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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

From ‘Paracelsus’ by Robert Browning


TRUTH is within ourselves; it takes no rise 
From outward things, whate’er you may believe. 
There is an inmost centre in us all, 
Where truth abides in fullness; and around, 
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, 
This perfect, clear perception—which is truth. 
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh 
Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW, 
Rather consists in opening out a way 
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape, 
Than in effecting entry for a light 
Supposed to be without. 


I knew, I felt, (perception unexpressed, 
Uncomprehended by our narrow thought, 
But somehow felt and known in every shift 
And change in the spirit,—nay, in every pore 
Of the body, even,)—what God is, what we are 
What life is—how God tastes an infinite joy 
In infinite ways—one everlasting bliss, 
From whom all being emanates, all power 
Proceeds; in whom is life for evermore, 
Yet whom existence in its lowest form 
Includes; where dwells enjoyment there is he: 
With still a flying point of bliss remote, 
A happiness in store afar, a sphere 
Of distant glory in full view; thus climbs 
Pleasure its heights for ever and for ever. 
The centre-fire heaves underneath the earth, 
And the earth changes like a human face; 
The molten ore bursts up among the rocks, 
Winds into the stone’s heart, outbranches bright 
In hidden mines, spots barren river-beds, 
Crumbles into fine sand where sunbeams bask— 
God joys therein! The wroth sea’s waves are edged 
With foam, white as the bitten lip of hate, 
When, in the solitary waste, strange groups 
Of young volcanos come up, cyclops-like, 
Staring together with their eyes on flame— 
God tastes a pleasure in their uncouth pride. 
Then all is still; earth is a wintry clod: 
But spring-wind, like a dancing psaltress, passes 
Over its breast to waken it, rare verdure 
Buds tenderly upon rough banks, between 
The withered tree-roots and the cracks of frost, 
Like a smile striving with a wrinkled face; 
The grass grows bright, the boughs are swoln with blooms 
Like chrysalids impatient for the air, 
The shining dorrs are busy, beetles run 
Along the furrows, ants make their ade; 
Above, birds fly in merry flocks, the lark 
Soars up and up, shivering for very joy; 
Afar the ocean sleeps; white fishing-gulls 
Flit where the strand is purple with its tribe 
Of nested limpets; savage creatures seek 
Their loves in wood and plain—and God renews 
His ancient rapture. Thus He dwells in all, 
From life’s minute beginnings, up at last 
To man—the consummation of this scheme 
Of being, the completion of this sphere 
Of life: whose attributes had here and there 
Been scattered o’er the visible world before, 
Asking to be combined, dim fragments meant 
To be united in some wondrous whole, 
Imperfect qualities throughout creation, 
Suggesting some one creature yet to make, 
Some point where all those scattered rays should meet 
Convergent in the faculties of man.

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