martes, 22 de abril de 2014

23 of April: Saint George



"Saint George" Eugène Delacroix 1854


The feast of St. George is April 23

About that Dragon…

There was a historical figure named George, who lived from approximately 280 to 303. We know that he traded a military career for the role of “knight for Christ, defender of the faith.” In many of our holy card images of St. George he is portrayed as slaying a dragon….Here’s the story:

According to the old legends about George, an entire pagan village lived in fear of a large and terrifying creature. (Was it a crocodile perhaps?) It had taken up residence in the community spring—their only source of water—and the people wanted to placate it. In order to fill their buckets, the people tempted the creepy creature to leave the water by offering it a sheep. When the villagers didn’t have enough sheep to give up, they began to surrender their daughters as an offering to the croc. The girls were picked by lottery.

One day a beautiful maiden was chosen as the sacrifice. As she was being bound, a young man on a strong horse appears on the horizon. He prays fervently and then goes into battles against the crocodile. When he defeats the creature, the people of the village convert to Christianity and St. George rides off with the beautiful maiden.




jueves, 17 de abril de 2014

El Libro de las Sombras






El Libro de las Sombras (The Book of Shadows) es un libro esotérico perteneciente a la tradición Wicca.

Existen dos clases de Libros de las Sombras. El primero, y más arraigado en la cultura wicca, es una especie de libelo o manuscrito que el iniciado en la religión wicca deberá llenar con sus propias experiencias, para luego trasladarlo a sus discípulos, permitiendo así una continuidad en los errores y aciertos de su práctica esotérica.

Por otro lado, El Libro de las Sombras es un libro que contiene instrucciones,rituales, trabajos esotéricos, y todos los ingredientes de la religión Wicca. Fue recopilado por Gerald Gardner entre 1940 y 1950.

Cada Coven, o aquelarre, es decir, grupos de practicantes de magia Wicca, tienen su propio Libro de las Sombras copiado a mano, aunque también existen textos individuales con el mismo nombre, cuyo contenido es general: hierbas, hechizos, velas, fechas propicias, astrología, etc.

Si dejásemos de lado la cuestión esotérica, El Libro de las Sombras es un ejercicio bibliográfico muy interesante, ya que todos los practicantes de un grupo dejan sus notas y observaciones para que otros puedan aprender de sus errores y aciertos. En resumen, el libro es un legado, una herramienta para dejar constancia e información para las futuras generaciones de practicantes de la Wicca. 



El Dios Horned de la Tradición Wicca


El verdadero Libro de las Sombras:

Existe, de hecho, un Libro de las Sombras anterior a la tradición Wicca moderna, y que proviene del más antiguo pasado hindú de la magia práctica. Este Libro de las Sombras, cuyo nombre inspiró a Gerald Gardner para su recopilación wiccana, es un viejo manual esotérico que instruye al iniciado en el manejo de las sombras, tanto para efectuar adivinaciones como para moldearlas y crearlas a gusto.

Poco se sabe sobre este documento, cuyo contenido ciertamente parece interesante.

El Libro de las Sombras: 

Ya en nuestra época, El Libro de las Sombras se ha multiplicado en casi todos lospracticantes de la Wicca. En tiempos pretéritos, cada comunidad Wicca tenía unlibro, hoy, en cambio, casi todos los adeptos a la Wicca tienen su propio Libro de las Sombras, el cual funciona como una especie de bitácora esotérica, un diario donde se deja constancia no sólo de ritos, rituales, y trabajos mágicos, sino de impresiones de orden emocional, psicológica y personal.


El Libro de las Sombras debe enmarcarse dentro de estas características:

Su tamaño debe ser cómo de transportar.

Su estilo debe ser oscuro para el profano, pero claro y evidente para el iniciado en la Wicca.

Sólo se deberán escribir temas relevantes al culto.

El iniciado debe escribir impulsado por una profunda y sincera fe, ya que quien lea el libro en el futuro lo considerará sagrado y sabio.

El libro de las sombras no debe ser escrito sobre un formato tradicional. Debe crearse desde cero.
Las hojas del libro deben ser confeccionadas por el practicante.

La decoración, tanto interior como de su portada, deben ser realizadas por el dueño del libro.



El Libro de las Sombras de Gardner

Algunas ramas de la religión Wicca permiten que se agreguen ritos y rituales al Libro de las Sombras que, por la razón que sea, haya caído en manos de un nuevo iniciado. Otras, en cambio, incitan a un completo respeto del libro, conservándolo como material de consulta, más nunca como diario o bitácora para la comunidad entera.

Los intentos de la Wicca por conservar su tradición comienzan a flaquear en sus miembros más jóvenes. Muchos utilizan formatos digitales para sus Libros de las Sombras, ignorando el propósito original de tal bitácora. Pensado en una era oscura donde los libros mataban y los hombres mataban por prohibirlos, El Libro de las Sombras funcionó como un depositario de conocimiento, una reserva de sabiduría, de una fe íntima, privada y generosa, donde los errores eran valorados tanto como los aciertos, y las pequeñas mezquindades del saber quedaban bellamente suprimidas.

http://elespejogotico.blogspot.com.es/


miércoles, 16 de abril de 2014

Literature & Obscurity





Terror dependent on suspense or dread is the modus operandi of the novels of Walpole and Radcliffe. The Castle of Otranto holds the reader's attention through dread of a series of terrible possibilities-Theodore's execution, the (essentially) incestuous marriage of Manfred and Isabella, the casting-off of Hippolita, and so on. Mrs. Radcliffe's use of dramatic suspension is similar but more sophisticated. She raises vague but unsettling possibilities and leaves them dangling for hundreds of pages. Sometimes the effect is artificial, as in the case of the black-veiled "picture" at Udolpho, but in raising and sustaining the disquieting possibility of an affair between St. Aubert and the Marchioness de Villeroi, for in stance, she succeeds splendidly. Mrs. Radcliffe's easy manipulation of drawn-out suspense holds the reader's attention through long books with slight plots.

The method of Lewis, Beckford, Mary Shelley, and Maturin is considerably different. Instead of holding the reader's attention through suspense or dread they attack him frontally with events that shock or disturb him. Rather than elaborating possibilities which never materialize, they heap a succession of horrors upon the reader. Lewis set out, quite deliberately, to overgo Mrs. Radcliffe. The Monk (1796), likeVathek (1786), Frankenstein, and Melmoth the Wanderer, gains much of its effect from murder, torture, and rape. The difference from terror-Gothic is considerable; Mrs. Radcliffe merely threatens these things, and Walpole uses violent death only at the beginning and end of his book. The reader is prepared for neither of these deaths, which serve only to catch the attention and to produce a climax, respectively.

Obviously a considerable shift has occurred. Is its purpose merely ever greater shock? Or has the Gothic novelists' aesthetic theory changed? Terror-Gothic works on the supposition that a reader who is repelled will close his mind (if not the book) to the sublime feelings which may be realized by the mixture of pleasure and pain induced by fear. Horror-Gothic assumes that if events have psychological consistency, even within repulsive situations, the reader will find himself involved beyond recall.

This change is probably related to a general shift in conceptions of good and evil.... Walpole and Mrs. Radcliffe maintain the proprieties of a strict distinction between good and evil, though in Manfred and Montoni they created villain- heroes whose force of character gives them a certain fearsome attractiveness, even within this moral context. But with the villain-heroes of horror-Gothic we enter the realm of the morally ambiguous. Ambrosio, Victor Frankenstein, and Melmoth are men of extraordinary capacity whom circumstance turns increasingly to evil purposes. They are not merely monsters, and only a bigoted reading makes them out as such.

To put the change from terror-Gothic to horror-Gothic in its simplest terms, the suspense of external circumstance is de- emphasized in favor of increasing psychological concern with moral ambiguity. The horror-Gothic writers postulated the relevance of such psychology to every reader; they wrote for a reader who could say with Goethe that he had never heard of a crime which he could not imagine himself committing. The terror novel prepared the way for a fiction which though more overtly horrible is at the same time more serious and more profound. It is with Frankenstein and Melmoth the Wanderer that the Gothic novel comes fully into its own.

Although the novels commonly referred to as "Gothic" are united by certain thematic and stylistic conventions, they seem to vary a great deal in the emotional responses they seek to elicit from readers. Ann Radcliffe herself was among the first to draw an affective dividing line down the middle of the newly emergent genre. Conservative and rational in her own approach to the Gothic, Radcliffe clearly objected to the shocking scenes depicted in The Monk, and it is widely believed that she wrote The Italian as a protesting response to Lewis' novel. She elucidated her stance in an 1826 essay entitled "On the Supernatural in Poetry," in which draws upon Edmund Burke in order to distinguish between terror and horror in literature. She argues that terror is characterized by "obscurity" or indeterminacy in its treatment of potentially horrible events; it is this indeterminacy that leads the reader toward the sublime. Horror, in contrast, "nearly annihilates" the reader's responsive capacity with its unambiguous displays of atrocity.

Although Radcliffe uses examples from Shakespeare, rather than Gothic novels, to articulate her position, later critics have consistently adopted the terms "terror" and "horror" to distinguish between the two major strains of the Gothic represented by Radcliffe and Lewis respectively. Devendra Varma was one of the first critics to seize upon this distinction, characterizing the difference between terror and horror as the difference between "awful apprehension and sickening realization," with Radcliffe the sole representative of the former and Beckford, Maturin, Shelley and Godwin allied with Lewis in representing the latter. Robert Hume has also embraced this distinction, although in slightly different terms: he argues that the horror novel replaces the ambiguous physical details of the terror novel with a more disturbing moral and psychological ambiguity. In a sharp rebuttal to Hume, Robert Platzner has questioned the rigid categories of terror and horror, quoting from Udolpho to demonstrate that Radcliffe herself often crosses the line between the two. He calls for a more methodical and text- oriented approach to characterizing the Gothic novel.

Mrs. Radcliffe, a mistress of hints, associations, silence, and emptiness, only half-revealing her picture leaves the rest to the imagination. She knows, as Burke has asserted, that obscurity is a strong ingredient in the sublime; but she knew the sharp distinction between Terror and Horror, which was unknown to Burke. "Terror and horror...are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them...; and where lies the great difference between terror and horror, but in the uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the first, respecting the dreaded evil?" Sounds unexplained, sights indistinctly caught, dim shadows endowed with motion by the flicker of the firelight or the shimmer of the moonbeam invoke superstitious fear. "To the warm imagination," she writes in The Mysteries of Udolpho, "the forms which float half-veiled in darkness afford a higher delight than the most distinct scenery the Sun can show."

The chords of terror which had tremulously shuddered beneath Mrs. Radcliffe's gentle fingers were now smitten with a new vehemence. The intense school of the Schauer- Romantiks improvised furious and violent themes in the orchestra of horror.... The contrast between the work and personalities of Mrs. Radcliffe and ' Monk' Lewis serves to illustrate the two distinct streams of the Gothic novel: the former representing the Craft of Terror, the latter and his followers comprising the chambers of Horror....

The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse. Professor McKillop, quoting from Mrs. Radcliffe, said that " obscurity [in Terror] . . . leaves the imagination to act on a few hints that truth reveals to it, . . . obscurity leaves something for the imagination to exaggerate". Burke held that "To make anything very terrible, obscurity seems in general to be necessary", and added that, ". . . darkness, being originally an idea of terror, was chosen as a fit scene for such terrible representations ". Burke did not distinguish between the subtle gradations of Terror and Horror; he related only Terror to Beauty, and probably did not conceive of the beauty of the Horrid, the grotesque power of something ghastly, too vividly imprinted on the mind and sense.

Terror thus creates an intangible atmosphere of spiritual psychic dread, a certain superstitious shudder at the other world. Horror resorts to a cruder presentation of the macabre: by an exact portrayal of the physically horrible and revolting, against a far more terrible background of spiritual gloom and despair. Horror appeals to sheer dread and repulsion, by brooding upon the gloomy and the sinister, and lacerates the nerves by establishing actual cutaneous contact with the supernatural...

Each writer of the intense school contributed a grotesque and gruesome theme of horror to the Schauer-Romantik phase of the Gothic novel. They wrote stories of black-magic and lust, of persons in pursuit of the elixir virtue, of insatiable curiosity and unpardonable sins, of contracts with the Devil, of those who manufacture monsters in their laboratories, tales of skull-headed ladies, of the dead arising from their graves to feed upon the blood of the innocent and beautiful, or who walk about in the Hall of Eblis, carrying their burning hearts in their hands.... The baleful hall of Eblis, "the abode of ve ngeance and despair", is pictured in the full effulgence of infernal majesty. It conveys to us the horror of the most ghastly convulsions and screams that may not be smothered. Here everyone carries within him a heart tormented in flames, to wander in an eternity of unabating anguish...

http://graduate.engl.virginia.edu/


martes, 15 de abril de 2014

"No volveremos a vagar" Lord Byron



Lord Byron (1788-1824)

"No Volveremos a Vagar..." (So, We'll Go No More a Roving...)


So, we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright. 

Así es, no volveremos a vagar
Tan tarde en la noche,
Aunque el corazón siga amando
Y la luna conserve el mismo brillo.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the hearth must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest. 

Pues la espada gasta su vaina,
Y el alma desgasta el pecho,
Y el corazón debe detenerse a respirar,
Y aún el amor debe descansar.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the days return too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon. 

Aunque la noche fue hecha para amar,
Y demasiado pronto vuelven los días,
Aún así no volveremos a vagar
A la luz de la luna.

jueves, 27 de marzo de 2014

Período de Inactividad


Por razones de falta de tiempo el Blog permanecerá sin actividad, pero no será definitiva.

Gracias a todos


lunes, 24 de marzo de 2014

Into Romanticism Night



"Moon Night" Ivan Aivazovsky, 1885


In the beginning of the 19th century a poetic movement emerged that viewed the human mind in a revolutionary way. Rejecting previous ideas to the contrary, Romantic poets began to look upon the human mind as an object with creative power, not a purely receptive being. In addition to perceiving the human mind in a different light poets such as William Wordsworth derived processes describing exactly how the mind creates. Poets of the time, such as Anna Barbauld and Wordsworth, began to look inward for inspiration and creation. Anna Barbauld, in her poem "A Summers Evenings Meditation" concretely follows the Wordsworthian ideal of the poetic process, while demonstrating that glimpses of creative power can be garnered through the emotions resulting from the death-like sensations of night even though true creative power can only be arrived at in death. William Wordsworth, in "Tintern Abbey," also demonstrates the fact that creative power can be glimpsed at night and realized in death, yet he also explains how for him creative realization will occur in death. Consequently, taken together, "A Summer Evenings Meditation" and "Tintern Abbey" demonstrate how death-like sensations in life can offer glimpses of the creative power that will eventually be achieved in death.

Yet, in order to understand how Barbauld and Wordsworth’s draw their conclusions about creation, it is first necessary to understand specific romantic ideals authored by Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, both of whom were Romantic poets. In the Preface of his "Lyrical Ballads", Wordsworth describes the format from which all artists, including romantic poets, create their work. Wordsworth explains a process in which an individual has an experience that produces a spontaneous emotion. The individual then internalizes this emotion and through a process of thought, memory, or contemplation produces a second refined emotion. The second emotion, which contains traces of the mind, is then expressed in poem, which at its root means to create. Therefore, the above-described system in which emotions are refined is how, according to Wordsworth, all art including romantic poetry is created.

Yet the basic understanding of Romantic poetry must include Coleridge’s definitions of fancy and imagination, in addition to Wordsworth’s Preface, if "A Summer Evenings Meditation" and "Tintern Abbey" are to be properly analyzed. Summed up and simplified, imagination, to Coleridge, is the creative power of the individual derived from repetitive thought in the mind. Yet this creative power can only emerge when the separation between the poet and her creator has ceased to exist and they literally become one. Hence, for the rest of the paper the idea of imagination, which is for the poets the ultimate creative goal, will be referred to as imaginative reconciliation because it is only from a reuniting of the poet and his creator that true creation can occur. Fancy, on the other hand is a simpler concept. Fancy is merely the sensation or memory that comes from experience. Thinking of Coleridge’s definitions in light of the creative process described by Wordsworth, one can see that fancy ties in with the original emotion of the individual, while imaginative reconciliation is the creative work derived from the refined second emotion. Together, Wordsworth’s process of creation and Coleridge’s definitions of fancy and imagination are essential to understanding the journey towards imaginative reconciliation sought in the poetry of Barbauld and Wordsworth.

Anna Barbauld’s "A Summers Evenings Meditation" is a wonderful example of the poetic process described by Wordsworth and elaborated upon by Coleridge, because the poem itself is a written representation of Barbauld’s personal journey toward imaginative reconciliation. Consequently, Barbauld’s poem concretely follows Wordsworth’s process of poet vision: first demonstrating how the sensations experienced at night lead her to discover a spontaneous emotion, which she then leads through a process of thought in the hopes of refining the emotion and achieving imaginative reconciliation. "A Summer Evenings Meditation" allows for a deeper understanding of the poetic process Wordsworth describes because the emotional journey of the narrator, Barbauld, strictly follows the poetic process laid forth in "Lyrical Ballads".

For Barbauld the journey through the process of poetic vision begins at night, a time that brings forth unique sensations that lead her inward to discover a spontaneous emotion. The poem begins at the dusk in which, "the skies no more repel / The dazzled sight, but with maiden beams / Of tempered luster, court the cherish’d eye" (3-5). Barbauld then describes the emergence of the stars as, "one by one, the living eyes of heaven / Awake" (25 – 26). Throughout the descriptions of the moon and the stars a metaphorical register of sight is intertwined. For Barbauld originally states that at night, a time of darkness when one cannot see, the skies allow the "dazzled sight" (4) and "cherish’d eye" (5), the moon, to emerge. Furthermore, she describes the stars as "living eyes of heaven" (25). It is important to examine the fact that Barbauld describes the moon and the stars as eyes. The eyes of course are the part of the body which are used to see. The moon and the stars are symbols of night, a time when the sensation of sight is restricted. Consequently, Barbauld insinuates through her description of nightly symbols as eyes that although humans cannot physically see at night, an ability of vision does exist. Yet, the restricted sensation of sight does not, on its own, produce an emotion.

In addition to the lack of sensation of sight, Barbauld also describes the night as lacking sound yet still containing conversation. Just as Barbauld places images of sight amidst darkness, she also speaks of sound in silence. She describes the night as:

Nature’s self is hush’d

And, but a scattered leaf, which rustles thro’

The thick-wove foliage, not a sound is heard

To break the midnight air; thro’ the rais’d ear,

Intensely listening, drinks in every breath.

How deep the silence? Yet how loud the praise;

But are they silent all? or is there not

A tongue in every star that talks with man, (42-49)

Two phrases are key in Barbauld’s description of sound in silence. First, Barbauld states "How deep the silence? Yet how loud the praise" (47). Barbauld describes a contradictory state in which although the night is silent, there is still a loud praise; an opposition much like her association of sight in the darkness of night. Then she states "or is there not / A tongue in every star that talks with man" (48-49). The tongue is the part of the body associated with speaking which is merely making sounds. As Barbauld claims that stars possess a tongue, it is remembered that she had earlier spoke of the stars as "living eyes of heaven" (25). Therefore stars, which are from heaven, possess sight and sound, two sensations that are seemingly lacking in the night. It is the two sets of sensations, the earthly lack of sight and sound, and the heavenly sounds and visions, which emerge at the same time, that spur Barbauld to look inside herself and find a spontaneous emotion.

Looking inward as a result of the earthly and heavenly sensations she experiences, Barbauld finds an emotion, which turns out to be a glimpse of imaginative creation. Speaking of the night Barbauld states, "At this still hour the self-collected soul / Turns inward and beholds a stranger there / Of high descent, and more than mortal rank; / An embryo God; a spark of fire divine" (53 -56). Keeping in mind that the romantics’s ultimate goal is to find a creation within themselves, it is quite fitting that Barbauld finds in herself, "An embryo God" (56). An embryo is a group of cells, created through conception, which if nourished in the womb of the mother, one of its creators, will eventually emerge as an equal being. Barbauld finds an embryo God; God of course being the all knowing, all loving, creator. In Barbauld’s inward search she has found an emotion she describes as an "embryo God;" a tiny reflection of the love, knowledge, and ability of her creator, that if nourished could ultimately emerge as the ultimate creator of love, God. Therefore, the nightly sensations have led Barbauld inward where she has spontaneously found a glimpse of godly creative ability that if nurtured and nourished could become imaginative reconciliation.

Yet it is no coincidence that the sensations of the night lead Barbauld to find a God inside of her; for the night mimics death, the time when one expects to find God and heaven. As already demonstrated the state of night with its darkness and silence represses the human sensations of sight and sound. Upon dying one no longer possesses any earthly sensation. Hence, the repressed sensations caused by the night mimic the total lack of sensation in death. Furthermore, the repressive night brings forth the heavenly entities of the stars, which offer glimpses and sounds of heaven. In death, the soul will travel to heaven to bask in the sights and sounds of eternal happiness and meet God. Barbauld, in the deathlike state of night, experiences glimpses and faint sounds of heaven that lead her to discover an emotion capable of reuniting her with her creator. It is the night, and all its qualities that resemble death, that begin Barbauld on her journey to imaginative reconciliation.

With the sensations of night leading Barbauld to the emotion described as an embryo God, she continues to follow poetic form and contemplate about her emotion with the hopes refining it and producing the creation that comes from imaginative reconciliation. Barbauld compares the process of thought to a journey out to space. She writes of being, "Seiz’d in thought, / On fancy’s wild and roving wing I sail" (71-72). This passage is quite remarkable because it connects her figurative journey towards heaven and the poetic form described by Wordsworth and Coleridge. Wordsworth describes a poetic process where a spontaneous emotion is contemplated to eventually produce a refined emotion. Coleridge further explains this process through defining fancy as the experience that follows sensation. Describing herself as being "Seiz’d in thought" (71) and flying on "fancy’ wing" (72) Barbauld demonstrates that she is in the process of refining her emotion. For she is "seiz’d" or taken with thought, while traveling on the sensation that is fancy. The fancy she is traveling is the original experience of finding the embryo God while the thought that has "seiz’d" her is the process of refining this experience. It is also important to note that she is flying on "fancy’s wing". Barbauld is trying to refine her embryo God by searching for, in thought, God himself. To do this she must fly on fancy’s wings to the heavens where God is found. Consequently Barbauld’s figurative journey is demonstrating the poetic process described by Wordsworth.

Yet according to the Wordsworthian poetic process Barbauld’s refining of emotion should enable her to reach imaginative reconciliation, an end result that she does not find. Barbauld’s inward journey of contemplation, figuratively represented as a travel through space ends when she reaches the beginning of creation, the place of God. Barbauld’s travels cease upon reaching, "The deserts of creation, wide and wild; / Where embryo systems and unkindled suns / Sleep in the womb of chaos; fancy droops / And thought astonish’d stops her bold career" (95-98). Again terms from the metaphorical birth register reappear. She is at the desert of creation where she observes "embryo systems and unkindled suns" (96) nourishing and growing in the "womb" of chaos. The phrase "womb of chaos" (97) at first seems odd. For why would there be chaos in the midst of creation. Yet upon consulting the Oxford English Dictionary it is discovered that the ancient Greeks personified the word chaos as meaning the oldest of the gods. Therefore, Barbauld has reached the womb of God; the very location where she can join with her creator and find imaginative reconciliation. However seeing the womb of God so amazes Barbauld that thought, the instrument which has brought her to this point stops "her career" (98) in overwhelming astonishment. What Barbauld is witnessing, the beginning of creation, is so amazing that the human process of thought, which is supposed to lead her to her creator, stops. With thought no longer leading the journey toward God, the poetic process ends at the threshold of creation without actually realizing its goal of imaginative reconciliation.

With the goal of imaginative reconciliation unattained Barbauld decides wait for death, when she will truly be reunited with her creator. Instead of further pursuing the creative power that has eluded her Barbauld decides to "wait th’ appointed time / And ripen for the skies; the hour will come / When all these splendors bursting on my sight / Shall stand unveil’d, and to my ravish’d sense (118-121). Once again it is important to examine the idea of sight. Barbauld speaks of the hour when the splendors of heaven will burst on her sight, which she describes as a "ravish’d sense" (121). Ravished means to be taken or carried away. Yet sight, and all her other senses, will only be taken in death, a passing that will reunite her with her creator God. Consequently, when she dies, and looses all her earthly senses, she will achieve the final poetic vision of imaginative reconciliation; a process that began when she first glimpsed the possibility of God, at night when her senses of sight and hearing were rendered useless, thereby mimicking death.

Yet, Barbauld is not alone in her discoveries, William Wordsworth too, finds in his poem "Tintern Abbey" that imaginative reconciliation can only be attained in death. "Tintern Abbey" is very similar to "A Summer Evenings Meditation" in the way that it follows the poetic process its author describes in "Lyrical Ballads." However, three main differences exist between the two poems. First, "Tintern Abbey" does not lead the reader through the sensations that lead to the first emotion; the poem merely opens with the author’s attempt to transition to the second refined emotion. Second, unlike Barbauld who uses the process of thought in her attempt to reach a refined second emotion, Wordsworth relies on memory in his attempted transition. Finally, for Wordsworth the ultimate creative power is nature, not God. Yet differences aside, Wordsworth’s connections between the death-like state of night, death, and imaginative reconciliation are the same.

True to the similarities Wordsworth, like Barbauld, finds glimpses of imaginative reconciliation during the night. Speaking of the poetic process leading to the refined emotion Wordsworth states:

that blessed mood,

In which the burthen of the mystery,

In which the heavy and the weary weight

Of all this unintelligible world

Is lighten’d: - that serene and blessed mood,

In which actions lead us on

Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,

And even the motion of our human blood

Almost suspended, we are laid asleep

In body and become a living soul:

While with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things. (38-49)

As with Barbauld connections between the night and a sense of vision into creation emerge. Wordsworth speaks of the soul becoming alive when the body sleeps. Sleep of course is also a death-like state, during which the blood and breath become "almost suspended" (46). If blood and breath are completely suspended the body would die. Therefore the process of sleep, which entails a slowing of blood and breath, is in itself, deathlike. Furthermore, Wordsworth claims that in sleep one can "see into the life of things" (49). Again, with the physical sense of sight gone, for the eyes are closed, an unearthly sensory ability emerges, in this case a vision into life. Yet, let it not be forgotten that the state of sleep, which for Wordsworth allows glimpses into life, occurs at night, a period of time that in itself has death like qualities. Therefore, like Barbauld’s "A Summer Evenings Meditation," for Wordsworth in "Tintern Abbey" the death-like states of sleep and night offer glimpses of imaginative reconciliation that can only be attained in death.

Fittingly, Wordsworth ends "Tintern Abbey" with a description of how, in death, he will find imaginative reconciliation with his ultimate creative power, nature. Speaking to his sister about her life after his death, Wordsworth pleads, "Nor wilt thou then forget, / That after many wanderings, many years, / Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, / And this green pastoral landscape, were to me / More dear, both for themselves, and for thy sake" (157-160). Obviously, Wordsworth has been deceased for some time in this image for he describes "many years of absence" (158). He also offers a description of woods and cliffs, a "green pastoral landscape" (159). This landscape is for him a cherished image of nature, which is his ultimate creative force. Remembering that nature is the creative force which he seeks in life, it is easy to see how the landscape, which is representative of nature, is "more dear" (160) to him in death. When a person dies they are returned to nature, to the earth. Whether it is through cremation or burial, the human body at its end becomes a tangible part of nature. Since Wordsworth’s creative ideal is nature, in death he is united with nature. Hence the reason nature has become "more dear" to him: he is now one with nature. In death Wordsworth has achieved imaginative reconciliation.

According to Wordsworth and Barbauld imaginative reconciliation will eventually occur, yet only in death. In following this train of thought a sense of irony emerges out of the Romantic poems of these two great poets. For they both view the mind as a creative tool; yet they can only become one with their creator and actually create in death. Therefore, in life the mind still seems to lack the ability to create. However, when the senses are restricted, mimicking the state of death, the mind can glimpse into the creative ability to come. And perhaps it is these glimpses that kept the poets chasing the imaginative reconciliation they knew could only be achieved in death.

http://www.utm.utoronto.ca/


sábado, 22 de marzo de 2014

"The Trumpets of the Mind" by Victor Hugo



Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

The Trumpets of the Mind, 1853


Sound, sound for ever, Clarions of Thought! When Joshua 'gainst the high-walled city fought, He marched around it with his banner high, His troops in serried order following nigh, But not a sword was drawn, no shaft outsprang, Only the trumpets the shrill onset rang.

At the first blast, smiled scornfully the king, And at the second sneered, half wondering: "Hop'st thou with noise my stronghold to break down?" At the third round, the ark of old renown Swept forward, still the trumpets sounding loud, And then the troops with ensigns waving proud. Stepped out upon the old walls children dark. With horns to mock the notes and hoot the ark.

At the fourth turn, braving the Israelites, Women appeared upon the crenelated heights— Those battlements embrowned with age and rust— And hurled upon the Hebrews stones and dust, And spun and sang when weary of the game. At the fifth circuit came the blind and lame, And with wild uproar clamorous and high Railed at the clarion ringing to the sky.

At the sixth time, upon a tower's tall crest, So high that there the eagle built his nest, So hard that on it lightning lit in vain, Appeared in merriment the king again: "These Hebrew Jews musicians are, meseems!" He scoffed, loud laughing, "but they live on dreams." The princes laughed submissive to the king, Laughed all the courtiers in their glittering ring, And thence the laughter spread through all the town. 

 At the seventh blast—the city walls fell down.