Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. THE BODY WITHIN THE BODY, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. THE BODY WITHIN THE BODY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When life like a ghastly panorama stretches before the eye of the spirit
Last Line: And the source of all the light in the universe.
Subject(s): Bodies; Religion; Soul; Spirituality; Theology


WHEN life like a ghastly panorama stretches before the eye of the
spirit—
A festal procession, as it were, continually gulfing itself in a quicksand;

When—waking as in a nightmare at dead of night—
One thinks of all the disease, the weariness, the suffering of the world as
it is—
Of the cancer eating slowly onward with its roots entwined in the
vitals—the vista of agony and defeat by the cursed thing;
Of the incurable filth, the venom in the lungs, breeding slime and death
within one through the interminable months;
And these but samples of what waits, more or less, for almost all;
When one thinks of the sudden senseless accidents which are for ever
occurring—the ship returning home, full, with brimming hearts, from the
Antipodes, ripped on a rock and gone in a moment to the bottom;
A lurch, somewhere, of the shrinking earth-strata, and a whole city tumbled
in shrieks and ruin;
The 'weight' coming on in the coal-pit, the ominous fall of small stones
from the roof, the awful cracking of the great oak-props, the hurried rush of
the miners and their swifter still entombment;
The breaking of a cable, or of a driving band in machinery, a flaw in a
wheel, a random step on a stairway—and husband torn from wife, and mother
from child, or child from mother;
Death and destruction and the messengers of death and destruction in myriad
forms still waiting to fulfil the inevitable doom;
When, I say, the necessity arises to face all this—and face it
out—

Then somehow, underneath it all,
I seem to see that the strands of affection and love, auroral, shooting
from one to another—so tender, so true, and life-long,
And longer than life—holding together the present and past
generations;
The currents of love and thought streaming in the watches of the night from
far and near, from one to another,
(Streaming all the more powerfully for the very hindrances and disasters
which arrive or threaten,)
And building in the bustle of the day such likeness of their dreams as may
be—
That these inner a after all more real in some sense than the outer
things—that the surpass in actual vitality and significance even all this
artillery of orrors.
I dream that these are the fibres and nerves of a body that lies within the
outer body of society—
A network, an innumerable vast interlocked ramification, slowly being built
up—all dear lovers and friends, all families, groups, all peoples, nations,
all times, all worlds perhaps—
Of which the outer similitudes and shells, like the minute cells of an
organism, are shed and die in endless multitudes with continual decay and
corruption;
But the real individuals persist and are members of a Body, archetypal,
eterne,
Glorious, the centre and perfection of life and organisation,
And the source of all the Light in the universe.





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