Saturday, 15 October 2011

De Quincey, Coleridge and Yeats meet the Keswick carrier.

De Quincey and Wordsworth had gone out to meet the carrier from Keswick (Lake District) bearing newspapers with the latest reports of the war in Spain. It was a clear night and Wordsworth stretched himself upon the ground and had an experience which he related to De Quincey:

"I have remarked, from my earliest days, that, if under any circumstances, the
attention is energetically braced up to an act of steady observation, or of
steady expectation, then, if this intense condition of vigilance should suddenly
relax, at that moment any beautiful, any impressive visual object, or collection
of objects, falling upon the eye, is carried to the heart with a power not known
under other circumstances.Just now my ear was placed upon the stretch, in order to catch any sound of wheels that might come down upon the lake of Wythburn from the Keswick road; at the very instant when I raised my head from the ground, in final abandonement of hope for this night, at the very instant when the organs of attention were all at once relaxing from their tension, the bright star hanging in the air above those outlines of massy brightness fell suddenly upon my eye, and penetrated my capacity of apprehension with a pathos and a sense of the infinite, that would not have arrested me under any other circumstances".

Here you have the perfect example of the natural movement from the one-pointed state (ekgratha) to the expanded state of consciousness. This is a standard practice in meditation and it occurs spontaneously and is the more effective the greater the disjunction.

The embowered Coleridge, (from) This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison

A delight
Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
Much that has soothed me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut tree
Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy,

Yeats's movement is from a rapt examination to a release into a state of expansion that burns off the fogs of yea and nay. He writes:
At certain moments, always unforeseen, I become happy.... Perhaps I am sitting in some crowed restaurant, the open book beside me, or closed, my excitement having overbrimmed the page. I look at the strangers near as if I had known them all my life, and it seems strange that I cannot speak to them; everything fills me with affection, I have no longer any fears or any needs, I do not even remember that this happy mood must come to an end. It seems as if the vehicle had suddenly grown pure and far extended.
(from Mythologies)

Vacillilation, IV

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.

While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blesséd and could bless.

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