Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. AFTER CIVILISATION (2), by EDWARD CARPENTER

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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 3. AFTER CIVILISATION (2), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: In the first soft winds of spring, while snow yet lay on the ground
Last Line: Looking out over the earth, on which he was once a mortal.
Subject(s): Democracy; Life Change Events; Modern Man

IN the first soft winds of spring, while snow yet lay on the ground—
Forth from the city into the great woods wandering,
Into the great silent white woods where they waited in their beauty and
For man their companion to come:
There, in vision, out of the wreck or cities and civilisations,
I saw a new life arise.
Slowly out of the ruins of the past—like a young fern-frond uncurling
out of its own brown litter—
Out of the litter of a decaying society, out of the confused mass of broken
down creeds, customs, ideals,
Out of distrust and unbelief and dishonesty, and Fear, meanest of all (the
stronger in the panic trampling the weaker underfoot);
Out of miserable rows of brick tenements with their cheapjack interiors,
their glances of suspicion, and doors locked against each other;
Out of the polite residences of congested idleness; out of the aimless life
of wealth;
Out of the dirty workshops of evil work, evilly done;
Out of the wares which are no wares poured out upon the markets, and in the
The fraudulent food, clothing, drink, literature;
Out of the cant of Commerce—buying cheap and selling dear—the
crocodile sympathy of nation with nation,
The smug merchant posing as a benefactor of his kind, the parasite parsons
and scientists;
The cant of Sex, the impure hush clouding the deepest instincts of boy and
girl, woman and man;
The despair and unbelief possessing all society—rich and poor,
educated and ignorant, the money-lender, the wage-slave, the artist and the
washerwoman alike;
All feeling the terrible pressure and tension of the modern problem:
Out of the litter and muck of a decaying world,
Lo! even so
I saw a new life arise.

The winter woods stretched all around so still!
Every bough laden with snow—the faint purple waters rushing on in the
hollows, with steam on the soft still air!
Far aloft the arrowy larch reached into the sky, the high air trembled with
the music of the loosened brooks.
O sound of waters, jubilant, pouring pouring—O hidden song in the
Secret of the earth, swelling sobbing to divulge itself!

Slowly, building lifting itself up atom by atom,
Gathering itself together round a new centre—or rather round the
world-old centre once more revealed—
I saw a new life, a new society, arise.
Man I saw arising once more to dwell with Nature;
[The old old story—the prodigal son returning, so loved,
The long estrangement, the long entanglement in vain things]—
The child returning to its home, companion of the winter woods once more,
Companion of the stars and waters, hearing their words at first hand (more
than all science ever taught),
The near contact, the dear dear mother so close, the twilight sky and the
young tree-tops against it;
The huts on the mountain-side, companionable of the sun and the winds, the
lake unsullied below;
The daily bath in natural running waters, or in the parallel foam-lines of
the sea, the pressure of the naked foot to the earth;
The few needs, the exhilarated radiant life—the food and population
question giving no more trouble;
[No hurry more, no striving one to override the other:
Fach one doing the work before him to do, and taking his chance of the
Doubting no more of his reward than the hand doubts, or the foot, to which
the blood flows according to the use to which it is put;]
The plentiful common halls stored with the products of Art and History and
Science to supplement the simple household accommodations;
The sweet and necessary labor of the day;
All these I saw—for man the companion of Nature.

Civilisation behind him now—the wonderful stretch of the past;
Continents, empires, religions, wars, migrations—all gathered up in
The immense knowledge, the vast winged powers—to use or not to
He comparatively indifferent, passing on to other spheres of interest.

The calm which falls after long strife, the dignity of rest after toil;
Hercules, his twelve labors done, sitting as a god on the great slope of
Looking out over the Earth, on which he was once a mortal.

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