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Edward Carpenter poetry

keberoxu 14 Jun 17 - 06:28 PM
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Subject: The Babe (partly set to music)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 06:28 PM

"England Arise" is an Edward Carpenter hymn, and Mudcat has the lyric on a much older thread (it would help, though, if the composer were specified -- not only Edward Carpenter set it to music, but a handful of other composers). That thread, if memory serves, is "Atheist Hymns."

The following lengthy poem had its final section set to music by American composer John Duke.
The poem itself is the more remarkable when you consider that Edward Carpenter was proudly same-sex in relationships, and as far as I am aware, never became -- nor set out to become -- the father of any child. Yet his viewpoint in this poem really seems to be that of the husband and father, commenting on the mystery of where babies come from.

Any other poems by Edward Carpenter that are memorable?


The trio perfect: the man, the woman, and the babe:
And herein all creation.

The two, with wonder in their eyes, from opposite worlds
Of sex, of ancestry, pursuits, traditions,
Each other suddenly, amazed, confronting --
A nameless glory each in each surmising.

A frenzy as of Gods --
Imperial rage,
Flinging the goods of the world aside as dross, to reach a priceless treasure:
[He madly invasive,
She deeply wise, and drawing farther back
Even to the gates of Paradise as he approaches:]
Strange ecstasy of warfare!   
Seisin and ravishment of souls and bodies,
Veils rent asunder,
Heaven opening measureless, overhead, in splendour,
And all life changed, transfigured!

And then a calm.
Weeks of humdrum and mortal commonplace,
And months perchance in monotone of toil,
But still behind it all some deep remembrance,
Some sure reliance,
And sweet and secret knowledge of each other.

And then the Babe:
A tiny perfect sea-shell on the shore   
By the waves gently laid (the awful waves!) --
By trembling hands received -- a folded message --
A babe yet slumbering, with a ripple on its face
Remindful of the ocean.

And two twined forms that overbend it, smiling,
And wonder to what land Love must have journeyed,
Who brought this back -- this word of sweetest meaning:
Two lives made one, and visible as one.   

And herein all creation.

by Edward Carpenter, from Part IV of Towards Democracy: Complete Edition in Four Parts, London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1916. Pages 423 - 424.

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