On the shadows of the Moon,
Climbing through Night’s highest noon:
In Time’s Ocean falling, drowned:
In Aged Ignorance profound,
Holy and cold, I clipp’d the Wings
Of all Sublunary Things:
But when once I did descry
The Immortal Man that cannot Die,
Thro’ evening shades I haste away
To close the Labours of my Day.
The Door of Death I open found,
And the Worm Weaving in the Ground;
Thou’rt my Mother, from the Womb;
Wife, Sister, Daughter, to the Tomb:
Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife,
And weeping over the Web of Life.
Such music is not to be lightly mouthed by mortals; for us, in our weakness, a few strains of it, now and then, amid the murmur of ordinary converse, are enough. For Blake’s words will always be strangers on this earth; they could only fall with familiarity from the lips of his own Gods:
Time’s troubled fountains,
On the great Atlantic Mountains,
In my Golden House on high.
They belong to the language of Los and Rahab and Enitharmon; and their mystery is revealed for ever in the land of the Sunflower’s desire.
[Footnote 8: The Poetical Works of William Blake. A new and verbatim text from the manuscript, engraved, and letter-press originals, with variorum readings and bibliographical notes and prefaces. By John Sampson, Librarian in the University of Liverpool. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1905.
The Lyrical Poems of William Blake. Text by John Sampson, with an Introduction by Walter Raleigh. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1905.]
The shrine of Poetry is a secret one; and it is fortunate that this should be the case; for it gives a sense of security. The cult is too mysterious and intimate to figure upon census papers; there are no turnstiles at the temple gates; and so, as all inquiries must be fruitless, the obvious plan is to take for granted a good attendance of worshippers, and to pass on. Yet, if Apollo were to come down (after the manner of deities) and put questions—must we suppose to the Laureate?—as to the number of the elect, would we be quite sure of escaping wrath and destruction? Let us hope for the best; and perhaps, if we were bent upon finding out the truth, the simplest way would be to watch the sales of the new edition of the poems of Beddoes, which Messrs. Routledge have lately added to the ‘Muses’ Library.’ How many among Apollo’s pew-renters, one wonders, have ever read Beddoes, or, indeed, have ever heard of him? For some reason or another, this extraordinary poet has not only never received the recognition which is his due, but has failed almost entirely to receive any recognition whatever. If his name is known at all, it is known in virtue of the one or two of