Satan's Trouble With Eve

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Poem For Week Two

Setting up, as we have, and we will further do, Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, as the manifesto of the eliminative materialist side of a crucial seventeenth century dialectic, we need an manifesto from the opposite side -- what I call the "League of Love." (I had this in mind, but not quite.)

Here is a poem -- an interpretive translation, in fact -- from one of the so-called Metaphysical poets, which I believe sums up the counter-Leviathan position to succinct artistic perfection.

Please read this, if you have the chance, in advance of Monday's lecture.

Henry Vaughan:
Translation of Boethius:
Consolation of Philosophy IV vi

Who would unclouded see the laws
Of the supreme, eternal cause,
Let him with careful thoughts and eyes
Observe the high and spacious skies.
There in one league of love the stars
Keep their old peace, and show our wars.
The sun, though flaming still and hot,
The cold, pale moon annoyeth not.
Arcturus with his sons (though they
See other stars go a far way,
And out of sight,) yet still are found
Near the north-pole, their noted bound.
Bright Hesper (at set times) delights
To usher in the dusky nights:
And in the east again attends
To warn us, when the day ascends,
So alternate love supplies
Eternal courses still, and vies
Mutual kindness; that no jars
Nor discord can disturb the stars.
The same sweet concord here below
Makes the fierce elements to flow
And circle without quarrel still,
Thought tempered diversely; thus will
The hot assist the cold: the dry
Is a friend to humidity.
And by the law of kindness they
The like relief to them repay.
The fire, which active is bright,
Tends upward, and from thence gives light.
The earth allows it all that space
And makes choice of the lower place;
For things of weight haste to the centre
A fall to them is no adventure.
From these kind turns and circulation
Seasons proceed and generation.
This makes the spring to yield us flowers,
And melts the clouds to gentle showers.
The summer thus matures all seeds
And ripens both the corn and weeds.
This brings on autumn, which recruits
Our old, spent store with new fresh fruits.
And the cold winter’s blustering season
Hath snow and storms for the same reason.
This temper and wise mixture breed
And bring forth every living seed.
And when their strength and substance spend
(For while they live, they drive and tend
Still to change,) it takes them hence
And shifts their dress; and to our sense
Their course is over, as their birth:
And hid from us, they turn to earth.
But all this while the Prince of life
Sits without loss, or change, or strife:
Holding the reins, by which all move;
(And those his wisdom, power, love
And justice are;) and still what he
The first life bids, that needs must be,
And live on for a time; that done
He calls it back, merely to shun
The mischief, which his creature might
Run into by a further flight.
For if this dear and tender sense
Of his preventing providence
Did not restrain and call things back:
Both heaven and earth would go to wrack.
And from their great preserver part,
As blood let out forsakes the heart
And perisheth; but what returns
With fresh and brighter spirits burns.
This is the cause why every living
Creature affects and endless being.
A grain of this bright love each thing
Had given at first by their great King;
And still they creep (drawn on by this:)
And look back toward their first bliss.
For otherwise, it is most sure,
Nothing that liveth could endure:
Unless its love turned retrograde
Sought that first life, which all things made.


  • while reading this i clicked on the word "this" and was surprised to see a picture of the justice league appear on the brought a smile to my face :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 PM  

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