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Principles of interaction between romantic poems and reader. Furberg, Jon 1970

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PRINCIPLES OF INTERACTION BETWEEN ROMANTIC POEMS & READER by Jon Stanley Furberg B.A., University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1967 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS POR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of ENGLISH We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1970 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumb i a , I a g ree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree tha p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d tha t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia Vancouver 8, Canada ABSTRACT The thesis undertakes to examine the dimensions of involve-ment that may exist between the reader and the Romantic poem. The introductory chapter b r i e f l y explores some of the grounds for the mis-conception and denigration of Romantic poetry. ;> Some of the problems i n d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g between Romantic modes of conception and the "normal" results of discursive reasoning as applied to Romantic poetry are introduced. Romantic conception points to an order of interaction with the world that i s beyond the capacity of ordinary li n e a r thinking. This chapter suggests the primary significance of the experience of Romantic poets as informing their thought. It also stresses the r e l a t i o n that exists between the "subject" matter of Romantic poems and meta-physical doctrines not usually connected with " h i s t o r i c a l " Romanticism. The active p r i n c i p l e s that i n i t i a t e both Romantic poems and Romantic thought are the same pr i n c i p l e s that inform the reading experience. The introduction concludes by suggesting the "formal" s i m i l a r i t y between the o r i g i n a l experience of the poet and the response which a reader may have i n any given poem. The reader i s often carried beyond what a l i n e a r conception of the poem would indicate. The second chapter picks up the theme of detachment from normal, pre-defined codes of awareness, as this occurs i n the h i s t o r i c a l context of the Romantic movement. Mainly, the chapter explores the e x i s t e n t i a l implications of the Romantic withdrawal from the Enlightenment c u l t u r a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l milieu. The condition of v u l n e r a b i l i t y , which disorientation from conven-tio n a l values engendered i n the poets, becomes the central construct for the ensuing pages. For i t i s believed that vulner-a b i l i t y i n i t i a t e s the p o s s i b i l i t y of openness, and that i t i s from t h i s ground of re c e p t i v i t y that the poets emerge as discov-erers. The re a l dynamics of human l i f e and awareness are not to be found i n the world of conceptual thinking, but i n the immediate relations a man has with the concrete things i n the environment. i i The discovery of things, i n a state of t o t a l r e c e p t i v i t y , leads to a dramatic new conception of being, as well as to a new poetic presentation of those dynamics. But i t i s i n a pa r t i c u l a r culture that these trans-cultural ideas are fostered. It i s the impetus of an entire c u l t u r a l milieu which compels the re-valuation of conceptual and non-conceptual experience that we know as Romanticism. Chapter Three contains a discussion of the theoretical r e l a t i o n of a reader to Blake's THE SICK ROSE, i n order to i l l u s -trate the requirement of a suspension of d i s b e l i e f . The central idea here i s that the search for the "meaning*' of a poem must begin, and does begin, in the very experience a reader "has" while he i s engaged i n the poem. The pr i n c i p l e s of the reader's engagement i n the a c t i v i t y of the poem are paralleled with the pri n c i p l e s of the poet's o r i g i n a l discovery of certain energies. The reader actually repeats the Romantic disorientation, and thus comes to make the Romantic discovery. The chapter stresses the necessity of a high degree of involvement with any Romantic poem before the f u l l dimensions of the poem's meaning can be truly comprehended. The reader's involvement i s fundamentally character-ized by a disruption of one's ordinary a n t i c i p a t i o n of both language and experience. The fourth chapter i s an i l l u s t r a t i o n of the physical aspects of d isorientation, mainly i n terms of the reader. Using the analogy of music, the chapter argues the concept of "surprise" as a signal of engagement in the stimulus, be i t poem or drums. The fact that physical involvement i n the new stimulus can be demonstrated to precede conceptualizing indicates that sense perception actuates new physical orientations even without consultation with l o g i c a l r e f l e c t i o n . This brief interlude pre-pares for the following chapters by pointing to the fact of physical immediacy in the act of di s l o c a t i o n from a conventional context of response and entrance into the world dictated by the energies of the present stimulus. The next chapter deals with the "ideas" of some Romantic poets i n terms of the ground from which they emerge, The emphasis i i i here i s orj the fact that a certain order of non-conceptual experience i s necessary before li n e a r conception i s capable of entertaining ideas such as those found throughout Romantic writing. Perception precedes conception. But p e r c e p t i o n — powerful, d i r e c t — a l s o stops conception. In Romantic poetry and prose we find that a process of "negative c a p a b i l i t y " i s pre-requisite to any di r e c t perception. Negative capability i s a conceptual construct for the process through which the poet gradually, sometimes s w i f t l y , i s opened to the things i n his immediate environment. Whether that environment be the l i f e of external or inter n a l phenomena does not a l t e r the process, however much the resultant poem may be influenced. The stress which most Romantics give to negative capability and i t s r e s u l t i n g theodicy, j u s t i f i e s c r i t i c a l attention upon the experiences realized i n "spots of time." These experiences are a major source of Romantic concepts of the mind. At the same time, the inherent form of these ^experiences gives r i s e to the mythic, multi-dimensional ideas of Romantic thought. Chapters Six and Seven deal with the formal pr i n c i p l e s of some Romantic p o e t r y — t h a t poetry i n which the f u l l dimensions i m p l i c i t i n a spot of time are expressed. Chapter Six employs Charles Olson's theory of "projective" verse i n order to grasp the formal dynamics of Romantic verse. Olson's work i s used because h i s conception of the "projective" act issues from the same ground that gives b i r t h to the most comprehensive v i s i o n of Romanticism—the synthesis of the contraries i n a direc t apprehension of unity. The la s t chapter demonstrates some precise ways in which the formal properties of certain Romantic poems compel the reader to act i n certain ways. Here, the concern i s primarily with the dimensions of experience that the unfolding poem i s capable of i n i t i a t i n g i n the 'negatively capable* reader. In conclusion, the formal a c t i v i t y of certain Romantic poems can be shown to have emerged from a complex experiential matrix, and to have rendered the energies of that matrix to a receptive reader. This transference i s the prime " l e g i s l a t i v e " act of Romantic poetry. iv CONTENTS page Chapter I Introduction 1 Chapter II Awakening From Newton's Sleep 11 Chapter III The Actual Context of a Romantic Poem 37 Chapter IV Disorientation i s Physical: Tapping Your Toe to Music 56 Chapter V Romantic Conception and Romantic Perception 77 Chapter VI A Romantic Concept of Form 115 Chapter VII The Reader Again 135 Conclusion 146 Bibliography 147 1 CHAPTER 1 Introduction English Romanticism has often been studied as a body of metaphysical, moral, s o c i a l and other conceptions. Romantic ideology has been studied more than the transmission of that ideology. Yeats, Pound, E l i o t , and some others have disparaged Romanticism on the grounds that the poets often seem to value conception above the rendering of the conception—a f a i l u r e i n "verse." T.S. E l i o t ' s famous essay on the seventeenth-century metaphysical poets makes the sweeping statement that a " d i s s o c i a t i o n of s e n s i b i l i t y " set i n after John Donne, that lasted u n t i l the late nineteenth centur. Romanticism i s thereby engulfed. The fact that Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley seem as ready as Pope to use the idiom to expound their cosmol-ogies, aesthetics, ethics, and epistemologies adds force to E l i o t ' s view. And Blake i s even more susceptible to a charge of pedantry and absolutism. If a reader elects to peruse a Romantic poem for i t s moral, i t s philosophy, or "ideas," then there i s an important sense i n which the reading has been incomplete. The incompleteness l i e s i n the e x t r i c a t i o n of some aspect of content from the process of the poem. If, however, the poem i s merely a rhyming epistem-o l o g y — a margin-left arrangement of cerebral and imagistic values — t h e n one can attribute incompleteness to the poem. For the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of a Romantic poem i s i n the mode of i t s int e r a c t i o n with the person who reads. Philosophy addresses quite other properties of mind; than poetry. So, the above-mentioned modern poets argue against a tendency, which sometimes exists i n Romantic poets, to ' i n t e l l e c t u a l i z e ' and dogmatize beneath a thin patina of'poetic'phrasing, meter, and rhyme. Those poems, however, i n which more dimensions of mind are engaged than the discursive reasoning, suggest a l e v e l of attainment i n Romantic verse which, i f not consistently upheld, at least points beyond the constraints of such an all-encompassing, problematic, and d i f f i c u l t 2 notion as "di s s o c i a t i o n of s e n s i b i l i t y . " Part of the d i f f i c u l t y l i e s i n a t r a d i t i o n a l attitude toward any poem. The reader i s sometimes asked to seek out "meanings" ana values i n poems, i n a quest for the poem's "moral"--the i n t e l l e c t u a l emblem of the poem's truth. To pursue such a course in the approach to Romanticism i s dangerous, for i t inevitably leads to the extreme apology of an i n t e l l e c t u a l worship of the ideational content of the poems in.spite of discrepancies in c r a f t . On the other hand, an over-emphasis on technique w i l l perhaps result i n a denigration of Romanticism on s t y l i s t i c grounds. E l i o t does this in his essays on the Romantic poets i n The Use of ,,,Poe try_andthe._yse of, C r i t i c i s m . Neither of these approaches w i l l s u f f i c e to achieve a comprehensive view of Romanticism. The f i r s t approach remains id e a t i o n a l . The second i s subject to biases and preferences of a highly esoteric nature: form i s s t i l l the most perplexing aspect of poetry. As a more or less coherent metaphysic, Romanticism can be seen as a p a r t i c u l a r appearance of a universal doctrine found in nearly a l l cultures and times. One can study the seeds of Romantic ideas i n various hermetic philosophies. But the meta-physics that constitute the conceptual knowledge of Romanticism are also related to aboriginal phenomena—those which.enact doctrine by p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the forces which engender those world-views i n the f i r s t place. I mean myth. The d i r e c t use of myth by the poets, and the invention of new myth, give a sense of a Romantic ground which the i s o l a t i o n of ideas alone cannot declare. Romanticism was d e f i n i t e l y the surfacing of a perennial philosophy usually assigned to the "apocrypha"' or the "trans-cendental." The mythic dimensions of Romantic poetry and thought can easily be lost i f one overlooks the possible experiential sources of Romantic awareness in favour of exploring h i s t o r i c a l Neo-Platonism, pantheism, and transcendentalism. Above a l l , the ground of Romantic ideology exists i n dimensions which, themselves, are not accountable to "ideas" or "culture" as such. 3 Romantic ideas point to an experience of l i f e which i s central to the existence of most "heretic" cosmologies. Shelley's Neo-Platonism extends further back than Plato. The journey would take us back i n time, through the beginnings of Greek philosophy, past the cave of Plato and into the authentic cave dwellings of p a l e o l i t h i c man. Research in Romanticism i s the search for the authentic s o u r c e s — r i g h t into the beginnings of thought and origins of language. In the beginning was the word. The r e l a t i o n among the so-called mystery schools l i e s i n the order of experience.on which the o r i g i n a l s of arcane ideo-logies were fostered, and out of which arose their respective laws and d i s c i p l i n e s . Sometimes the "law" c l a r i f i e s experience, making i t more accessible to the person. In other cases the law i s reduced to dogma, and so, removed from the immediate human context. The ancient Poets animated a l l sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, c a l l i n g them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, r i v e r s , mountains, lakes, c i t i e s , nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve. And p a r t i c u l a r l y they studied the genius of each c i t y & country, placing i t under i t s mental deity; T i l l a system was formed, which some took advantage of, & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental d e i t i e s from their objects: thus began Priesthood; Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronounc'd that the Gods had order'd such things. Thus men forgot that A l l d e i t i e s reside i n the human breast. , (Blake, Marriage of Heaven and Hell p. 153) The terms of Blake's sense of history are c l e a r l y eschatological. Romanticism can be seen i n terms of a d i s c i p l i n e carried out in a s p i r i t akin to the "ancient poets." The fundamental intent of such a d i s c i p l i n e i s s i g n i f i c a n t : "the desire of r a i s i n g other men into a perception of the i n f i n i t e " (Blake, p. 154). Romanticism can be understood as an eschatology of immanence 4 occurring i n a late eighteenth-century culture. The h i s t o r i c a l milieu modulates but does not block out these deepest workings of the hermetic quest i n the Romantic poets. The p o s s i b i l i t y of experiencing f i r s t and l a s t things was more or less open to them. And, of a l l subjects, Romantic eschatology i s most susceptible to abuse and abstraction. This s u s c e p t i b i l i t y i s demonstrated not i n the the problem of the non-verbal character of "the i n f i n i t e , " but i n the non-conceptual. Among the poems of the Romantics, there are not a large number of successful presentations of "the in f i n i t e , ' " although there are frequent examples of a f a l l i n g back on "abstract" terminology and the d i c t i o n and style of ordinary discourse..In other cases, the energy of the poem flows unimpeded through the "caverns measureless to man." The evidence of metaphysical and mythic analogues i n Romantic writing i s so p l e n t i f u l l y and powerfully addressed to vehicles of knowledge outside Romanticism's immediate history, that the p o s s i b i l i t y of expressing an integrated " s e n s i b i l i t y " i n their poetry and prose i s an incentive to seek elsewhere than in ideas. The evidence of eschatological insight, understanding, and experience can be found throughout the canon-of Blake, i n several of the most successful poems of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley, and in the prose writings of a l l f i v e . One has to r e a l l y dig for these things in Byron, or else locate him on a r e l a t i v e l y low rung of the c e l e s t i a l l a d d e r — l o s t i n 2 the wilderness of Blake's "dark desart," or teetering on the edge of some mystical "dark night of the soul." In other words, one could assess the extent to which the poets had achieved an apocalyptic order of experience by comparing their metaphysical claims and r e l i g i o u s assertions with external authorities i n philosophy, alchemy, astrology, mythology, eastern r e l i g i o n , and western mysticism. Blake, for example, acknowledges Paracelsus, Swedenborg. and Boehme, a l l of whom belong to a r e l a t i v e l y obscure but nonetheless continuous t r a d i t i o n of ideas. By noting that this occult t r a d i t i o n i s founded on experiences of a certain order, one can then adduce patterns of behaviour in wildly 5 distant and seemingly unrelated contexts, by discovering a cpntiguity_of form. Blake's thought on engraving i s related to Eskimo carving; Heraclitus anticipates Wordsworth; the Coleridgean d e f i n i t i o n of Imagination is-enacted by Kwakiutl Ghost Dancer Societies; Keats' notion of "negative c a p a b i l i t y " i s central to the d i s c i p l i n e of Zen Buddhism, and so on. A l l metaphysical p r i n c i p l e s have correspondences i n the l i v i n g experience of the men who formulated them. The p r i n c i p l e s themselves are not limited by h i s t o r i c a l settings, but manifested in them. For the p r i n c i p l e s , viewed this way, are e x i s t e n t i a l ( i e . experiential) and uniform, but are given a variety of external d e f i n i t i o n by Uivguistic, i n t e l l e c t u a l , h i s t o r i c a l , and other c u l t u r a l causes. This notion seems to apply to Romanticism as a metaphysic. But the experiential base of their metaphysics i s of more importance to us, as students of l i t e r a t u r e , than the systems they evolved. The Romantics' epistemologies,studied in vacuo,lose a l l the experiential immediacy they possess i n the context of their l i v e s and poems. Any mythic reference, for example, becomes not merely a "symbol" that one can trace to discover i t s meaning, but rather, i n addition, a r e l a t i o n a l force. If we could see Romanticism as mythic i n the sense of enactment, then many of the problems i n dealing with Romantic ideas would disappear. A prime motivation for the continued popularity of Romantic poetry l i e s i n the p o s s i b i l i t i e s that the poems offer for the exploration and elucidation of "ideas." This interest tends to be a subjective one. We, as readers, also happen to be human beings who would perhaps l i k e the answers to some questions about the nature of man, mind, and universe. Romanticism achieves a large measure of potency in the reader's anticipation, simply from the fact that i t deals so much with our very questions and quests. Chi Id e Harold, "Kubla Khan," The„Ancient Mariner. Blake's "Mental T r a v e l l e r / ' Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. Wordsworth's Prelude. a l l address the primal forces of the universe. Furthermore, these poets often project a r e l a t i v e l y 'positive' and ' r e l i g i o u s ' stance toward the world and other 6 beings. The very p o s s i b i l i t y of their being " r i g h t " summons the subjective sympathy of most readers, while leaving themselves and the poet open to that f a i l u r e of imagination commonly called "sentimentalism."' The subjective overtones of Romantic "content" are l i k e l y to tease the reader into value judgments wherein he selects what he thinks he wants, and rejects whatever i s not appetizing, covered in metaphysical d a f f o d i l s . The contemporary denigration of Romanticism that the poet, Robert Duncan, discusses in his book, The Truth_.and_Life_.of Myth, i s partly a r e f l e c t i o n on sentimental interpretations of the poems, and thus, on the poems themselves as susceptible to sentimentalism, or worse, encouraging sentimentalism. Sentimentalism i s , of course, very much related to E l i o t ' s notion of dissociated s e n s i b i l i t y . Eut i t seems to me that there i s enough sustained, unified awareness i n Romantic poems to warrant a fresh discussion of the ground of Romanticism. Let me persi s t with the Romantic ideology a moment longer, i n view of the notion of sentimentalism. There are no ideas of Absolute Consciousness, Identity, God, Unity, Self, Meaning, Transcendence,and so on, that are not susceptible to sentimental attenuation. Ignorance defies knowledge at every step by the desire to raise i t s e l f up or, as i s normal, by already having established i t s own mode of omniscience. There i s no Romantic poem, and perhaps no poem, that cannot be manipulated and destroyed. The act of extracting an "idea" from a poem w i l l almost always lead to the d i f f u s i o n of the poem's energy. Our wonderful f a c i l i t y for "finding the hidden meaning" corrupts the r e a l i t y of the poem as a present action. Such i s especially true when one undertakes to examine Romanticism. The very condition of the success of a Romantic poem, our approbation, depends to a large extent on how much any ideol o g i c a l content of the poem is given an immediate, dynamic context. But the reader i s , instead, often drawn to the ideational content of the poem without any active p a r t i c i p a t i o n . This tendency results inevitably from the normal. insatiable temptation to exercise the discursive and r e f l e c t i v e capacities of the mind. Our own stance toward the 7 poem endangers the poem. For the l a s t hundred years, manipulation of Romantic i d e a s : ' has engendered an a t t r i t i o n of appreciation for Romantic poetry. The poets as the "unacknowledged l e g i s l a t o r s " of the world have been so thoroughly milked of conceptual content that i t i s hard to get beyond the charge of moral and i n t e l l e c t u a l tendentiousness. But these poets did not use verse merely as disposable paper cups to dole out their l i b a t i o n s of dogma. This was unnecessary. Had the poets wished to pontificate they would have sought means more suited to p o n t i f i c a t i o n . Coleridge i s honest enough to know when he must leave poetry for "abstruse research." Blake adapts some devices of philosophical s t y l e — aphorism, proverb, parable, epigram—for the purposes of poetry. And even a cursory reading of Wordsworth's Prefaces w i l l discover a deeper commitment to poetry than to ethics. The abstraction of ideas from the poems i s against the whole d r i f t and force of the Romantic form of presentation. Simply to extract and quantify concepts from their immediate poetic context—"to r e a l i z e or abstract the mental d e i t i e s from their objects-—is to do precisely what the Romantic poets fought most powerfully to overthrow. Romanticism i s opposed to pre-conception, to thinking before f e e l i n g . To i n t r o j e c t concepts into a p a r t i c u l a r poem i s just as dangerous. Ba s i c a l l y , the Romantic poets attempt to DEMONSTRATE various experiences. It is here that doubts arise as to the v a l i d i t y of abusing the poets with the t i t l e "dissociated." There are, i n fact, poems in which the Romantics find a form adequate to the presentation of experience i n non-linear modes. In these cases, a new l i g h t i s thrown upon their f a i l u r e s as well as their success. One comes to rea l i z e that the prime d i f f i c u l t y that the poets found in their writing was the almost impossible task of finding a language to a r t i c u l a t e an order of experience that had no familiar h i s t o r i c a l precedents. Blake can only summon the image of Jesus; there was no-one else who approximated Flake's v i s i o n . In certain respects, Romanticism i s a feverish struggle to find words, words that were capable of expressing dimensions 8 of being that man can know only i n the greatest extension of his f a c u l t i e s . Wordsworth's f i r s t statement to the public i n the Advertisement to the L y r i c a l Ballads (1798) asserts the "experimental" character of the writing. The poets had to avoid the prosaic without succumbing to the temptation of dir e c t i n g intensely creative experience into s t e r i l e channels of English usage. The v a l i d i t y of Romantic poetry exists i n i t s connection with the reader. This connection, as we s h a l l see, i s more complex than the presentation of an idea. The ideal tenet of the poem's "truth to experience" i s something that must be carried over to the reader. Ideally, the poem enacts i t s own nature, i t s own motivations. But the informing, forces of the creative poem make demands upon the reader that are lacking in eighteenth-century poetry for the most part. The Romantic poets achieved new l e v e l s , spaces, depths, and durations of intense experience of an eschatological order that, i n extending to us, can pot e n t i a l l y involve us in a c t i v i t i e s that discursive conception cannot reach. Romanticism, i n re-opening the ground of the non-discursive, re-discovers some of the pr i n c i p l e s of poetry that Charles Olson c a l l s "projective." At best, the forces that the poet finds operative i n his experience come to be presented to the reader in a form that i n i t i a t e s similar awareness i n him. Ideas do not exist in the best Romantic poems as discursive, l o g i c a l equations. In our reading of these poems, we are occupied in modalities where the discursive reason has no con t r o l l i n g overview. The dynamics of the poem involve the reader in such a way that ideas are not what we act to, however much we do see.afterwards; therefore, form i s before ideas. Having penetrated to a certain depth of awareness, the Romantic's first, commitment i s to experience, that i s , to poetry. The dynamics are the same, but the means to the dynamics are d i f f e r e n t . 9 Romantic poetry depends on language to demonstrate the form of experience, not just to "name" i t . For i t i s form, the inhering and extension of energies,that gives an experience PRESENCE in the world. In re-discovering the dynamic and organic pr i n c i p l e s of l i f e i n their l i v i n g , the Romantic poets necessarily had to find a dynamic way to make language reveal the "new" p r i n c i p l e s . That i s , they had to find DYNAMIC FORM. The accomplishment of this form constitutes a l i b e r a t i o n both of language (poetry) and experience (including the conception of ideas). The pos-s i b i l i t i e s extended to the reader are the enrichment of both perception and conception by virtue of our direc t involvement with them as they enact their force. The reader i s released from the pressures and fe t t e r s of external observation. At the same time, the means of poetic communication are released from the bondage of the "well-turned phrase" and the self-con-tained, bow-tied, done-to-perfection-vision-in-a-nutshell. Romanticism f i r s t discovers the ground of multi-dimensional r e a l i t y ; then i t striv e s to ar t i c u l a t e that r e a l i t y . And to a certain extent, Romantic poetry achieves form beyond the 'conceptual package' that has always been present in English poetry. Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Blake, ar.d Coleridge were the. necessary precursors of the modern and contemporary "romantic" writers,, from William Carlos Williams down to Olson, Creeley, Duncan, and Ginsberg. 10 FOOTNOTES Citations from Blake i n my text are to Blake Complete Works ed. Geoffrey Keynes (London: Oxford University Press, 1966). Blake addresses The Ghost Of Abel to "LORD BYRON i n the Wilderness: What doest thou here, E l i j a h ? " p . 779. J Robert Duncan, The Truth of Life and Myth: An Essay i n Essent i a l Autobiography T^ew York: House of Books, 1968). Duncan i s effective in rescuing the "romantic" writing of Denise Levertov•from the charge of "sentimentalism." Charles Olson, Human Universe and Other Essays, ed. Donald Allen (New York: Grove Press, 1 9 ° 7 l , p. 6 5 . 11 CHAPTER II Awakening from , Newton,' s Sleep The emergence of English Romanticism toward the end of the eighteenth century i s partly a manifestation of a change in cognition. Morse Peckham believes that ".the s h i f t in European thought was a s h i f t from conceiving the cosmos as a s t a t i c mechanism to conceiving i t as a dynamic organism." Adducing Love-joy's The,, Great Chain, of Being. Peckham goes on to suggest that, l i t e r a r y romanticism was a manifestation of a change i n the way of thinking of European man, that since Plato European man had been thinking according to one system of thought...and that i n the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries occidental thinking took an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t d i r e c t i o n , as did occidental a r t . Furthermore, (Lovejoy) says that the change i n the way the mind works was the most profound change in the history of occidental thinking, and by implication i t involved a s i m i l a r profound change in the objects and methods of European art.^-In suggesting a "change i n the way the mind works," however, we are dealing with the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of a complete transformation in the r e c e p t i v i t y and response to l i v i n g . The Romantic r e d i -r e c t i o n was not merely.a case of a change i n "thinking." It was not "Thought a l t e r i n g a l t e r s a l l , * 1 but "the Eye a l t e r i n g a l t e r s a l l . " An a l t e r a t i o n in the way we think about the smell of a rose does not, cannot, change the way we smell the rose. In terms of the act of perception, "thinking" comes a f t e r . Before perception, thinking may constitute that kind of pre-conception that impedes an act of perception. We must see or -smell the rose i n a new way before new modes of thought can a r i s e . Discursive thinking i s a mode of abstraction. In a sense, therefore, "thinking" i s removed from an immediate perceptual s i t u a t i o n through the very fact of discursive distance. In the best writing of the Romantic poets we find that ideas are subsequent to the act of p e r c e p t i o n — perception which occurs and i s registered i n modes other than the 12 the l i n e a r one. Thus, to examine Romanticism as a " h i s t o r i c a l " movement, that i s , i n terms of the "ideas" Romantics discovered, i s to set our study of Romantic poetry at a certain distance from the actual l i v i n g condition of the poets. Lovejoy equates "thinking" with "the way the mind works." Such i s hardly the case. The only time in which the equation i s v a l i d i s when the mind i s wholly given to thought: Elake says, "One thought f i l l s immensity." The "ideas" which Lovejoy and Feckham see as central to 3 Romanticism are "organicism, dynamism, and diversitarianism. These ideas represent part of the theoretical foundation of any study of Romanticism, s p e c i f i c a l l y , Romantic conception. But a theory i s "the articulated v i s i o n of experience."^ Before we can t r u l y comprehend "dynamic organicism'" we must come to grips with how the poets discovered these "ideas." We must understand something of their "experience." For what theories attest to i s experience, and, what tests theories i s experience. What Peckham outlines as the concepts or "root-metaphors" of Romanticism happened as a result not only of conceiving the world and the s e l f i n a new way, but of seeing and fe e l i n g d i f f e r e n t l y . Here we are concerned with the transformation of the workings of the conscious process which i s the source of Romantic writing. In a comprehensive d e f i n i t i o n of Romanticism, then, Romantic i s a word which describes the whole new experiential matrix which comes to be.rendered i n language, belonging as much to the reader as to the poems. The poet's experience i s necessarily the pre-condition of his expression. The new experiences (including "'thinking i n new ways") which the poets realized i n their l i v i n g issue together with their disengagement from the experiences summed up in Enlightenment values: Now this mighty s t a t i c metaphysic which had governed per i l o u s l y the thoughts of men since Plato, collapsed of i t s own internal i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s . . . — o r collapsed for some people. For most people i t s t i l l remains the unrealized base for most of their values, i n t e l l e c t u a l , moral, s o c i a l , aesthetic, and r e l i g i o u s . But to the 13 .r f i n e r m i n d s o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h and n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r i e s , i% was no l o n g e r t e n a b l e . . . . The p r i n c i p l e c a u s e was t h a t a l l i t s i m p l i c a t i o n s had b e e n worked o u t ; t h e y s t o o d f o r t h i n a l l t h e i r naked i n c o n s i s t e n c y . I t became i m p o s s i b l e t o a c c e p t a t h e o d i c y b a s e d u p o n i t . More and m o r e , t h i n k e r s began s e a r c h i n g f o r a new s y s t e m o f e x p l a i n i n g t h e n a t u r e o f r e a l i t y and the d u t i e s o f men.5-' W r i t i n g as a " c u l t u r a l h i s t o r i a n " i n h i s b o o k , Beyond the T r a g i c V i s i o n : The Quest f p r _ I d e n t i t y _ i n _ t h e N i n e t e e n t h C e n t u r y . M o r s e Peckham c o n c e i v e s c u l t u r a l g r o u p s and the modes o f human b e h a v i o u r i n t e r m s o f the s e l f - c o n c e p t o r " o r i e n t a t i o n " h e l d and p r a c t i s e d i n common. A p e r s o n ' s o r i e n t a t i o n i s made up o f h i s s o c i a l s e l f - c o n c e p t ( " s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n " ) and h i s s e n s e o f h i s own i n d i v i d u a l e x i s t e n c e ( " s e l f - i d e n t i f i c a t i o n " ) . Our o r i e n t a t i o n , l a r g e l y u n c o n s c i o u s t h r o u g h c o n t i n u a l m o d i f i c a t i o n and r e i n f o r c e m e n t on s u b l i m i n a l l e v e l s , d e t e r m i n e s t o a g r e a t e x t e n t how we " o r d e r " the e n v i r o n m e n t , and t h u s , how we d i s c e r n " v a l u e . " " T o be p s y c h i c a l l y o r i e n t e d , " he w r i t e s , " i s t o e x p e r i e n c e i d e n t i t y , o r d e r , and v a l u e ; t o be d i s o r i e n t e d i s t o e x p e r i e n c e t h e i r a t t r i t i o n o r l o s s . " * ' " O r i e n t a t i o n 1 " becomes P e c k h a m ' s " i n s t r u m e n t 1 " o r " h i s t o r i c a l c o n s t r u c t " f o r e x a m i n i n g t h e b r e a k -down o f E n l i g h t e n m e n t o r i e n t a t i v e r a t i o n a l e s and t h e i r r e p l a c e -ment by u n i q u e l y R o m a n t i c n o t i o n s . Peckham a l s o n o t e s two o p p o s i n g o r i e n t a t i o n a l d r i v e s o r n e e d s : one d r i v e i s t o w a r d i n c r e a s i n g " p e r c e p t i o n " o f " a f l o w o f e x t e r n a l s t i m u l i , " w h i c h c a n e i t h e r n e g a t i v e l y d i s t u r b o r p o s i t i v e l y " s t i m u l a t e " the s e n s e s . The o t h e r d r i v e s e e k s p e r f e c t " e q u i l i b r i u m " o f some 7 k i n d — a s o r t o f h o m e o s t a s i s . T h e r e i s a t h i r d t h i n g v i t a l to h i s c o n s t r u c t : B u t a t the same t i m e , w h e t h e r t h e s t i m u l a t i o n comes f r o m t h e e x t e r n a l w o r l d o r f r o m w i t h i n the m i n d , a p s y c h i c s e t p r e v e n t s us f r o m r e s p o n d i n g t o the s t i m u l i w h i c h i t s c r e e n s o u t . T h j u s _ t h e r e _ i s _ a l w a ^ s a ^ S £ a i i ^ y . . , b e t w e e n _ a r i o r i e n t a t - i v e , a c t , a n d t h e _ d a t a o f _ t h e _ r e a1_w o r1 d . On the one h a n d the d r i v e toward e q u i l i b r i u m p r e s e r v e s t h e s e t ; on t h e o t h e r , the d r i v e t o engage t h e mind w i t h the r e a l w o r l d must b r e a k 14 the set down, show up i t s weaknesses, reorganize i t , introduce new material. The drive toward sensory stimulation, toward perception, toward getting around and through the set, i s the predictive drive, the foundation of science. Eut the drive to break down the set, to permit oneself to experience enough emotional disturbance to open holes i n i t , to rend i t so that new knowledge may enter, whether from the mind or the outside world—that drive i s the foundation of art.® Our hard-earned sense of s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n i n a s o c i a l role, and our s e l f - i d e n t i f i c a t i o n i n the private world of the psyche, are threatened by things that have "disturbing" q u a l i t i e s associated with them."Thus, the conception of a "heaven" commonly held by members of a culture, or p r i v a t e l y held by an i n d i v i d u a l , w i l l indicate the symbolized conception of an i d e a l orientation. Peckham says, "Heaven i s a symbol of t o t a l orientation, a state q in which identity i s never threatened and never insecure."- 7 The world of changing and impinging r e a l i t y i s dangerous; heaven i s safe. Man seeks knowledge and safety. In the chapter on "The End of Ancient Thinking," Peckham observes that the Enlightenment orientation, based on Rationalism, and moving into Lockean Empiricism ( s t i l l r a t i o n a l and moral), and then into sentimental enthusiasm and skepticism ( V o l t a i r e ) , was tested in the French Revolution and f a i l e d : The l o g i c a l p o s s i b i l i t i e s had been exhausted. Value is not to be found in a divine world into which we s h a l l enter i n the future, or into which we can pen-etrate by pure thought or mystic rapture; nor i s value structured into the world we know. The universe i s a chaos, a meaningless chaos; nor i s society any d i f f e r e n t . But i f order i s l o s t , and value i s l o s t , then identi t y i s l o s t . And man—or man as a few men see h i m — t r u l y enters the waste land.^O Only a few embarked upon the empty wasteland—those who realized that they could not sustain the Enlightenment orientations which had supported them u n t i l then. The rest of society continued unwittingly to support and function with the orientation which 15 Peckham summarises as " s t a t i c mechanism." Por the Romantic poets, however, the metaphysical upheaval results i n i t i a l l y i n the discovery of a landscape of experience t o t a l l y new, and some-what a l i e n , inimical to normal orientations. The loss of meaning creates a vacuum; the experience of disorientation carries a sense of negativity. But i t was precisely here, i n the midst of confusion, loss, and displacement, that the poets were to d i s -cover a more actual world than the one they had given up. The Romantic landscape, i n i t s dimension, energy, beauty, and immediacy, gives the l i e to Newton and Descartes In a sense, Peckham's insistence upon the success or f a i l u r e of the Enlightenment as somehow r i d i n g on the success or f a i l u r e of the French Revolution, i s s l i g h t l y reductive.. There had been d e f i n i t e l y "Romantic" poems written before 178S. And Edmund Burke had been surveying "the Revolution in France" at least ten years before the storming of the B a s t i l l e . It i s not so much a departure as an addition to Peckham's analysis of the h i s t o r i c a l -c u l t u r a l s i t u a t i o n which i s needed here. If only a few people realized that the Enlightenment metaphysics had been "put to the test" i n the Revolution, and i f , therefore, only a few realized that these orientations had f a i l e d , the question springs up as to why there were so few. Why did the Revolution not dis p e l the r a t i o n a l i s t i c , i d e a l s i t i c , sentimental, and skeptical delusions of greater numbers? Answering this may help to give a further sense to the magnitude of the "change" that the Romantic poets experienced i n their ""disorientation." It i s clear that the French Revolution c e r t i f i e d the r i s e of the new "middle class." For these, the majority of Europeans, the Eevolution was a tremendous success. The idealism which addressed i t s e l f to the beggars of the Paris streets, the sewer-dwellers, and the peasants, worked to the advantage of the bourgeoisie. The active p r i n c i p l e s of the Enlightenment were against the poor as well as against the t r a d i t i o n a l aristocracy. Poor and r o y a l i s t form the complementary poles of medieval, 16 feudal cultures. The Revolution, so-called, had long been under way. What was overthrown was not the aristocracy alone, but the p r i n c i p l e s of feudalism. What was f i n a l l y liberated, equallized, and fraternalized was the middle class with i t s middle-class morals, r e l i g i o n , business concerns, s o c i a l roles, goals, desires, intellect,and so on. In other words, the' revolutions which happened i n America, France, and Ireland functioned mainly to assert and f i n a l i z e the ascendancy of bourgeois values over t r a d i t i o n a l values. Enlightenment values, far from " f a i l i n g " in the French c r i s i s , established their primacy over the minds and actions of the bourgeoisise. Enlightenment values were normative, unconscious forces of motivation i n middle-class i n t e l l e c t s . The sentimental idealism which Morse Peckham marks i n the dying moments of the French court, at the Champ de Mars i n 17S0, i s hardly more sentimental or enthusiastic than the attack on the B a s t i l l e or the Reign of Terror that followed. Underneath the f r a g i l e yet brutal surface of the rationales which developed throughout the actual revolt of the "people," there are Enlightenment forces at work. This seems preposterous: i t seems as i f the old order had been completely shattered along with i t s s t a t i c hierarchies. But Peckham himself hints at the paradox when he suggests, cor r e c t l y , that for most people the s t a t i c metaphysic "remains the unrealized base for most of their values." The old form i s perpetuated i n new disguises. We must be careful not to i d e n t i f y the underlying forces with the surface manifestations. Those who were able to recognize the forces through the appearances also recognized the continuance of the Enlightenment i n new modes. The common man of the late eighteenth century was not at a l l interested in,or beleaguered by, the philosophical implications of Enlightenment thought. His concern was his b e l l y . His orientation was s o c i a l l y formed. I t would seem that the rejecti o n of medieval hierarchies and their replacement by n a t i o n a l i s t i c , s o c i a l , commercial, and p a r i ii a m e n t a r y hierarchies was, i n fact, in keeping with the motivations i m p l i c i t in the Enlightenment dogma. Peckham writes of the French Revolution: 17 Here was a vast p o l i t i c a l endeavor in which an enormous e f f o r t was made to put the Enlightenment f a i t h into practice, i n a situ a t i o n supported by the enthusiasm—not yet perceived as sentimental— of millions of people, both i n France and i n other countries. What was i t s lesson? It released s o c i a l , emotional and moral forces of which the Enlight-enment t r a d i t i o n had been t o t a l l y ignorant, which the vaunted nature and reason, and enthusiasm, and empiricism had never discovered. And i t showed that those forces could be controlled only by a brutal and repressive tyranny which—and here was the real horror—was i n i t s e l f perfectly j u s t i f i a b l e on Enlightenment p r i n c i p l e s . ^ The Enlightnement rationales sponsoring the Revolt were not merely philosophical, but were those which had suggested the philosophies of rationalism, skepticism, optimism, empiricism i n the f i r s t place—namely the d i r e c t i o n of technological advancement. The common person l i v e s close to technology, not philosophy. He responds to the exigencies of situations with the mechanisms he has. And with the Revolution in France, as with the entire c u l t u r a l evolution i n eighteenth-century Europe, what was rapidly becoming v i s i b l e as an active p r i n c i p l e i n people's acts and concerns was the accelerating change of the basis of society, away from the church and other feudal author-i t i e s , toward the s o c i a l structures fostered, even demanded, by the refinement of technology. If we could believe the outline suggested by Marshall McLuhan i n The Gutenberg m -Galaxy. we could then in f e r that the closed systems engendered and maintained by the development of moveable type cannot tolerate any e f f o r t to create a synthesis, simultaneity, or, in McLuhan's phrase, " r a t i o n a l i t y " of a c t i -v i t i e s . As McLuhan understands i t , the development of l i t e r a c y simultaneously fosters the linear modes of perception—the v i s u a l modes, and the discursive reasoning i n p a r t i c u l a r — while extending the range, variety, and comprehensiveness of technology. The Age of Science begins at least with Francis Bacon, and the extension of s c i e n t i f i c , technological discov-eries into the perceptual sphere of the common man seriously a l t e r s his world, a l t e r s the way i n which he greets i t and i n 18 which i t meets him. So the process had. been going on since Gutenberg-r— over five hundred years, now. Promoted by the model of scientifically precise repetition, correctness, and pre-dictability—the printing press—several other possibilities of mass production began to become realized. Material and ideo-logical developments emanating from the age of Newton and before, had already had over three centuries to mould the directions which were taken in the French Revolution. Technology, the Industrial Revolution, created new definitions of society, and thus, of the identity of individual men. These definitions anticipated the constructs of Rationalism, pessimism, and so., forth, by giving supremacy to man's Reason. For i t was Reason that dictated to Science; and science has been the property of the discursive intelligence until Einstein, Heisenberg, and the mathematicians, Lobatschewsky and Riemann'^or so Charles Olson would have i t ) . For Edmund Burke, the real "revolution" was to witness the grace and refinement of the Queen of France at Versailles. But the sanctity of the medieval order of things had been thoroughly undermined by a progressing mass production, of both goods and morals. Society slowly had been redefined over the two-hundred years previous to Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. New environments infl ict considerable pain on the perceiver. Biologists and physicists are much more aware of the radical revolution effected in our senses by new technological environments than are the l i t e r a t i . 1 4 Blake writes to John Flaxman (September 12, 1600): Paracelsus & Behmen appear'd to me, terrors appear'd in the Heavens above And in Hell beneath, & a mighty & awful change threatened the Earth. The American War began. All its dark horrors passed before my face Across the Atlantic to France. Then the French 19 Revolution commenc'd i n thick clouds, And My Angels have told me that seeing such visions I could not subsist on the Earth, Eut by my conjunction with Flaxman, who knows to forgive Nervous Fear. But i n the ordinary person, there i s only reponse to the subliminal alterations that have already been effected. Humans assimilate change. The ar i s t o c r a t s suffered the most, simply because they were the most disinherited by. the mechanical age. That empiricism which was discovered as a philosophy was the orientative basis for the large part of late eighteenth-century European culture, especially i n the more advanced technologies. People act upon the laws they have assimilated. As the i s o l a t i o n of the sense of.sight leads s w i f t l y to the segmentation of the senses and the d i f f u s i o n of emotions, incomplete responses to situations are i n e v i t a b l e — b u i l t i n . "And segmentation equals sentimentality... the i s o l a t i o n of one emotion from another.... ""^Quantif i c a t i o n and segmentation, the action of the machine, enforces sentimentalism. The people of the eighteenth century had, for generations, been undergoing a process of psychic a l t e r a t i o n . The forces shaping human perception had mechanical, l i n e a r , external, closed forms. Thus they offered a seemingly r e l i a b l e source of security. The French Revolution secured the French Middle class, led d i r e c t l y into the Industrial age, and perpetuated, in this way, the very discursiveness of form i n even more areas of human l i f e than the concept and use of Enlightened Reason. Few saw and f e l t the disintegrating and destructive powers of this machination of the senses as clearly as B l a k e . ^ The philosophic ideas of rationalism, pessimism, and other Enlightenment modes of b e l i e f are a l l , i n spite of their d i f f e r i n g "contents,** governed by the form of discursiveness. The f a i l u r e of the Enlightenment, then, was not so much a f a i l u r e of sentimental ideas of the equality of men, as a f a i l u r e of Reason to contain a l l the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of human perception 20 and response within a single, all-embracing orientation. The middle class i s successful i n the Revolution because the r e a l energies of the Revolution are i n i t s favour. The new and very successful closed system i s the d o l l a r . It appears as an accurate source of power and authority. Everyone has the p o s s i b i l i t y of obtaining d o l l a r s and repeating this achievement. The Terror i s forgotten by most, and the new mercantile security i s wooed, established, symbolized, and assimilated, at a l l levels of the culture. The domination of personality by assimilated external forces i s complete; the senses are separated; the functions of the mind are isolated; the less d i f f e r e n t i a t e d condition of being gives place to the stress upon "individualism"; the simultaneous and uncircumscribed are blocked out by bounded fragments, l i n e a r structures, and Reasonable constructs; high d e f i n i t i o n precludes low d e f i n i t i o n or no d e f i n i t i o n ; public property becomes private property; d i s t i n c t i o n i s valued above unity; the wide f i e l d of the multi-dimensional comes under the omnipotent, narrowing gaze of the "point" of view. The s o c i a l system i s defined by the economic. A l l these processes were latent, but slowly gathering power over the structure and "values" of society and thought well before 1789. The record of this ascent i s partly to be found i n The Gutenberg Galaxy. What we witness i s the establishment of an orientation based upon fragmentation and separation of functions—mental, emotional, c u l t u r a l . It i s against the flow of this newly e s t a b l i s h e d , o f f i c i a l orientation that the Romantic s p i r i t does indeed "rebel." The hierarchy of cosmic order that underpins feudal society i s rejected by the technologically 'enlightened' man in favour of d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n by role. This d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n has i t s roots in the d e f i n i t i o n of the functions of society created by the engulfment of society within economic bounds, which were themselves defined by the mechanistic laws of mass production. Only the Romantic man sensed, more or less f u l l y , that the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of persons with the- products of their 21 extrapolated v i s u a l sense (exemplified i n the conveyor belt, and generally, the machine), signalled the subsuming of the multi-dimensional ground of l i v i n g experience within the one-dimensional "single v i s i o n " of Newtonial mechanics. The Enlightenment moves forward to become the p h i l o s o p h i c - s c i e n t i f i c basis for so much nineteenth-centur thinking, and twentieth-century p^psitivismand. behaviourism i n p a r t i c u l a r . The discourse of A r i s t o t l e , Plato, and Socrates s t i l l hold us i n sway, i n 1970, i n spite of Freud, Ei n s t e i n , surrealism, and Kubla Khan's architecture. In philosophy, the roots of t h i s d i s i n t e g r a t i o n can be seen,in the early Greeks. Although the point has been made often, i t may be worth reviewing here, as i t issues from the mind of Charles Olson: We have l i v e d long i n a generalizing time, at least since 450 B.C. And i t has had i t s effects on the best of men, on the best of things. Logos, or discourse, for example, has, i n that time, so worked i t s abstractions into our concept and use of language that language's other function, speech, seems so i n need of restoration that several of us got back to hieroglyphics or to ideograms to right the balance. (The d i s t i n c t i o n here i s between language as the act of the instant and language as the act of thought about the instant.) But one can't any longer stop there, i f one ever could. For the habits of thought are the habits of action, and here, too, particularism has to be fought for anew. In fact, by the very law of identity of d e f i n i t i o n and discovery, who can extricate language from action? (Though i t i s one of the f i r s t f alse faces of the law which I s h a l l want to str i k e away, i t i s quite understandable—in the l i g h t of i t s i d e n t i t y — t h a t the Greeks went on to declare a l l speculation as enclosed i n the "UNIVERSE of discourse." It i s their word, and the refuge of a l l metaphysicians s i n c e — a s though language, too, was an absolute, instead of (as even man i s ) instrument, and not to be extended, however much the urge, to cover what each, man and language, i s i n the hands of: what we share, and which i s enough, of power and of beauty, not to need an exaggeration of words, especially that spreading one, "universe." For discourse i s hardly such, or at least only a r b i t r a r i l y a universe. In any 22 i t s e l f a good deal of experience which needed to stay put—needs now to be returned to the only two universes which count, the two phenomenal ones, the two a man has need to bear on because they bear so on him: that of himself, as organism, and that of his environment, the earth and planets. We stay unaware how two means of discourse the Greeks appear to have invented hugely intermit our p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n our experience, and so prevent discovery. They are what followed from Socrates' readiness to generalize, his willingness (from his own bias) to make a "universe" out of discourse instead of l e t t i n g i t rest i n i t s most serviceable place. (It i s not s u f f i c i e n t l y observed that logos, and the reason necessary to i t , are only a stage which a man must master and not what they are taken to be, f i n a l d i s c i p l i n e . Beyond them i s dir e c t perception and the contraries which dispose of argument. The harmony of the universe, and I include man, i s not l o g i c a l , or better, i s p o s t - l o g i c a l , as i s the oriier of any created thing.) With A r i s t o t l e , the two grea,t means appear: logic and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . And i t i s they thathave so fastened themselves on habits of thought that action i s interfered with, absolutely interfered with, I should say.17 The action of interference that discursiveness brings between the person and his experience i s v a l i d for the moment, and for the vast movements of hi s t o r y . Whatever i s enclosed i s imprisoned, manacled. The continuance of Enlightenment .metaphy-si c s (the metapyhsics of "discourse"), extending into the world of science and economics, and thus, into society, demands either obeisance or withdrawal. And withdrawal denoted a l i e n -ation from the comfort, and certainty of the surrounding culture. The Romantic poet was the one who knew the already thorough alienation of his surrounding culture from what, to him, were the authentic p o s s i b i l i t i e s of experience: a knowledge of "what each, man and language, i s in the hands of." The mass of people were (and are) inextricably involved in the demands of li n e a r progression (advancement) and the values deriving from rapidly developing means of production (success). The Romantic poet begins by f e e l i n g already apart from the community of thought and interest about him. He 23 discovers himself a Romantic, not because society rejects him, but because he cannot tolerate society. The values, meanings, and s e l f - d e f i n i t i o n s which he requires to l i v e are not f o r t h -coming. He i s perhaps thrown back i n terror, as Blake, upon the resources of his own s e n s i b i l i t y : his thoughts, f e e l i n g , imagination, perception. If s a t i s f a c t i o n and value are not to be derived from the surrounding culture, i t s actions and patterns and thought, then what i s the o r i g i n of value? Blake r e c o i l s , swearing that he must make his own "system" or "be enslav'd by another Man's." Wordsworth returns from France, d i s i l l u s i o n e d , and has a mental breakdown.The questioning of accepted values i s one entrance to the e x i s t e n t i a l world. There must be a question for there to be a quest. The point at which the person leaves off grasping at the available external sources of value (mother, society, material things, doctrine) i s the point at which he becomes a seeker. To find an answer i n a place of d e f i c i e n t values would con-s t i t u t e an abdication of the e x i s t e n t i a l q u e s t — a closing o f f . To ASSENT to one's own experience, regardless of the fear of danger to one's mind, describes the normal Romantic attitude. To acknowledge the DESIRE to find meaning i n a world deprived of authentic meaning, to discover the NECESSITY of the question,. i s to embark upon an unexpected landscape of feelings and forces. In this new place, struggle and psychic SURVIVAL are prime demands. Honesty requires that the Romantics join the ranks of heretics, wandering Jews, e x i l e s , castouts, pilgrims, hermits, . martyrs, and magicians. Day and night my t o i l s redouble.1 Never nearer to the goal, Night and day, I f e e l the trouble, Of the Wanderer in my soul. (Wordsworth, "Song For the Wandering Jew") Necessity, of another order than that which informs the bulk of society, demands that the Romantic acknowledge the most "primitive" 24 or "organic" facts of his aboriginal nature, his nakedness. In this perhaps unfamiliar t e r r i t o r y , he i s less secure than an Australian bushman. For his departure from the prescribed paths of society and thought leaves him precisely i n the jungle of his own undefined, unarranged being. The new path i s a completely new world; i t s discourse i s that of the new world. For the alternative "discourse" which Olson sought IS there, in the dimensions of mind that the Romantic poets discovered. It appears as i f the p o s s i b i l i t y of "discovery" depends on the a b i l i t y of a person to eliminate what impedes discovery. This i s "breaking the set down" i n Peckham's terms, an act of d i s -orientation. The disorientation works at c u l t u r a l and personal l e v e l s . There i s a central point emerging here which needs stressing. The enormity of the change i n "cognition" that Peckham sees i n Romanticism, cannot be over-stated. The movement i s from the l i v i n g experience defined by discursive constructs to an experience of immediate action. Romanticism does not merely evolve new "ideas" because i t had some great "thinkers." Rather i t primarily discovers the ground of experience which permits the " p o s t - l o g i c a l " assertions of Romanticism. Together with the whole complex motivation and action of the individual poets, Romantic thought and discourse developed i t s own d i s t i n c t paths. Ideation i s the process of conceiving our experience, the constructions we give to account for awareness. Peckham outlines the integral ideas engendered by» and t y p i c a l oft Romanticism. But the o r i g i n of new awareness i s not necessarily ideational. The eye does not " a l t e r " simply because we get a new idea. The effects which precede l o g i c a l thought, and i n i t i a t e l o g i c a l thought of one order or another, and are the "objects" of l o g i c a l thought, are not themselves thoughts. The drive to p r e d i c t a b i l i t y i s overthrown by the fact of the new ground; and this overthrow i s sometimes expressed i n vio l e n t , absolute terms, especially in Blake. The condition of the eye a l t e r i n g i n such a way that a l l r e a l i t y i s now experienced anew i s VULNERABILITY. And v u l n e r a b i l i t y as the condition of change summons the thr.eat of pain as well 25 as the p o s s i b i l i t y of great "power and of beauty" and of joy. Coleridge, i n the "Dejection" ode knows something of This beautiful and beauty-making power. Joy, virtuous Lady.' Joy that ne'er was given, Save to the pure, and i n their purest hour, Life and L i f e ' s effluence, cloud at once and shower, Joy, Ladyi i s the s p i r i t and the power, Which wedding Nature to us gives i n dower A new Earth and new Heaven, Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud— and he knows something,too, of the danger of allowing i n the old compulsions of discursive thinking: And haply by abstruse research to s t e a l From my own nature a l l the natural man— This was my sole resource, my only plan: T i l l that which suits a part infects the whole, And now i s almost grown the habit of my soul. Coleridge sees that i t i s precisely the workings of thought, and a n t i c i p a t i o n , and prediction that belong to the discursive order of things, that brings on s u f f e r i n g : Hence, viper thoughts, that c o i l around my mind, Reality's dark dream.1 I turn from you, and l i s t e n to the wind, Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream Of agony by torture lengthened out That lute sent forth.' The Romantic poet s t r i v e s to reject c o d i f i c a t i o n s of r e a l i t y that do not tolerate change, the effects of change, the depths of change. Traditional habits of thought cannot bring about the joy that Coleridge describes above. Eut once such r e c e p t i v i t y to a l l the things of l i f e has shown the p o s s i b i l i t y of a "new Earth and new Heaven," then discursive speculation can be experienced,too. as a progenitor of imprisonment and pain. 26 I n t e l l e c t u a l l y , the Romantic poet cannot accept an order of thinking that w i l l not a r t i c u l a t e the magnitude of his experience. Inasmuch as he has given primacy to non-conceptual experience, abstract thinking must develop new means and vocabularies of comprehension. Coleridge and Wordsworth and Blake carry their visions and ""abstruse" researchings into the stream of occult doctrine, borrowing or inventing d i c t i o n which i s more appropriate to esoteric traditions than the central t r a d i t i o n that descends from the Greeks. Blake extends his cosmogony to the area of "discourse" with his "Tractates" and various other philosophically calculated arguments. Inside the perimeters of A r i s t o t e l i a n l o g i c , there i s no way that one thought can be considered " i n f i n i t e . " Blake, however, t e l l s us in his "Proverbs of H e l l " that "One thought f i l l s immensity." In l i n e a r discourse, such a proposition i s not defineable or demonstrable. Once and for a l l the i d e o l o g i c a l hex on Romanticism must be removed. Blake i s not "making a proposition," but a statement of knowledge realized i n his experience. 'What has happened can be understood IK Blake's terms, but not outside them, not from outside. Could Blake have experienced a "thought" as i n f i n i t e ? The clue, as we s h a l l see l a t e r , l i e s i n the fact of the action, the form of the energies and inherent p o t e n t i a l i t i e s i n any action, including "thought." True v u l n e r a b i l i t y requires an abdication of discursive r e f l e c t i o n upon the act i n order to experience the immediacy of the act. Romanticism as a d i s c i p l i n e , then, partly is con-cerned with the prevention of pre-conception, and prevention of the interference of r e f l e c t i o n in the moment of action. Coleridge's "purity" of heart suggests this t o t a l r e c e p t i v i t y , unrr.ediated by "thinking" and the reductions which accompany "thinking." Thus, for the Romantics, the order of thought which comes to r e f l e c t upon experience w i l l d i f f e r as the order of experience d i f f e r s . Romanticism i s a ground of experience that dictates form to thought. The opposite tendency obtains in the other discourse. Romantic experience INFORMS Romantic conception. But this experience, as already suggested, i s normally of an 27 eschatological order. Thus the borders of thought expand as the form of awareness becomes greater, more immediate. It was Coleridge who made the most sustained e f f o r t to comprehensively describe the a c t i v i t i e s and implications of Romantic " v i s i o n " in philosophical terms. His Notebooks and Biographia L i t e r a r i a address the several f i e l d s of philosophical inquiry i n a desperate e f f o r t to OPEN, once and for a l l , the thinking patterns of man to the ground of the Imagination and the Reason informed by Imagination. Each of the other poets, with the notable exception of Byron, supports or modifies an assertion that can be found e x p l i c i t l y stated i n Coleridge's prose. We have seen that the demands of print-fostered technology and culture assimilated naturally a l l those people who were pre-disposed to i t . That i s , those who had completely imbibed the Enlightenment manifestations f e l l w i l l i n g l y into the greater and escalating a c t i v i t i e s of s t a t i c mechanism. Their world was meaningful, purposeful, defined, and available. Having completely learned the ^ d i s s o c i a t i o n " of their sense ratios f a c i l i t a t e d the swing into nineteenth-century science-oriented culture. But the Romantic s e n s i b i l i t y was d i f f e r e n t . It was not susceptible to machination. Otherwise the poet would have succumbed to the powerful incentives of Rational empricism. While others were being oriented and assimilated, the Romantics were being DISORIENTED. But this disorientation i s not indicative of any " d i s s o c i a t i o n " of s e n s i b i l i t y . The vestiges of Enlight-enment learning f e l l away from them,more or less quickly, as the surrounding culture made more and more demands upon them. Romantic poets refused "di s s o c i a t i o n of s e n s i b i l i t y . " Byron leaves behind his Enlightenment wife. Wordsworth and Coleridge get beyond the Enlightened psychology of Hartley and Godwin. One could argue, using McLuhan's terms, that the Romantics', "'sense r a t i o s " ( s e n s i b i l i t i e s ) were more integrated, less attenuated by li n e a r values and v i s u a l extrapolation, and there-fore, more awake to the inimical forces inherent in the new 28 culture. McLuhan notes, as I have mentioned above, that i t was the aristocracy who were most alarmed by the stratagems of the bourgeois revolution. It was the inheritors of power, le i s u r e , and education who were most crushed by the advance of l i b e r t y , equality, f r a t e r n i t y , and the assembly l i n e . Certainly Lord Byron would have been a candidate for the g u i l l o t i n e . Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Blake, and Byron were candidates for Romanticism and the Romantic c r i s i s on at least three grounds: f i r s t , these'men were a l l disenchanted with the pro-ceedings of Enlightenment codi f i c a t i o n s of r e a l i t y ; second, they were a l l receptive to their own sense of the difference between how they f e l t and how they were instructed to f e e l ; t h i r d , they a l l had energy and will,enough to penetrate into another world of experience. One cannot overlook or mistake the desire of the poets to l i v e and write. Let me recapitulate some of the main pr i n c i p l e s outlined above. The Enlightenment had created a certain "normality" of values, ideas, and therefore, responses to l i v i n g . "Newton's sleep" expresses the stance which most people s t i l l maintain toward the world. Unawakened experience remains precisely that, u n t i l some event happens to liberate the person from the re s t r a i n t s of "sleep." In a sense, the Romantic poets, i n discovering the ways in which the human mind can awake to v i s i o n and illumination,can be seen as reactionaries. For what they discover i s so fundamental to human experience that their v i s i o n and poetry could be interpreted as a return to some very basic t r a d i t i o n of human value and insight. However, we s t i l l view such ideas as " l i b e r a t i o n " and "illumination" with an eye to the r a r i t y of their occurrence. And most c r i t i c s would be dubious about, assigning a Romantic order of experience to a "central t r a d i t i o n . " I prefer to look at Romanticism as r e f l e c t i n g the t y p i c a l , habitual, ordinary l i m i t a t i o n which non-Romantic people impose upon l i f e . Romanticism may turn out to present the most "normal" of a l l possible comprehensions of 29 l i f e . In the meantime, Romantic poets themselves discover the need for a "suspension" of many forms of "disbelief" 1 in order to a t t a i n the new ground of experience. D i s b e l i e f i s an arch-type of that "normality" which Romantics abjured. Romantic rece p t i v i t y and openness i s not usual, but i t i s in this state that Romantic poets recover the sense of the immediate l i f e of things in the world of the mind and in the "external" world of phenomena. Therefore i t i s simpler to discuss Romanticism as a penetration of a normal orientation which i s s t a t i c and i n f l e x i b l e , into a world perceived in i t s authentic. dynamic a c t i v i t y . The Romantic stance i s not gratuitously proffered to the poet. He has to earn what he finds. His i n i t i a l a c t i v i t y i s directed, through i t s very energies, toward the annihilation of things that may come between himself and the."universe." Such annihilation i s tantamount to d i r e c t perception. The Romantic order of conception i s explored i n more d e t a i l in Chapter V. For the moment, the central thesis i s pointing toward the p o s s i b i l i t y of seeing Romanticism as a presentation of the FORMAL action of things. Romantic thought i s new because i t emerges from a ground of experience that has d i f f e r e n t formal properties from the "universe" comprehended i n discourse. This difference i s r a d i c a l . But the fact of the difference makes i t possible for us^as readers^to become involved i n the poems in a fashion which i s not "normally" present for us. In the same way that the poet's experience was unusually "present" for him, so the Romantic poem extends an order of presence that i s unusual i n eighteenth and nineteenth-century poetry. The formal differences in the way that experience i s received by the poet, i n his progressive 'descent' through layers of of old learning u n t i l his separation from l i f e i s d i s p e l l e d , mean a new attitude toward the poem as an act of l e g i s l a t i o n . And a new form of l e g i s l a t i o n , a new way of presenting the laws of experience, suggests a new and d i f f e r e n t form of interaction between the reader and the poem. Romanticism, both in i t s conception and i t s poetry, seems to enforce a high degree of immediacy. 30 The theme of suspension of normal attitudes of our physical and mental being permeates Romanticism. But the h i s t o r i c a l development of Romanticism demonstrates a si m i l a r trend. We must keep i n mind that by 1700 (the year of Dryden's death) English l e t t e r s had, in i t s main currents, turned away from the imaginative, multi-dimensional presentation and conception of l i f e exemplified i n Shakespeare, and moved toward an idolatry of Reason. Reason was used as the instrument to define "Classicism*. 1 The eighteenth century took three generations to build up enough energy to break the r e i f i c a t i o n that had proceeded, unimpaired, along the lines set out by Dryden's c r i t i c i s m . The reinforcement of "neo-classic" p r i n c i p l e s of writing and c r i t i c i s m prevented the best minds of the eighteenth century— Johnson and S w i f t — f r o m moving beyond a cynical and negative r e l a t i o n to the world. The central problem for the thinkers of that century lay i n the fact that neo-classic thought had t o t a l l y circumscribed the t e r r i t o r y of positive ideas with layers of high d e f i n i t i o n . In 1720 Shelley would have been called effete, Wordsworth indecorous, Coleridge obscure, Blake a ranter. In spite of the work of Williams and Duncan and others in the contemporary "romantic" f i e l d , we s t i l l hear warnings of Romantic "sentimentalism," the modern equivalent of the eighteenth-century c r i t i c a l declamation of "enthusiasm." I r o n i c a l l y , i t was precisely the works of "enthusiasm" that opened the way to Romanticism. With the arousal of scholarly and poetic interest in the late eighteenth century for the "primitive," "savage," "wild," "Gothic," C e l t i c myth, "chivalry," and so on, the circumference of knowledge containing neo-classic ideas began to loosen i t s tightness. The inherent reasons for this opening are important to our discussion. While Eishop . Hurd (Letters on Chivalry). Thomas Wharton (Observations o n The Faerie Queene of Spenser), a n d others were praising . the v i t a l i t y of the world of chivalry and beginning to explore the mythology of the B r i t i s h Isles, the neo-classic c r i t i c s exposed the weak-nesses of their i n t e l l e c t u a l a r t i l l e r y by proclaiming the e v i l s — n o t a b l y the regressiveness—of "enthusiasm." They questioned the h i s t o r i c i t y of Ossian a n d the poetry of Chatterton. It i s 31 s i g n i f i c a n t that by 1800 Blake was a t t r i b u t i n g genius to both Chatterton and Macpherson, well after the forgeries had been proven. H i s t o r i c i t y has nothing to do with myth. The dimensions of Ossian were imaginative^ more so perhaps than Macpherson had intended. As Blake, Keats, and others re a l i z e d , Ossian was authentic" i n spite of the reports of philology to the contrary. Here i s an example of the t y p i c a l f a i l u r e of r i g i d d e f i n i t i o n of experience and poetry to grasp what i s immediately obvious: Ossian was not a. resumption of history but of the dimensions of myth i n the present. The "universe" of myth i s a sup r a - h i s t o r i c a l t r a d i t i o n of thought and f e e l i n g . Here i s the v a l i d i t y of the work to Blake. Romanticism, by placing i n i t i a l stress on the mythic dimensions of immediate per-ception, contravenes the categorical and reductive compulsions inherent i n the l o g i c i z i n g of neo-classicism. The values which late eighteenth-century writers credit begin to affirm the f u l l p o s i t i o n of the s l i g h t l y l a t e r Romanticism. For the c r i t i c i s m of Wharton and others carries an awareness of Ossian and the "Gothic" to their studies of the c l a s s i c authors. Bringing a sense of the mythic proportions of art to the study of the "ancients" e f f e c t i v e l y introduces values into c r i t i c i s m which do not belong to a temporal, n e o - c l a s s i c a l l y conceived lineage of l i t e r a r y v i r t u e s . One could perhaps suggest that the tragic despair of Swift, for example, or Pope i n Book IV of The Dunciad. i s tie d up with the c u l t u r a l r e s t r a i n t characterizing the milieu. This r e s t r a i n t was imposed and maintained by both the economic and i n t e l l e c t u a l obsessions of the eighteenth century, Wordsworth would probably not have survived then as a poet. The possi-b i l i t y of Romanticism required a distancing i n time and space — t h a t i s , c u l t u r e — f r o m the climate Swift endured. F e r t i l e minds such as his could not leap into the new channels of thought, simply because there were no sources of affirmation i n his external world; there was nowhere to go. The force of the neo-c l a s s i c "known" was too present, too pervasive to be side-32 stepped for some other f u l f i l m e n t . The anger and i n t e l l e c t of Swift found ample space to act upon his environment, how-ever, i n ra d i c a l s a t i r e . Swift triumphs over the f a i l u r e of a culture to discover meaning^by laughing. The explosion of Swift's gestures toward his age, and the admission of Pope to c u l t u r a l d isintegration in The_I3unciad, further a s s i s t the disentanglement of a mythic conception of l i f e from the reductions of neo-classicism. Ey 1800, Wordsworth could afford the luxury of s t r o l l s in the Lake Country, protected by Dorothy and Coleridge. Satire, forgery, popular r e v i v a l of the Gothic, a growing disdain of pedantry, domestic and foreign, revolution, a l l contributed to the thrust toward revaluation. For the Romantics as much as for Nietzsche, the "revaluation of a l l values'* was feasible and necessary because the errors i m p l i c i t i n neo-classical thinking "stood forth i n a l l their naked inconsistency." The neo-classic f a i l u r e to comprehend the universe through a discourse of categorical values and impera-tives revealed,over and above the incorrectness of their p a r t i c u l a r views, the inherent forms of thinking that had encouraged these false conclusions. The fact that the form pf d e f i n i t i o n i s c l a r i f i e d suggests a basis for the Romantic reject i o n of Enlightenment Reason on , conceptual grounds. Kant helps resolve the problem of "discur-sive thinking" i n his Critique,of_Judgment. The correct c r i t i q u e of judgment immediately suggests the "suspension of judgment" or d i s b e l i e f . Judgment can be seen as an act that i n t e r f e r e s with experience, not because i t i s e v i l or clandestine but because i t s mode of operation i s already physically at odds with direct perception. Its mediation of experience i s v i r t u a l l y a physical thing, inasmuch as thinking i s an act. Beyond the fact of r e i f i c a t i o n and enclosure that are latent in the very form of a c t i v i t y of discursive thought, there i s the URGE TO REIFY. This urge i s more susceptible to c r i t i c i s m than the form of a thought i t s e l f . In whose service i s this urge? The tools the mind brings to the task of understanding 33 l i f e a r e r e - e x a m i n e d by R o m a n t i c i s m , a t l e a s t i m p l i c i t l y . To a c h i e v e R o m a n t i c i s m ' s new base f o r c o n c e p t i o n , the c o m p l e t e r e l i n q u i s h i n g o f E n l i g h t e n m e n t g o a l s was r e q u i r e d . But g o a l s a r e o n l y a k i n d o f s i g n a l . Beyond t h e g i v i n g up o f E n l i g h t e n m e n t g o a l s and v a l u e s , the R o m a n t i c g i v e s up the means by wh i c h t h o s e v a l u e s were o r i g i n a l l y p r o j e c t e d . B l a k e g e t s myth back i n t o the "human b r e a s t , " where i t b e l o n g s , and where i t alw a y s was. Once i t i s known t h a t the d i s c u r s i v e l o g i c i s " n o r m a l l y " employed i n the s e r v i c e of the " u r g e " t o p r e d i c t and a n t i c i p a t e ( i e . t o -'know"), and t h a t the p r e d i c t i v e d r i v e i s n o r m a l l y i n the s e r v i c e o f d e f e n s i v e n e s s . one c a n see how l o g i c c o u p l e d w i t h f e a r s o o n c r e a t e s an a l m o s t i m p e n e t r a b l e w a l l o f p r e - c o n c e p t i o n between u n i v e r s e and man: And i f i t i s t r u e t h a t we now l i v e i n f e a r o f our own house, and c a n e a s i l y t r a c e the r e a s o n f o r i t , i t i s a l s o t r u e t h a t we c a n t r a c e r e a s o n s why t h o s e who do n o t o r d i d not so l i v e f o u n d o ut how t o do o t h e r t h a n we. -T h i n k i n g i t s e l f i s n o t to blame f o r a n y t h i n g . I t i s the use we p u t t o t h o u g h t t h a t g i v e s t h o u g h t the a p p e a r a n c e o f the v i l l a i n , and i n s p i r e s one form o r a n o t h e r o f " a n t i - i n t e l l e c t -u a l i s m . " R o m a n t i c i s m i m p l i e s as much. But R o m a n t i c i s m does b e g i n — a n d h e r e i s the i m p o r t a n t . t h i n g — b e f o r e c o n c e p t i o n . The m y t h i c d i m e n s i o n o f Romantic p o e t r y , w h i c h we w i l l l o o k a t i n •/ ; a n o t h e r c h a p t e r , a r e r e v e a l e d i n a c t i v i t i e s i n a c c e s s i b l e to d i s c u r s i v e t h i n k i n g . G e n e r a l l y , R o m a n t i c i s m r e p l a c e s t h o u g h t as,, the ..approach^ to the moment w i t h the moment as an e x i s t e n t i a l r e a l i t y d e m o n s t r a t i n g the c o h e r e n c e o f man and cosmos. The a p p r o a c h to s u c h a moment, c h a r g e d as i t i s w i t h m y t h i c dimen-s i o n , i s one o f a s u s p e n s i o n , o f d i s c r i m i n a t i o n . I n the R o m a n t i c p o e t s t h i s a c t o f s u s p e n s i o n i s p r e s e n t e d as some k i n d o f " p a s s i v i t y . " H a v i n g r e l i n q u i s h e d the c o n c e p t u a l g o a l s of the E n l i g h t e n m e n t , the Rom a n t i c p o e t c a n o n l y g e t t o " t h e moment" by a- d i s l o c a t i o n from any r e m a i n i n g " n o r m a l " p r e - d i s p o s i t i o n 34 toward experience. What was pre-defined and pre-dictable for others was not so for the Romantic poet. But i f the normal predictive drive was more or less n u l l i f i e d in certain exper-iences, then those experiences would be more or less t o t a l l y unexpected. Pre-dictable: whatever can be "spoken i n advance" cannot be the same thing as what a Romantic poet must f e e l or what his poem must say. Thus, we find a considerable emphasis in Romanticism on the notion of "surprise," "amazement?" "awe," "suddenness," and so forth, together with a vocabulary replete with figures of openness, r e c e p t i v i t y , v u l n e r a b i l i t y , p a s s i v i t y . Surprise i n openness. So here i s the question: i f Romanticism eschews p r e d i c t a b i l i t y , then what must be the appropriate stance of the reader to the poem? What i s the extent of the reader's interaction with a Romantic poem? 35 FOOTNOTES Morse Peckham, "Toward a Theory of Romanticism," PMLA, L X V I (March 1951), 6. 2 v i z . Blake, "The Mental Traveller." 3 Peckham, "Toward a Theory of Romanticism," 8-9. ^ R.D. Laing, The Politics„gf_Experience and The Bird of Paradise (Penguin, 1966"), p. 20. 5 Peckham, "Toward a Theory of Romanticism," 10. 6 " Morse Peckham, Beyond the Tragic Vision: The Quest for Identity, in,the Nineteenth Century (New York: B r a z i l l e r , 1962), p. 41. ' • 7 Ibid.. p. 43. 8 Ibid., p. 44. i t a l i c s inserted. 9 Ibid.. p. 45. 1 0 Ibid., p. 84. Peckham, in "Toward a Theory of Romanticism." 12 Beyond the Tragic Vision, p. 84 Olson, Human,Universe. See especially "Equal, That Is, to the Real I t s e l f , " where he deals with some implications of advances i n theoretical science. 14 Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, War,,,and Peace i n the £loba___yillage (New York: Bantam, 1968), p. 7. 15 Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: the Making of Typographical Man (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, I962I, p. 138. 36 v i z . the l a s t c h a p t e r of The Gutenberg G a l a x y , where McLuhan f o c u s e s on B l a k e ' s i n t u i t i o n of the danger of the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of l i n e a r p e r c e p t i o n i n s o c i e t y . 17 Human U n i v e r s e , pp. 3 -4 . 18 I b i d ., p. 7 . 37 CHAPTER III The Actual,Context,of a, .Romantic Poem Romanticism can be seen in part as a general redirection of the poets' verbal organization of experience toward ex i s t -e n t i a l immediacy. A Romantic poem i s r e a l l y a place. Where i s this "place"? Where i s a Romantic poem? Where does i t act? In the l a s t one hundred and f i f t y years countless hypotheses have been held up to defend and c l a r i f y that body of creative genius and labour known as Romanticism. The poems, l i k e Keats' urn, s t i l l "tease us out of thought." What "'Romantic" means i s s t i l l rather equivocal. If we can discover where the Romantic action i s happening, i f we can go to the true ground of the poem, perhaps we can better see what i s happening " i n " the poem. I think the main d i f f i c u l t y hitherto has been i n discovering the ground—the active, fundamental p r i n c i p l e s — d f Romanticism. If we wish to understand what a poem 'is saying, ' or what ' i t means,1 i t i s sensible that we should f i r s t be aware of the locus of the poem's a c t i v i t y . We are i n search of a context, a landscape. The p a r t i a l or complete f a i l u r e to discern the human context of the poem's enactment leads to unresolvable ambiguities in understanding how i t acts. We p e r s i s t in handling poems out of context, i n manipulating,, adjusting, and re-constructing them in absentia. A poem i s o r i g i n a l l y the a r t i c u l a t i o n of the poet's experience. It i s obvious that without the experience there i s no poem. When we read a Romantic poem, now i n 1970, i t becomes an e x i s t e n t i a l a c t u a l i t y for us as persons. Only as the poem i s being read and encountered w i l l i t declare i t s e l f , i t s intent, i t s "meaning." Whatever i s "Romantic" about a poem cannot be anything disassociated from the poet as poet, from the poem as language, or from us as persons—"readers." 38 The actual context of the poem i s the reader. The ground of the poem's immediate action i s not apart from us as we read. To set the poem apart from the reader i s , in effect, to remove the poem from i t s e x i s t e n t i a l context. The l a s t chapter i l l u s -trated the danger of such distancing. Here,too,one can see that viewing a poem "out of context" r e a l l y means looking "at" i t apart from the person who reads i t . Outside the reader's experience, the poem i s l i t e r a l l y in absentia. Outside the experience for which the words on the page have been the occasion, l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t y i s required to reduce the status of the poem to that of a mere o b j e c t — p r i n t e d matter. A corollary i s that predilection toward poems as i f they were objects requiring "elucidation" prefigures the entire separation of the poem from the e x i s t e n t i a l a c t u a l i t y of the reader, that i s , the reader's l i f e . In extreme cases, c r i t i c i s m of poetry which seeks to define meaning and "signi f i c a n c e " of poems-treated-as-objects i s tantamount to the alienation of a l l but the most "distant" reader. This extremity i s nothing short of a "negation of experience" (R.D. Laing). It i s of c r i t i c a l importance that we understand some of the contingent motivations and implications of the OBJECTIFICATION of poetry. This i s especially true in the study of Romantic poetry. For, as was suggested i n the l a s t chapter, the movement of the poet tends to be toward the annihilation of those things that come between the person and the direc t perception. The act of o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of a Romantic poem would, in that case, serve to come between the reader and the words: o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n i s the imposition of DISTANCE upon the thing (here, the poem) that we supposedly wish to understand. Here i s a famous poem by William Blake: 39 THE SICK ROSE 0 Rose, t h o u a r t s i c k i The i n v i s i b l e worm Tha t f l i e s i n the n i g h t , I n the h o w l i n g s t o r m Has fqund o u t thy bed Of c r i m s o n j o y : And h i s d a r k s e c r e t l o v e Does t h y l i f e d e s t r o y . How can we p r o c e e d to e x p l i c a t e the meaning o f t h i s poem? The f i r s t way i n v o l v e s t r y i n g t o c o n s t r u e the "meaning" w i t h a l l the c o n c e p t s a v a i l a b l e t o us; to f i n d and c a t a l o g u e the poem's components. We a r e a b l e , more o r l e s s c o n v i n c i n g l y , to make the poem ' f i t ' any c a t e g o r y and obey any p o s t u l a t e s w h i c h a r e a d v a n c e d . Modes o f c r i t i c i s m w hich adhere t o a n a l y t i c s y s t e m s t e n d to r e s p o n d t o the q u e s t i o n o f meaning w i t h a p r e - o r d a i n e d s e t of c o n s t r u c t s , a s s u m p t i o n s , d e f i n i t i o n s — an o f t e n p r e d i c t a b l e v o c a b u l a r y of " c r i t i c a l c r i t e r i a . " W i t h B l a k e ' s s h o r t l y r i c , the p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f c a t e g o r -i c a l r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a r e numerous and c o n f u s i n g . One might d e s c r i b e the e x t e r n a l s t r u c t u r e o f the poem; i t s p o s i t i o n i n the B l a k e canon as a "song o f e x p e r i e n c e " m ight be c o n t r a s t e d w i t h the B l a k e a n c o n c e p t i o n o f *'innocence"; we c o u l d i n v o k e B l a k e ' s p r o s e , o t h e r poems, h i s a t t i t u d e s toward t r a d i t i o n a l d i c h o t o m i e s o f 'good and e v i l , ' 'dark and l i g h t , ' ' f e a r and j o y , ' i n o r d e r t o come t o c o n c e p t u a l g r i p s w i t h h i s r o s e made s i c k . We m i g h t see the poem as an ' a l l e g o r y ' h a v i n g h i s t o r i c a l a n a l o g u e s . We c o u l d c o n s t r u e the ' s y m b o l i c ' meanings o f images s u c h as "worm" and " r o s e . " Or we might f o r g e ahead i n t o the r e a l m o f " m y t h o p o e s i s i n " THE S I C K ROSE. Our a t t e n t i o n c o u l d be d i r e c t e d t o any ' a s p e c t ' o f the poem w h i c h anyone would c a r e t o name. We a r e as r e a d y w i t h n o t i o n s o f how t h i n g s work as B l a k e , a r e we n o t ? We t o o p o s s e s s c o s m o l o g i e s , o f s o r t s , f o r the e x p l i c i t o r i m p l i c i t f u n c t i o n o f a c c o u n t i n g f o r our e x p e r i e n c e o f s e l f , o t h e r s , and the e x t e r n a l u n i v e r s e , f o r m a l l y , the r e a d e r ' s s t a n c e toward the e x t e r n a l w o r l d , and the laws 40 informing this stance, are brought with him to the poem. In fact, our readiness to comprehend the compelling poem, THE SICK ROSE, i s intimately related to our readiness to assign predictable "meaning" to our existence. So "the notion of even questioning the meaning of the poem i s already a l i t t l e suspect. Could i t be that there are laws invested i n anyone's search for truth or meaning which, themselves, preclude the discovery of authentic, l a s t i n g meaning? Something happens when we read the above poem. At the outset we find the poem compelling, some of us. This, already, i s closer to what Romantics discovered as 'meaningful' than the external approach. For a time, the poem c a l l s an experience into being. We respond to the poem. And when we are engaged in the poem no analysis takes place. We are immediately and more or less wholly involved. There i s , as i t were, not enough time to both engage the poem and analyse i t . To attempt this would e f f e c t i v e l y cancel out what immediate engagement there was• The poem would already be joast tense, removed from us, set at a l i t e r a l distance. Here, I am speaking about a temporal d i s l o c a t i o n . Such an act succeeds i n objectifying the poem by removing i t from physically present action. A l l Romantics from Wordsworth to Keats and on down to Olson and Creeley stress the necessity of a "suspension of d i s b e l i e f . " The reader's true engagement with a poem i s a 'negative capability';' that i s , the a b i l i t y to negate or ignore normal tendency of thought to take up a stance external to the a c t i v i t y of the poem. The p o s s i b i l i t y of the reader's p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the poem i s the condition of any 'communi-cation' taking place. Without the interaction, the poem is u s e l e s s — b l a c k marks on a white background. But the poem i s certainly more than graphic a r t . This i s a fundamental b e l i e f in the reader articulated by a l l moderns following Pound and Williams. The precise nature of the interaction between poet and reader i n the poem i s uncertain 4 1 at this point. But the event of interaction i s demonstrated by the reader's response to the poem, even i f only for a moment. If we deny primacy to the fact of this b a f f l i n g con-nection, our comprehension of the poem's 'meaning' w i l l be limited to what we do after we read (or hear) THE SICK ROSE. This tendency i s prevalent i n c r i t i c i s m as shown i n the d i c t i o n readers often bring to a poem: we 'look for meaning,* write about poems,' 'look at poems,' and so on. The poem, and thus, the meaning that the poem 'has,' i s often treated as existing apart from the reader i n some exclusive dimension of meanings reserved for the art i t s e l f . Meaning becomes reduced to at t r i b u t i o n  levied from without. One notes that this i s also the normal attitude toward any 'external' object. When the reader thinks himself to be wholly outside the poem, then conclusions about the meaning or significance are necessarily extra-polations from the poem or impositions upon i t . That the poem somehow functions with the reader's personality to e l i c i t a response i n him could be ignored. This ignorance i s the avoidance (conscious or unconscious) of the magnitude of the poem-as-an-immediate-experience in favour of making observations and att r i b u t i o n s . The l a t t e r choice i s both the simplest and, for some, the only choice; for such conception obeys the normal stance of l o g i c a l thought with respect to things. This i s the harmful form of what I referred to above as ' o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n . ' The externaliza.tion of the interpreting intelligence may have i t s p a r t i c u l a r and valuable applications. This same response—to externalize the c r i t i c a l s e l f i n order to appraise and define some function of a poem—may indicate s subsuming of a 'feeling response' within the boundaries of what can be determined from a 'reasoning and codifying' response. The urge, however, to enclose and isolate 42 aspects of human existence suggests something of the order of a personal and c u l t u r a l neurosis. Susan Sontag writes: In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the p h i l i s t i n e refusal to leave the r.ork of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. Ey reducing the work of art to i t s content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comfortable. In fact, most so-called 'meaning' evolved from a position of ' i n t e l l e c t u a l detachment,' i s primarily delineating the manner and boundaries of i t s own delimitation of the poem. The problem arises of the value and scope of detached understanding of poetry. The more 'real' the poem i s , the more 'nervous' we are l i k e l y to f e e l . And the more nervous we are, the more we might try to relegate 'meaning* to what Sontag c a l l s ' a "shadow world." ' C r i t i c a l o b j e c t i v i t y 1 might perhaps be the sign or symptom of a retreat from the vulnerable r e a l i t y conveyed to us i n THE SICK ROSE, for example. Objectivity, used in this way, i s a place of retrenchment. Romantic poetry, at i t s best, always arouses intense feeling, and therefore a condition of openness or v u l n e r a b i l i t y . But one can replace feeling with r e f l e c t i o n , and thus avoid what could be a painful encounter. This reaction i s partly a refusal or negation—a thrusting away. It i s easier to r a t i o n a l i z e than to engage. Psychological studies beginning with Freud in modern history have demonstrated the repression of deep-seated feelings through a. process of rapid r a t i o n a l -i z a t i o n — s o habitual as to be normal or 'natural.' The fundamental ambivalence i s intimated by the introductory paragraphs of Charles Olson's essay, "Human Universe"! 43 The d i f f i c u l t y of discovery (in the close world which the human i s because i t i s ourselves and nothing outside us, l i k e the other) i s , that d e f i n i t i o n i s as much a part of the act as i s sensation i t s e l f , i n this sense, that l i f e i_s preoccupation with i t s e l f , that conjecture about i t i s as much of i t as i t s coming at us, i t s going on. In other words, we are ourseives both the instrument of discovery and the i n s t r u -ment of d e f i n i t i o n . Which i s of course, why language i s a prime of the matter and why, i f we are to see some of the laws afresh, i t i s necessary to examine, f i r s t , the present condition of the language—and I mean language exactly i n i t s double sense of discrimination (logos) and of shout (tongue). There i s nothing i n v a l i d about this functioning of the generalizing, categorizing, and r a t i o n a l i z i n g i n t e l l e c t in i t s own sphere. Its f a u l t i s in i t s presumption; i t s dangerousness i s i n i t s behaviour as an invalida ting response. This i n v a l i d a t i n g order of rationalism, when applied, to the poem, t e l l s us more about the reader than what was read. THE SICK ROSE catalyses p o s s i b i l i t i e s of experiencing in modes (such as fantasy) which requires a suspension of a c t i v i t i e s that would normally negate 'fantasy' as an a c t u a l i t y . It i s also to be expected that one might notice a di s p a r i t y between the experience one .has with a poem and the thoughts which arise to replace this experience (by construing i t ) . In a more positive sense, however, the condition of fantasy, for example, powerfully contributes to the impressions which w i l l f i n a l l y enable one to say something i n t e l l i g e n t 'about' the poem. The mind a r t i c u l a t e s what R.D. Laing c a l l s d i f f e r e n t 3 "modalities of experience." He mentions "perception, imagination, phantasy, reverie, dreams, memory," among others. The delimiting, circumscribing, r e i f y i n g a c t i v i t y of the discursive reason i s an important and eminently useful modality i t s e l f . What one objects to i s i t s 44 exclusiveness, i t s p a r t i a l or complete refusal to relinquish primacy over consciousness, i t s insistence upon speaking •for' experience. I r o n i c a l l y , a l l this can be done with the utmost concession to the abstract v a l i d i t y of other modalities: i t i s abstract because this v a l i d i t y i s i t s e l f defined by discursiveness. This locating and construing action, which simultaneously separates from while attaining primacy over other modalities, even names the other processes and describes their typology. The logos, i t s "cerebral" (D.H. Lawrence) a c t i v i t y , perpetuates i t s e l f as adjudicator and hierophant. It i s possible that i t s ascendancy become . so thorough as to supercede a l l other modes of conscious response. It i s possible for a human to f o r f e i t his contact, communion, and experience i n other forms of awareness. Or, even i f those others do reveal themselves, they can be suppressed, denied, or otherwise obfuscated. Some students of Romantic poetry allow c r i t i c s to interpret for them. I have sometimes called the separative, formula-making function of the mind the ' i n t e l l e c t * or 'thinking.' These words are used in an attempt to describe or point to our ty p i c a l interpretive a c t i v i t i e s : discursiveness i n form, with strong tendencies toward j u r i s d i c t i o n , h i e r a r c h i c a l arrangement, and d e f i n i t i o n . I am addressing here the 'reasoning* action of the i n t e l l e c t , not that numinous and l i b e r a t i n g power which .Shelley addresses i n his "Hymn to I n t e l l e c t u a l Beauty." Perhaps the motivation i n 'explicating,' 'interpreting,' and 'finding meaning' is related to and part of the poem as i t happens in the reader's experience. The experience we 'have.' when we read i s the only viable ground to question, think on, i d e a l i z e . A cri t i q u e of the poem in our experience, but not apart from i t — t h i s i s the second way of understanding poetry. Romantic prose encourages ' o r i g i n a l ' reading-* 4 5 reading without external d i r e c t i o n . This position affirms as a basic postulate the actual i t y whereby the read or heard words of THE SICK ROSE immediately summon the "affections." We are aware of a connection with the poem. In this essay, the connection between reader and poem i s the most fundamental GROUND OF MEANING of the poem. To attribute 'meaning' to marks on paper i s as incomplete as to suppose the words to be the source of a t t r i b u t i o n of meaning to us. The poem, then, i s rooted in a process of INTERACTION and INTERDEPENDENCE. For, as we are reading, we perceive the POEM TO EE OUR VERY EXPERIENCE. The experience of engaging a poem i s everything that happens as we read. Nothing that i s , properly, the poem, is apart from the reader. Therefore, the poem's meaning cannot exist apart from the reader. The reader i s somehow the actual context of the poem. In the confrontation of Romantic poetry there are few choices given to us. Either we are involved in the vortex of f e e l i n g , perception and cognition that the words render, or we are not. It would appear that understanding Romantic poetry i s predicated upon the a b i l i t y to become involved with i t — a s s e n t to i t s flow, embrace i t s demands. (Quite naturally, as we have already seen, since this assent was also the condition of the poets having anything to write in the f i r s t place.) For Blake's poem, we can see the broad implications of what happens when we read and then try to relate what has happened. Almost immediately I find I cannot express what happens, or where i t happens. The poem can be investigated as a separate entity; we can stare at the page and grope for 'patterns.' But d i f f i c u l t y i s encountered in expressing what happens with the poem. The urgency and potency of the poem are too numinous. THE SICK ROSE engages me in some actual, dynamic way which i s not within the defin-i t i v e circumference of c r i t i c a l d i c t i o n . The scene, the 46 encounter between worm and rose, is too actual, too much with me. That which Elake has so v i v i d l y informed, i s , in the immediate dimensions of experience, too much ME. For any of us, at any instant, are juxtaposed to any experience, even an overwhelming single one, on several more planes than the arbitrary and discursive which we inh e r i t can declare.^ It i s I who have d i f f i c u l t y i n finding the language to express the feelings which form the interaction with the poem. It i s the poem that i s eloquent. It i s the poem that has the words. Blake's poem of 'experience' occurs in our experience. The sudden entry into the place where the central action i s an ' i n v i s i b l e ' worm destroying a joyful rose i s , after a l l , best a r t i c u l a t e d by the poem i t s e l f . But the reader can only 'know' this when he i s 'in ' i t , having a powerful experience. For our experience of the poem, the ways i n which the written language i s transformed in us, i s f i r s t declared by the very experience we 'have.' Only bg an act of s e l f - e x t r i c a t i o n can we achieve a view of the poem as something 'other, 1 and therefore susceptible to examination and measurement. In some way the poem i s a 'stimulus.' It engenders, or better, makes possible a response. The moment we begin to read, something en t i r e l y new begins to happen. Our surroundings are suddenly d i f f e r e n t from what they were before we picked up the poem. Our consciousness i s transformed, i . e . , tine FORM of consciousness has changed. And our ATTENTION i s not where i t was. Laing writes: What i s called a poem i s compounded perhaps of communication, invention, fecundation, discovery, production, creation. Through a l l the contention of intentions and motives a miracle has occurred. There i s something new under the sun; being has emerged from non-being; a spring has bubbled out of a rock.-5 47 The poem declares i t s e l f , i t s motivation, dynamic, intention, energy, somehow in us. Safely outside the current of the poem we can judge, decide, advocate, speculate, thematize, deny, refute, a.r6ue, ignore, reject, r a t i o n a l i z e , interpret, praise, comment, construe, represent, discuss, and so forth ad infinitum. This l i s t i s composes of some more or less meritorious actions performed up_on poems after the fact: emotion reconstructed i n t r a n q u i l l i t y . The re p e t i t i o n of these and other post facto operations reinforces habitual constructions and procedures which reappear in the reader or c r i t i c as predilections and predispositions toward poems yet unseen. Susan Sontag suggests the h i s t o r i c a l and l i t e r a r y base of the withdrawal from immediate experience (of art) i n favour of positing i n t e l l e c t u a l constructions: The fact i s , a l l Western consciousness of and r e f l e c t i o n u_on art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It i s through this theory that art as such—over and beyond given works of art—'becomes problematic^ , in need of defense. And i t i s the defense of art which gives b i r t h to the odd v i s i o n by which something we have learned to c a l l "form" i s separated off from something we have learned to c a l l "content," and to the well-intentioned move whiclvmakes content essential and form accessory. Behind a screen of 'defensiveness, ' a l l or some of the above actions have been brought to bear upon poems for the sake of 'interpreting' them, of dis c l o s i n g their assumedly covert meaning. A l l or some of these operations have been performed under the banner of 'obj e c t i v i t y ' and c r i t i c a l 'detachment. ' Two things are clear: detachment here exists for the purpose of examining things-as-objects; this form of o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n has nothing to do with poetry, 48 and w i l l not help us understand THE SICK ROSE. The result of such c r i t i c a l ' o b j e c t i v i t y , ' as opposed to 'subjectivity,' gives a sense of the separation of the person from the poem; or more c r u c i a l l y , from the p o s s i b i l i t y of his direct p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the poem. The separation i s a symptom— "over and beyond given works of a r t " — o f ontological a l i e n a t i o n . Under the sign of alienation every single aspect of the human r e a l i t y i s subject to f a l s i f i c a t i o n , and a positive description can only perpetuate tne alienation which i t cannot i t s e l f describe, and succeeds only in further deepening i t , because i t disguises and masks i t the more. We must then repudiate a positivism.that achieves i t s ' r e l i a b i l i t y ' by a successful masking of.what i s and what i s not, by a s e r i a l i z a t i o n of the world of the observer by turning the truly given into capta which are taken as given, by the denuding of the world of being and relegating the ghost of being to a shadow land of subjective •values.' The theoretical and descriptive idiom of much research i n s o c i a l science adopts a stance of apparent 'objective' n e u t r a l i t y . But we have seen how deceptive this can be. The choice of syntax and vocabulary are p o l i t i c a l acts that define and circumscribe the manner in which the 'facts' are to be experienced. Indeed, i n a sense they go further and even create the facts that are studied. The 'data' (given) of research are not so much given as taken out of a constantly elusive matrix of happenings. We should speak of capta rather than data. THE SICK ROSE offers to us an "elusive matrix of happenings." Meaning does not exist apart from these happenings:"these happenings do not exist apart from the reader. The ground of the poem IS the reader's psychic involvement: "My psyche i s my experience, my experience is my psyche" (Laing, p. 1 9 ) . To be engaged with a poem is to have something being made •rea l ' in our experience. THIS REALIZATION IS THE MEAMKG. 49 Or mearing i s known by the reader as the revelation of how the psyche experiences—grasps—the poem: of the exact ways in which the psyche IS the poem. The poem i s the creation arid g i f t of the poet. Thus, the poem as an interaction, es a meeting place, i s also inter-personal. The poet's poem exists AS OUR VERY EXPERIENCE only when we are immediately there, ourselves. As William Carlos Williams writes in Spring, and^.AIIt In the imagination, we are henceforth (as long as you read) locked, in a fraternal embrace, the cl a s s i c caress of author and reader. We are one. Whenever I say " I " I mean also "youi*!^ In THE SICK ROSE,;" this 'embrace' may or may not be known; js^ uch depends on the reader. Ideally. possibly, the reader can become, for the duration of his COMPLETE ATTENTION to the poem, nothing other than the poem. In not being separated from our experience, we are the evidence for the actuality of the poem, the ground from which i t speaks and which we share with the human who wrote i t . If the em-brace i s as complete as Williams would have i t , then there i s no difference between " I " and "you." There i s only the poem. Wordsworth writes in the Preface (1800) to his L y r i c a l Ballads (p. 2Jo): I have one request to make of my Reader, which i s , that i n judging these Poems he would decide by his own feelings genuinely, and not by r e f l e c t i o n upon what w i l l probably be the judgment of ethers.9 Wordsworth, with urbanity and care, s t r i v e s to impress upon the reader the importance and actual i t y of PRESENCE in the poems, "Poems so materially d i f f e r e n t from those, upon which general approbation i s at present bestowed." His Prefaces, more than merely philosophic and aesthetic 50 theory, are directed to the public with the intention of elucidating his intention of 'exciting 1 intense, immediate •feeling.' "I wish to keep my Reader in the company of f l e s h and b l o o d . " 1 0 For a poet i s "a man speaking to men."1 He "thinks and feels i n the s p i r i t of the passions of men." Wordsworth's advice to his readers i s applicable to a l l poetry; we must look to the 'effects' of the poem. But, as we s h a l l see, the effect of the poem our a b i l i t y to properly engage i t in i t s dimensions, i s determined by the form of presentation. Wordsworth's Prefaces are documents showing the signs of a Romantic preoccupation with a new way of presenting an ancient subject matter. Romanticism must also be considered a FORM OF PRESENTATION. And what .lis 'Romantic' i n t h i s , i s the way the poem achieves an interaction with the reader's psyche, l i t e r a l l y taking him beyong the pales of discursive conception into supra-rati o n a l landscapes of awareness. The 'subject' of a Romantic poem—the 'objects* that are 'in' i t — a r e s i g -n i f i c a n t i n terms of their relationship to the perceiver; f i r s t t_o the poet, then, through language, , t o us. The d i r e c t i o n and directness must be stressed. It i s partly how the poet presents his 'subject' TO us that either enables us or prevents us from r e a l i z i n g i t . The other part i s our i n i t i a l willingness to suspend " d i s b e l i e f " and enter the poem. My experience of THE SICK ROSE i s not expressible i n words, at least not very s a t i s f a c t o r i l y . I cannot match with c r i t i c a l d i c t i o n the enormity of the ground from which i t spe&Ks, and i n which I journey imaginatively. One stammers. The impact of THE SICK ROSE and the p o s s i b i l i t y of enumerating "meanings" are at odds—two en t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t things. I car not find words other than "0 Rose, thou are s i c k i " If we approach this poem as possessing some arcane "meaning" no aesthetic statement 51 can bring i t wholly into the mind. If we approach the poem as possessing something even as general as 'content' no formulation can encompass i t . In our c r i t i c a l repertoires there are only attributions, analogies, and reference systems. The main thing i s that the reader has to r i s k the f u l l impact of his own feeling i f he wishes to apprehend the poem in ways that approximate the writer's informing energy. The Romantic poet demands a. great deal from his readers: If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as i t i s , i n f i n i t e . For man has closed himself up, t i l l he sees a l l things thr' narrow chinks of his cavern. Suzanne Langer states in her book, Philosophy i n a Hew Key (K.Y.: Mentor, 1951), p. 45, that experiences of an ineffable order, such as we may f e e l when we read Blake's poem, cannot be expressed by language of discursive conception, because Only certain products of the symbol-making brain can be used according to the canons of discursive reasoning. This notion, deriving from Kant's Critigug.of_Judgment and Cassirer's work i n 'symbolic l o e i c , 1 further suggests that the laws of discursive thinking demand the linear arrangement and construction of things that are to be treated reasonably. The language of this treatment tends to discursiveness i t s e l f , so that from the 'standpoint' of the individual 'thinking back on' his experience, interpretation w i l l tend to represent the world of the poem as a linear phenomenon. Thus, interpretation w i l l summon categorization, generalization, analogy, and hierarchies of one sort or another. The poem can mirror back to my' conception anything I wish to see there. One 52 t could read THE SICK ROSE as the overthrow of courtly love values by the energies of darkness. One could then say that this was 'good' by id e n t i f y i n g the worm as a force of Imagin-ation; or one could say i t i s 'bad' by projecting onto the worm a quality of 'death' or li n k i n g i t up with the v i t i a t i n g forces of 'reason.' Or one could see the poem as a s a t i r e , or a comic piece. Eut these categories may constitute the "capta" discerned by the selective prejudices of the "discursive reasoning," or urged from us by our own "natural" biases and values. Here, Blake's poem would have the theraputic action of inadvertently (a poem has no w i l l ) showing us the forms of our values and the force of their emergence. There i s much to be said for data (or capta). Data studies data. It does not study what we fe e l to be a poem. It studies i t s e l f , d e l i n e a t e s i t s own a c t i v i t y . Data does not ar t i c u l a t e experience. THE SICK ROSE art i c u l a t e s experience. Poems are not discursive, except on the vi s u a l l e v e l of reading across the page,encountering the f i r s t word and then the second and so on; But poems are messages to a whole s e n s i b i l i t y and a whole imagination. Nothing less w i l l do to 'know' Blake's poem. Romantic poetry i s not addressed to the 'dissociated s e n s i b i l i t y ' — which resulted partly from the externalization and hyposta-t i z a t i o n of the vi s u a l sense. Eye movements back and forth across the printed page support si m i l a r linear processes in the conception of experience. Even before we reach the poem, our stance toward i t . i s conditioned. Discursiveness sets the stage for behavioural approaches both to the moment and to the world of the poem. It encourages quantitative methodologies of positivism. The nineteenth-century denigra-tion of the Enlightenment Reason is based on Reason's imposition, i t s domination from without by the distantly superior 'point' of view. The laws and dicta of such a 53 mode of intelligence appear, to be, and act as i f they were, incommensurate with the 'ineluctable.' To understand experience (with a poem or with a tree) we must have a reintegration of s e n s i b i l i t y . While the discursive asserts dominion over the entire ground of conscious existence, poetry—and especially what i s Romantic, in poe try—Will not even be f e l t much less comprehended. With the assistance of c u l t u r a l , h i s t o r i c a l , s o c i a l , moral, theological, p h i l -osophical and egoic 'values,' the linear holds sway over ontolgy. The result i s the delimiting of e x p e r i e n c e — a l l experience—to those p o s s i b i l i t i e s of which li n e a r "mind" i s custodian. I stumble over Blake's l y r i c because i t realizes (I r e a l i z e ) NONrDISCURSIVE modalities of experience. It i s from the very habit of thinking about poetry with linear tools that a discrepancy arises between 'manifest' and 'latent' meanings, between apparent content and the esoteric profundities. We are told that there are 'seven types of ambiguity,' and so on. It i s inherently impossible for the reasoning process to succeed i n i t s private ambitions; i t cannot a r t i c u l a t e the poem's meaning because 'meaning' i s not something that the poem 'has.' Meaning i s what i s set in motion; what, happens. And the place meaning happens, where a c t i v i t y i s Known to be going on, extending, i s right HERE. Romantic empiricism i s the fee l i n g now, in the fles h , the 'passion' which the poem extends to those who assent to i t , open themselves up large enough to embrace i t . How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five? (i_Q_a_D.: William Blake) Like Blake and the other Romantics, there is an i n e r t i a we 54 have to overcome; ar. enclosure, a l e v e l l i n g m e d i o c r i t y to p e n e t r a t e . May God us keep From S i n g l e v i s i o n & Newton's sleep.' 55 FOOTNOTES 1 Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation (N.Y.: D e l l , 1969)> p. 17. o Olson, Human Universe, pp. 3-4. ^ Laing, Politics,of.Experience, p. 18. 4 Olson, p. 5. 5 Laing, p. 34. ^ Sontag, p. 14. 7 Laing, pp. 52-53. 8 William Carlos Williams, Spring and A l l (Dijon: Contact Publishing, 1923), p. 4. ^ Citations from Wordsworth's Preface are to Lv_rical_Ea 11 ads: Wor^sworJh_and^ol^ridge, ed. R.L. Brett et a l . (London: Methuen, 1968"}. 1 0 Ibid-» P« 250. 1 1 Ibid.. p. 255. 1 2 Ibid.. p. 261. 56 CHAPTER IV Disorientation i s Physical: Tapping Your. Toe.,to Music The notion of Romanticism that i s developing i s t h i s : the process of "disorientation" that the poet undergoes i n his h i s t o r i c a l s i t u a t i o n also has psychic ramifications. The formal q u a l i t i e s of these ramifications can be seen as laws that are operating on a l l levels of being. We can, for example, witness the d i s l o c a t i o n of the Romantic poets from the security and d e f i n i t i o n offered by their society. We can further see into the precise ways in which the individual minds of the Romantics dealt with the fact of d i s l o c a t i o n : the h i s t o r i c a l p r i n c i p l e i s transformed into a psychic p r i n c i p l e . But the differences between the two are less important here than the essential s i m i l a r i t y . The movement in both culture and person was from a l i n e a r orientation to a non-linear orientation v i a a process of d i s o r i e n t a t i o n . This general pattern emerges in s p e c i f i c ways and places, but i t i s the continuity of form among a l l Romantic poets (including contemporary "romantics") that I wish to establish and develop. If the notion i s true, we should be able to find many poems in which a process of disorientation from linear perception, value, and thought i s succeeded by some order of non-linear re-integration. There are many such poems that demonstrate this process i n varying scales. One is tempted to f a l l back on the f a m i l i a r notion of "death and r e b i r t h " to c l a r i f y the process. Eut to do this would be to summon already thoroughly assimilated and somewhat hackneyed l i t e r a r y values. For what i s most central in the process i s a change in the form of PERCEPTION, and the enormous changes i n other functions of mind which accompany t h i s . Romanticism presents this process and transformation i n physical terms. It i s the sense of physical immediacy conveyed by the words of many Romantic poems that simultaneously allows 57 and demands the co-operation, the co-action of the reader. And i t i s this co-operation or involvement i n an action with respect to another action(the poem) which the reader f i r s t manifests as his very experience. Thus, the reader's action may, i n fact, p a r a l l e l the o r i g i n a l , poetic act of the poet, and thus be the counterpart, i n i t s form, of the poet's o r i g i n a l perception. Here, again, i s the " l e g i s l a t i v e " power of the poem. It forces us to experience, compels us to act (even quietly, within ourselves), and so points to our very experience. This i s what i s intended in the notion that the great poem '"reads me," rather than I read " i t . " Romantic poetry i s immeasurably important for t h i s : i t s best writing engages us, v i a i t s active laws (the laws of language )^to become AWARE OE WHO WE ARE—aware of the dynamics of our own being, their magnitude, and their p o s s i b i l i t i e s . For who we are, at any given moment, cannot be more than our r e l a t i o n to the universe shows us to be. For the duration of our attention to the p a r t i c u l a r poem, the poem i s the only available universe. And ;the poem i s an action, s p e c i f i c a l l y , the reader's action, which i s never athier than the reader himself. So the reader's engagement i s somehow a re-enactment of the poem. As such, the reader i s i n possession of the poem's "meaning." This i s why the extent to which the reader can relieve himself of the burden of pre-conception and that larger impediment, self-consciousness, i s c r u c i a l to engagement with a poem. The less he has of self-consciousness, the more he is susceptible to the dynamics of the poem. The more he can d i r e c t l y engage these dynamics, the more he w i l l l i v e and act in the world of the poem—the more completely he w i l l be there. And being there, he w i l l "know" the laws of that place. For he w i l l be acting them, l i v i n g them; they w i l l not be apart from him, or "other" than him. But the loss of self-consciousness w i l l mean the loss of normal discrimination—namely l i n e a r , discursive discrimination. A person cannot accomplish this himself. He requires some form of d i s c i p l i n e . The poem i s that d i s c i p l i n e , or at least, the 58 occasion for the emergence of a d i s c i p l i n e in us. For the "laws" that are active in a poem are somehow in harmony with laws in us; we speak of being "touched" by a poem or by music, for ex-ample. The identity of the laws of a poem and the laws of a person makes art possible, creates what we c a l l '"communication." Romantic poets began to discover ways to draw out the laws, forms, dynamics of our being by f i r s t discovering these laws in their own experience, and second, discovering means of rendering these laws i n language. The poem helps. The process by which the reader i s relieved of self-consciousness constitutes a process of "disorientation." For the "normal" orientation of a person i s governed by laws that have discursive form. So the swing from a position of ontological security defined by " s e l f - i d e n t i f i c a t i o n " and " s e l f -d e f i n i t i o n " to a new dimension of being defined by non-discursive p r i n c i p l e s , i s a re-enactment i n miniature of the whole collapse of the Enlightenment. Romanticism discovers, i n ef f e c t , that the actual (active) laws of being are here, in this moment— not i n some far off world of ideal Forms, but i n the form of the present. Romanticism discovers presence. For a Romantic poem to bring the reader completely into i t s "magic c i r c l e , " i t must accomplish a physical presence i n the reader. I f the reader remains "outside,*' or i f the poem does not render i t s impulses f u l l y to bring the reader " i n , " then Romantic interaction between poem and reader w i l l not happen. The poem w i l l not give form to i t s things, objects, thoughts, and so they w i l l not be real to the reader as immediate action. Romanticism has i t s great poems—those in which content i s f u l f i l l e d , unimpeded. These a l l succeed, in part, by indirectly-precluding the reader's stance of detachment by creating physical immediacy. A brief discussion of Coleridge's poem, "This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison," w i l l demonstrate the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the above concept of Romanticism. Then, by using the analogy of music, I hope to p a r a l l e l Coleridge's development of the poem with the physical interaction of a l i s t e n e r with music. 59 Coleridge begins i n a condition of aloneness and f i n a l i t y : Well, they are gone, and here must I remain, This lime-tree bower my prison.' Kis present condition i s presented as desolate. He feels deprived of past possessions: I have lost Beauties and feelings, such as would have been Most sweet to my remembrance even when age Had dimm'd mine ;eyes to blindness I Already he has projected the loss of potential experience i n some other place with a loss of something past. He i s an old man, mourning the "beauties and feelings" of youth. His awareness i s limited to what he cannot have. The conditional voice of "would have been" clea r l y shows the time-locked form of linear thinking. He suffers, imprisoned indeed, in self-consciousness. He i s l i t e r a l l y blind to where he i s , because his thoughts are. where he i s :not. He even goes so far as to think that he may "never more" see his "friends" again. His loss of expectation at not being able to accompany them, together with his thoughts "about" them, create a sense of negativity and even f a t a l i t y . He slowly be ains to r e c a l l his past experiences i n the same locale where he has directed them. F i r s t , we are given a general sense of the place—"The roaring d e l l , o'erwooded, narrow, deep." And then, as his memory brings him more and more pa r t i c u l a r images of nature, he i s able to "see" his friends "emerge/ Beneath the wide wide Heaven." By now ( 1 . 2 1 ) he i s v i r t u a l l y looking through their eyes; and view again The many-steepled tract magnificent Of h i l l y f i e l d s and meadows, and the sea, With some f a i r bark, perhaps, whose s a i l s l i g h t up The s l i p of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles Of purple shadow.' YesJ they wander on In gladness a l l . 60 Stopping here, for a moment, one i s compelled to ask, "What or who wanders on?" We are as much with the "Isles/Of purple shadow" as with the wanderers, are we not? What moves on here? Are we not somehow right there, "emerging" with the others? Here we see the recurring Romantic theme of the a b i l i t y of memory working upon the Imagination to release the mind from li n e a r and negating forces. In spite of what we may think of the memory as a recep-tacle of events in the past, we are here engaged i n another man's present. Coleridge has moved out of the force of linear thought and into the energies of memory. Then, he takes a s l i g h t step back. He does so by r e c a l l i n g the past condition of l i f e that Charles Lamb had suffered, for thou hast pined And hunger'd after Nature, many a year, In the great City pent, winning thy way With sad yet patient soul, through e v i l and pain And strange calamity i The vividness of the memory of suffering suddenly takes Coleridge out of the positive rhythm that had been developing up to this point. The image of "the prison" s h i f t s to "In the great City pent." We are back to the beginning. But the present condition i s one which r e f l e c t s , once more, the temptation Coleridge i s under. He too i s "hungering after Nature." He wants what he believes he cannot have. Wherever he fixes his attention, that i s manifested to -him. Then, without warning, Ahi slowly sink Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun.' Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb, ie purple heath-flowers.' This wish for v i s i o n , for Lamb, coming suddenly upon us l i k e t h i s , i s a suffusion of l i g h t and action where there had been st a s i s and stagnation. The sheer desire and energy of Coleridge to have his friend be f i l l e d with "joy" suddenly manifests the image of the "glorious sun." What happens to the reader here? 61 Do we not see how a sudden presence, the impact of an unexpected thing, reveals the difference between immediacy of form and the continual postponement that linear thinking makes of desire. A delight Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad As I myself were there.* These lines reveal that Coleridge r e a l i z e s that he i s not there, but that he i s no longer trying to get "there" because he IS HERE. He has l e f t the ambivalent offerings of the memory, the implacable swing between pain and pleasure that thought-applied-to-memory brings, and can now see the whole physical presence of his immediate surroundings. Nor i n this bower This l i t t l e lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd Much that has sooth'd me. He goes on to mention a few of the things that he had "mark'd." Each i s presented as a past entity—"hung," "I watch'd," "lov'd," "that walnut-tree/ Was r i c h l y ting'd," and so on. These things, however, v/ere not the prime things of his perception. The prece-ding lines have shown us where he r e a l l y had given his attention. Eut these lines are important. They indicate that Coleridge had noticed some of the things about him, and that they had "sooth'd" him somewhat. A l l along, in the intervals of his thoughts and v i v i d projections, he had also been making probes into his immediate surroundings. The past i s mediated by time, i f we think as such. The present i s mediated by self-consciousness, i f we become trapped i n the swing between pain and longing, between loss and expectation. But i n li n e 5 4 "now" gets into the poem in a way that i s t y p i c a l l y Romantic: and a deep radiance lay F u l l on the ancient ivy, which usurps Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass Makes their dark branches gleam a l i g h t e r hue Through the late twilight: and though now the bat 6 2 Wheels s i l e n t by, and not a swallow twitters, "Yet s t i l l the s o l i t a r y humble-bee Sings in the bean-flower! Note especially how the i t a l i c i z e d words themselves "usurp1" the previous tone of the poem, pointing d i r e c t l y to things. And how car e f u l l y the images are p i l e d , mounting toward the word "gleam," as i f the whole force of nature were driving toward that one thing. But i t i s our enactment r e a l l y , as much as nature's or Coleridge's. Rather, i n the same form as nature perceived by the poet. Lines 59-67 express what Coleridge believes has hap-pened; Henceforth I s h a l l know That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure; No plot so narrow, be but Nature there, No waste so vacant, but may well employ Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart Awake to Love and BeautyJ and sometimes 'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good, That we may l i f t the soul, and contemplate With l i v e l y joy the joys we cannot share. Coleridge's address to Lamb i n these lines i s not successful poetry, but i t does offer a few hints as to the process Coleridge i s discussing. "Nature" does not "desert" us because i t IS wherever we are, regardless of how desolate the place i t s e l f may be. The mind and "heart" are not "Awake to Love and Beauty," however, except i n the act of perception through "Each faculty of sense." It i s the knowledge of immediate things that allows the experience of "glory" to be f u l f i l l e d i n a person. The a b i l i t y of the poet to follow the various modes of perception and "contemplation 1" back and forth through various time and space has the effect of making him susceptible to a "sudden1* awakening in the f u l l present. The rhythm of oscillation,together with a progressive loss of self-consciousness»unite i n the s e l f l e s s empathy Coleridge feels for Lamb to produce a welling up of numinousness and gratitude. Listen to the sound of " s t i l l the s o l i t a r y humble-bee/ Sings in the bean-flower." And at the end of the poem, Coleridge 6 3 and Lamb are united i n the form of "the l a s t rook" seen as " i t s black wing" "Had cross*d the mighty Orb's dilated glory." The perception of the hard-edge pa r t i c u l a r i n the midst of the open (di l a t e d ) , i s a powerful epitome of the change that Coleridge has undergone. And Coleridge's offering of an a l t e r -native percept—the sound of the "creeking" wings of the rook f l y i n g "o'er thy head"—make i t clear that Coleridge i s not dealing i n s c i e n t i f i c but i n jJLmen_sional, accuracy. He i s saying, i n e f f e c t , you can take your p i c k — t h e sight, or the sound. Each has the power of presence, enough to illuminate the mind with "joy." But more i s required than mere looking or l i s t e n i n g . In the f i r s t case, Lamb must be "gazing." In the second, the condition of f u l l perception is"when a l l was s t i l l . " The true figure-ground r e l a t i o n i s not only bird against sun or sound against sky. The true figures, things, objects are these. But the true ground i s the RECEPTIVITY of the being who ATTENDS to them. In e f f e c t , Coleridge's poem demonstrates to us (and i n us) as i t did to Coleridge, that one must dislocate from one's NORMAL ANTICIPATION OF BOTH LANGUAGE AND EXPERIENCE before the multi-dimensional in experience can be entered "Awake." The Romantic poet cries "Awake." It i s a demand. * Tapping your toe to music. With this action most of us are f a m i l i a r . It may be f r u i t f u l to discuss what we do with a musical stimulus to see i f music i s a formal analogue of Romantic poetry. I am suggesting one example of what I see as a Romantic p r i n c i p l e of mental a c t i v i t y , namely, the process of conforming to the circumambient energies of the human environment. Here, I am re f e r r i n g only to the perceptual environment, not to a c t i v i t i e s usually considered to be independent of "external" a c t i v i t i e s or phenomena. It i s l i k e l y , however, that this other order of mental a c t i v i t y could be comprehended as following similar laws. The relevance to the study of Romantic poetry i s simply stated. 6 4 The fundamentally oral and aural properties of speech, and poetic speech i n p a r t i c u l a r , begs the question of what happens when we LISTEN.(The "humble-bee/ Sings in the bean-flower.") The dimension of poetry being considered here, then, i s the musical character of speech.as i t i s encountered by the l i s t e n e r (a reader). With poetry, we are f i r s t l i s t e n e r s , because we are dealing with and responding to sound. So there i s some formal continuity between l i s t e n i n g to music and l i s t e n i n g to poetry. The continuity obviously resides i n the form of,_ listening» the act of hearing. How we treat what we hear depends on things other than the fact of hearing. The physical response made to sound does, on the other hand, offe r a perhaps more overt and demonstrable index of the d i r e c t effects of sound than what we are able to supply afterward. The body of an attentive l i s t e n e r becomes an extension of the musical instruments; that i s , he i s audially informed. To be audially or acoustically informed i s to take the form of sound and, therefore, to become responsible to the mechanics or physical energies that sound i s presenting. This i s a "natural" process. Somehow we are what we hear, when we are hearing. Thus, one i s required to "play." If one does not play, register the movement or energy, the transference of energy from the source to the person, say by tapping the toe, then a contradiction w i l l be f e l t . This contradiction is f e l t in the body, present as a kind of u n f u l f i l l e d compulsion which has emerged by virtue of an immediate demand. The music sets in motion an entire l y d i f f e r e n t premise for balance, homeostasis—PHYSICAL ORIENTATION, i f you l i k e . The properties of music create new " c r i t e r i a " for equilibrium of the being. The body, vi a the ear, 'knows' these new c r i t e r i a i n s t a n t l y . One vibrates to the sounds. Sounds are dire c t signals to the body. Sound below a certain number of cycles w i l l cause the body to disintegrate. That i s , one has no choice, physically, for the toe taps by i t s e l f , naturally, unless prevented by an act of w i l l , or other d i s t r a c t i o n . 6 5 Such p r e v e n t i o n w i l l p e r h a p s b r i n g some measure o f unease or d i s c o m f o r t , o r e v e n p a i n , t o the l i s t e n e r , which may compel him t o s t o p c o m p l e t e l y by w i t h d r a w i n g p h y s i c a l l y as w e l l as m e n t a l l y . F o r d i s c o m f o r t t o e x t e n d t o d i s a p p r o v a l i s n o t d i f f i c u l t . T h i s r e f u s a l o r n e g a t i o n i s s u s c e p t i b l e t o i t s own laws and c a n e a s i l y p r o c e e d a l o n g i t s own p a t h w a y s — f r o m the r e f u s a l t o a l l o w the whole s e l f t o a c h i e v e a r h y t h m i c homeo-s t a s i s i n i t i a l l y , a l l the way t o d e c l a m a t i o n o f the m u s i c on " i n t e l l e c t u a l " g r o u n d s . E n g l i s h B l a k e t e a c h e s men to s i n g . 2 o r b a th e Greek t e a c h e s the E n g l i s h m a n t o d a n c e . I n Human U n i v e r s e ( p . 5 2 ) , C h a r l e s O l s o n w r i t e s : A poem i s e n e r g y t r a n s f e r r e d from where the p o e t g o t i t (he w i l l have some s e v e r a l c a u s a t i o n s ) , by way o f the poem i t s e l f t o , a l l the way o v e r t o , the r e a d e r . The body wants t o r e n d e r the i m p u l s e , t o become i t , t o t r a n s f o r m the a c o u s t i c v i b r a t i o n s i n t o a c t i o n s o f i t s own. S u c h i s the p r i n c i p l e o f IMITATION a t i t s h i g h e s t p i t c h . When drums sound t h e i r i n s i s t e n t rhythm, t h e i r d e f i n i t i v e m e asures, we w i l l p e r h a p s want to p l a y our f i n g e r s on the t a b l e , o r s l a p our t h i _ j h s , o r g e t up and d a n c e . The " c l a s s i c c a r e s s , " the u n i t y o f l i s t e n i n g " s u b j e c t " and e x t e r n a l " o b j e c t , " commences w i t h the f i r s t sound o f drum o r word. The v i b r a t i o n a g a i n s t the ear-drum i s a l r e a d y a p h y s i c a l , u n c o n t r o l l a b l e r e s p o n s e — t h e f i r s t d e f i n i t i v e r e s o n a n c e . The PHYSICAL IMITATION APPEARS AS A RESONANCE CORRESPONDING TO A VIBRATION. The v i b r a t i o n i s o u t s i d e , o r seems to be. B u t the f a c t o f r e s o n a n c e and c o r r e s p o n d e n c e o b v i a t e a l i n e a r d i s t i n c t i o n . We can s t o p l i s t e n i n g i n p a r t — w e can withdraw a t t e n t i o n . But the drum has no power to c e a s e i t s e x p r e s s i o n , i t s e x p u l s i o n , and p r o j e c t i o n . We c a n deny o r p e r m i t i t s e x t e n s i o n t o o u r whole c o n s c i o u s n e s s . The body i s , a l l the w h i l e , l y r i c . I t moves outward u n l e s s we e n c l o s e , deny, e n s l a v e i t . Here i s Wordsworth i n " E x p o s t u l a t i o n and R e p l y " : 66 The eye i t cannot chuse but see, We cannot bid the ear be s t i l l ; Our bodies f e e l , where'er they be, Against, or with our w i l l . To reply to the drums i s to complete the action, a f u l l demonstration of f e e l i n g — " t h e spontaneous overflow of power-f u l f e e l i n g s . " The body,in other words, has already attuned i t s e l f to the p a r t i c u l a r demands of sound and concomitant rhythms. The implications are enormous. To give oneself completely, in attention, without cerebral interference, i s to penetrate the lin e a r d i s t i n c t i o n s of subject/object which an external observer would note. Correspondence i n the kinetics of sound acts, however, to eliminate such d i s t i n c t i o n s : SEPARATION i s replaced by SIMULTANEITY. So, Keats i s able to write to his friend, Woodhouse (October 27, 1818) that the poet "has no Identity." And Zen Buddhism maintains that human beings manifest (without r e a l i z i n g ) an order of being which i s neither subject nor object, and which does not discriminate between them i n a li n e a r sense, cannot, for i t interacts completely with whatever i t beholds. In the same l e t t e r Keats says the poet i s "continually informing and f i l l i n g some other body." Or i s i t that some "other" body i s continually informing him? Only the very act can prove that these are the same. If the world of d i v i s i o n — t h e "universe of discourse" that Olson q u e s t i o n s — i s i l l u s o r y i n some way, and Newton was indeed asleep, then these grounds of "truth" and authority are integral i n the formation of an erroneous perception. A person could believe, act, respond, and teach as i f the world of "single v i s i o n " were absolute r e a l i t y . Hesitancy to respond to the demands of one's body attuned to a new order of interaction with the world or with art, r e f l e c t s the basic defensiveness and "nerv-ousness1" that many people f e e l when confronted by immediate, physical response. 67 What we desire and what we permit are often widely separated. E s s e n t i a l l y we are as Blake saw us:"less than A l l cannot s a t i s f y Man." And yet we normally fear what we cannot correctly and con-f i d e n t l y anticipate, or "know" from outside. The form of "knowing" that most people are taught to employ in order to make , M s e l f -i d e n t i t y " i s a l i n e a r one: i t encourages notions of inside/outside, self/other, good/evil, man/God, heaven/hell. But, i r o n i c a l l y , to f e e l "nervousness" or excitement of some kind before art, or on hearing a poem, i s ALREADY TO HAVE LEFT THE SECURITY AND SELF-DEFINITION ENFORCED BY LINEAR RELATIONSHIPS. Loss of p r e d i c t a b i l i t y i s often s i g n a l l e d i n the f l e s h . The body i s already moving into new dimensions of response. The s l i g h t e s t sensation or anxiousness signals that the journey i s already under.way. It i s a l i t e r a l journey. The Imagination of Romanticism i s no "mere" imagining. The entry into somewhat un-"known" and un-forseeable places and spaces i s already i n i t i a t e d . Once we are on board the Pequod, or in the company of the Ancient Mariner, or Childe Harold, we are, i n a sense, signed to the whole journey. To hide below decks w i l l prove d u l l indeed. It happens before we know i t . We tap our toe un-self-conscious!Vy• We GO WITH the new d i r e c t i o n being registered i n us, u n t i l we become self-conscious. Our di s o r i e n t a t i o n has already happened. Remember that a l l along Coleridge had been noticing the things of his immediate environment, but that only by opening his i n i t i a l l y closed mind could he suddenly see things and partake i n them. Under the stimulus of sound and rhythm, our disorientation from b e l i e f s and treasured values and d e f i n i t i o n s has already been effected with ease. It crept in unexpected and perhaps unwanted, i n a microsecond: sound i s so fast, i t s impulse so present. In us, the impulse i s f e l t , in part, as DESIRE. And the warning of the prophet i s f i e r c e : Sooner murder an infant in i t s cradle than nurse unacted desires. (Blake, "Proverbs of Hell") 68 To continue the 'journey is to allow the physical impulses transformed and registered i n the body to inform the other dimensions of m i n d . Here i s seen the physi c a l i t y of Imagination, why i t i s possible for one to d i r e c t l y engage the stimuli that especially Romantic art presents. This point w i l l be examined l a t e r : Romanticism encourages the physi c a l i t y of i t s images and sounds to act upon the receptive reader, to co-respond with him. Romanticism, i n beginning with perception, gets the whole rhythm of correspondence back into the body, where i t belongs. It seems that to continue the journey requires an act of l e t t i n g go—the suspension of a repertoire of judgmental and other i n t e r f e r i n g devices, further and further d i s l o c a t i o n from the w o r l d of fe e l i n g and thought governed by discursive distancing, closer and closer correspondence with the actual things that are there, very much in motion. One might c a l l this act "commitment," and thus be happier with my argument. Either way, i t i s a RISK. Self-consciously, we can notice the d r i f t and force of the new energies which have appeared, become frightened, threatened by engulfment i n a l i e n things, and retreat. Otherwise, we l e t go. This i s partly a decision (a matter of w i l l ) , partly a necessity (a matter of s e n s i b i l i t y ) , partly already i n action (a matter of the body). The simultaneity of new responses, the new balance or ORDER, actually, the whole new form of our being, i s now a f a c t — i n the moment that the toe begins to tap the mind begins i t s play. This i s an act of assent. To dissent or withdraw would be to becKon pain. The r e - d e f i n i t i o n , the new pulse and d i r e c t i o n , seemingly carries us away from the old safety of "normal" fe e l i n g and behaviour. We go into new places. And the toe i s already moving. And the voice would give answer, chorus, song. And the legs would join in the dance. A l l this renewal i s a basic Romantic urge, ...for axioms in philosophy are not axioms u n t i l they are proved upon our pulses. (Keats to John Reynolds, May 3, 1818) 69 And the one thing that makes a l l communication of energy, "meaning," rhythm, thought, and perception possible in a poem i s , in the f i r s t place, the burst of SOUND upon the e a r — t h e short, sharp breath of uttering the sound, that i s the "cause" or occasion of the ear's resonance. Each word f a l l s upon the ear with an IMPACT, the impact of VOICE. The word i s a gun going o f f . One i s s l i g h t l y s t a r t l e d . With an actual gun the ear's pain threshold i s brought into play. But a car backfiring i n the street i n the quiet of night has nothing to do with pain. We can react against SURPRISE. Our normal stance toward the external world of phenomena avoids shock or. re a l SUDDENNESS. The reason i s that for the duration of being s t a r t l e d from our li n e a r orientation, the governing p r i n c i p l e s of that orientation are unable to exert their power and means of d e f i n i t i o n . We s t i l l hear the expression, "I started." We say,"I started," because, in retrospect, the experience was one of going away from this ground—the secure ground of li n e a r d e f i n i t i o n — t o w a r d or into another dimension. One i s l e f t with ithe fe e l i n g of having "started" or "begun" something ELSE. A word, not necessarily an exclamation, can, under certain conditions, produce the effects of powerful exclamation. We take most sounds, including the human voice, for granted. We have assimilated them into our normal orien-tation. We are capable of anticipating and predicting language more or less completely, so we think. Whenever OUT normal expectation of language or experience, or the experience of language, i s not true to i t s predictable form, the result can range from mild dismay to anxiety and psychosis. For a person who has been isolated from other human beings for a long time, the sound of a human voice w i l l inevitably carry considerable force. It i s not merely a question of the renewed fellowship with one's kind that I am suggesting here, although that might well accompany the experience of the sound. A grunt, or a "hello" w i l l penetrate to the centre of his being, w i l l f i l l him completely with sound; or he w i l l f i l l sound completely. For previously, he had adapted to the absence of 70 the sound of another voice. His orientation has been reworked to include silence. Eut what happens in the moment that he hears what his orientation cannot account for? Now as a matter of fact there i s no stimulus which, in i t s f u l l impact with us i n a condition of openness, that can be accounted for by a li n e a r orientation. IN THE MOMENT OF IMPACT the order of recognition and p a r t i c i p a t i o n with the energy or stimulus i s other than l i n e a r . Our normal, l i n e a r approach t_o the moment i s e f f e c t i v e l y broken by the moment. And the sub-sequent looking back on or at the moment (for we have now re-appeared i n time), w i l l resume a position of external evalua-tion and l i n e a r thought v i s a v i s the moment. "I started" i s past tense. But what i s here, i n the moment of " s t a r t i n g ^ " In this moment, something i s accomplished, f u l f i l l e d i n the PRESENT tense: the "humble-bee/ Sings i n the bean-flower." Our normal a n t i c i p a t i o n of language i s the a n t i c i p a t i o n of the "content" of language, or some aspect of what can be shown to be "content." That i s , a l i n e a r orientation toward words or speech concerns i t s e l f with .what i s being said over and above how i t i s being said. In fact, the formal properties of speech are v i r t u a l l y t o t a l l y subsumed within the pre-conceptual frame of reference. Gestalt psychology has shown us that, i n fact, we respond to much more (in speech) than what i s said. Our bodies reveal that part of us i s aware of tone, rhythm, pitch; the body i s always registering the "speech" (Olson) properties of language. The body also reacts to the subliminal directions which the mind gives as i t mulls over the content and projects the implications of speech through time and space. The body r e f l e c t s our thinking as well as our rhythm. Again, the fundamental defensiveness of human beings can be demonstrated in this context. For whenever thinking assumes a stance of being threatened. the focus upon speech content i s p a r t i a l l y subordinated to things such as tone. For example, when talking to our friends we are normally consciously directed toward what they are saying. But suppose a very suspicious-looking person 71 suddenly approaches and begins to address us. Do we not focus our conscious attention as much, or more, on the mannerisms of his speech? Do we not,in fact, look to a l l conceivable elements of his voice, appearance, behaviour,and so on? Why the change? It i s to protect ourselves from sudden attacks, to attempt to quickly and e f f e c t i v e l y define the stranger according to p r i n c i p l e s which w i l l allow us to "know" him—to know what "to expect from him." DefensiVeness l i e s at the heart of the MISUSE of l i n e a r conception—our almost perpetual insistence upon bringing linear thought to analyse l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n s . Before a stranger we are l i k e l y , ( t h i s too i s predictable), to become tense, suspicious, and generally i n e f f e c t i v e . Here, the "habits of thought" make real action impossible. Thinking, i n a c r u c i a l s i t u a t i o n , produces a tension and contradiction i n most people that makes them incapable of action. And yet, we persist with linear thought, out of habit. For l i n e a r d e f i n i t i o n , we believe, i s the only/ e f f e c t i v e way of orienting ourselves to our environment. We are a f r a i d of r e a l l y being surprised. Our f a i t h i s in defensiveness. " T h r i l l s ' " are not r e a l l y surprising, they are more or less predictable, more or less secure. This i s a v i t a l point to the whole idea being discussed here. For the fact that we seek a certain, manageable amount of surprise and excitement reveals a basic d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with normal orientation. Eut s t i l l , few people r e a l l y go the whole way to d i s o r i e n t a t i o n . They s e t t l e for " b r i e f f l i n g s , " and retreat to security in old d e f i n i t i o n s . With others,like the Romantic poets, the elemental urge to break down the old forms to allow i n fresh movement i s revealed as a basic quality of man. In the same way that the body can respond to immediacy i n l i f e , the mind DESIRES to complete the action. Something i n us i s d i s s a t i s f i e d , not r e a l l y content with the separation of mind and body. Something wants to bridge the distance. The p o s s i b i l i t y that this i s actually happening i n any moment, for example i n a shout, encourages us to make greater e f f o r t s to perceive the moment i t s e l f more f u l l y and d i r e c t l y . / 72 When i n a state of "surprise" a person i s deprived of his normal "defense" structures. The more he i s committed to the maintaining of these structures, the more he w i l l be aware of danger, and the more f e a r f u l he w i l l become. Surprise can reach the l e v e l of trauma. We speak of v u l n e r a b i l i t y in a negative sense normally. But v u l n e r a b i l i t y i s also openness. Here, an authentic a c t i v i t y of language i s clear, aside from the wretched "use" we have put to i t . Language, beginning with the immediate impact of sound i t s e l f , can act to dislocate us from our normal stance toward phenomena. Poetry,as I hear i t , i s i n i t i a l l y t h i s : an act of un-mediated perception. We can make no less a promise, however, that in this " s t a r t i n g " or "surprise," we do not "know" who we are. But we only know this after we have returned from where we were. Then the question remains, "Where were we?" In the case of the car backfiring, there i s no doubt that we do hear the sound. The sound i s s t a r t l i n g because i t i s so d i s o r i e n t i n g . For the duration of this disorientation (later called " s t a r t l e d " ) , we are not what we normally think ourselves or interpret ourselves to be. We do not then exist inside the c i r c l e of d e f i n i t i o n which i s t y p i c a l and habitual for us. Disorientation produced by sound ( or any sudden thing), creates a condition of alertness and readiness. It i s not far from this openness to enclosure or defensiveness,as has already been shown. But this need not necessarily happen. One can remain open i n a way which i s not equated with self-destruction. From an external point-of-view, the s i t u a t i o n looks as though what i s required i s an immediate e f f o r t to regain the l o s t ground, re-establish the circumference of predictable events. We are qpnd itioned,. to be afraid when, we.are. s t a r t l e d . Fear i s something we impose upon openness—a Freudian "projection." But i f one i s a f r a i d , then one w i l l probably not be u t t e r l y open, because fear compels defensiveness, which i s an enclosure. But in the case of exclamation,or the backfiring car, can one say that one was afraid in the niipme; n t^of.,sound? The answer i s that we are undoubtedly not defensive in any sense in the exact instant that the sound strikes us. It i s always after that we import fear. 7 3 And fear immediately obviates the PASSIVE, RECEPTIVE quality of the moment. When we hear, as we are hearing the sound, the sound i t s e l f i s the ONLY EVIDENCE FOR OUR EXISTENCE. It IS our very existence, for i t i s our only EXPERIENCE. We cannot "know" we are d i f f e r e n t from sound, because the categories of separation and d i s t i n c t i o n have been e f f e c t i v e l y removed by the act of sound, and our complete interaction with i t . There i s the argument. Its implications,with respect to Romantic poetry, are c r u c i a l . Pound hes i t in his A B C of Reading that prosody i s the " a r t i c u l a t i o n of the t o t a l sound of a poem." So that we can hear a poem as a continual d i s l o c a t i o n , moment by moment, s y l l a b l e by s y l l a b l e , from our ordinary ground of experience. And we can hear the " t o t a l sound'of a poem" in a similar fashion. But here, the multi-dimensional properties of sound, together with the various d i f f e r e n t means of creating sound, point to a much larger sense of our interaction with a poem as SOUND. For "sound" possesses more dimensions than that physical one at the ear, although i t i s this that I have t r i e d to show i s the beginning of our a c t i v i t y v i s a v i s the poem. Disorientation through the direc t impingement of pa r t i c u l a r sounds i s one formal means of poetry for bringing the reader into the new dimensions of receptivity where he can experience in new ways. Blake writes in "The Auguries of Innocence": We are led to Eelieve a Lie When we see (With d e l l not Thro' the Eye Which was Born in a Night to perish i n a Night When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light. God appears & God i s Light To those poor Souls who dwell in Night, Eut does a Human Form display To those who Dwell in Realms of day. Un t i l we are suddenly "awakened" by a sound, or a sight, or somehow, we cannot know our own "Human Form.*' In the same way that "God" shines far away to those who exist in "Night," so 74 the reader's connection with the meaning or "truth" of a poem appears to be some remote, a t t r a c t i v e , yet hidden thing. Those who think that there i s some "meaning" to f i n d — t h o s e who look "with" th e i r eyes instead of "Thro"* them—willsearch for a thing outside themselves, and so, w i l l not "discover" anything. When we see through the eyes and hear through the ears our perception w i l l be transformed. So the effective Romantic poem, l i k e the pounding drums, demands that we cease using our senses at a distance, and instead, enter through them into the "Penetralium of mystery." (Keats' phrase). Edmund Carpenter's work on "Acoustic Space" in Explorations i n n Communication (Boston: Beacon Press, I 9 6 0 ) , can ass i s t us i n considering the larger dimensions of the poem that sound engenders. F i r s t , there i s the physics of sound to consider: The essential feature of sound, however, i s not i t s location, but that i t be, that i t f i l l space. We say "the night s h a l l be f i l l e d with music," just as the a i r i s f i l l e d with fragrance; l o c a l i t y i s irr e l e v a n t . The concert-goer closes his eyes. Auditory space has no point of favoured focus. Itfs a sphere without fixed boundaries, space made by the thing i t s e l f , not space containing the thing. It i s not p i c t o r i a l space, boxed i n , but dynamic, always i n flux, creating i t s own dimensions moment by moment. It has no fixed boundaries; i t i s i n d i f -ferent to background. The eye focuses, pinpoints, abstracts, locating each object i n physical space, against a background; the ear, however, favours sound from any di r e c t i o n , (p. 6 7 ) E a r l i e r , Carpenter has seized upon the close r e l a t i o n between line a r thinking and lin e a r v i s i o n : Truth, we think, must be observed by the "eye,"then judged by the " I . " Mysticism, i n t u i t i o n , are bad words among s c i e n t i s t s . Most of our thinking i s done in terms of v i s u a l models, even when an auditory one might prove more e f f i c i e n t , (p. 6 6 ) 75 The thinking l i f e of man becomes closely oriented to his need to "locate and i d e n t i f y objects i n three dimensions. It i s the objects which compel our attention and orient our behaviour" (p. 6 7 ) . The "locomotion and attendant kinesthesis" of depth, which i s "the chief c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of v i s u a l space," are 'suppressed and ignored' (p. 6 7 ) i n order that we may focus on the act of d e f i n i t i o n . In fact, then, movement and touch, taste and smell make i t possible for v i s i o n to discover depth. But these are forsaken for the precision and "knowledge" that v i s i o n alone can o f f e r . The second thing to consider i s the order of involvement that sound offer s : Not a l l sounds are sudden, and not a l l are fear-producing. Auditory space has the capacity to e l i c i t the gamut of emotions from us, from the marching song to opera. It can be f i l l e d with sound that has no "object," such as the eye demands. It need not be representational, but can speak, as i t were, d i r e c t l y to emotion, (p. 6 9 ) The elimination of the intervening factor of thought and expec-tation, the elimination of this mediating power, opens a world of a l l dimensions. These dimensions are those of immediacy and action. In poetry as in music, a l l the sounds—their cadences, beats, rhythms, momentum, s h i f t s — c o n s p i r e to create a universe of d i r e c t correspondences: Poets have long used the word as incantation, evoking the v i s u a l image by magical acoustic stress. P r e l i t e r a t e man was conscious of this power of the auditory to make present the absent thing. Writing annulled this magic because i t was a r i v a l magical means of making present the absent sound, (p. 6 9 ) But the voice restores the acoustic ground and thus supplies the other levels of immediacy which the v i s u a l image or thing is capable of showing—"because the v i s u a l image that sound evokes comes from the imagination"(p. 6 9 ) . Sound becomes more 76 effe c t i v e a means of demonstrating the f u l l dimensions of a v i s u a l image to the perceiver than the image i t s e l f . For i t makes a ground i n which a l l the senses can mingle and play with each other: This interplay between sense perceptions creates a redundancy, where, even i f one element i s omitted, i t i s nevertheless implied. We f e e l , h.ear, and see "flaming, crackling red." Leave out "red," and i t ' s s t i l l there; green neither flames nor crackles, (pp. 69-70) The Romantic poets read aloud to one another. Blake's songs are somehow to be sung. The ground of being where our sense " r a t i o s " (McLuhan) are re-integrated i s the Imagination. It i s via the senses that disorientation and re-integration take place. Disorientation is,therefore, physical. And the "disso-c i a t i o n of s e n s i b i l i t y " i s overcome in the Imagination. If we look back now to Coleridge's poem, we can perhaps better comprehend the process of his recovery of immediacy. The sense of presence is,above a l l , shown i n the movement toward concreteness, that i s , toward dir e c t perception. We move toward and into high p a r t i c u l a r i t y AMID openness. The music of the poem i s very much here, in the resonance of the p a r t i -cular thing i n a dynamic, unimpeded perception. That i s , the music exists as much i n the relationship the reader creates with the poem. For that correspondence has i t s rhythms too, and i t s motion. The music i s thus an aspect of meaning, insep-arable from meaning. In"Kubla Khan" we find some of the most powerful use of tetrameter in English poetry. How much does this underlying stress forge the way we "see" and receive the poem? Is i t not an utt e r l y different conception of meter than what Pope gives us? Is i t not, too, the product of an ent i r e l y d i f f e r e n t conception of l i f e ? . 7 7 CHAPTER V R o m a n t i c C o n c e p t i o n and R o m a n t i c P e r c e p t i o n Now I want t o g e t b a c k t o a b a s i c d i s t i n c t i o n w h i c h c o n c e r n s u s ^ i n the s t u d y o f R o m a n t i c FORM. I t i s O l s o n ' s : " T h e d i s t i n c t i o n h e r e i s b e t w e e n l a n g u a g e as the a c t o f the i n s t a n t and l a n g u a g e as t h e a c t o f t h o u g h t a b o u t the i n s t a n t . " The d i f f e r e n c e i s b e t w e e n " l o g o s " and " s h o u t , " the s h o u t t h a t w i l l i n e v i t a b l y " s t a r t l e " us i n t o some new a w a r e n e s s . I s u g g e s t e d i n the f i r s t c h a p t e r t h a t R o m a n t i c i s m was the a p p e a r a n c e ( h i s t o r i c a l l y ) o f a k i n d o f O r p h i c t r a d i t i o n . . I n B l a k e , t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s c e r t a i n l y most c l e a r — h i s c o n t i n u a l a s s e r t i o n o f h i s a c t s o f " p r o p h e c y . " M o s t h e r m e t i c t r a d i t i o n s and d o c t r i n e s r e p e a t c e r t a i n p r i n c i p l e s o f e x p e r i e n c e ; t h e y s h a r e a common c o n c e p t i o n o f the u n i v e r s e . I n c o n t r a s t t o t h e u n i v e r s e d i s c e r n e d by the l a w s o f " d i s c o u r s e , " the w o r l d o f " I m a g i n a t i o n " i s p e o p l e d w i t h q u i t e d i f f e r e n t f o r m s and f o r c e s . I n the i m a g i n a t i o n t h i n g s and a c t i v i t i e s a r e p o s s i b l e w h i c h a r e n o t a l l o w e d i n ' t h i n k i n g a b o u t ' l i f e . I t i s t h e r e t h a t e v e n n o r m a l l y p a i n f u l and r e p u l s i v e e x p e r i e n c e s c a n be s e e n p u r i f i e d o f t h e e g o i c v a l u e s we p o s s e s s . E n s l a v e d by l i n e a r , o n e - d i m e n s i o n a l v i s i o n , a p e r s o n e x i s t s i n a k i n d o f d a r k n e s s ; he i s n o t a t t u n e d t o the c o n n e c t i o n s t h a t f u n c t i o n e v e r y w h e r e a r o u n d h i m , d r a w i n g h i m o u t o f h i s " c a v e r n " i n t o t h e r e a l w o r l d . F o r B l a k e , t h e p o s s i b i l i t y i s ' ' r e a l i z a t i o n o f G o d . F o r K e a t s i t i s " T r u t h " o r " B e a u t y . " I n C o l e r i d g e ' s p r o s e we f i n d the m e t a p h y s i c i a n d r a w n i n t o t h e c i r c l e o f " U n i t y . " M a g i c and " i n f i n i t e " p o s s i b i l i t y o f a t t a i n m e n t r u n t h r o u g h B y r o n and S h e l l e y and W o r d s w o r t h . The g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e w h i c h comes t h r o u g h the w h o l e " t r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s t " t h e o d i c y t h a t R o m a n t i c i s m p o i n t s to i s N O N - D I S C U R S I V E N E S S . The R o m a n t i c s t a n c e t o w a r d t h e w o r l d i s n o n - d i s c u r s i v e . T h u s , t h e a t t i t u d e t o w a r d the p o e m — t h e w r i t i n g and the p u r p o s e — m u s t a l s o c h a n g e . When t h e eye a l t e r s , the f o r m s and e n e r g i e s o f words a l t e r . 78 Olson's statement of the need for an alternative "discourse" has already been f u l f i l l e d many times i n history. The p r i n c i p l e s of that other discourse, that which registers " d i r e c t perception and the contraries," are primitive indeed. And they are h i s t o r i c a l l y "old" as well as immediately "primitive." One problem needs to be cleared up right away, and that i s the danger of misunderstanding the meaning of "primitive." Gary Snyder writes in Earth House Hold. (N.Y.: New Directions, 1957): Poetry must speak from authentic experience. Of a l l the streams of c i v i l i z e d t r a d i t i o n with roots i n the p a l e o l i t h i c , poetry i s one of the few that can r e a l i s t i c a l l y claim an unchanged function and a relevance which w i l l outlast most of the a c t i v i t i e s that surround us today. Poets, as few others, must l i v e close to the world that primitive men are i n : the world, i n i t s nakedness, which i s fundamental for a l l of u s — b i r t h , love, death; the sheer fact of being a l i v e . 1 Olson would add, the moment. That i s , the forces and forms that impinge upon us, engage us, make their unique and powerful demands upon us i n each instant of perception, are primal. They are thus the ac t u a l i z a t i o n of our nature i n i t s most "primitive" r e a l i t y . E a r l i e r , I suggested that the formal continuity between widely separated occurrences u n i f i e s them more surely than any external resemblances. Wordsworth f e l t that, in spite of his "experimental" treatment of both language and conception, good readers would notice that he was not departing r a d i c a l l y from the c l a s s i c t r a d i t i o n of the f i n e s t poetry: It i s apprehended, that the more conversant the reader i s with our elder writers, and with those in modern times who have been most successful i n painting manners and passions, the fewer complaints ...he w i l l have to make.2 79 In spite of the enormous differences i n language, convention, philosophy, culture, and time between , say, Blake and North American Indian shamans, the same order of r e a l i t y i s evinced in both. Blake i s reassured of this by Old Testament prophets.' I then asked Ezekiel why he eat dung, & lay so long on his right & l e f t side? he answer'd "the desire of r a i s i n g other men into a perception of the i n f i n i t e : this the Morth American tribes practise, & i s he honest who r e s i s t s his genius or conscience only for the sake of present ease or g r a t i f i c a t i o n ? " (Marriage i.of Heaven and H e l l , p. 154) The archaic roots of Romantic poetry are perceived by the reader, not as dir e c t reference to a h i s t o r i c a l l y defined past, but i n the very energy of the unfolding poem. The experiences that are truly ORIGINAL, truly from his origins, are also the ARCHFORMS of MAN. If an Indian sees i n a tree what Coleridge sees i n Mt. Blanc, then these two are united through a formal contiguity of perception. The s p i r i t u a l journey i s universal. The u n i v e r s a l i t y of Romanticism resides generally i n i t s being a manifestation of the s p i r i t u a l journey. But the s p i r i t u a l journey, the authentic, e x i s t e n t i a l fact of i t , i s sometimes confused with things other than the l i t e r a l GOING on the journey. Philosophy undertakes no journeys. But Romanticism i s not a philosophy. It i s an enactment. Morse Peckham's repudiation of a "universal" Romanticism i n favour of i s o l a t i n g English and European Romanticism from i t s apparent formal analogues simultaneously ignores the depths to which such a f f i n i t i e s may run, while thrusting the whole burden of Romanticism upon eighteenth and nineteenth-century c u l t u r a l history. The Romantic—whatever i s grounded i n and rendered by the non-discursive—traverses the bound-aries, suggested" by the l i n e a r study of history. Its u n i v e r s a l i t y i s inherent i n two things: a concept of history 80 which denies an essentially universal ground of the Romantic is itself linear and static; and the direct influences recognized and acknowledged by the poets lead us back and forth through time and space into cultures and epochs which "historical" eighteenth-century England only barely knew or not at a l l . Both Romantic conception and perception suggest explicit affinities with minds and cultures geographically and temporally outside this period in Europe's history. The dimensions in which we read and enjoy Romantic poetry relieve i t of historical isolation. The "primitive" mind of the Romantic is the untamed, unfettered mind. But the very liberated consciousness of which we are speaking is one of the oldest possibilities known to man—the possibility of gaining total realization of our "true" nature. Religion, under the pressures of the laws governing social institutions, does not present this possibility. Nor does the philosophic discourse descending from Plafco offer an answafi Gary Snyder sees the theme of liberation—authentic, experiential liberation— demonstrated in the "Great Subculture": At this point, looking once more quite closely at history both East and West, some of us noticed the similarities in certain small but influential heretical and esoteric movements. These schools of thought and practice were usually suppressed, or diluted and made harmless, in whatever society they appeared. Peasant witchcraft in Europe, Tantrism in Bengal, Quakers in England, Tachikawa-ryu in Japan, Ch'an in China. These are a l l out-croppings of the Great Subculture which runs underground al l through history. This is the tradition that runs without break from Paleo-Siberian Shamanism and Magdalenian cave-painting; through megaliths and Mysteries, astronomers, ritualists, alchemists and Albigensians; gnostics and vagantes, right down to Golden Gate Park.-^ Snyder continues in a fashion which, outside the context I 8 1 of Earth House Hold, could easily be taken for a discussion of the central concerns of English Romanticism: The Great Subculture has been attached i n part to the o f f i c i a l r e l i g i o n s but i s d i f f e r e n t i n that i t transmits a community style of l i f e , with an e c s t a t i c a l l y positive v i s i o n of s p i r i t u a l and physical love; and i s opposed for very fundamental reasons to the C i v i l i z a t i o n Establishment. It has taught that man's natural being i s to be trusted and followed; that we need not look to a model or rule imposed from outside i n searching for the center; and that i n following the grain, one i s being truly "moral." It has recognized that for one to "follow the grain" i t i s necessary for one to look exhaustively into the negative and demonic potentials of the Unconscious, and by recognizing these powers—Symbolically acting them out—one releases himself from these forces. By this profound exorcism and r i t u a l drama, the Great Subculture destroys the one credible claim of Church and State to a necessary f u n c t i o n . 4 It i s clear that the above could be a statement about Shelley's Prometheus Unbound or Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, or Byron's Manfred. Romantic poets embark upon a ground of r e a l i t y liberated from impositions and d e f i n i t i o n s from without, and also from the already assimilated d e f i n i t i o n s . It i s these l a t t e r which a s s a i l the "Unconscious." It i s , in part, what the environment has induced i n us, and in the poets, which can make the e f f o r t to regain the lost world of v i s i o n such a d i f f i c u l t , painful task. Here i s Byron's anguish i n Childe Harold. Canto 1 1 1 : Yet must I think less w i l d l y : — I have thought Too long and darkly, t i l l my brain became, In i t s own eddy bo i l i n g and o'erwrought, A whirling gulf of phantasy and flame: And thus, untaught i n youth my heart to tame, My springs of l i f e were poison'd. 'Tis too late.' (Stanza 7) 82 A consistent Romantic notion i s the sense of "thinking" as being inimical to l i b e r a t i n g perception—an act of interference. Often, thinking creates the "demons" which plague and torment us. Blake devotes the whole of his Job to a presentation of how l i v i n g according to the " l e t t e r " i s not l i v i n g according to the "law." The f i r s t i s the enactment of a. conception; the second i s the manifestation of the direct perception. Job has to r e a l i z e his god-nature before he can be liberated from the demons. Prometheus must reali z e that his "god" i s a creation of his own thought, a victim, l i k e himself, of s e l f - w i l l . Beyond discursive thinking i s "di r e c t perception and the contraries." Romanticism i s thus, i n i t i a l l y , a working through of the demonic nature and, possible, a subsequent r e a l i z a t i o n 'beyond good and e v i l . 1 In this process, at any point i n i t , we can achieye a f a i r conception of the poet's imagin-ative world and his stance toward i t . But this has been often done. I am not only concerned with the ideas that the poets possess. Rather, i t i s the place from which the poets present their experience—the formal ground of their w r i t i n g — t h a t concerns me here. I mention some of the dimensions of their epistemology only to demonstrate that we must go beyond, t h i s , even as when we are engaged i n the poems we go beyond any epistemology as such. As Blake writes, "Nor i s i t possible to Thought/ A greater than i t s e l f to know" (" L i t t l e Eoy Lost"). In the best Romantic poems, we go beyond conception and begin to enact what the poem i s presenting. That i s , the poem becomes a perceptual matrix. In Romantic poems, what we act to. and how we act, suggest that the Romantics have managed, sometimes, to get beyond what Olson calle d the " l y r i c interference" of the poet i n the act of writing, so that the whole energy of the poem comes over to us. What I am hinting at here i s the p o s s i b i l i t y of understanding 83 Romantic poetry i n Olson's PROJECTIVE terms. In some respects, approaching the Romantics i n terms of "projective verse" i s d i f f i c u l t . Olson himself has suggested that Romantic poets are impeded and "burdened" i n one way or another. He believes the "projective" i s a development i n poetic form beyond what the Romantics accomplished. I agree, i n part. Yet i t was,to a great extent, experimentation and r e a l i z a t i o n of the Romantic poets which opened the way to contemporary "romantic" poetry. Simply said, the Romantic poets did not always achieve i n verse what they seem to have achieved i n their experience. But their experience bears d i r e c t l y on what Olson reiterates as the necessary "projective"- stance toward the world. Their f a i l u r e was in finding r a d i c a l l y new ways to express themselves. In these cases, the "projective" size of their l i v i n g i s not f u l l y realized i n their writing. Nonetheless they sometimes succeeded. And i n these times, they f u l l y anticipate and serve as guides for Browning and Olson, Hopkins and Ginsberg. Olson's famous essay on "Projective Verse" states at the outset that there i s "a stance toward r e a l i t y (that] brings such jprojectivej verse into being."5 This means that there i s a certain place-from-which the poet must speak, in order to be considered "projective." It comes to t h i s : the use of a man, by himself and thus by others, l i e s in how he conceives his r e l a t i o n to nature, that force to which he owes his somewhat small existence. If he sprawl, he s h a l l find l i t t l e to sing but himself, and s h a l l sing, nature has such paradoxical ways, by ways of a r t i f i c i a l forms outside himself. But i f he stays inside himself, i f he i s contained within his nature as he i s participant in the larger force, he w i l l be able to l i s t e n , and his hearing through himself w i l l give him secrets objects share. And by an inverse law his shapes w i l l make their own way. It i s in this sense 84 that the projective act, which i s the a r t i s t ' s act in the larger f i e l d of objects, leads to dimensions larger than the man. For a man's problem, the moment he takes speech up i n a l l i t s f u l l n e s s , i s to give his works his seriousness, a seriousness s u f f i c i e n t to cause the thing he makes to try to take i t s place along side the things of nature. This i s not easy. Nature works from reverence, even i n her destructions (species go down with a crash). Eut breath i s man's special q u a l i f i c a t i o n as animal. Sound i s a dimension he has extended. Language i s one of his proudest acts. And when a poet rests in these as they are i n himself (in his physi-ology, i f you l i k e , but the l i f e i n him, for a l l that) then he, i f he chooses to speak from these roots, works in that area where nature has given him size , projective s i z e . The requirement, then, for a poet to f u l l y know his "projective s i z e " precedes the p o s s i b i l i t y of his rendering of experience i n a "projective" manner. Here, the use of "rendering" i s important. For the projective poet d i f f e r s from the "non-projective" poet by presenting language as a 'natural' extension of his being, an approximation of the world of nat u r e — a rendering or revelation of man's (the poet's) very nature. The "stance" or orientation of the poet with respect to nature (the universe of his perception) which Olson i s invoking here i s experiential, not conceptual. The p o s s i b i l i t y of the poet recognizing his projective stance i n r e l a t i o n to the world i s the same as recognizing how, the precise ways and'moments, his experience extends beyond discursive bounds. The Romantic poet does move through the walls of his cavern. The times i n which this (projective) act i s accomplished constitute the "high" points, or "peak" experiences, of the poets. The six main Romantic poets a l l achieve peak experience—a loss of the "sprawling" and, thus, confining ego—and relate these perceptions in their poems. Some key examples are necessary to show 85 how some of the poets do, in fact, warrant the name "projective," at least i n their connection with the world of things, i f not always in their poems. A l l the Romantic poets, (except for Byron, who abjured a l l forms of moralizing and outright didacticism), are concerned with their roles as the "unacknowledged l e g i s l a t o r s " of man. The r a d i c a l l y new nature and implications of their experience places upon them the burden and excitement of two forms of " l e g i s l a t i o n . " The f i r s t i s the understanding of the 'laws* or p r i n c i p l e s of their experience—perception, feelings, cognition; the other i s the demonstration of these laws i n the materials of their verse. To a certain extent, we can understand the projective scope and implications of their experience as they relate the LAWS of that experience. So we have Coleridge i n THE RIME OE THE ANCIENT MARINER: Eeyond the shadow of the ship I watch'd the water-snakes: They mov'd in tracks of shining white; And when they rear'd, the e l f i s h l i g h t F e l l off i n hoary flakes. Within the shadow of the ship I watch'd their r i c h a t t i r e : Blue, glossy green, and velvet black They c o i l ' d and swam; and every track Was a f l a s h of golden f i r e . 0 happy l i v i n g things I no tongue Their beauty might declare: A spring of love gusht from my heart, And I bless'd them unaware! The f i r s t ten lines present the immediate perception of the snakes to us. It i s the very IMMEDIACY of their r e a l i t y to the mariner that allows the burden of his g u i l t 86 to f a l l away from him.in the "self-same moment." The condition of his l i b e r a t i o n from suffering i s his di r e c t perception of the s n a k e s — t h e i r movement, colour, form. We w i l l return to these l i n e s l a t e r . But for now, the important thing to note i s that the mariner leaves off his di r e c t engagement with the perception of THINGS (nature), and immediately leaps into a conceptual mode. He i s able, or at least attempts, to account for the nature and order of his l i b e r a t i n g PERCEPTION by giving credit f i r s t to his "heart," then to "my kind saint , " and further WITHDRA'WS from the immediate experience of freedom, physical and s p i r i t u a l freedom, by announcing that THE PRINCIPLE of his emancipation i s his unconscious, unself-conscious, "blessing" of the snakes. What Coleridge wants to do i s to demonstrate both the ACTION and the PRINCIPLE INHERENT in the action which gives i t i t s inevitable form. Because, for Coleridge, the discovery of a process of perception whereby the control of the ego i s attenuated and then penetrated, i s as s i g n i f i c a n t a poetic value as the experience i t s e l f . The danger i s , i n many Romantic poems, that the conceptual order of expression subordinates the e x i s t e n t i a l immediacy. In Olson's terms, this would be a f a i l u r e of form to achieve the "projective." And this would be a s i g n i f i c a n t ' f a i l u r e , ' for "ideas are not what we act to." But the "idea," as such, i s made abundantly clear to us i n the above stanzas. It i s so thoroughly worked into the personality of the mariner, that one i s tempted to suggest that "the act of thought about the instant" i s projective, for i t i s an act, even though an act involving the distancing of an experience. The act of thinking, i n i t s e l f , i s immediate. The r e a l d i s t i n c t i o n i s that "the act of thought about the instant" i s not presenting that instant or i t s objects, but rather i s presenting the act of thought i t s e l f . 87 Sometimes whole poems, very long ones at that, are given to us with the intention of r e l a t i n g abstract p r i n c i p l e s of being instead of being i t s e l f . Wordsworth's Prelude or Growth of a Poet's Mind i s concerned more with heavily discursive discussion of abstract ideas than with the rendering of concrete percepts. Wordsworth wishes to record a l i n e a r development or "growth" as well as a multi-dimensional process. He gives us more li n e s of the former than the l a t t e r . This makes the poem invaluable as an i n t e l l e c t u a l document, but withdraws from the projective  form inherent i n the very things and feelings Wordsworth i s writing about. The poet seems to use his concrete images to " i l l u s t r a t e , " or serve as exempla for such conception as these: There are i n our existence spots of time That with d i s t i n c t pre-eminence r e t a i n A renovating v i r t u e , whence, depressed Ey false opinion and contentious thought, Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight, In t r i v i a l occupations, and the round Of ordinary intercourse, our minds Are nourished and i n v i s i b l y repaired. (Prelude ,X11,208-' Wordsworth's best poetry, those lines i n which the projective act of verse i s but an extension of the perception he has had into the realm of language, are often precisely these "spots of time." But i n the above i t i s evident that the poet i s not concerned with rendering but with e x p l i -cating. He has found a p r i n c i p l e of the l i f e of the mind, and wishes to inform us of i t . It i s a high order of i n t e l l e c t , but didacticism nonetheless. The vocabulary, the l i n e a r syntax, and the 'subjectivity* a l l belong to philosophy—the theoretical interpretation of his o r i g i n a l v i s i o n . A few lines l a t e r , beginning at 1. 225, Wordsworth goes on to relate a p a r t i c u l a r "spot of time." 88 He r e c a l l s a time i n his early childhood, certain images that impressed themselves upon his memory, adding It was, i n truth, An ordinary sight; but I should need Colours and words that are unknown to man, To paint the visionary dreariness Which, while I looked a l l round for my l o s t guide, Invested moorland waste, and naked pool, The beacon crowning the lone eminence, The female and her garments vexed and tossed By the strong wind. (Prelude, X l l , 253-261) The poet, whose job i t i s to make a language that w i l l co-respond with the non-verbal impingement of r e a l i t y , f e e ls that he must reiterate for us the fact of p r i n c i p l e of the non-verbal. He feels he cannot present i t p l a i n l y , ' o r d t l n i r i l y , ' without t e l l i n g us i n ornamented prose what has already been successfully presented i n verse (11. 245-252). The effect of this i s to distance the reader from the events i n a concrete s e t t i n g . Wordsworth, more than any of the Romantic poets, succumbs to the powerful temptation of the i n t e l l e c t u a l push to r e a l i z e (i n Blake's sense of " r e a l i z e or abstract") the laws of action. In attempting to f u l f i l l a double role within the poem, both contemplation and expression, Romantic poetry often does not get out of the circumferenee of the overview imposed by the discriminating ego—the " e g o t i s t i c a l sublime." When li n e a r thought controls the verse, then neither 'act of thought' nor 'act of instant' i s projective. Wordsworth, then, sometimes f a l l s precisely into the trap of the moralist envisioned i n **A Poet's Epitaph": — A Moralist perchance appears; Led, Heaven knows howl to this poor sod: And he has neither eyes nor ears; Himself his world, and his own God; 8 9 One to whose smooth-rubb'd soul can c l i n g Nor form nor feeling great nor small, A reasoning, s e l f - s u f f i c i n g thing, An i n t e l l e c t u a l A l l i n A l i i Wordsworth himself i s not quite "Contented i f he might enjoy/ The things which others understand." He i n s i s t s upon "understanding," often to the loss of the impress of "form" and " f e e l i n g . " In "Hart-Leap Well" we find the following absurd i n t e l l e c t u a l i z i n g : "Grey-headed Shepherd, thou has spoken well; Small difference l i e s between thy creed and mine; This beast not unobserv'd by Nature f e l l , His death was mourn'd by sympathy divine. Such an overwhelming desire to make sure that the reader •gets the point' does damage to the poetry. "Simon Lee," for example, i s inanely over-written. Wordsworth's redundancy i s a quality not of his perception but of his thought. But the projective stance i s i m p l i c i t i n his writing even i f i t i s not u t t e r l y registered i n words. His i n t e l l e c t u a l e f f o r t to grasp ;the process, the dynamic, the ACT of v i s i o n often succeeds i n discovering the Romantic character of experience—the multi-dimensional, the simulta-neous, the organic p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the non-discursive. S t i l l , he often presents these processes as "ideas," i n the language of ideas. But the context of the ideas, and the implications which Wordsworth discerns, lead one to suppose an authentic perception i n spite of the often non-projective character of his language. The authentic alternative to the c o n s t r i c t i n g a c t i v i t i e s of "These mighty workmen of our l a t e r age" (Prel., V. 347) i s shown when the poet "sees into the l i f e of things." William Carlos Williams' famous poetic statement—"No ideas but i n things," i s brought to f u l f i l m e n t i n Wordsworth's "spots" of time. 90 The core of Wordsworth's message i s that one must descend through regions of despair and f u t i l i t y i n order to discover where the true l i f e and meaning of one's being ex i s t s : So I fared, Dragging a l l precepts, judgments, maxims, creeds, Like c u l p r i t s to the bar; c a l l i n g the mind, Suspiciously, to establish i n p l a i n day Her t i t l e s and her honours; now believing, Now disbelieving; endlessly perplexed With impulse, motive, right and wrong, the ground Of obligation, what the rule and whence The sanction; t i l l , demanding formal proof. And seeking i t i n everything, I lo s t A l l f e e l i n g of conviction, and, i n fine, Sick, wearied out with c o n t r a r i e t i e s , Yielded up moral questions i n despair.- (Prel., XI, 293-305) He "turned to abstract science, and there sought/Work for the reasoning faculty!'' (XI, 328-329). But for a l l his labor to rescue some sense of truth from the paradoxes of existence, he finds "I was no further changed/Than as a clouded and a waning moon" (XI, 343-344). The presence of Dorothy Assisted, led me back through opening day To those sweet counsels between head and heart Whence grew that genuine knowledge, fraught with peace. (XI, 352-354) Wordsworth i s led back to re-discover "the common language of a l l eyes;/ As i f awaked from sleep" (VI, 756). In this s p i r i t of AWAKENING, Wordsworth has his f i n e s t perceptions, both i n t e l l e c t u a l and d i r e c t . He bends " i n reverence/To Nature, and the power of human minds,/ To men as they are men within themselves" ( X l l l , 224-226). Of Wordsworth's many "spots of time," one which c l e a r l y presents the condition of the awakening v i s i o n of the real i s the scene on Mt. Snowdon: 91 Ascending at loose distance each from each, And I, as chanced, the foremost of the band; When at my feet the ground appeared to brighten, And with a step or two seemed brighter s t i l l ; Nor was time given to ask or learn the cause, For i n s t a n t l y a l i g h t upon the turf F e l l l i k e a flash, and l o i as I looked up, The Moon hung naked i n a firmament Of azure without cloud, and at my feet Rested a s i l e n t sea of hoary mist. (XIV, 33-42) "Nor was time given to ask or learn the cause" becomes the condition of immediate perception. Wordsworth has no choice but must follow the i n c l i n a t i o n of his eyes. What we see i s what he saw, because he does not distance us through explication. But the e g o t i s t i c a l sublime i s not yet done with the d i r e c t perception. But i n l i n e 63 the i n t e l l e c t of the poet f i r s t places the v i s i o n i n the memory, and then commences i t s discursive operation: When into a i r had p a r t i a l l y dissolved That v i s i o n , given to s p i r i t s of the night And three chance human wanderers, i n calm thought Reflected, i t appeared to me the type Of a majestic i n t e l l e c t , i t s acts And i t s possessions, what i t has and craves, What i n i t s e l f i t i s , and would become. There I beheld the emblem of a mind That feeds upon i n f i n i t y . (XIV, 63-71) This order of interpretation i s what Keats meant by Wordsworth's " e g o t i s t i c a l sublime." It continues here for the rest of Book Fourteen, a highly charged rhetoric, consolidating the perceptual facts within a d i c t i o n familiar to discursive thought. The accuracy of the "ideas" that Wordsworth finds a r t i c u l a t e d i n man and nature are dependent upon the accuracy of his: a b i l i t y to respond to the immediate conditions of l i f e . In his own imaginative correspondence we find that i t i s the peak moments of r e a l i z a t i o n which allow him to speculate successfully upon the questions of d e f i n i t i o n s and causes. 92 But the poet's philosophy often holds the projective quality of his v i s i o n i n check. He returns to s p e c u l a t i o n — t o " r e f l e c t i o n " — t h e instant that his imagination i s not t o t a l l y captured by the moon and sky. The s h i f t back to r e f l e c t i o n i s , i n Wordsworth, r e f l e x i v e . It constitutes another form of that " i r r i t a b l e reaching after fact and reason" which Keats saw i n Coleridge, and which Wordsworth himself re-pudiated. But i t i s clear that although Wordsworth saw the "despair" of "moral questions," the force of his mind was mainly i n his a b i l i t y to explicate what had happened to him. It i s from this continual looking back upon experience that he derives the notion of "emotion recollected i n t r a n q u i l l i t y . " Blake i s right to oppose this narrow d e f i n i t i o n of poetry: Imagination i s the Divine Vision not of The World, or of Man, nor from Man as he i s a Natural Man, but only as he i s a S p i r i t u a l Man. Imagination has nothing to do with Memory. Imagination " i s " v i s i o n i t s e l f , not v i s i o n "of" something. Linear thought inserts the "of." The experience i t s e l f , that which makes the Snowdon passage so v i v i d , i s arrogated by the subsequent development of the poem. The immediacy i s turned to the uses of con-ception and detachment. But what i s evolved conceptually i s a new ORDER of conception. It i s a conception based i n , rooted i n , a PROJECTIVE correspondence with the world. Somehow Wordsworth's IDEALIZATION of experience i n spots of time does p a r a l l e l , i n i t s own detached way, the ac t u a l i t y of experience which he has so dynamically presented. It was the other, visionary, perspective i n thought which the Romantic poets divulged to us. The inherent forms of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and logic are s t i l l there i n the Euphuistic cadences of the above li n e s of Wordsworth. And i n the 93 following quotes from the Prelude. the conceptual language intimates a projective o r i g i n a l i t y of perception i n spite of the abstract d i c t i o n : That men, least sensitive, see, hear, perceive, And cannot choose but f e e l . The power, which a l l Acknowledge when thus moved, which Nature thus To bodily sense exhibits, i s the express Resemblance of that glorious faculty That higher minds bear with them as their own. This i s the very s p i r i t i n which they deal With the whole compass of the universe. (XIV, 85-92) Such minds are truly from the Deity, For they are Powers; and hence the highest b l i s s That f l e s h can know i s t h e i r s — t h e consciousness Of Whom they are, habitually infused Through every image and through every thought, And a l l affections by communion raised From earth to heaven, from human to divine; Hence endless occupation for the Soul, Whether discursive or i n t u i t i v e . (XIV, 6 I - 6 9 ) This s p i r i t u a l Love acts not nor can exist Without Imagination, which, i n truth, Is but another name for absolute power And clearest insight, amplitude of mind, And Reason i n her most exhalted mood. (XIV, 188-192) A new order of perception makes possible a new order of thought. But the perception i s , i t s e l f , not l i n e a r . As Wordsworth shows us, the attainment of the synthesizing perception i s absolutely dependent upon the cessation of l i n e a r thought. Here i s the Wanderer as a boy i n Book One of The Excursion: — F a r and wide the clouds were touched, And i n their s i l e n t faces could he read Unutterable love. Sound needed none, Nor any voice of joy; his s p i r i t drank The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form, A l l melted into him;.they swallowed up His animal being; in them did he l i v e . And by them did he, l i v e ; they were his l i f e . 94 In such access of mind, i n such high hour Of v i s i t a t i o n from the l i v i n g God, Thought was not; i n enjoyment i t expired. Ko thanks he breathed, he proffered no request; Rapt into s t i l l communion that transcends The imperfect o f f i c e s of prayer and praise, His mind was a thanksgiving to the power That made him; i t was blessedness and love. (11. 203-218) i t a l i c s mine. When thought ends, there i s no " I " to pray or praise. There i s no ego to think about "God." In the abeyance of the normal SUBJECT-OBJECT stance toward the 'external' world, the person has no "i d e n t i t y " apart from whatever holds his attention. What he sees, he i s . What he hears, he i s . Even the " e g o t i s t i c a l sublime" has disappeared i n such an act of being. And i t i s an act. Wordsworth's "wise passiveness" i s a tremendously dynamic force. Receptivity, v u l n e r a b i l i t y , the r i s k one takes i n dropping a l l external and defensive postures, are the pre-condition of this order of "knowledge." Having once realized that we are what we behold, that we are the l i v i n g (Divine) Imagination which " i s the express/Resemblance" of "absolute power," the conclusions of i n t e l l e c t w i l l necessarily change. They w i l l a r t i c u l a t e the laws and active p r i n c i p l e s of being i n spite of their "discursive" form, because they are rooted i n deep "insig h t . " The i n t e l l e c t u a l stance, i f not often projective i t s e l f (as i t appears on the page), nonetheless indicates an energetic perception which i s projective. The central clue to the order of perception which Olson c a l l s projective i s , I believe, epitomized i n the f a l l i n g away of ordinary subject-object rel a t i o n s , and their replacement by a unity. Coleridge and Wordsworth both see this unity as obtaining i n a l l things and i n a l l modalities of "mind." The dichotomy of linear thinking and Imagination i s resolved not by reason but by 95 Imagination—in d i r e c t perception. So i n Blake, we find that the separation of Los from Urizen (Urizen i s "torn" from the side of Los), i s resolved in a Divine unity wherein both Reason and Imagination are "types" of the same source. In Blake's Romanticism too we find that "One thought f i l l s immensity." A "thought" i s somehow as i n f i n i t e and undefineable as Divine Love. The process works both ways. Once the reasoning faculty acknowledges the p o s s i b i l i t y of a r r i v i n g at comprehension (unity) by following i t s energies toward their "goal," then the discursive or linear movement toward this end w i l l be the very thing that obviates success. The reason w i l l always be looking, never finding; and the result w i l l be "despair." For reasoning soon arrives at the contraries, the paradoxes, the solipsisms that i t cannot cope with. On the other hand, the ACT of thought i s as sure as the act of hearing a word; and as FAST. One thought does, then, f i l l immensity. For when I arc thinking, then what I am, as a being who i s experiencing, i s nothing other than the very thought I am thinking. When the l i n e a r delusions of i n t e l l e c t are firmly discovered to be expressions of the Divine Nature, then the " f a l l e n " state of Urizen w i l l be cleansed. Reason loses i t s pre-tensions and s p i r i t u a l l y separative character as soon as the person experiences the whole depth of his o r i g i n a l n a t u r e — h i s being before "the f a l l . " For the " f a l l " i s nothing other than the i l l u s i o n of a s p i r i t u a l goal, heaven, paradise, freedom, and truth, that can be found and re-attained by i n t e l l e c t u a l e f f o r t . This creates suffering instead of eliminating or illuminating i t . But given i t s own head and means, the discursive reason cannot re a l i z e i t s own nature. Our divine nature i s revealed and experienced i n other modes. Thought w i l l not be "pure" (projective) u n t i l discursive thought ceases. The projective 96 nature of both language and experience w i l l not be manifested u n t i l discursiveness i s "transcended." The boy i n Wordsworth's poem i s so ut t e r l y at one with the phenomenal world that he could possess no "idea" of transcendence, God, purity, unity, mind, i n e f f a b i l i t y , joy, peace, love, or prayer because he IS those things. He i s ENACTING and MANIFESTING them. If some perplexed philosopher came and asked the boy, "Where i s God?", then nothing that the boy would do or say could appease the thinker. For once there i s a question, the philosophic mind w i l l undertake a thinking quest. Meanwhile the boy need not search anywhere. He IS already there. Wordsworth's d i c t i o n and syntax of equations make i t clear that he knew these things, or show at least, that he was i n t e l l e c t u a l l y aware. But the more Wordsworth 'talks about' the meaning of existence, the further he gets from enacting i t i n his own l i f e , and therefore, i n his own poetry. The projective stance i n l i f e , as i n the poem, i s dependent upon the sustaining of a multi-dimensional experience and v i s i o n of the r e a l world. The world of ideal "forms" and fortunate "prospects" i s somewhat isolated by thinking, and removed from the proximity of dir e c t sense perception and imagination. Wordsworth's imaginative creations often seem better off than the poet himself: for .example, when his "Herdsman" views nature, There l i t t l e n e s s was not; the least of things Seemed i n f i n i t e ; and there his s p i r i t shaped Her prospects, nor did he believe,—he saw. (Excur.,1, 230-232) Wordsworth knows that the act of perception transcends the need to have f a i t h . To see unity i s superior to believing that unity i s possible. The places where unity i s shown i n Wordsworth are the "spots of time." We find similar and even i d e n t i c a l insights and experiences throughout the 97 writings of the other Romantics. In a l l these cases, the emphasis i s on the things. the objects of perception in the f i e l d and act of perception. Here, Romanticism attains i t s highest concretion of language; from here, i t derives i t s greatest insights. In Keats, for example, we find the same proposition offered as "negative c a p a b i l i t y . " I see this working i n his poem, "Ode on a Grecian Urn": Thou, s i l e n t form, dost tease us-out of thought As doth eternity. A condition of no-thinking i s necessary before one can know that the sum and scope of a l l our"knowing" of truth l i e s i n the in.i; ediate perception of beauty. Thinking mediates between the perceiver and the thing. When there i s no thought, what i s there to come between? Nothing comes between. So what, then, i s there? Just the direc t contiguity of person and thing—correspondence i n "beauty." The poem develops toward this climactic re-cognition (or better yet, pure cognition) by demonstrating the gradual possession of the poet's mind by the object, the urn. Keats begins, Thou s t i l l unravish'd bride of quietness. Thou f o s t e r - c h i l d of silence and slow time, and moves on ca r e f u l l y , attentively,, and without an t i ci p a t i o n of the resu l t of his imaginative journey, to see the "eternity" of the "form." The perceptions move moment by moment, one thing after another, without pause for external comment. One witnesses each perception as emerging d i r e c t l y from the urn to us. And so, Keats moves through the dimensions of f e e l i n g which the perception of the particujars i n the "brede" surface of the urn compel. His progressive im-mersion takes him beyond thought into the actions and legends there. And as he i s led further inside, a l l his normal external attributions and explanations are 98 suspended. It i s the sense of "quietness" and "slow time" that here conduce to the suspension of d i s b e l i e f Keats knew as negative c a p a b i l i t y . These p a r t i c u l a r features of the general form of the urn enable him to grasp i t s entirety in an active r e l a t i o n with himself. They conspire i n his imaginative intercourse to produce his " i d e n t i t y " at that moment. This i s why we are certain of the poem, why i t s communication to the reader i s so f i n a l , so exact. For i t i s the thing-as-perceived which comes over to us. The congruence between the suspended, timeless a c t i v i t y on the embossed urn accords perfectly with the suspension necessary to "see into the l i f e of things." Here i s Wordsworth's treatment of the same slow possession: that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of a l l this u n i n t e l l i g i b l e world Is l i g h t e n ' d : — t h a t serene and blessed mood, -In which the affections gently lead us on, U n t i l , the breath of this corporeal frame, And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are l a i d asleep In body, and become a l i v i n g soul: While with aneye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the l i f e of things. ("Tintern Abbey," 38-49) Wordsworth treats the process of losing self-consciousness in a more abstract, subjective manner. "Subjective" r e a l l y means here, the fact that there i s s t i l l a "subject" who i s the speaker of this poem. The l i n e a r development and general d i c t i o n reveal the discursive stance of a "subject." Most of Keats' ode escapes this s u b j e c t i v i t y . But the process which Wordsworth talks "about," and that which Keats renders, i s the same. When our habitual or "Natural" (Blake) at-titudes f a l l asleep, then we awake in a much deeper con-nection with things, a connection accompanied by "joy" 99 and "power." One further example from Wordsworth should make i t clear that he had an authentic "understanding" of the need for openness to experience as prerequisite to profound perception. Here i s part of his "There was a Boy" from the L y r i c a l Ballads (1800): There was a boy, ye knew him well, ye C l i f f s And Islands of WinanderJ many a time, At evening, when the stars had just begun To move along the edges of the h i l l s , Rising or setting, would he stand alone, Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake, And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands Press'd closely palm to palm and to his mouth Uplifted, he, as through an instrument, Blew mimic hootings to the s i l e n t owls That they might answer him. And they would shout Across the wat'ry vale and shout again Responsive to his c a l l , with quivering peals, And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud Redoubled and redoubled, a wild scene Of mirth and jocund din. And, when i t chanced That pauses of deep silence mock'd his s k i l l , Then, sometimes, i n that silence, while he hung Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprize Has carried far into his heart the voice Of mountain torrents, or the v i s i b l e scene Would enter unawares into his mind With a l l i t s solemn imagery, i t s rocks, Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, receiv'd Into the bosom of the steady lake. i Again, we see the familiar process of the impress of the images of nature upon the boy's receptive mind. The cor-respondence between the boy and the sounds ("voice") or the " v i s i b l e scene" i s a l l that i s between him and the world. But the correspondence i s not i t s e l f a thing; i t i s no-thin, So the boy i s , i n fact, not di f f e r e n t from nature. Or the dynamics of the boy's interaction with nature, i n a unity, are not d i f f e r e n t from the dynamics of nature. His nature IS Nature. And the poet i s very e x p l i c i t as to the neces-sary pre-requisites for this intense communion to happen. Here, the boy must f i r s t become pre-occupied. This i s presented as his c a l l i n g across the lake to the owls. 100 They are unseen. There i s only the sound, building, gathering intensity, "redoubled" and again "redoubled." Then, a l l of a sudden, there i s a pause. The silence returns IN THE HEIGHT OF HIS INVOLVEMENT with the "voice" of the birds. Here i s the second exigency: there must.be an unexpected s h i f t after involvement has been established. The f i r s t involvement increases the person's potential for a "spot of time," or visionary experience, by unconsciously increasing the person's l e v e l of a t t e n t i o n — h i s engagement i n an action. The sudden change, unprepared for and unanticipated, "shocks," s t a r t l e s , or "surprises" him awake. The awakening i t s e l f i s the transference of energy, the FREE FLOW of force between the perceiver and the "thing." In this condition, one i s ABSOLUTELY CO-EXTENSIVE with the "object of perception.'" For there no longer i s any "object," as such, separated from the perceiving "subject." The "shock" l i t e r a l l y causes (or permits) the "subject" to disappear. The boy and the lake are interchangeable metaphorically, The "bosom" of each "passively" receives the things around. The "knowledge" of what transpires in this moment i s spontaneous, instantaneous. So Wordsworth says in "The Tables Turned": Enough of science and of art; Close up these barren leaves; Come forth, and bring with you a heart That watches and receives. Here i s quite p l a i n l y shown the other prospect of that " v u l n e r a b i l i t y " which I have mentioned several times. It i s v u l n e r a b i l i t y as r e c e p t i v i t y . One must have a l l one's defenses removed—all egoic needs and pre-conceptions, a l l the distance b u i l t into the form of discursive t h i n K i n g . These must vanish before true v i s i o n happens. When one i s s u f f i c i e n t l y engaged (in reading, looking, hearing, or whatever), then a sudden shock w i l l effect the opening into f u l l conscious perception. It i s this p r i n c i p l e of receptivity that Wordsworth repeats 101 most often, and the concomitant emphasis on the act of per-ception. For this i s nothing less to him than a complete interchange of "power," and thus, a transformation of the person. Wordsworth's tendentiousness was in a very important cause: the p o s s i b i l i t y was human l i b e r a t i o n from f o l l y and suffering through a dir e c t "knowledge" of God, or what i s god in us. Coleridge's child in "The Nightingale," awoke In most d i s t r e s s f u l mood (some inward pain Had made up that strange thing, an infant's dream) so Coleridge does the one thing he knows w i l l help. He takes the c h i l d to the dark orchard, "And he beholds the moon, and hush'd at. once/Suspends his sobs, and laughs most s i l e n t l y . " In Romanticism, the a b i l i t y to respond to whatever i s there i s a c h i l d - l i k e a b i l i t y . Indeed, the c h i l d can forget himself faster, allow himself to pay more attention to one thing after another, and so i s more receptive than an adult who must be constantly on guard (such i s our learning). Throughout Romanticism, forgetting the s e l f becomes a p r i n c i p l e of awakening. One forgets the s e l f by giving up completely to the many things of our perception. There i s the famous l e t t e r i n which Keats says he i s a sparrow. But note the whole context: — I scarcely remember counting upon any Happiness. — I look not for i t i f i t be not in the present hour—nothing s t a r t l e s me beyond the Moment. The setting Sun w i l l always set me to r i g h t s — o r i f a Sparrow come before my Window I take part, in i t s existence and pick about the Gravel. The f i r s t thing that s t r i k e s me on hearing a iMisfortune having befalled another :is t h i s . 'Well i t cannot be helped—he w i l l have the pleasure of trying the resouces of his s p i r i t . (November 22, 1817) E a r l i e r in the l e t t e r he has repeated the familiar discovery 102 of Romantic poets: The Imagination may be compared to Adam's dream— he awoke and found i t truth. I am the more zealous in this a f f a i r , because I have never yet been able to perceive how anything can be known for truth by consequetive [si<_ reasoning. Linear thinking cannot achieve the stance to the world that the f i r s t passage i l l u s t r a t e s . There we f i n d , perhaps to our bafflement, that Keats holds a similar stance toward the most disparate events. What have a sparrow, the setting sun, and the misfortune of another i n common? They have the projective perception of Keats i n common. Even misery i s beautiful and 'true,' so why try to escape i t or mourn over i t ? Keats rescues himself from the intimidation of " h e l l " and the a t t r a c t i o n of "heaven" by l i v i n g in "the present," "the Moment." If the ^ present moment i s one of pain, then that i s i t s r e a l i t y . If the wretched man could look out the window in the same " s p i r i t " that Keats does, then his suffering would cease anyway. Mow can one worry about misfortune when one i s occupied with being a sparrow? It i s what we do with pain that prolongs and aggravates i t . To Keats, suffering indicates a p o s s i b i l i t y of "pleasure." Suffering, in the sense of "permitting," i s only possible for a man who i s l i v i n g i n the now, one who, l i k e the poet, can say, "nothing s t a r t l e s me beyond the Moment." The c e r t i f i c a t i o n of this interpretation of Keats' meaning i s in the words "The f i r s t thing that s t r i k e s me." Pain, too, i s s t a r t l i n g or s t r i k i n g i n i t s force, momentaneousness, r e a l i t y , and therefore in the pleasure which i t affords the person. For pleasure, as a l l the Romantics agree, exists in the p a r t i c i p a -tion in the dynamics of the moment, i t s force, i t s r e a l i t y . Elake developed a completely unified poetic cosmology. The laws perceived by Romanticism—all the metaphysics central to the Romantic conception of the universe and man's r e l a t i o n to i t — c a n be found in his writing. Like Coleridge in Biographia 103 Li t e r a r i a , or Shelley in the Defense of ...Pogsy, or Wordsworth in his Pref ace_to,, the_Lyrical Pal lads, Elake reveals a non-discursive order of perception often couched i n abstract terms. But for Blake, too, the conceptual terminology and hierarchy of metapysical values denote, f i r s t of a l l , a ground of exper-ience which gave r i s e , subsequently, to these values and ideas. In Chapter One of JERUSALEM he introduces the notion of "the Sleep of Ulro," juxtaposed to his own physical "sleep night after night" (1. 3). The "Saviour" (Christ) appears to him in the morning and "dictates" the words of the poem to Elake: Awake.1 awake 0 sleeper of the land of shadows, wakei expand I I am in you and you i n me, mutual in love divine. (11. 6-7) I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend; Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me: Loi we are One, forgiving a l l E v i l , Not seeking recompense. Ye are my members, 0 ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades.'" (11. 18-21) Blake's annotations to various works of philosophy are also pregnant with conceptual d i c t a . In his "Annotations to Eerkeley's S i r i s . " for example, we find aphorisms l i k e the following: Imagination i s the Divine Body i n Every Man. Knowledge i s not by deduction, but Immediate by Perception or Sense at once. Christ addresses himself to the Man, not to his Reason. Plato did not bring Life &. Immortality to Light. Jesus only did t h i s . God i s not a Mathematical Diagram. ...Forms must be apprehended by Sense or the Eye of Imagination. Man i s A l l Imagination. God i s Man & exists in us & we i n him. 104 The "expanded" senses of Blake see the e n t i r e u n i v e r s e , which our instruments of d i s c u r s i v e n e s s d e f i n e , as the " N a t u r a l " world. Our i n t e r a c t i o n s with such a. world, conducted i n a s p i r i t of " b l i n d n e s s , " c o n s t i t u t e the " N a t u r a l " c y c l e . Romantic Blake sees mankind drowning i n the morass of v a l u e s , ideas, and b e l i e f s that reason ( U r i z e n ) has engendered and nourished. Man l i v e s h i s l i f e trapped between the " C o n t r a r i e s , " l a n g u i s h i n g , s u f f e r i n g , enslaved. The " n a t u r a l man'" r i s e s up and down w i t h i n the circumference of the N a t u r a l c y c l e , unable to see h i m s e l f t r u l y , always under the c o n t r o l of energies which have been d i v e r t e d from t h e i r p o t e n t i a l i t i e s as l i b e r a t i n g f o r c e s , and subsumed beneath a weight of l i n e a r p r i n c i p l e s . Blake's poem THE MENTAL TRAVELLER demonstrates the f u l l range and predicament of the " n a t u r a l man." Blake could only have known t h i s c y c l e , i t s formations and o r i g i n s , by having "transcended" i t . The escape from the c y c l e of G o o d / E v i l , Heaven/Hell i s a c t u a l l y the embrace of the e n t i r e t y w i t h i n the i n f i n i t e grasp of "8od." Blake escapes enslavement by spontaneous r e a l i z a t i o n of the " D i v i n e " nature of man. The doorway of t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n i s "Perception, 1" and the v i s i o n i s "seen" by "the Eye of Imagination." That i s , the ground of the d i v i n e i s not "other" than the Imagination of "Every Man." Blake i s not d e a l i n g i n i d e a l i t i e s at a d i s t a n c e . Ke uses the word "Body" f o r a reason. To "Awake" i n the "Imagination" i s not to transcend the f l e s h , but to r e a l i z e i t f o r the f i r s t time as being more than the " n a t u r a l " f l e s h . The body i s no p r i s o n , except to those who have imprisoned i t . The body i s the very p h y s i c a l i n c a r n a t i o n of " G o d " — n o t h i n g l e s s . To escape the l i n e a r laws that seem to bind man to h i s m o r t a l i t y i s to d i s c o v e r the m u l t i - d i m e n s i o n a l i t y of "Immortality." Blake has one theme: LIBERATION. It i s the theme and urgency of a l l Romanticism. Eut i t i s not merely a "metaphysical" l i b e r a t i o n . I t i s freedom and joy of being a l i v e , i n the f l e s h — e x i s t e n t i a l l i b e r a t i o n . And always, the c o n d i t i o n of l i b e r a t i o n i s the act of '"Immediate" PERCEPTION: 105 The tree which moves some to tears of joy i s in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way. Some See Nature a l l Ridicule & Deformity, & by these I s h a l l not. regulate my proportions; & Some Scarce see Nature at a l l . But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature i s Imagination i t -s e l f , (in a l e t t e r , August 23, 1799) The "Nature" which enslaves some i s the very occasion of cele-bration and "Vision" to the "Eye" of Imagination. The "eye al t e r i n g a l t e r s a l l . " Elake gravely accepts his c a l l i n g as a " l e g i s l a t o r . " The laws he extends to us are, however, d i r e c t l y from his exper-ience. The energy of his v i s i o n seems to carry over to us even in his most blatantly philosophical expressions. Perhaps this i s because of the very vigor of the syntax—the unmitigated voice of prophecy and assertion. But what are the conditions of a l l this enormous p o s s i b i l i t y of s p i r i t u a l attainment? Blake's l e t t e r to Thomas Eutts, October 2, 1800, describes his f i r s t visionary experience after moving to Felpham. It regis-ters a perceptual progression which, by now, i s fa m i l i a r in our study of Romantic "discovery" as a necessary process: To my Friend Eutts I write My f i r s t Vision of Light, On the yellow sands s i t t i n g . The Sun was Emitting His Gloroius" beams From Heaven's high Streams. Over Sea, over Land My Eyes did Expand Into regions of a i r Away from a l l Care, Into regions of f i r e Remote from Desire; The Light of the Morning Heaven's Mountains adorning: In p a r t i c l e s bright The jewels of Light D i s t i n c t shone & clear. Amaz'c & in fear I each p a r t i c l e gazed, Astorish'd, Amazed; For each was a Man 106 Human-fora'd. Swift I ran, For they beckon'd to me Remote by the Sea, Saying: Each grain of Sand, Every Stone on the Land, Each rock & each h i l l , Each fountain & r i l l , Each herb & each tree, Mountain, h i l l , earth & sea, Cloud, Meteor & Star, Are Men Seen Afar. I stood in the Streams Of Heaven's bright beams, And Saw Felpham sweet Beneath my b r i 6 h t feet In soft Female charms; And in her f a i r arms My Shadow I knew And my wife's shadow too, And My Sist e r & Friend. We l i k e Infants descend In our Shadows on Earth, Like a weak mortal b i r t h . My Eyes more & more Like a Sea without shore Continue Expanding, The Heavens commanding, T i l l the Jewels of Light, Heavenly ken beaming bright, Appear'd as One Man Who Complacent be^an My limbs to inf o l d In his beams of bright gold; Like cross purg'd away A l l my mire & my clay. Soft consum'd in delight In his bosom Sun bright I remain'd. Soft he smil'd, And I heard his voice Mild Saying: This i s My Fold, 0 thou Ram horn'd with gold, Who awakest from Sleep On the Sides of the Deep. On the Mountains around The roarings resound Of the l i o n & wolf, The loud Sea & deep gulf. These are guards of My Fold, 0 thou Ram horn'd with gold.' And the voice faded mild. 1 remain'd as a Child; 1 0 7 A l l I ever had kr.own Before me bright Shone. I saw you & your wife By the fountains of L i f e . Such the Vision to me Appear'd on the Sea. Blake comes to the beach. It i s a fine, sunny day. In the pleasure of the warmth and freshness, Blake relaxes his mine. His eyes begin to survey the horizon, sky, and sands. He opens himself to the elements of water (sea), earth (land), " a i r , " and " f i r e . " But notice that he i s not looking " f o r " anything: his "regions of a i r " are "Away from a l l Care"; and his " f i r e " i s "Remote from Desire." Like Keats, and the children and "common" men of Wordsworth, Blake does not anticipate any re-ward: "Mot seeking recompense." He looks with an "expanding" eye and an open heart. The v i s i o n JUST HAPPENS. His sight i s progressively drawn to the "p a r t i c u l a r " t h i n g s — t h e " p a r t i c l e s b r i g h t " — a t t r a c t e d by their " d i s t i n c t " radiance. His experience turns to awe and amazement. He i s "Astonish'd" (turned to stone) to discover that each p a r t i c l e i s a "Man." They appear to him in "the Human Form Divine," and lead him further s t i l l to r e a l i z e that a l l , things are "Men Seen Afar." But s t i l l his eyes "continue" to increase their v i s i o n ; his Imaginative„Eye becomes more and more comprehensive. He awakens to the f u l l v i s i o n of the d i s t i n c t e n t i t i e s of the universe as a single, whole being, "One Man." The "Man" i s , of course, the incarnate Imagination of Christ—God h i m s e l f — i n Blake. This, i n Blake's terms, i s equivalent to entering "Eternal L i f e " — s a t o r i . The p o s s i b i l i t y of attaining comprehensive v i s i o n beyond the d u a l i s t i c world perceived by discursive thinking, i s determined by the extent of the r e l a t i o n , that a perceiver can enter, with the things of this world—nature. In the Notes to "A Vision of the Last Judgment," Blake addresses those who see (or read) his works of art: 108 If the spectator could Enter into these Images in his Imagination, approaching them on the Fiery Chariot of his Contemplative Thought, i f he could Enter into Noah's Rainbow or into his bosom, or could make a Friend & Companion of one of these linages of wo"ndf!||v which always intreats him to leave mortal things (as he must know), then would he arise from hiS Grave, then would he meet the Lord in the Air & then he would be happy. General Knowledge is Remote Knowledge; i t i s i n Particulars that Wisdom consists & Happiness too. (Blake. p. 611) The very stance toward the world, the l i b e r a t i n g order of r e a l -i z a t i o n that the Romantic poet possesses, demands that he com-municate his "P a r t i c u l a r " knowledge to others. Blake i s deeply aware of the revolutionary base of his art and his speech. The above sentences constitute a threat to the normal orientation of most people in the conception alone, as much as i n the experiential implications. The e x i s t e n t i a l goal was always happiness and freedom. But Wordsworth's comment on the reception of poetry applies to l i f e generally: we not only wish to be pleased, but to be pleased in that p a r t i c u l a r way i n which we have been accustomed to be pleased. (Preface. p. 272) Blake has found the immediate source of "Happiness" in the dimensions of experience with immediate things. To arrive at the place where he could "remain as a c h i l d , " he had to go through an anguish of disorientation from divided existence. He writes of this i n a l e t t e r to Hayley, December 4, 1804: ...I have indeed fought thro' a Hell of terrors and horrors (which none could know but myself) in a divided existence; now no longer divided nor at. war with myself, I s h a l l t r a v e l on in the strength of the Lord Goo, as Poor Pilgrim says. To awake from one's "shadow" i s to l i v e in the Light. 109 B l a k e , l i k e o t h e r R o m a n t i c p o e t s , p o w e r f u l l y s t r e s s e s t h e need t o u n d e r g o a k i n d o f " d e a t h " b e f o r e on c a n a t t a i n d i v i n e u n i o n . I n the " I n s c r i p t i o n i n the A u t o g r a p h A l b u m of W i l l i a m U p c o t t , " B l a k e w r o t e ( J a n u a r y 1 6 , 1 8 2 6 ) : W i l l i a m B l a k e , one who i s v e r y much d e l i g h t e d w i t h b e i n g i n g o o d c o m p a n y . B o r n 28 Nov 1757 i n L o n d o n &. h a s d i e d s e v e r a l t i m e s s i n c e . A f t e r h i s " e n l i g h t e n m e n t " o f 1803 i n " t h e T r u c h e s s i a n G a l l e r y , " B l a k e i s a b l e t o see the manner i n w h i c h he ha s b e e n e n s l a v e d by a demon (a " F i e n d " and " i r o n - h e a r t e d t y r a n t " ) " f o r the p a s t t w e n t y y e a r s " o f h i s l i f e . E a c h e n l i g h t e n m e n t a c t s as a " d e a t h " i n the s e n s e t h a t t h e " I m m o r t a l " e n e r g y o f h i s b e i n g i s v i c t o -r i o u s o v e r t h e f o r c e s o f " s e l f . " I t i s the " s e l f " t h a t d i e s . E u t o n e ' s n o r m a l a t t a c h m e n t to the modes o f " s e l f - i d e n t i f i c a t i o n " i s so p o w e r f u l and p e r s i s t e n t t h a t t h e t h o u g h t o f t h e i r l o s s p r o j e c t s an a u r a o f a c u t e d a n g e r upon e x i s t e n c e . B u t h e r e , the b a r d i s a b l e , once m o r e , t o p e n e t r a t e the v e i l o f d i s c u r -s i v e n e s s and d e f e n s i v e n e s s c r e a t e d by the i l l u s i o n s o f the e g o : . . . b u t I was a s l a v e bound i n a m i l l among b e a s t s and d e v i l s ; t h e s e b e a s t s and t h e s e d e v i l s a r e now, t o g e t h e r w i t h m y s e l f , become c h i l d r e n o f l i g h t and l i b e r t y , and my f e e t and my w i f e ' s f e e t a r e f r e e f r o m f e t t e r s . ( to H a y l e y , O c t o b e r 2 3 , 1804) E l a k e , l i k e the R a n t e r s i n s e v e n t e e n t h - c e n t u r y E n g l a n d , s u c c e e d s i n k e e p i n g s u f f e r i n g o f a l l d e s c r i p t i o n s , and " s i n " o f a l l o r d e r s , v e r y much ijn the w o r l d . The d e v i l s r e m a i n " t h e s e " v e r y same " d e v i l s . " E x c e p t now B l a k e ha s e s t a b l i s h e d a new r e l a t i o n w i t h t h e m . He b e f r i e n d s t h e m , " f o r g i v e s " t h e m , and t h u s i s l i b e r a t e d f r o m them as much as t h e y a r e l i b e r a t e d , to e n a c t t h e i r own e n e r g i e s and b e a u t y . In " A M e m o r a b l e F a n c y " ( P l a t e s 1 7 - 2 0 ) o f THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN ANL H E L L , E l a k e e x p a n d s and e n a c t s the p r o c e s s o f 110 l i b e r a t i o n of his own consciousness from the "Natural 1 1 p o l a r i t y of Heaven and H e l l . The passage i s , in i t s e l f , an epitome of the epithalamium—the embrace of opposites. As soon as the intimidating and moralizing "Angel" leaves Blake to ponder the depths of "Hell?" Blake finds himself s i t t i n g on a pleasant bank beside a r i v e r by moon-l i g h t , hearing a harper, who sung to the harp; & his theme was: "The man who never al t e r s his . opinion i s l i k e standing water, &, breeds r e p t i l e s of the mind." Whereas the angel had not entered h e l l , but had merely hung over the edge at a convenient distance to observe, Blake had descended completely. The way i s down, further and further into whatever i s there, even i f this be h e l l or s i n . Blake l a t e r chastises the angel, saying, " A l l that we saw was owin& to your meta-physics." The departure of the externalizing and hypostatizing angel i s the agent of Blake's entry into the liberated h e l l . Once there, he finds that even the worst horrors are actually '"children of l i g h t and l i b e r t y . " Again, the theme or p r i n c i p l e operative here i s the abandonment of s e l f to the experience at hand, regardless of the danger. "If the fool would persist in his f o l l y he would become wise." Blake makes i t most clear that the p o s s i b i l i t y of enlightenment i s as present in h e l l as in heaven. For the i n f i n i t e i s everywhere we are: we ARE i n f i n i t e . "ALL LIFE IS HOLY" ("Annotations to Lavater,'" number 309). Perception through the senses i s the condition of transcen-dence. How to cleanse "the doors of perception" becomes a Romantic pre-occupation. When Elake looks at the sun, he HEARS a choir of angels. And he i s ever d i r e c t i n g us to look at things: When thou seest an Eagle, thou seest a. portion of Genius; l i f t up thy head. But the "Natural" man does not see. Blake has Isaiah say: I l l "I.saw no God, noi' heard any, in a f i n i t e organical perception; but my sense discover'd the i n f i n i t e in every thing" ("A Memor-able Fancy," plates 12-13). Blake i s careful to separate every and thing. For he i s talking about f i n i t e , "organical" things, even though the "perception" i s not " f i n i t e " but " i n f i n i t e . " "No ideas but in things." The person's perceptual r e l a t i o n determines the scope of his v i s i o n : The Sun's Light when he unfolds i t Depends on the Organ that beholds i t . (Blake, Frontispiece to "For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise," p. 7 6 0 ) His "Tractates" delineate, in a pseudo-deductive fashion, the metaphysical p r i n c i p l e s of being which BlaKe, as a r t i s t and l e g i s l a t o r , i s most concerned with conveying. It i s certain that (apart from Byron) the Romantics were not above the use of philosophical STYLE in the expression of their cosmologies. But their means, instruments, and assumptions argue, at every step, beyond the circumference of A r i s t o t e l i a n and Socratic "discourse." The perceptual ground which the Romantic poets i n England discovered i s examined by Charles Olson in another h i s t o r i c a l context. Although he sees the nineteenth-century genius mainly in M e l v i l l e , his statements on the author of Mpby rpick p a r a l l l e l those p r i n c i p l e s we have already noticed i n some of the Romantic ideology. M e l v i l l e works from the same ground of being. Olson quotes him i n a l e t t e r (1851) to Hawthorne: Ey v i s i b l e truth we mean the apprehension of the absolute condition of present things."^ TRUTH IS AN ACT OF PERCEPTION. In poetry, truth i s involved with the PRESENCE of the poem—its various energies in r e l a t i o n to a reader. The presence of the poem i s an e x i s t e n t i a l fact,to 112 the reader, over and above any "idea" of the "absolute condi-tion of present things." We have seen the conception of this p r i n c i p l e expressed i n various forms of Romantic l o g i c . The Romantics encountered the same d i f f i c u l t i e s i n writing that Olson forsees in the ef f o r t to find language to a r t i c u l a t e multi-dimensional experience: This i s not easy to save from subjectivism, to state so that you understand that this i s not an observation but a. f i r s t law to a restoration of the human house. ° If we supply Elake's intimation of a " l a s t judgment," or a "New Jerusalem," or Coleridge's " I n f i n i t e I AM," or any of the innumerable expressions of "awakening" that Romanticism offers, the connection between Olson's ground of the "projective" and the Romantic act of immediate perception w i l l be seen. The relationship i s very important, because Olson carries his remarks on "the absolute condition of present things" over into the act of writing a poem. I hope to show that Romantic poets were aware of the necessity of carrying their projective stance toward the world over into the act of writing a poem. For i t is in this further extension into the realm of the poem that is the most pertinently l e g i s l a t i v e quality of poetry. If poetry can be PROJECTIVE, that i s , ENACT ITS OWN ENERGIES, then the reader's engagement with such a poem w i l l be DIRECT—the poem w i l l be an ABSOLUTELY PRESENT THING, the "condition" of which w i l l be the LIFE OF THE READER AS HE READS. Even i f the poem presents thoughts, so long as i t enacts them and renders them immediately, the thought w i l l remain projective. If, however, the poet insinuates himself between the reader and the action, a distance w i l l be engendered which w i l l e f f e c t i v e l y "end" the projective a c t i v i t y of the poem. Immediacy w i l l be l o s t . It i s in this l a s t , necessary extension of the p r i n c i p l e — into the l i v e s of o t h e r s — t h a t Romantics of a l l breeds, epochs, and cultures attain to the act of PRESENTATION OF THE LAW. And it. i s here that enactment and p a r t i c i p a t i o n reveal the contiguity 113 of Romanticism with the ground of MiTHKAKING, r i t u a l , dance, song, and tapping your toe to music. 114 FOOTNOTES 1 Snyder, p j ^ _ c i t . , p. 118. 2 Wordsworth, "Advertisement" to the Lvrical.Ballads (1798), pp. 7-6. . 5 Snyder, pp. 114-H5. 4 Ibid., p. 115-^ Olson, op. c i t . , p. 51. 6 Olson, p. 60. 7 Olson, p. 118. Olson, p. 7. 115 CHAPTER VI A_Rpma.ntic Concept o f Form C r i t i c i z i n g " t h e t h i r d o f the g r e a t G r e e k s , P l a t o , " O l s o n w r i t e s i n Human_Uniyerse: H i s w o r l d of I d e a s , o f f o r m s as e x t r i c a b l e f r o m c o n t e n t , i s as much and as d a n g e r o u s an i s s u e as a r e l o g i c and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , a n d ; t h e y need t o be s e e n as s u c h i f we a r e to g e t on t o some a l t e r n a t i v e to the whole Greek s y s t e m . P l a t o may be a h o ney-head, as M e l v i l l e c a l l e d him, b u t he i s p r e c i s e l y t h a t — t r e a c h e r o u s t o a l l a n t s , and where, i n c r e a s i n g l y , my c o n t e m p o r a r i e s d i e , o r drown the b e s t o f t h e m s e l v e s . I d e a l i s m s o f any s o r t , l i k e l o g i c and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , i n -t e r v e n e a t j u s t the moment th e y become more t h a n the means they a r e , a r e a l l o w e d to become ways as end i n s t e a d o f ways t o end, E N D , w h i c h i s n e v e r more t h a n t h i s i n s t a n t , t h a n you on t h i s i n s t a n t , t h a n you f i g u r i n g i t o u t , and a c t i n g s o . I f t h e r e i s any a b s o l u t e , i t i s n e v e r more t h a n t h i s one, you, t h i s i n s t a n t , i n a c t i o n , (p.5) T h i s i s the t h e o r e t i c a l e x p r e s s i o n o f the p r o j e c t i v e b a s i s o f the moment, e m a n a t i n g from a t r u e p e r c e p t i o n o f the laws o f t h a t moment by i n v o l v e m e n t i_n them, and t h u s , e nactment o f them. The r e l e v a n c e to the a c t o f w r i t i n g a poem i s c r u c i a l . F o r w r i t i n g must a l s o be a m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f p r o j e c t i v e i n v o l v e m e n t i n the moment: There must be a means o f e x p r e s s i o n f o r t h i s , a way w h i c h i s not d i v i s i v e as a l l the t a g ends and upend i r ^ s o f the Greek way a r e . There must be a way which b e a r s i_n i n s t e a d of away, which meets head on what goes on each s p l i t s e c o n d , a way which does n o t — i n o r d e r to d e f i n e — p r e v e n t , d e t e r , d i s t r a c t , and so cease the a c t o f , d i s -c o v e r i n g , ( p . 6) 116 Thus, Olson comes to write in his "Projective Verse" essay: Prom the moment the projective purpose of the act of verse i s recognized, the content does— i t w i ll—change. If the beginning and the end i s breath, voice in i t s largest sense, then the material of verse s h i f t s . It has to. It starts with the composer. The dimension of his line i t s e l f changes, not to speak of the change i n his conceiving, of the matter he w i l l turn to, of the scale i n which he imagines that matter's use. I myself would pose the difference by physical image. It i s no accident that Pound and Williams both were involved variously i n a movement which got called "objectivism." But that word was then used i n some sort of a necessary quarrel, I take i t , with "subjectivism." It i s now too late to be bothered with the l a t t e r . It has excellently done i t s e l f to death, even though we are a l l caught i n i t s dying. What seems to me a more v a l i d formulation for present use i s "objectism," a word to be taken to stand for the kind of r e l a t i o n of man to experience which.-.a poet might state as the necessity of a line or a work to be as wood i s , to be as clean as wood i s as i t issues from the hand of nature, to be as shaped as wood can be when a man has had his hand to i t . Objectism i s the getting r i d of the l y r i c a l interference of the individual as ego, of the "subject" and his soul, that peculiar presumption by which western man has interposed himself between what he i s as a. .. creature of nature (with certain instructions to carry out) and those other creations of nature which we may, with no derogation, c a l l objects.For a man i s himself an object, what-ever he may take to be his advantages, the more l i k e l y to recognize himself as such the greater his advantages, p a r t i c u l a r l y at that moment that he achieves an humilitas s u f f i c i e n t to make him of use. (pp. 59-60) Olson's stress upon immediacy, p h y s i c a l i t y , openness ("humilitas"), perception (the object), the " r e l a t i o n to experience" rather than the egoic detachment from nature, and the "clean," s o l i d authenticity which verse must 117 acquire ( i f i t i s to stay inside the projective ground), are discovered or implied by Romanticism. In a l l the Romantics we find precisely this concern about the new dimensions of the act and purpose of expression which experience has opened up. Blake writes to Hayley after a recent "enlightment": Consequently I can, with confidence, promise you ocular demonstration of my altered state on the plates I am now engraving. (October 23, 1804) Blake believed continually that his writing was an absolute rendering or "demonstration" of his s p i r i t u a l experience; that an attentive reader could enter the imaginative realms through the "Forms" he presented. The poem, for Blake, was a vehicle of pure "Energy." Thus he advises his readers i n the address "To the Public" prefacing JERUSALEM: The Enthusiasm of the following Poem, the Author hopes no Reader w i l l think presumptuousness or  arrogance when,he i s reminded that the Ancients entrusted their, love to their 'Writing, to the f u l l as E n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y as I have who Acknowledge mine  for my Saviour and,Lord; for they were wholly  absorb'd i n their Gods. I also hope the Reader w i l l be with me, wholly One i n Jesus our Lord, who i s the God of Fire and Lord of Love.... The S p i r i t of Jesus i s continual forgiveness of Sin: he who waits to be righteous before he enters into the Saviour's kingdom, the Divine Body, w i l l never enter there. I am perhaps the most s i n f u l of men. I pretend not to holiness: yet I pretend to love, to see, to converse with daily as man with man, & the more to have an interest i n the Friend of Sinners. Therefore, dear Reader, forgive what you do not approve, & love me for this energetic exertion of my talent. Reader.' lover of books.* lover of heaven, And of that God from whom a l l books are given. Who i n mysterious Sinai's awful cave To Man the wondrous art of writing gave: 118 Again he speaks i n thunder and i n f i r e ! Thunder of Thought, & flames of f i e r c e desire: Even from the depths of Hell his voice I hear Within the unfathom'd caverns of my Ear. Therefore I print; nor vain my types s h a l l be: Heaven, Earth &. He l l henceforth s h a l l l i v e i n harmony. (Blake Complete Works, pp. 62G-621) Blake's s p i r i t u a l commitment to absolute perception of truth i s undeniable. But what of his stance toward the act of writing i t s e l f ? If the reader i s expected to j o i n with Blake i n love and "forgiveness" and so enter "the Divine Body" of the poem, how can the poet a s s i s t this i n t e r -change within the materials of verse i t s e l f ? Olson writes (of "closed" verse): I would suggest that verse here and i n England dropped this secret (the projective character of the syllable} from the late Elizabethans to Ezra Pound, lo s t i t , in the sweetness of meter and rime, i n a honey-head. (The s y l l a b l e i s one way to distinguish the o r i g i n a l success of blank verse, and i t s f a l l i n g off, with Milton.) (p. 53) And he goes on to speak of contemporary poetry i n terms of liberated "measure": Already they are composing as though not^the eye  but the ear was to be i t s measurer, as though the intervals of i t s composition could be so car e f u l l y put down as to be precisely the intervals of i t s r e g i s t r a t i o n . For the ear, which once had the burden of memory to quicken i t (rime & regular cadence were i t s aids and have merely lived on in print after the oral necessities were ended) can now again, that the poet has his means, be the threshold of projective verse. (p. 59, i t a l i c s mine ) One should not be too surprised to find that the Romantic poets had probed many of the questions raised 119 over "rime & regular cadence" (meter), i n view of their recognition of the new ground of experience from which they spoke. Kote the concern of Blake, for example, i n precisely these matters i n the prefatory notes to JERUSALEM: When this Verse was f i r s t dictated to me, I consider'd a Monotonous Cadence, l i k e that used by Milton & Shakespeare & a l l writers of English Blank Verse, derived from the modern bondage of Rhyming, to be a necessary and indispensiole part of Verse. But I soon found that in the mouth of a true Orator such monotony was not only awkward, but as much a bondage as rhyme i t s e l f . I therefore have produced a variety i n every l i n e , both of cadences & numbers are reserved for the t e r r i f i c parts, the mild & gentle for the mild & gentle parts, and the prosaic for the i n f e r i o r parts; a l l are necessary to each other. Poetry Fetter'd Fetters the Human Race. (Blake. p. 621) It i s Olson's point exactly. Form i n verse i s determined by the form of what i s to be presented. The perception of "t h i s moment" ar t i c u l a t e s the laws of r e g i s t r a t i o n . Anything less i s a withdrawal from the immediate. Blake's e f f o r t to create an "unfettered" form i s his e f f o r t to create OPEKj FREE, form. The " a l l e g o r i c a l " figures which Blake gives us are the forms of the human mind, the a c t i v i t i e s themselves, both what they do and how they do i t . Blake has a unique vocabulary for each of his "Forms," and an u n f a i l l i n g insistence upon the " r e a l i t y " of these forms or p r i n c i p l e s : Allegories are things that Relate to Moral Virtues. Moral Virtues do not Exist; they are Allegories & dissimulations. But Time & Space are Real Beings, a Male & a Female. Time i s a Man, Space i s a Woman, & her Masculine Portion i s Death. (Blake. ;p. 614) 120 Blake's assertion of the non-figurative existence of "Good" and " e v i l , " "Truth and Error," and so on, i s grounded i n his knowledge that these are a l l p r i n c i p l e s enacted by "Man"—"There i s not an Error but i t has a Man for i t s Actor d e l . Agent, that i s , i t i s a Man. (Blake. p.615) Such a statement puts the old notion of "Allegory" back in i t s experiential perspective. Allegory i s the enactment of human being by the Principles of being. Here, unless I am seriously mistaken, i s the only v a l i d claim that any "Allegory" may make for the projective. The strenuousness and "energetic" power of, Blake's larger works comes d i r e c t l y to us from this perceived r e l a t i o n of thing-as-principle to thing-as-man. Blaice 's conception of allegory "addressed to I n t e l l e c t u a l Powers" i s the highest form of poetry. Blake's concern with form i n art as i n l i f e ( i t i s the same form) i s an oft repeated theme. "I do not condemn Pope or Dryden because they did not understand Imanination," he writes, "but because they did not understand Verse" (p. 6 0 2 ) . He blames their f a i l u r e to "know the E f f e c t " of their a r t . He sees that those who prefer Dryden's " f i n i s h i n g " of Milton, to Milton, are as "degraded" and "stupid" as Dryden's "Rhyme & Monotonous Sing Song, Sing Song from beginning to end" (p. 6 0 0 ) . Blake i s caught up in the swell of authentic "invention": I have heard many People say, 'Give me the Ideas. It i s no matter what Words you put them into,' & others say, 'Give me the Design, i t i s no matter for the Execution.' These People know Enough of A r t i f i c e , but Nothing Of Art. Ideas cannot be Given but i n their minutely Appropriate Words, nor Can a Design be made without i t s minutely Appropriate Execution. The unorganized Blots & Blurs of Rubens and T i t i a n are not Art, nor can their Method ever express Ideas or Imaginations any more than Pope's Metaphysical Jargon of Rhyming. Unappropriate Execution i s the Most nauseous of a l l a f f e c t a t i o n & foppery. He who 1 2 1 copies does not. Execute; he only Imitates what is already Executed. Execution i s only the result of Invention. (Blake. p. 596) What Blake seeks i s a presentational method which w i l l render ("Execute") i n a form which i s true to nature. Like Olson, he demands the purity of natural creation for the a r t i s t , i n the same way that nature perpetuates i t s individual forms. The verse must be an authentic extension of the natural act, in his voice, at his ear, i n his imagination. His stress i s on the certainty of the creative act, the emphatic statement: The great and golden rule of art, as well as of l i f e , i s t h i s : That the more d i s t i n c t , sharp, and wirey the bounding l i n e , the more perfect the work of art....How do we distinguish one face or countenance from another, but by the bounding line and i t s i n f i n i t e inflexions and movemements? What i s i t that builds a house and plants a garden, but the d e f i n i t e and determinate? What i s i t that distinguishes honesty from knavery, but the hard and wirey l i n e of rectitude and certainty in the actions and intentions? Leave out this line and you leave out l i f e i t s e l f ; a l l i s chaos again, and the li n e of the almighty must be drawn out upon i t before man or beast can exist. (Blake. p. 585) Blake sought the central, informing energies of l i f e and perceived them i n the manifestations of " d e f i n i t e " things. Forms are not s t a t i c , but verbs, "actions." Blake's "bounding l i n e " i s not a container, because i t must register " i n f i n i t e i n flexions and movements." Importantly, he sees this l i n e i n everything, even i n such "abstract" things as "knavery." The li n e i s the truth or "certainty" of an a c t i o n — t h e thing i t s e l f , but the thing i t s e l f in action requires direct perception. Form i s what i s rendering a thi_ng, that i s , i t i s an energy realized i n perception. In his "Annotations to Berkeley," we have already noted that Blake sees a thing's "Reality" as "Its Imaginative Form." 122 The above quotations from Blake are to i l l u s t r a t e that a Romantic conception of the need to change the mater-i a l s of verse points to the evolution of new and powerful Romantic techniques i n writing. The highly "experimental" character of a l l Romantic poetry ( a l l Romantic poets avoid s t a t i c structures, prosody, and images) leads one to suspect that the " l y r i c a l interference of the individual as ego" was not an absolute condition i n Romantic writing. I have already presented some cases i n which the poet was more concerned with the transmission of doctrine that with the act of writing; but such was not always the case. The Romantic poets exhibit sustained passages of "projective" writing. In these places, the notion of " l y r i c " as an aspect of "interference" changes to become l y r i c as a formal means to involve the reader. In such cases, as we s h a l l see, l y r i c becomes more than a means 'to an end,' but i s , in e f f e c t , the music of the poem. E l i o t writes: "The music of poetry i s not something that exists apart from the meaning." We do not suppose, do we, that Blake's r e b e l l i o n against the old measuring devices of rime and meter thereby precludes the music of his poems? The fact of the matter i s that music, as Ezra Pound pointed out, i s not from the "metronome" but from "the musical phrase." Olson i s more e x p l i c i t : (1) the kinetics of the thing. A poem i s energy transferred from where the poet got i t (he w i l l have some several causations), by way of the poem i t s e l f to, a l l the way over to, the reader. Okay. Then the poem i t s e l f must, at a l l points, be a high energy-construct and, at a l l points, an energy-discharge. So: how i s the poet to accomplish same energy, how i s he, what i s the process by which a poet gets i n , at a l l points energy at least the equivalent of the energy which propelled him in the first place, yet an energy which i s peculiar to verse alone and which w i l l be, obviously, also d i f f e r e n t from the energy which the reader, because he i s a thi r d term, w i l l take away? (p. 52) 123 It i s Blake's question, i s i t not? We are dealing then with more, even, than "the musical phrase." What i s governing the flow of words from the poet i s the whole condition of "the moment of w r i t i n g — t h e act of writing i t s e l f . The "flow" of images, sounds, l i n e s , pauses, and a l l the "parts" constitutes a co-herent music. Most Romantic poetry i s " l y r i c " i n this other sense. The music i s not something "else"; i t i s not other than the energy released when one word, image, perception, breath, pause, moves DIRECTLY on to another. This i s the " p r i n c i p l e " of projective verse for Olson: "that right form, i n any given poem, i s the only and exclusively possible extension of content under hand." (p. 52) And, (3) the process of the thing, how the p r i n c i p l e can be made so to shape the energies that the form i s accomplished ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION USE USE USE the process at a l l points, i n any given poem always, always one perception must must must MOVE; INSTANTER, ON ANOTHER: ( P P. 52-53) A poem so made w i l l be the occasion of a high "energy-dischargeV'at each point and throughout. This energy goes d i r e c t l y to the reader. It i s what we participate i n when a poem i s successful, successful i n that nothing, truly nothing, i s imposed between the reader and the poem. But a great poem w i l l make i t very d i f f i c u l t for the reader to retract his imaginative organs from the f i e l d of the poem's force. So Keats writes i n a l e t t e r (October 9, 1 8 1 8 ) : The Genius of Poetry must work out i t s own salvation i n a man: It cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness i n i t s e l f . That which i s creative must create i t s e l f — I n Endymion I leaped headlong into the 124 Sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than i f I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a s i l l y pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice. Romantic writing, both prose and poetry, shows a consistent concern with the double sense of "Soundings." The poets as poets are up against the necessity of o r i g i n a l "Invention" and the s t y l i s t i c demands of immediate "Creation." iAs men, hardly separable from the fact of being poets, they are hard pressed to f u l f i l l the demands of their s p i r i t u a l , experiential relations with a l l facets of the world. Byron "sounds" the labyrinthine depths of the despairing yet determined soul i n Manfred. And he spends weeks searching for the exact tran-s l a t i o n of a Greek word to see i f i t accords with the d r i f t of a poem he has been working on. The c l a s s i c a l sense that the Romantics possessed of le mot .juste (most extreme i n Byron), says something of the more than f l i g h t y , "dissociated," or "closed" temperament with which they approached the act of writing. There i s something of ths projective size or scope i n a l l the Romantics, issuing from the projective size of their quest. Keats, i n reference to Wordsworth, speaks of "epic passion," and "martyrdom." And he sees Wordsworth i n "Tintern Abbey" probing "dark Passages" i n an e f f o r t to relieve "the'burden of the Mystery 1" ( l e t t e r to Reynolds, May 3,1818). The order of e x i s t e n t i a l "sounding" that Byron undertakes i n Manfred (Manfred's "Knowledge i s Sorrow"), or that Shelley undertakes i n Prometheus Unbound, have the projective.size that Olson witnesses i n Moby-Dick. The "Right Reason" that M e l v i l l e opposed to reason, "dubbing reason and her t o o l s — l o g i c and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n — 'Baconianism*" (p. 113), and Blake, i n their own p a r t i c u l a r s , opposed to the discursive reason. (Byron stayed secular.) 125 But just before we consider a few examples of the projective scope i n p a r t i c u l a r instances of Romantic poetry, I would offer a couple of examples of Olson's observations of the "projective" as i t applies i n M e l v i l l e . They are epitomes of a c r i t i c a l stance, in addition to being elucidations of the complex of issues involved i n the Romantic ground of the projective. He writes, ;here, of M e l v i l l e ' s rendering of physical presence i n the chapter, "The T a i l , " cof Moby-Dick; ...I f e l t the wonder a l l over again of M e l v i l l e ' s knowingness of object and motion, those factors of a thing which declare what we c a l l i t s physicality (and do not mean physiology). "The T a i l " i s as lovely an evidence as any other of M e l v i l l e ' s a b i l i t y to go inside a thing, and from i t s motion and his to show and to know, not i t s essence alone (this was mostly the g i f t of i d e a l i t y — o f Gautama's, Socrates', or C h r i s t ' s ) , but i t s dimension, that part of a thing which i d e a l i t y — by i t s Ideal, i t s World Forms or i t s P e r f e c t i o n s — tended to diminish; that quality of any p a r t i c u l a r thing or event which comes i n any one of our consciousnesses; how i t comes in on us as a force peculiar to i t s e l f and to ourself i n any of those instants which do h i t us & of which our l i v e s are made up. We c a l l i t size; we say: i t was a big t h i n g — a kick; he's a big person; the day was a whopper. We have more of a vocabulary for the physics of i t than M e l v i l l e had. IVe know the l i t e r a l space there i s inside a microcosm, the nature ofthe motion hidden in any mass. Yet I do not know another writer except Homer who achieves by words so much of the actual experiencing of this dimension as M e l v i l l e does. If I put this f i r s t — i f I put M e l v i l l e i n the context of Homer—I do i t because, u n t i l any of us takes this given p h y s i c a l i t y and moves from i t s essence into i t s k i n e t i c , as seriously as we are a l l too apt to take the other end—the goal, we'll not be busy about the c i v i l i z a t i o n breeding as surely now as that other one was between Homer and 500' BC. And we'll not know 126 what M e l v i l l e had started a hundred years ago. For the metaphysic now to be known does l i e inside function, methodology i s form, Rimbaud's question i s the i n c i s i v e one—"what i s on the other side of despair?" There i s no where else to go but i n and through; there i s no longer any least piece of pie in the sky. With M e l v i l l e ' s non-Euclidean penetrations of physical r e a l i t y i g - • nored or avoided, a l l the important gains he made i n expressing the dimensions possible to man and to story are also washed out. (pp. 113-114) To Olson, M e l v i l l e , in Moby-Dick, "entered the mythological present"—"the apprehension of the absolute condition of present things" (p. 115): A l l things did come i n again, i n the 19th century. An idea shook loose, and energy and motion became as important a structure of things as they are p l u r a l , and, by matter, mass. It was even shown that i n the i n f i n i t e l y small the older concepts of space ceased to be v a l i d at a l l . 'Quantity—the measurable and numerable—was suddenly as shafted i n , to anything, as i t was also, as had been obvious,the s t r i k i n g character of the external world, that a l l things do extend out. Nothing was now inert fact, a l l things were there for fe e l i n g , to promote i t , and be f e l t ; and man, i n the midst of i t , knowing well how he was folded i n , as well as how suddenly and s t r i k i n g l y he could extend himself, spring or, without even moving, go, to far, the f a r t h e s t — he was suddenly possessed or repossessed of a character of being, a thing among things, which I s h a l l c a l l his p h y s i c a l i t y . It made a re-entry of or to the universe. Reality was without interruption, and we are s t i l l i n the business of finding out how a l l action, and thought, have to be refounded. (pp. 118-119) Who s t i l l knows what's called for, from p h y s i c a l i t y , how far i t does cover and reveal? No one has yet t r i e d to say how M e l v i l l e does manage to give the flukes of the whale immediacy as such. It i s easier to isolate his s k i l l over technology than 127 to investigate the topological includes, able to discriminate and get i n between the vague types of form morphology offers and the ideal structures of geometry proper, explains M e l v i l l e ' s unique a b i l i t y to reveal the very large (such a thing as his whale, or himself on whiteness, or Ahab's monomania) by the small. D i f f i c u l t as these ideas may appear, they do constitute a major breakthrough from the t r a d i t i o n a l s u p e r f i c i a l conception of "form." Olson points to a source, and a form of dynamic perception i n M e l v i l l e which, I believe, i s working before 1851, i n the conception and writing of the Romantics. S t i l l , i t i s the ground of the Romantic which i s easiest to conceive. The p a r t i c u l a r workings of the "process" are more d i f f i c u l t to grasp. Before we approach examples of Romantic poetry where the "mythological present" i s "projected" successfully to the reader, there i s another statement which commands a view of Romanticism r e l a t i n g to Olson's l a s t p o i n t — t h e mythic dimensions re-leased by the presentation of the large i n the small. Here, i t i s Robert Duncan, i n The Truth & Life of Myth: But i n Germany, poets—Tieck, Goethe, Hoffman, Kovalis—had written myths and f a i r y t a l e s that came not from the ground of l o s t r e l i g i o n nor from the ground of the folk but from the ground of a f i c t i o n a l imagination that we recognize as Romanticism. The very word "Romantic" i s , in l i t e r a r y and s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m today, pejorative. But i t i s i n the Romantic v e i n — t o which I see my own work as c l e a r l y belonging—that the two worlds, the lo r d l y and the humble, that seemed to scholars i r r e c o n c i l a b l y at odds, mythological v i s i o n and f o l k l o r i s h fantasy, are wedded i n a phantasmagoria... the s p i r i t u a l romance. This wedding of higher orders with lower orders has a'prototype i n Greek theafer, where high tragedy and the satyr play belonged together, and today, over a hundred years after the beginnings of the Romantic synthesis, our poetic task remains to compose the true epithalamium where chastity 128 and lewdness, love and l u s t , the philosopher king and the monstrous clown dance together i n a l l their human r e a l i t y , (p. 38) Duncan's confession of the process whereby he came to truly grasp the world of Blake's "Introduction" to the Songs of Experience perhaps brings a l l the high p a r t i c u l a r i t y of Olson into more manageable reach. It i s a movement from i n t e l l e c t u a l distance and i d e a l i t y to imaginative proximity with the true form ("topology") of the poem: My e a r l i e r work...I had viewed as I wrote as forms embodying or expressing the content of an inner psychological drama; and though, i n fact, i n the rapture of writing what I experienced was also a world of the poem, where I actually saw i n the mind's l i g h t persons and knew the i r l i v e s —Orpheus, the Gnostic Dragon, or the Child Z a g r e u s — i n a l l the force of the r e a l , I thought of them as belonging to the order of symbols r e l a t i n g to the state of my own soul. But, with the book Letters, a book that might have been dedicated to Helen Adam, bringing the book of Blake forward to me—for i t was by Blake that I read the Zohar i n those y e a r s — 0 Earth, 0 Earth, return.' Arise from out the dewey grass; Night i s worn And the morn Rises from the slumbrous mass. •--I was already a convert to the Romantic s p i r i t , and myth i n that s p i r i t i s not only a story that expresses the soul but a story that awakens the soul to the r e a l persons of i t s romance, i n which the actual and the s p i r i t u a l are revealed, one i n the other. (p. 42, i t a l i c s mine) Duncan's a r t i c u l a t i o n of the projective energy of the Romantic s p i r i t i n a poem, and the ground that energy reveals, are, again, somewhat more generalized than Olson's comments, but i n the context of the l a t t e r a t t a i n to a re a l compre-hensiveness: 129 Whatever I think of devices of the art, of metaphor and simile, of development of themes and composition, when I speak of resonances I mean that the music of the poem—a music of sounds and. meanings— awakens the mythological r e a l i t y i n the actual; and when I speak of form I mean not something the poet s i v e s to things but something he receives from things. We are no further from this romance of the s p i r i t in the l i g h t of e l e c t r i c i t y than Shakespeare.... (p. 41) The "projective" i s not something that the poet imposes; i t i s not the one-way "projection" of Freudian psychology. Rather, i t i s our sense of the thing presenting i t s e l f d i r e c t l y to us, and even in us, unmediated by the poet. Coleridge as an "ego" is no more present in Kubla Khan's "pleasure dome" than Shakespeare in Lear's tempest. It was a similar sense of "natural" presen-tation that Wordsworth i s seeking i n writing his Lyrical-Ballads. There i s no doubt that Wordsworth's motivation in choosing the language of "common" men for his poems was -to reveal the "high orders" in the "low." The impulse to seek out "a plainer and more emphatic language" (Preface, p. 245) emerges from his i n t u i t i o n of "the primary laws of our nature" (p. 245). The p o s s i b i l i t y of awakening "the mythological r e a l i t y i n the actual" i s at the core of Wordsworth's experimentation with words, images, sounds. It w i l l prove valuable, I believe, to examine a few of Wordsworth's notions of his purpose and methodology, to show how he does, i n fact, propose a "projective" notion of the verse of Ly r i c a l , B a l l a d s . F i r s t of a l l , he intends to avoid the means of conventional verse: ...the Reader w i l l find no personifications of abstract ideas in these volumes....I wish to keep my Reader i n the company of flesh and blood, (p. 250) There w i l l also be found in these volumes l i t t l e of what i s usually called poetic d i c t i o n . I have 130 I have taken as much pains to avoid i t as others o r d i n a r i l y take to produce i t ; this I have done for the reason already alleged, to bring my language near to the language of men, and further, because the pleasure which I have proposed to myself to impart i s of a kind very d i f f e r e n t from that which i s supposed by many persons to be the proper object of poetry, (p. 251) Wordsworth sees himself cut off from a large portion of phrases and figures of speech which from father to son have long been regarded as the common inheritance of Poets, (p. 251) On several occasions, Wordsworth anticipates that the reading of his poems w i l l produce some kind of v i o l a t i o n of expectation. This, he f e e l s , i s because we not only wish to be pleased, but to be pleased in that p a r t i c u l a r fashion in which we have been accustomed to be pleased, (p. 272) Wordsworth, too, i s aware of the revolutionary implications of his new poetics. To what or whom does he address his poetry? . . . i t s object i s truth, not individual and l o c a l , but general and operative; not standing upon external testimony, but carried a l i v e into the heart by passion; truth which i s i t s own testimony, which gives strength and d i v i n i t y to the tribunal to which i t appeals, and receives them from the same tri b u n a l . Poetry i s the image of man and nature, (p. 257) This i s Blakean language, i s i t not? The order of "truth" that the poet invokes here i s that in which there i s a complete r e l a t i o n or interchange between "the heart" and the "tr i b u n a l . " But the tribunal i s "divine." The energies or "general" forms of p a r t i c u l a r things are to be "carried a l i v e " into the "heart." But the "heart" must be the reader's as much as the poets. Words-worth i s invoking the formal dynamics of a poetry that w i l l 131 bring the reader into a perceptual r e l a t i o n with the '"life of things," the elemental l i f e of "the primary laws of our nature" as they are demonstrated i n commonplaces. His poems are offered to this knowledge which a l l men carry about them, and to these sympathies i n which without any other d i s c i p l i n e than that of our daily l i f e we are f i t t e d to take delight, (pp. 258-259) The large i s revealed in the small. But forging the language to carry these truths " a l i v e " into the receptive reader i s an arduous business. Wordsworth begins a\least, the task of stripping the language of i t s excess baggage—its p r o l i f e r a t i o n of cerebral and poetioc values. His f i r s t s trides toward form,after he had realized the ground from which his words needed to emerge to be " a l i v e , " are indeed pertinent to this study. He repeats the word "accuracy" in several contexts where he i s primarily discussing form: The Poet thinks and feels i n the s p i r i t of the passions of men. How, then, can his language d i f f e r in any material degree from that of a l l other men who f e e l v i v i d l y and see c l e a r l y .To this i t may be added, that while he i s only selecting from the re a l language of men, or, which amounts to the same thing, composing accurately in the s p i r i t of such selection, he i s treading on safe ground.... (p. 261) He must have a c c u r a c y — " s p i r i t u a l " accuracy, i n f a c t — i f he i s to succeed in effecting the '"end" of poetry, which i s : ...to produce excitement in co-existence with an overbalance of pleasure. Now, by the supposition, excitement i s an unusual and irregular state of the mind; ideas and feelings do not in that state succeed each other in accustomed order, (pp. 263-264) Is not the "projective" emerging here? Wordsworth wants to bring us into a condition where we w i l l be disoriented from 132 our normal, "accustomed" a n t i c i p a t i o n : because i t i s in the "unusual" that one w i l l experience both ""immediate pleasure" (p. 258) and immediate r e a l i z a t i o n of general laws of nature. Wordsworth nowhere intimates that these laws are anything but "organic" and active. That i s , they exist in our l i v e s . The great emphasis that Wordsworth places on directness leads him to consider the actions of a poem which a s s i s t or encourage directness. There i s f i r s t '"accuracy" of language. Another discovery i s the effect of a poem's music: — a n effect which i s in a great degree to be ascribed to small, but continual and regular impulses of pleasurable surprise from the metrical arrangement. (p. 265) The whole naturalness of Wordsworth's poetics i s rooted in something close to Olson's sense of the projective and Duncan's sense of the high and the low. For Wordsworth's ""natural" i n describing the language of his poetry i s directed to the p o s s i b i l i t y of bringing people into community with their elemental possessions—what they are as creatures—and in th i s , Wordsworth touches upon the "mythological" r e a l i t y of l i f e in the "natural" body. For a man to be "true to Nature" i s the same as to be joined i n a s n r i t u a l t r i b u n a l — a m u l t i p l i c i t y of dimensions in any act. It i s only from such a ground that Wordsworth, l i k e Blake, can make a>n eschatological claim for poetry: Poetry i s the f i r s t and la s t of a l l knowledge. (p. 259) The measuring poem, the foot that steps through the dance of the words, i s also the measurer of f i r s t and la s t things. Romanticism gives us the basis not only of an eschatology of being, but for an energy that undertakes and informs the poem. It i s precisely here, by the way, that a powerful therapy i n the act of writing occurs. The reader and the poet, i n their 133 own ways, undergo therapy i n giving themselves to their respective actions, and interactions, in the dynamics of language: Concentrating on the constructions of the poem, following the workings out of sound and content, in order to cooperate f u l l y with what i s given, the poet i s protected from what might otherwise disturb his personality. Kis i n t e l l e c t intent upon the ratios and movements of the poem, he i s almost unaware of depths that may be s t i r r e d i n his own psyche. What he feels i s the depth and excitement of the poem. (Duncan, p. 28) Byron,in a l e t t e r to Miss Milbanke (November 10, 1813), puts this proposition a l i t t l e more bluntly: I by no means rank poetry or poets high in the scale of i n t e l l e c t . This may look l i k e affectation, but i t i s my real opinion. It i s the lava of imagination whose eruption prevents an earthquake. They say peets rarely go mad. Byron, i n CHIIDE HAROLD (Canto I I I ) , expresses the l i b e r a t i n g character of the act of writing. In this third Canto, Byron again picks up the journey of the e x i l e , Harold: S t i l l must I on; for I am as a weed, Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam to s a i l Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath p r e v a i l . (St. 2) In my youth's summer I did sing of One, The wandering outlaw of his own dark mind; Again I seize the theme, then but begun, And bear i t with me, as the rushing wind Bears the cloud onwards. (St. 3) Yet, though a dreary s t r a i n , to'this I c l i n g ; So that i t wean me from the weary dream Of s e l f i s h g r i e f or gladness—so i t f l i n g Forgetfulness around me—(St. 4) 1 3 4 He, who grown aged i n this world of woe, In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of l i f e , So that no wonder waits him; nor below Can love or sorrow, fame, ambition, s t r i f e , Cut to his heart again with the keen knife Of s i l e n t , sharp endutance: he can t e l l Why thought seeks refuge in lone caves, yet r i f e With airy images, and shapes which dwell S t i l l unimpair'd, though old, in the soul's haunted c e l l . (St. 5) 'Tis to create, and in creating l i v e A being more intense, that we endow With form our fancy, gaining as we give The l i f e we image, even as I do now. (St. 6) Byron, writing i n this moment, l i v e s into the very things of his mind, the people there, the places, the forms, torments, forces, and Harold. 135 CHAPTER VII The Reader Again The therapy, the l i b e r a t i o n , the creation belong as much to the act of reading (hearing, imagining, joining) as to the act of writing. I would li k e to look at a few places where Romantic poetry "extends" the p o s s i b i l i t y of a "projective" involvement (outlined i n the l a s t chapter) to the reader. Let us f i r s t consider again the passage from Coleridge's RIME OP THE ANCIENT MARINER cited above (Chapter V). Leading d i r e c t l y into the moment i n which the weight of the albatross f a l l s away from the mariner, we have the following process. F i r s t , the mariner endures for seven days the "curse in a dead man's eye"; second, he wishes to "die," he desires death to take away the present pain; then he watches the "moving Moon*' that "no where did abide"; then, his v i s i o n moves down to the water where he i s confronted with "the charmed water" which "burnt alway/ A s t i l l and awful red"; then his eyes move "Beyond the shadow of the ship'" where he sees snakes moving i n "tracks"; following their movement s t i l l , he i s drawn back again into the space within the shadow of the ship. What happens to the reader i s what happens to the mariner. The l i n e s and images conduce to a pendulum-like movement, drawing the reader further and further into the precise motion and colour of the snakes. From the readiness for death, to the perception of the moving moon, in a context of the heavy mass of the ship and i t s shadow, then a swing out, and back. Up and down and out and i n . The exactness and care of the image-making create a pa s s i v i t y , and so, a re c e p t i v i t y to the existence of the snake-creatures. The mariner wishes to die, i s able to die. Is t h i s not "an humilitas s u f f i c i e n t to make him of use"? Even i f the labours of Coleridge to this point have not. succeeded in achieving the reader's attention and suspension, the description of the snakes and the concomitant enlightenment are clear enough and vigorous enough to draw most of us into the c i r c l e of force. 136 The mariner i s no longer thinking about death or suff e r i n g . His attention now i s given to v i s u a l perception, p a r t i c u l a r l y colour and motion. The seemingly arb i t r a r y choice of moon and sea, beyond and near, which precede the central perception constitute, i n fact, a panoramic survey of his entire v i s u a l f i e l d . The comprehensive glance i s then carefully brought down to focus upon the d e t a i l s of the snakes' action, form, and colouring. In such a condition of desire for s e l f - a n n i h i l a t i o n , the pendulum-swing of v i s i o n acts to make him perceptually aware and vulnerable. The mariner i s now e x i s t e n t i a l l y open, as well as physically receptive. The movement of the snakes, and the e a r l i e r scanning of the sky and sea effected the l a t t e r . With the sudden, d i r e c t engagement with the snakes, the suspension of a l l a c t i v i t i e s save direct perception creates the p o s s i b i l i t y of authentic v i s i o n . With the eyes open, the Imaginative Eye i s able to open. The movement i s presented to us f i r s t as a r i t u a l (the corners of the universe), then as a dance of l i v i n g things. Only i n r h i s (and our) truly seeing, truly "apprehending the absolute condition of present" snakes, can the heavy burden, i t s e l f a physical weight, f a l l away. The f a l l i n g away of s e l f , of ego, completes the momentum of desire and physical motion i n a "moment" of l i b e r a t i o n — " t h e self-same moment." That Coler-idge renders this freeing as an action in physical terms, as s i s t s the reader i n penetrating to an order of perception which may approximate the poet's. To see the thing i t s e l f (Blake's P a r t i -cular and D e f i n i t e ) , to see the snakes wholly i s to so become their dynamic, their " f l a s h of golden fire,'" that there i s no room l e f t for suffering, or hope, or dead, pendant albatross. The v i s i o n of the great, the fact of prayer, i s presented to us as emerging d i r e c t l y from an act of perception of a "small" thing. Past the " f l a s h " there i s nothing to.say. It i s on "the other side of despair," and yet, very much in this world. Romantic poems which are songs of enlightenment tend to follow a basic pattern. The perceiver i s prepared, through any 137 of several means, for a dramatic awakening in an act of perception. When the perception, the thing, i s actual enough to the reader, the encumbrances of meter and rhyme do not interfere with the presentation. Such i s the case with the li n e s above. One does not merely obey the demands of cadence, because one i s i n the sweep of a more powerful "resonance"'— the dance of the snakes. Here i s the source of what some have noted as the "transparency" or i n v i s i b i l i t y of poetic language. When the reader i s so tensed into the rhythm and measure of perception, when the act of the word i s simultaneous with the act of engagement, then the "word"',as such, w i l l disappear. For the word i s actually a re g i s t e r i n g of what i s non-verbal— action i t s e l f . Words somehow manage to say what they cannot say. I have suggested already that this comes, in part, from the inherent projective form of sound i t s e l f , and therefore, of words. Poetry subordinates the r e f e r e n t i a l use of language to the r e l a t i o n a l force of language. Such i s the case i n the most dire c t Romantic poems. We are not burdened with trying to figure out "symbols," or looking "behind the words" for the hidden meaning. Taken as given, i n their acting ( i e . verbal) sense, words can register action ( i e . meaning) without the mediation of symbol or rh e t o r i c . Romantic poetry does achieve this order of immediacy sometimes. Watch Coleridge at work i n the "Hymn Before Sunrise, i n the Vale of Chamouni"*: Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star In his steep course? So long he seems to pause Note how Coleridge immediately leads us away from any d e f i n i t i o n by att r a c t i n g our anticipation—suspending us on the edge of the sta r . Ke suspends us by asking a question. And what of the magnitude of that question? He even ends the line with a pause. On thy bald awful head, 0 sovran BLANC, Then, immediately, we move, not resting in this passivity of 138 awe, but s h i f t i n g our v i s i o n down to pick up the acoustic dimensions: The Arve and Arveiron at thy base Rave ceaselessly; Kote how Coleridge sets up, already, two d i s t i n c t but co-extensive orders of action: we have both continuity of the form of per-ception, and continual s h i f t i n the act of perception. From the precise sound of "raving" distant r i v e r s , we move suddenly to but thou, most awful Form! Here he brings us back, f u l l up against the huge form, the s o l i d mass and weight of the mountain. The speed and d i r e c t i o n of the s h i f t i n perception, the mountain suddenly f i l l i n g the entire f i e l d of v i s i o n i s an extension of man into s p a c e -Olson's s p a t i a l i n t u i t i o n . Eut even the s o l i d mass moves.' Risest from forth thy s i l e n t sea of pines, How silently.' And how s i l e n t l y the accents and vowel/consonant d i s t r i b u t i o n leads our v i s i o n slowly up the form of the mountain. It i s the very slowness of mass, of a great weight. It i s the very act of the imperturbable. Around thee and above Deep i s the a i r and dark, substantial, black, An ebon mass: Coleridge here presents the close weight of Mt. Blanc in the context of a deep, dark sky. There r e a l l y i s no sky, but rather '''air," the element, possessing the same elemental presence as the mountain <«fhich moves up. 139 me thinks thou piercest i t , As with a wedgeJ A wedge i s something in action, hard, tense, poised to act. In the image,'Coleridge presents the mountain in i t s dimension as a force, unfolding i t s power into the a i r i n that exact time j u s t "before sunrise." The unseen sun i s mounting in this poem, already, deep in the heavy, slow mounting of rock i t s e l f . But when I look again, It i s thine own calm home, thy c r y s t a l shrine, Thy habitation from eternity.' The necessary r e p e t i t i o n , sustaining, of the act. He looks again,and again s h i f t s suddenly upward. The mountain i s wedded to the deep a i r in a synchronicity of v i s i o n . They are perceived together and so, joined together. But the dimension given here i s also the very force of a place. a "habitation." 0 dread and s i l e n t Mount.' I gazed upon thee, T i l l thou, s t i l l present to the bodily sense, L'idst vanish from my thought: How the tone of reverence develops hereJ It comes together with the ponderous size of the mountain i t s e l f . Again, Coler-idge "gazes," expands his v i s i o n . The pace of the li n e slows right down without diminishing the sense of the v i s u a l l y "present." His reverence i s the very form of the mountain, i s i t n ot—the place that the mountain f u l f i l l s ? It has the mountain's and also the yet unseen sun's slowly mounting power, i t s gathering force, and radiance. He i s teased out. of thought; he is l e f t only with perception. The colon signals the equation: the loss of thought and fulness of perception equals the entrance to prayer, as with the mariner. entranced in prayer I worshipped the Invisible alone. 140 One c a n n o t a v o i d the p u n . The e a r i s a c c u r a t e . To be " e n t r a n c e d " i s t o make an e n t r a n c e . The " I n v i s i b l e " i s c o m m u n i c a t e d d i r e c t l y t o the s e n s e s . O l s o n m i g h t o b j e c t t o the use o f the w o r d . W e l l e n o u g h . B u t the f a c t r e m a i n s . C o l e r i d g e is- l e g i s -l a t i n g on s e v e r a l l e v e l s a t o n c e . The e n t r a n c e i s made i n t o the o n l y a v a i l a b l e p l a c e — t h e " h a b i t a t i o n ' f r e m e t e r n i t y . 1 " The l a w s e x t a n t t h e r e a r e the l a w s o f t h a t p l a c e i t s e l f , and o f t h e t h i n g s i n i t . Y e t , l i k e some s w e e t b e g u i l i n g m e l o d y , So s w e e t , we know n o t we a r e l i s t e n i n g to i t , T h o u , t h e m e a n w h i l e , was t b l e n d i n g w i t h my T h o u g h t , Y e a , w i t h my L i f e and L i f e ' s own s e c r e t j o y : T i l l t h e d i l a t i n g S o u l , e n r a p t , t r a n s f u s e d , I n t o t h e m i g h t y v i s i o n p a s s i n g — t h e r e A s i n h e r n a t u r a l f o r m , s w e l l e d v a s t t o H e a v e n . The g a t h e r i n g f o r m o f the poem makes i t p o s s i b l e f o r t h e r e a d e r t o a c c e p t and r e l a t e w i t h n o t i o n s t h a t , i n a n o t h e r c o n t e x t , w o u l d impede and d i s t a n c e h i m . A l l a l o n g , we have b e e n e x p e r -i e n c i n g a " d i l a t i o n , 1 " so t h a t the n o m i n a t i v e t h r u s t o f the w o r d s ' " S o u l , " a n d " j o y , " and so o n , a r e p o s s i b l e . The s w i n g f r o m t h o u g h t l e s s n e s s to r e a l i z a t i o n i s a p r e s e n t a t i o n o f C o l -e r i d g e ' s c o n c e p t i o n . E u t what m a t t e r s h e r e i s t h a t i t i s p r e -p a r e d f o r and p a r a l l e l e d by the p e r c e p t u a l c o n c e n t r a t i o n o f the p r e c e d i n g l i n e s . The n e x t s i x t y l i n e s become a w i l d , p a s s i o n a t e c e l e b r a t i o n o f d i s c o v e r i n g t h e t h i n g s o f n a t u r e i n r e l a t i o n t o o n e ' s own b e i n g . The p o e t h a s , h o w e v e r , p r e p a r e d the r e a d e r f o r the m a d l y c o u r a g e o u s a p o s t r o p h e t h a t f o l l o w s t h e i n i t i a l a w a k e n i n g . The i m p o r t a n t t h i n g i s the way t h a t C o l e r i d g e , i n t h e e a r l y l i n e s , r e n d e r s t h e s l o w n e s s o f a w a k e n i n g . The p r o c e s s h a s t h e s l o w n e s s o f the s u n r i s i n g , the s l o w n e s s o f o r g a n i c l i f e , the s l o w r e v o l u t i o n o f the e a r t h . T h i s i s what I mean by R o m a n t i c p o e t r y s o m e t i m e s g e t t i n g the p r o j e c t i v e i n t o t h e a c t o f w r i t i n g . P e r -h a p s a few more l i n e s f r o m C o l e r i d g e w o u l d s e r v e t h e p u r p o s e 141 here. The l a s t l i n es of "Frost at Midnight," demonstrate, I believe, a high order of something beyond the reach of much verse: Therefore a l l seasons s h a l l be sweet to thee, Whether the summer clothe the general earth With greenness, or the redbreast s i t and sing Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops f a l l Heard only i n the trances of the blast, Or i f the secret ministry of fr o s t S h a l l hang them up in s i l e n t i c i c l e s , Quietly shining to the quiet moon. The ease and generality of the f i r s t two l i n e s , drawn out upon the repeated sounds, leads s w i f t l y into a series of hard-edge images of high p a r t i c u l a r i t y . High d e f i n i t i o n amid low defin-i t i o n creates the sense of each p a r t i c u l a r , each action, within the larger space of the seasons. Coleridge has a d e f i n t i o n of beauty, that, i t subsists " i n simultaneous i n t u i t i o n of the r e l a t i o n of parts, each to each, and of a l l to a whole: exciting an immediate and absolute complacency" or equilibrium. In the above l i n e s , Coleridge i s concerned with RELATING the things to the elemental pattern of the seasonal cycle. The movement or form here i s increasing imaginative involvement or commit-ment together with increasing discrimination of image and sound. The f i r s t l i n e establishes a general premise of possible f u l f i l m e n t . "Sweet" appears as the l a s t general use of d i c t i o n . Even the word ""general" i n the next line works upon developing form by delivering up i t s soft sounds, i t s roundness. But the protracted music of these l i n e s leads immediately into the isolated colour, "with greenness,'" and thence to the colour, position, and voice of the robin. But already, the object i s presented to us in high s p e c i f i c i t y . The image of the bird finding a bare place between the patches of snow i s an unexpected concretion. Each unanticipated word (the more o r i g i n a l the better) 142 functions to abdicate our distance from the poem. We zoom i n , or focus suddenly on the object. The robin i s , by now, an over-used image. But here Coleridge has given the bird such special physical position, that it. appears to us physically. The words point to the thing, saying "ThereJ" And the tree i s further p a r t i c u l a r i z e d , and then, juxtaposed with the thatch roof that "Smakes i n the sun-thaw." Say the words out loud; the very e f f o r t and action of speech enforces the action of the thing i t s e l f . But the preceding l i n e s , those perceptions, have made i t possible for this delicate image to concretize. What comes through to us i s Spring—-the heat of i t , i t s smokiness, the sense of the change and the coming changes—that peculiar and unique conjunction of actions at a certain point on a bare branch beside a steaming roof. Immediately followed by the f a l l i n g , dropping, raining, blasting autumn. Here, the unseen, unheard thing—water pouring from the e a v e s — i s brought into a concrete object by discovering i t between the ""blasts," that i s , " i n the trances of the b l a s t . " Coleridge creates a pause, a suspension, suddenly. If he had omitted this l i n e and just given us the water, or just the blasts, the concretion would have been lost.'But his f a c i l i t y with discovering the exact means of allowing discovery, creates the "high-energy" discharge for the reader. The reader has to, must, enter that trance, that b r i e f pause. Coleridge uses the cessation of one a c t i v i t y to introduce another. It i s the sudden leap between them, the rapid exchange of one Gestalt for another, which allows the direct perception to take place, and allows (or i s ) the exchange of energy. The l a s t two lines are superb, even aside from the way they gather the whole poem in the image of the t i t l e . Once again, the impact of the s h i f t from the slow image, "'Shall hang them up in s i l e n t i c i c l e s , " to the image of the moon, gives l i f e and action to what otherwise could remain s t a t i c things. These changes and s h i f t s occur in the i n t e r s t i c e s of the moment; they are sudden and final . But they are the condition of the poem being able to communicate at a l l . 143 Imagination i s not so much a faculty as a function of the moment, the act, the physical happening. In the l a s t l i n e , either the reader succeeds i n making the leap to the moon, or not., The whole force of these l i n e s , however, i s a "teasing" us out of thought to the point where, in the spontaneity of action i t s e l f , with the swiftness of the ear or the eye, we move. This i s Olson's "extension", and e x t e n s i b i l i t y of human being into " f a r " places. Coleridge, no, the i c i c l e s themselves demand i t of us, and we,of them. Are we not suspended too? slowly, s i l e n t l y , just as, ice, in the very " s p i r i t " of "the secret ministry of frost"? If so, then at the l a s t moment we shine out too, to the moon. But there i s another order of subtlety here. The whole piece i s set in the conditional future. But here, the conditional future i s revealed in the present, i n the immediacy of present things. The s p a t i a l deployment of things i s joined to a temporal deployment. We begin with a "shall 1' 1 and move to a "whether,** and thence to "sit." and "sing," and now to the present "smokes" and "drops," and then, again, to an on-going '"shining." It i s what we are l e f t with—the on-going, expanding process, brought to physical concretion i n the Moon—the only v i s i b l e thing. Keats writes in a l e t t e r (November 22, 1817): — t h e simple imaginative Mind may have i t s rewards in the r e p e t i t i o n of i t s own s i l e n t Working coming continually on the S p i r i t with a fine Suddenness.— To compare great things with small—have you never by being Surprised with an old Melody—in a delicious p l ace—by a delicious voice.... Keats has struck upon the projective i n himself. He describes i t in terms of "suddenness" and "surprise." For Keats, there-fore, poetry must "startle"'' and "amaze" the reader. Poetry must come upon the reader l i k e the workings of his own mind, with the same immediacy and proximity. ""I think poetry should 144 surprise by a fine excess and not by Singularity" (February 27, 1818). It i s suddenness combined with receptivity that make the most f e r t i l e condition for both poet and reader. Wordsworth's "Strange F i t s of Passion," for example, shows a si t u a t i o n in which Wordsworth i s progressively l u l l e d to aideep meditation upon the ""descending Moon"; at the same time, the horse main-tains i t s steady plodding. The combined rhythms induce a state of openness i n the poet, u n t i l , when the moon suddenly drops behind the roof of Lucy's cottage, a thought flashes across the empty mind of the poet: " If Lucy should be dead.'" It i s not the ideas associated with the thought that the poem immediately presents. What i s f i r s t i s the arc of the thought across the mind, l i k e the stroke of l i g h t from a lighthouse. The fact that i t i s "a Lover's head" that the thought enters, and that the poem i s for ""the lover's ear alone," increase the force of r e c o i l and impact. For the lover would naturally be more vulnerable, and also i n higher anticipation, before the occurrence. It i s a threatening experience indeed, i f one stops to consider the implications of the thought. But this i s not. what.-, we are asked to do. Where we r e a l l y connect into form i n this poem i s i_n that surprise of the l a s t moment. For a duration of time, the reader i s completely given to the force of that idea (or phantasy); he i s completely occupied, i d e n t i f i e d i n the a c t i o n — t h a t sudden discharge d i r e c t l y into the brain. E l i o t ' s dictum about feeling a thought with the same proximity as the odour of a rose, could hardly be better i l l u s t r a t e d than in this poem. "At once the planet dropp'd." It. i s as much as the earth, this planet, as the moon. Again, the sense of f a l l i n g away, the dropping, the earth moving out from beneath, i s accomplished in a single thought. *'0ne thought f i l l s immensity." For an instant, there i s nothing but the thought—no " I . " It would take a long time and much demonstration to show exactly how Shelley's Prometheus Unbound and Byron's Manfred 145 are among the most sustained masterpieces of Romantic projec-tive verse. One is tempted to add the seldom read Sardanapalus of Eyron, as well. It has the space and depth of Goethe (to whom the play was dedicated). Pound remembers the fifth Act of The Cenci with favour. And Coleridge's Kubla Khan is succeeding in ways which few other Romantic poems do. The discovery of particular examples and cases of the Romantics getting the dimension of experience "immediately" across to the reader require a whole re-reading of Romanticism aaain—this tine aloud, for the ear. It is the ear which will right the balance of too long and tpo heavy a stress upon the conceptual content of Romantic verse, at the expense of form. For the dimensions implicit in much Romantic verse will be released upon a true hea.ring.vof that verse. Or, at least, we will have a fuller sense .of their writing, to match the understanding of their '"subject." "And a l l who heard should see them there." 146 CONCLUSION "ENERGY IS ETERNAL DELIGHT" 147 BIBLIOGRAPHY L i s t of Works C o n s u l t e d Adamczewski, Zygmunt. The T r a g i c P r o t e s t . The Hague: M a r t i n u s N i j h o f f , 1963. B l a k e , W i l l i a m . B lake Complete W r i t i n g s , ed. G e o f f r e y Keynes. London, 1966. B l y t h , R.H. Zen i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e and O r i e n t a l C l a s s i c s . New,York, I960. Brown, Norman 0. Love's Body. New York, 1966. C a r p e n t e r , Edmund,and M a r s h a l l McLuhan,eds. E x p l o r a t i o n s i n  Communication. Boston, I960. C a s s i r e r , E r n s t . Language and Myth, t r a n s . Susanne K. Langer. New York, 1953. C h a i t a n y a , K r i s h n a . S a n s k r i t P o e t i c s : A C r i t i c a l and Comparative Study. New York, 1965." Duncan, R o b e r t . The T r u t h and L i f e of Myth: An Essay i n E s s e n t i a l A u t o b i o g r a p h y . New York: House of Books, 1968. E c k h a r d t , M e i s t e r . S e l e c t e d T r e a t i s e s and Sermons, t r a n s . James M. C l a r k and John V. S k i n n e r . London, 1958. F e n e l l o s e , E r n e s t . The Chinese W r i t t e n C h a r a c t e r as a Medium f o r P o e t r y , ed. E z r a Pound. S a n f r a n s i s c o : C i t y L i g h t s , 1968. L a i n g , Ronald D. The P o l i t i c s . , o f E x p e r i e n c e and The i i.Bird of P a r a d i s e . M i d d l e s s e x : Penguin, 1967. Langer, Susanne K. P h i l o s o p h y i n a New Key. New York, 1942. McLuhan, M a r s h a l l . The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making.of Typographic Man.Toronto, 1962. , and Quentin F i o r e . War and Peace i n the G l o b a l V i l l a g e . New York, 196*8. Merton, Thomas. Zen and the B i r d s of A p p e t i t e . New York: New D i r e c t i o n s , 1968. The Geography of L o a r a i r e . New York: New D i r e c -t i o n s , 1968. 148 Olson, Charles. Human Uniyerse_and. Other Essays, ed. Donald Allen. New York, 1967. Peckham, Morse. Beyond the Tragic Vision: The Quest for Iden-t i t y in the Mneteenth_Century. New York, 1962. . "Toward a Theory of Romanticism," PMLA. LXVI (March 1951), 3 - 2 3 . Pound, Ezra. Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T.S. E l i o t . New York: New Directions, 1968. . A B C of Reading. New York: New Directions, i 9 6 0 . Snyder, Gary. Earth House Hold. New York, 1957. Sontag, Susan. Against Interpretation. New York, 1969. Wordsworth, William and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. L y r i c a l Ballads, ed. R.L. Brett and A.R. Jones. London, 1963. 

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