.

All is well. The least action as well as the greatest. The beautiful and
the deformed are alike beautiful. I am happy now and not to-morrow, and am
absolved from motives.

On the northern-most point of Australia, decent in my single cowry-shell, I
stand. The white man comes ashore in his boat from the great ship, and gives me
some old hoop-iron, and I give him a few wooden lances in return.
I am a long-eyed Japanee. In the shadow of the sacred thicket I
lie—where the great seated image of Buddha (hollow within for a shrine)
breaks above me against the blue sky. The sharp shadows lie under his sleepy
lids and soft mouth smiling inwardly. I see on his forehead the sacred spot, and
from between his feet the emblematic lotus springing.
[All is well.]
In the shadow of the thicket I lie spreading my fevered limbs to the cool
breeze, bruising their unslaked passion against the stony earth—in the cool
shadow I lie and gaze at his face I know so well, and through the immortal calm
of it the spirit of the Holy One steals upon me; the fever of life departs.
I stand near the door of my cottage, busy with the week's washing, thinking
of my husband; in the doorway to and fro my baby swings in the little seat he
has made; petulant soft wafts of spring air steal in, this warm February
morning. I am very happy.

I am very happy. By the door of my own little house at last I stand
entranced. I look out upon the world and know not which way to go.
O world you have been very gentle to me! Strangely as to the dead your
beauty comes to me now. Little house where I have lived so long, I thank you
too: I know well that you are different from what you appear.
Disembodied I cry, I cry, over the earth—I shake the sleepers in their
tombs with unutterable joy:
O arise! O air and elements break forth into singing! Great sea washing the
shores of earth! O earth of countless tombs! the hour of your disclosure is at
hand; the bounds of mortality at length are past!

I arise and pass once more: I travel forth into all lands: nothing detains
me any longer. By the ever beautiful coast-line of human life, in all climates
and countries, wandering on, a stranger, unwearied, I meet the old faces: I come
never away from home.
I lift the latch of the cottage door, and the place I love is laid for me
for supper; I depart, yet never to depart again.
Laws and limitations fade, time and distance are no more, no bars can hold
me, no chamber shut me in: on those that bear me to the grave I descend in
The arched doors of the eyebrows of innumerable multitudes open around me:
new heavens I see, and the earth made new because of them.

I will stop here then. I will not leave the earth after all. I am content
and need go no farther.
And was this, O love, the cause of your so long aching?
That you might have the adit, that you might enter in at last and be at


SLOWLY on You, too, the meanings: the light-sparkles on water, tufts of
weed in winter—the least things—dandelion and groundsel.
Have you seen the wild bees' nest in the field, the cells, the grubs, the
transparent white baby-bees, turning brown, hairy, the young bees beginning to
fly, raking the moss down over the disturbed cells? the parasites?
Have you seen the face of your brother or sister? have you seen the little
robin hopping and peering under the bushes? have you seen the sun rise, or set?
I do not know—I do not think that I have.
When your unquiet brain has ceased to spin its cobwebs over the calm and
miraculous beauty of the world;
When the Air and the Sunlight shall have penetrated your body through and
through; and the Earth and Sea have become part of it;
When at last, like a sheath long concealing the swelling green shoot, the
love of learning and the regard for elaborate art, wit, manners, dress, or
anything rare or costly whatever, shall drop clean off from you;
When your Body—for to this it must inevitably return—is become
shining and transparent before you in every part (however deformed);
Then (O blessed One!) these things also transparent possibly shall
surrender themselves—the least thing shall speak to you words of

The stones are anywhere and everywhere: the temple roof is the sky.
The materials are the kettle boiling on the fire, the bread in the oven,
the washing dolly, the axe, the gavelock—the product is God;
And the little kitchen where you live, the shelves, the pewter, the nightly
lamp, the fingers and faces of your children—a finished and beautiful
Transparency of your own Body.


I saw the cow give birth to her first-born calf; I saw the beautiful
helpless creature laid under her nose; I saw the calm woman who sprinkled the
young thing with meal and tended the exhausted mother.
I see the many women who manage cattle well, and gardens, and understand
the breeding of sheep;
I see the noble and natural women of all the Earth; I see their well-formed
feet and fearless ample stride, their supple strong frames, and attitudes
well-braced and beautiful;

On those that are with them long Love and Wisdom descend; everything that
is near them seems to be in its place; they do not pass by little things nor are
afraid of big things; but they love the open air and the sight of the sky in the
early morning.
Blessed of such women are the children: and blessed are they in childbirth.
The open air and the sun and the moon and the running streams they love all the
more passionately for the sake of that which lies sleeping within them.


Recurved and close lie the little feet and hands, close as in the attitude
of sleep folds the head, the little lips are hardly parted;
The living mother-flesh folds round in darkness, the mother's life is an
unspoken prayer, her body a temple of the Holy One.

I am amazed and troubled, my child, she whispers—at the thought of
you; I hardly dare to speak of it, you are so sacred;
When I feel you leap I do not know myself any more—I am filled with
wonder and joy—Ah! if any injury should happen to you!
I will keep my body pure, very pure; the sweet air will I breathe and pure
water drink; I will stay out in the open, hours together, that my flesh may
become pure and fragrant for your sake;
Holy thoughts will I think; I will brood in the thought of mother-love. I
will fill myself with beauty: trees and running brooks shall be my companions;
And I will pray that I may become transparent—that the sun may shine
and the moon, my beloved, upon you,
Even before you are born.


Out of Night and Nothingness a Body appears.
The threads of a thousand past ages run together in it; out of its loins
and the look of its eyes a thousand ages part their way into the future.

Eyes out of which I see, Ears through which I hear—formed in my
mother's womb in silence;
Mother of mine, walking the earth no more (to me closer than ever), out of
all tears, suffusing light over the world, equal with God—for whose sake
Night and Day evermore are sacred;
Body, by which I ascend and know Myself—Mysteries of life and death
slowly parting and transforming around me:
O glad, not for one year or two but for how many thousands, I out of deep
and infinite Peace salute you.
The doctor does not give Health, but the winds of heaven;
Happiness does not proceed by chance, nor is got by supplication, but is
inevitable wherever the Master is.
Doubt parts aside. I hear grown and bearded men shouting in the woods for
joy, shouting singing with the birds; I hear the immense chorus over all the
world, of the Return to Joy.

Come, my friend, in the still autumn morning, while the sun is yet low upon
the hills, among the dead leaves come walk with me.
Those and the like of those that have been my companions are with You also,
and shall be to all time. I give you but a hint and a word of commendation. I
open a door outwards.
The gentle and stormy winds, the clouds sailing in heaven; the
plough-stilts, the boat-tiller; sitting at dinner with the winter sun looking in
at the open door, natural men and women (common as unquarried rock) around you;
love, granted or not granted; the companionship of the dead;
The savage eternal peaks, the solitary signals—Walt Whitman, Jesus of
Nazareth, your own Self distantly deriding you—
These are always with you.

Have you doubted?—It is well. But now you shall forget your doubts.
Have you suffered?—It is good to suffer; but soon you shall suffer no
Have you looked at the sky and the earth and the long busy streets and
thought them dead of all poetry and beauty?—It is you have been ill, nigh
to death; but be at peace: life shall surely return to you.
I have seen your struggles, your long wakeful nights; I have sat by you. I
have heard the voice which calls you. Come with me. Here is Rest, here is Peace
I give you. A little while by the edge of this wood sitting, I with You; then to
depart; yet never to depart again.
Words unspoken, yet wafted over all lands, through all times, eternal; no
more mine than yours—I give them again to the wide embracing Air.
Haply a little breath for you to breathe—to enter, scarcely perceived,
into your body—a little time to dwell, transforming, within you.
Haply mementos, indications, broken halves of ancient changeless Symbols,
eternal possessions, treasures incorruptible,
Of Love which changes not—to be duly presented again—the broken
halves to be joined.

I a child sitting at your feet, content—the odor of dead leaves all
around; or walking with you, your comrade, through the night (often we lean and
touch each other's lips as we go); or very old, and near and dear to Death:
Are you sure you know me when you look upon me?
Behold a mystery!—these eyes, these lips, this hair, these
loins—see you me in them, you shall see me where they are not.
Long looking, the face of the world shall change—surely by the edge of
the little wood I will come and sit with you.

All riches promised, and far more, I give to you.

Have you used the Summer well, then the Winter shall be beautiful to you.
Have you made good use of Life, then Death shall be exceeding glorious.
All this day we will go together; the sun shall circle overhead; our
shadows swing round us on the road; the winter sunshine shall float wonderful
promises to us from the hills; the evening see us in another land;
The night ever insatiate of love we will sleep together, and rise early and
go forward again in the morning;
Wherever the road shall lead us, in solitary places or among the crowd, it
shall be well; we shall not desire to come to the end of the journey, nor
consider what the end may be: the end of all things shall be with Us.


This is my trade; teach me yours and I will teach you mine.
Are you a carpenter, a mason, a grower of herbs and flowers, a breaker of
horses? a wheel-wright, boat-builder, engine-tenter, dockyard-laborer? do you
take in washing or sewing, do you rock the youngest in the cradle with your foot
while you knit stockings for the elder ones? It is well—Weaning yourself
from external results learn the true purposes of things.
Wherever the sea and the land are, is my trade, and it has been known since
the eldest Time: the ancient Mysteries and Oracles hinted at it, the venerable
sages of India knew it, and men and women who walked this earth before all
history; in the remotest stars it is exactly the same as here, and in all the
circles of intelligences whether they dwell in fire or water or in the midst of
what is solid, or in the thinnest vacuum.
Many an old woman sitting by her cottage door is far more profoundly versed
in it than I am. Many a fisherman pouncing on crabs along the shores of the
Mediterranean has in it long ago served his apprenticeship. If you think or
desire by coming with me to know more or be better than these, you mistake me
and what I have to tell you.
Learning and superiority are of no use in the face of all this: they depart
much as they came. But to come near to understanding the use of materials is
divine, and he that has never despised a weaker or more ignorant than himself is
nearest to this.
Many are the roads, but there is one end to which they all lead; there are
many profitable trades, but there is one whose profits are past all reckoning.


Hand in hand for an hour I sit with you in the Great Garden of Time
Equals We, possessors and enjoyers, ask no more than simply to be. This
hour, equal of all others that were or shall be, itself perfect: the other hours
as they come or go, perfect.
Meeting once, to meet often and often again (is not the whole garden
ours?), we shall not forget, we will not hasten or delay.

From this day it is not so much we that change, as the hours that glide
past us; each bends low as it passes with a gift.
Earth-kings on their thrones faintly fore-shadowed this; the old myths and
legends of heaven were the indistinct dreams of the everlasting peace of the


And you too, ye hours of suffering and warfare, grim unrest, we confront,
each perfect; we contain you; storms and darkness surging around, we have seen
round you.
Hours of pain and darkness within, evil conscience and heavy burdens of
concealment! hours of black and obstinate desire, eyes turning aswerve,
trembling guilty tongue—hungry mortal hours! caught in the cleave of your
jaws, I deny you not.
Far from it: I welcome you. You are my friends as good as any, I give you
equal places with the rest, if not better—for what indeed should I
understand if you had not taught me?

Each beautiful, countless myriads to be known,
Over the hills and green plains of Eternity pasturing, for ever
widening—mortal, immortal, swift-footed, slow-footed—O ye Hours and
Desires, you are all mine!
My herd, my beauties! my glossy, supple, with arched necks, my gentle and
caressing, my wild, fierce, passionate—divine, satanic—there is room,
and plenty, for you all!
O beautiful creatures! not because sometimes you show your teeth at each
other will I disown you; not if you should all turn upon one to rend him, will I
cast that one out—never so black or ungainly be he.
Avaunt! Over the hills with lightning speed fly, tossing your nostrils: but
know that I easily outspeed you all—you cannot delude or escape Me.
Wild herd! begetting and begetting innumerable progeny (all mine),
See if to my chariot at length harnessed I will not drive you, irresistible
and triumphant, through all the kingdoms of Space.


Beautiful is the winter by the sea; the gray waves come rolling with locks
tossed back by the North wind.
In his hut on the beach the fisherman cooks his dinner; the clock that
belongs in the herring-boat ticks against the wall; the drift-nets are mended;
the boat is overhauled and repaired, the boat-lanterns and the pump are painted.

Out on the great deep the balance and plunge goes on; the sail steadies in
the wind; the land and well-known points fade; the circle of water completes

Beautiful is the winter inland; the wind and wild clouds with rain rush
over the world; the valleys are full of the sound of streams.
The farmer cleans out his ditches and drains, and mends the foot-paths
across his fields; the turnip-pit is completed; and the apples and potatos are
picked over in the store-room.
The snow descends upon the young blade of corn; the soft-fingered flakes
wrap all the world in white; frost seals the earth in silence.
He stands by the door of the house-place at night; the moon leans out, and
the stars and the great planets from heaven; Orion hunts with his dogs. In the
morning the field-fares and starlings go by in flights.

Do I ask of you perfections? do you think that Winter is perhaps less
perfect than Summer? or that there is not perfection everywhere, where the soul
casts its light?
Be not careful about perfections: I declare to you the day shall come when
everything shall be perfect to you.
To be ungainly or deformed shall after all be no hindrance, your ignorance
and rags shall not avail for a disguise;
Past your own futility and vanity you shall walk unfettered, and just gaze
upon them as you go by; if learning and skill admit you to wonders, ignorance
and awkwardness shall give you entrances equally or more desirable.
Take care (I have warned you before) how you touch these words: with
curious intellect come not near, lest I utterly destroy you; but come with bold
heart and true and careless, and they shall bless you beyond imagination.
I do not turn you back from self-seeking; on the contrary I know that you
shall never rest till you have found your Self;
If you seek it in money, fame, and the idle gratification of inordinate
organs and bumps—that is all very well for a time; but you will have to do
better than that.
If you seek it in Duty, Goodness, Renunciation, they also are very well for
a time; but you will do better.


Beautiful is the figure of the lusty full-grown groom on his superb horse:
the skin of the animal is saturated with love.

Radiant health!
O kisses of sun and wind, tall fir-trees and moss-covered rocks! O
boundless joy of Nature on the mountain tops—coming back at last to you!
Wild songs in sight of the sea, wild dances along the sands, glances of the
risen moon, echoes of old old refrains coming down from unimagined times!
O rolling through the air superb prophetic spirit of Man, pulse of divine
health equalising the universe, vast over all the world expanding spirit!
O joy of the liberated soul (finished purpose and acquittal of
civilisation), daring all things—light step, life held in the palm of the
hand! O swift and eager delight of battle, fierce passion of love destroying and
destroying the body!
Eternal and glorious War! Liberation! the soul like an eagle—from
gaping wounds and death—rushing forth screaming into its vast and eternal
See! the divine mother goes forth with her babe (all creation circles
round)—God dwells once more in a woman's womb; friend goes with friend,
flesh cleaves to flesh, the path that rounds the universe.
O every day sweet and delicious food! Kisses to the lips of sweet-smelling
fruit and bread, milk and green herbs. Strong well-knit muscles, quick-healing
glossy skin, body for kisses all over!
Radiant health! to breathe, O joy! to sleep, ah! never enough to be
For the taste of fruit ripening warm in the sun, for the distant sight of
the deep liquid sea!
For the sight of the naked bodies of the bathers, bathing by the hot
sea-banks, the pleasant consciousness of those who are unashamed, the glance of
their eyes, the beautiful proud step of the human animal on the sand;
For the touch of the air on my face or creeping over my unclothed body, for
the rustling sound of it in the trees, and the appearance of their tall stems
springing so lightly from the earth!
Joy, joy and thanks for ever.


For the face of the farm-lad who came and sat beside me, the handfuls of
pease that he offered me—for the taste of their juicy sweet pods;
The pressure of the Earth against me as I lay on it, the light sense riding
on it of tremendous forces charioting me onward; for the like sense in my will
and actions, of being borne along!
O the splendid wind careering over earth and ocean, the sun darting between
the great white clouds! O the lifting of arms to Nature—heaven wrapped
around one's body!
The unflagging pleasure of food, the crisp and tooth-some growths of the
soil! draughts of running water in summer;
The evenings by the fire in winter, the ease after labor, the steady sleepy
heat, the sleepy flicker on the wall, the presence of others in the room; for
the voices of children;
For the beautiful faces—and ever more beautiful appearing—of
those I meet in the doorway or at meals, the mortal father mother sister brother
For the glorified face of him I love: the long days out alone together in
the woods, the nights superb of comradeship and love.
O joy returning morn noon and night! day-long as in a dream walking over
earth enchanted, waking deep mid-night out of sleep in the ocean of joy! [Lo!
the beautiful surface, the rippling of waves, the moon shining down.]
Deep deep draughts of all that life can give, drawn in to feed the
Joy, joy and thanks for ever.
[O burning behind all worlds, immortal Essences, Flames of this
ever-consuming universe, never-consumed—to laugh and laugh with you, and of
our laughter
Shake forth creation!]

Wonderful! wave after wave; clouds, rain, wind, day and night;
The sea by night in storms, and the morning over the hills, for grief and
joy, for solitude and companionship; for the birth of babes and the putting away
of the husks of the feeble and aged in the ground;
For the great processions of the seasons over the Earth, and the dead lying
below; and the dead rising again in the pure translucent air to begin a new
existence, with unutterable joy bursting outwards from them beyond all mortal
With shouts and pæans into the blue æther of God—
Joy, joy and thanks for ever.

And for the strange individual decree of each one,
The daily hunger and thirst after sympathy, ever-new, for the pleasant
putting-forth of affection, and for the excess—for prostrate unspeakable
For the pleasant moods of the soul, for the finite masterly enjoyment of
the world; and for the painful moods, for the vicious agony and the vast dark
after-death of desire—for the transcendent pouring and pouring of the soul
out into other worlds!
For the tragic moments of life, and for the long same stretches of the
For the wonderful looming rise upon one of the great Arch of Death as one
approaches it, for the dim perception of the infinite stretches beyond!
For the final deep abiding sense of rest—in Thee;
For the touch of Thyself growing continually out of everything more actual,
starlike, perfect;
And for all experience;
Joy, joy and thanks for ever.


O the sound of trumpets, the wild clangor of wings! forging aloft into the
air! O Freedom for men!
Sounds of innumerable voices singing! Starry lamps twinkling to each other
across the huge concave of Time!
Dread Creators of the flying earth through space! Travelers yourselves upon
it! Fliers through all forms! Enduers of all disguises!
In your hut by the sea shore looking back upon the myriad constellations
whence you descended! In the eyes of her you love, in the faithful face of your
enemy in battle, aware at last of the drift of Creation!
O joy! joy! inextinguishable joy and laughter!
Lo! the Conscience, the tender green shoot in each one, growing, arising,
Ygdrasil casting its leaves, elements and nations, over the universe!
Lo! the Moral laws so long swathing the soul, loosing, parting at last for
the liberation of that which they prepared.
Lo! Death in majesty appearing, tender and beautiful, walking on earth the
floor of heaven, through the night, through the long transparent night singing
In her arms the children of all creation, all creatures of the field and
the children of men, nursing,
In their ears singing low, singing soft, the song—the interpreting
song—that the darting sun sings, and the maiden by her window, the song of
the leaping waters and of love—
And of joy, of inconceivable joy, O ecstasy! thrilling every object of


I hear the electric thunderbolt strike the earth. It shivers and it
staggers in its orbit.
Leap, children of men, arise! Set your faces dead as flint. For great is
the prize before you.
The hour has struck! the Masters appear! Back, O elements and destiny!
From this hour, War! ever more splendid and glorious War! the long
tradition of the Earth!
The flame of the Soul, burning through all materials!

Long the battle, clouds of dust hiding heaven. Earth trembles like a
startled horse.
They that fight descend, radiant with eternal lightnings. The gods blaze
forth upon each other.
The flags fly of all nations up and down. The long result of history, and
penetrating and preceding all history, completes itself.
Lo, Freedom! haughty, magnificent, moving like a dream before the
half-awakened eyes of men—never faithless to her, never at last one


And so I heard a voice say What is Freedom?

I have heard (it said) the lions roaring in their dens; I have seen the
polyp stretching its arms upward from the floor of the deep;
I have heard the cries of slaves and the rattling of their chains, and the
hoarse shout of victims rising against their oppressors; I have seen the
deliverers dying calmly on the scaffold.
I have heard of the centuries-long struggle of nations for constitutional
liberty—the step-by-step slowly-won approaches as to some inner and
impregnable fastness;
I know the wars that have been waged, the flags flying to and fro over the
earth? I know that one tyranny has been substituted for another, and that the
forms of oppression have changed:
But what is Freedom?

Villeins and thralls become piece-men and day-tal men, and the bondsmen of
the land become the bondsmen of Machinery and Capital; the escaped convicts of
Labor fit admiringly the bracelets of Wealth round their own wrists.
I have seen the slaves of Opinion and Fashion, of Ignorance and of
Learning, of Drink and Lust, of Chastity and Unchastity:
One skin cast leaves another behind, and that another, and that yet
I have seen over the world the daily fear of Death and Hell, of Pain and
momentary overhanging Chance;
I have seen recluses craning their lives up into impossible heavens,
thinkers hopelessly meditating after philosophic Truth, incurables lying covered
with bed-sores, household drudges running from the hearth to the slopstone and
from the slopstone to the hearth all their lives;
Something of all these slaveries I know—they are very well in their
But what is Freedom?

And I heard (in the height) another voice say:
In the recluse, the thinker, the incurable and the drudge, I AM. I am the
giver of Life, I am Happiness.
I am in the good and evil, in the fortunate and the unfortunate, in the
gifted and the incapable, alike; I am not one more than the other.
The lion roaring in its den, and the polyp on the floor of the deep, the
great deep itself, know ME.
The long advances of history, the lives of men and women—the men that
scratched the reindeer and mammoth on bits of bone, the Bushmen painting their
rude rock-paintings, the mud-hovels clustering round mediæval castles, the
wise and kindly Arab with his loving boy-attendants, the Swiss
mountain-herdsman, the Russian patriot, the English mechanic,
Know ME. I am Happiness in them, in all—underlying. I am the Master,
showing myself from time to time as occasion serves.
I am not nearer to one than the other; they do not seek me so much as I
advance through them.

Out of all would YOU emerge?
Would you at last, O child of mine, after many toils and endless warfare
(for without such all is in vain) emerge and become MY EQUAL?
[Wonderful, wonderful is this that I tell you! Would you too become a
Master—when you have seen and known all slaveries, and have ceased to put
one before the other?]
Would you, whom I have often silently been with, to whom in the early
morning I have come kissing you on the lips to leave Happiness for your waking,
whom I have taught long and long my own ways, even for this—become my
Equal? would you look me at last in the face?

It shall be then. The way is long but the centuries are long. Faint not.
Does my voice sound distant? Faint not.
Even now for a moment round your neck, advancing, I stretch my arms; to my
lips I draw you, I press upon your lips the seal of a covenant that cannot be


I—WHO write—translate for you these thoughts: I wipe a mirror and
place it in your hands [look long. O friend, look long, satiate yourself]—
I bring you to your own, to take, or leave for a while, as pleases you
best. I have perfect faith in you.
And can wait: the whole of Time is before me.


The little red stars appear once more shining among the hazel catkins; the
pewit tumbles and cries as at the first day, the year begins again,
The wind blows east, the wind blows west, the old circle of days and nights
completes itself;
But henceforth the least thing shall speak to you words of deliverance; the
commonest shall please you best;
And the fall of a leaf through the air and the greeting of one that passes
on the road shall be more to you than the wisdom of all the books ever
written—and of this book.

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