Further Selected Extracts from Edward Carpenter's

"Towards Democracy"

The sun, the moon and the stars, the grass, the waters that flow round the earth, and the light air of heaven: To You greeting. I too stand behind these and send you word across them.

I

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.

 

II

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 -- 0 laughter! laughter! laughter!

 

III

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 Joy!

 

0 freed soul! Soul that has completed its relation to the body! 0 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 him.

 

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.

 

IV

Freedom! the deep breath! The old Earth breathes deep and rhythmically, night and day, summer and winter; the cuckoo calls across the woodland, and the willow-wren warbles among the great chestnut buds; the labourer 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…..

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Who are You?

Who are you who go about to save them that are lost? Are you saved yourself?

Do you not know that who would save his own life must lose it? Are you then one of the "lost"?

 

Be sure, very sure, that each one of these can teach you as much as, probably more than, you can teach them.

 

Have you then sat humbly at their feet, and waited on their lips that they should be the first to speak - and been reverent before these children - whom you so little understand?

 

Have you dropped into the bottomless pit from between yourself and them all hallucination of superiority, all flatulence of knowledge, every shred of abhorrence and loathing?

 

Is it equal, is it free as the wind between you?

 

Could you be happy receiving favors from one of the most despised of these?

 

Could you be yourself one of the lost?

 

Arise then, and become a saviour……………

 

All Night Long

All night long in love, in the darkness, passing through your lips, my love -–

 

Breathing the same breath, being folded in the same sleep, losing sense of Me and Thee,

 

Into empyreal regions, beloved of the gods, united, we ascend together.

 

Then in the morning on the high hill-side in the sun, looking down upon the spires of the larches and Scotch firs, Mortal, we tread again the earthy floor.

 

O Earth, the floor of heaven –-

 

O Sun, shining aloft in the sky so pure –-

 

O children of the sun, ye flowers and streams, and little mortals walking the earth for a time –-

 

And we too gazing for a time, for a time, for a time, into each other's eyes.

 

 

When a Thousand Years Have Passed

Think not that the love thou enterest into to-day is for a few months or years:

 

The little seed set now must lie quiet before it will germinate and many alternations of sunshine and shower descend upon it before it become even a small plant.

 

When a thousand years have passed, come thou again. And behold! a mighty tree that no storms can shake.

 

Love does not end with this life or any number of lives; the form that thou seekest lies hidden under wrapping after wrapping;

 

Nevertheless it shall at length appear -- more wondrous far than aught thou hast imagined.

 

Therefore leave time: do not like a child pull thy flower up by the roots to see if it is growing;

 

Even though thou be old and near the grave there is plenty of time.

 

 

I saw a Vision

I saw a vision of Earth's multitudes going up and down over the Earth -- and I saw the great earth itself wheeling and careering onward through space.

 

And behold! here and there to one among the multitude a change came;

 

And to whomsoever it came continued onward apparently as before, yet as from the larva springs the perfect image,

 

So (as it appeared to me) from that mortal form a new being, long long long in preparation, glided silently up unobserved into the breathless pure height of the sky.

 

Sol

Coruscating flame I behold the soul,

 

Mine, yours, whoever it may be –-

 

Darting great tongues of flame thousands of miles long,

 

Thousands of years.

 

A Glimpse

Here at last having arrived I take my rest, my long long fill of rest, no more to move;

 

The roaring subsides, the wheels cease to go round, a calm falls on all -- the stars and the daisies shine out visibly from the bosom of God.

 

You cannot baulk me of my true life.

 

Climbing over the barriers of pain -- of my own weaknesses and sins - I escape.

 

Where will you hold me? by the feet, hands? by my personal vanity? would you shut me in the mirror-lined prison of self- consciousness?

 

Behold! I acknowledge all my defects -- you cannot snap the handcuffs faster on me than I snap them myself: I am vain, deceitful, cowardly - yet I escape.

 

The handcuffs hold me not, out of my own hands I draw myself as out of a glove; from behind the empty mask of my reputed qualities I depart, and am gone my way,

 

Unconcerned what I leave behind me.

 

Into the high air which surrounds and sustains the world,  Breathing life, intoxicating, with joy unutterable, radiant, As the wind of Spring when the dead leaves fly before it- I depart and am gone my way.

 

To Thine Own Self be True

Not by running out of yourself after it comes the love which lasts a thousand years.

 

If to gain another's love you are untrue to yourself then are you also untrue to the person whose love you would gain.

 

Him or her whom you seek will you never find that way - and what pleasure you have with them will haply only end in pain.

 

Remain steadfast, knowing that each prisoner has to endure in patience till the season of his liberation; when the love comes which is for you it will turn the lock easily and loose your chains --

Being no longer whirled about nor tormented by winds of uncertainty, but part of the organic growth of God himself in Time --

 

Another column in the temple of immensity,

Two voices added to the eternal choir.

  

O Child of Uranus

0 child of Uranus, wanderer down all times,

Darkling, from farthest ages of the Earth the same

Strange tender figure, full of grace and pity,

Yet outcast and misunderstood of men -

Thy Woman-soul within a Man's form dwelling,

[Was Adam perchance like this, ere Eve from his side was drawn?]

 

So gentle, gracious, dignified, complete,

With man's strength to perform, and pride to suffer without sign,

And feminine sensitiveness to the last fibre of being;

Strange twice-born, having entrance to both worlds-

Loved, loved by either sex,

And free of all their lore!

 

I see thee where down all of Time thou comest;

And women break their alabaster caskets, kiss and anoint thy feet, and bless the womb that bare thee,

While in thy bosom with thee, lip to lip,

Thy younger comrade lies.

 

Lord of the love which rules this changing world,

Passing all partial loves, this one complete - the Mother love and sex emotion blended-

I see thee where for centuries thou hast walked,

Lonely, the world of men

Saving, redeeming, drawing all to thee,

Yet outcast, slandered, pointed of the mob,

Misjudged and crucified.

 

Dear Son of heaven - long suffering wanderer through the wilderness of civilization -

The day draws nigh when from these mists of ages

Thy form in glory clad shall reappear.