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AN EMPIRE OF THE MIND

Posted by RonPrice, 04 June 2009 · 1237 views

Part 1:
 
Price found many things about John Keats and his poetry that resonated in his own work and his approach to poetry. Keats had, for example, a sense of service to humanity and devotion to the well-being of the world. Keats probed and questioned these central features of his work in poem after poem. Keats also felt divinely inspired.1 Keats felt that "Great spirits now on earth are sojourning." Price felt all of these things in the particular context of the religion he had been associated with for nearly fifty years. Price would not claim to be divinely inspired; rather he felt he was trying to reflect "however inadequately" the divine spirit breathed into the world by Baha'u'llah. Also, he was trying to derive benefit through the power of souls who had passed on. The prospects opened by poetry for Price, as for Keats, became an empire of the mind, an imaginative freedom and imaginative conquest.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Stephen Coote, John Keats: A Life, Stoughton and Hodder, London, 1995, p.40; and 2ibid.,p.43.

Part 2:
 
You coined the word 'firesider,'
right at the start of Their lives.1
You looked conscious of your
high calling. I'm not sure such
a look could be recognized today.

The faces of the mighty dead
crowd into your room
and you pray to the great spirit
that you might be worthy of accompanying
these immortal beings in their glories
and of being encouraged in your work.

Have I received some of their pure leaven?
Is this manifest work evidence of their power?
Where is that 'reflection of divinity?'
Is there some of the spirit of the age here?
After a long incubation, long gestation,
my development took on this visible form,
my vision, my imagination, clothed
in meaning, abiding preoccupation,
a busy solitude of my own heart,
a deep silence of thought.2

1 Coote informs us of this coining of the word 'firesider' to suggest an intimate but cultivated domestic world about 1817 to 1819.
2 ibid., p.108.

Ron Price
21 January 2002
(updated for Shadowed Realm:
Medieval History Forum 15/6/08)
 
Part 3:
I added the following email to a friend one week later. This email tells something of the influence of Keats and my appreciation of his poetry.-Ron Price, 11/6/09.
--------------------
With 90 minutes of sleep under my belt......I'll drop you a final word for the day. I'll cut-and-paste a poem by John Keats since it expresses so very well my own feelings and experiences in relation to sleep. I have come to love sleep as Keats writes:

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes.

Below is the whole poem entitled:

TO SLEEP

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas'd eyes, embower'd from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes.
Or wait the Amen, ere thy poppy throws
Around my bed its lulling charities;
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still hoards
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed casket of my soul.

Part 4:
 
These last lines tell so much of my story, my experience, of the night from say 3 p.m. until dawn, even after the soothing effects of effexor, the anti-depressant. Of course, I have lots of company here. It is well-known that the last hours of night are generally the lowest in the emotional psyches of human beings. John Keats wrote this poem in 1817, the year of the birth of Baha'u'llah. He also wrote of “the pleasures of sleep, or rather of a night when sleep failed him for thinking over the happy discussions he had been enjoying with others. He wrote the following lines about sleep:

The very sense of where I was might well
Keep Sleep aloof: but more than that there came
Thought after thought to nourish up the flame
Within my breast; so that the morning light
Surprised me even from a sleepless night;
And up I rose refresh'd, and glad, and gay,
Resolving to begin that very day
These lines; and howsoever they be done,
I leave them as a father does his son.

This material is from a book by Sidney Colvin, John Keats: His Life and Poetry, His Friends, Critics and After-Fame(1917). I do not experience what Keats writes of here at all in the late hours of the night and the early hours of the morning, but some of it I do in the late hours of evening and the early hours of night.

Enough for now.




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