1647
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Antipsychopannychia or the third Book of the Song of the Soul.

Philosophical Poems comprising Psychozoia and Minor Poems.

Rev. Henry More


The full title is "Antipsychopannychia or the third Book of the Song of the Soul: containing a Confutation of the Sleep of the Soul after Death."

Geoffrey Bullough: "This Third Part of the Song of the Soul aims to prove that the dead do not sleep till the Judgement Day. More begins by asserting that the sleep of the soul implies that consciousness is dependent on the body. This he has already disproved, and will disprove again (15). The soul in the individual works by Will and Intellect, each of which 'worketh best | When Sense and Appetite be consopite' (20). In so far as soul stoops to sense, it forgets the Ideas. The soul, not the sense-instruments, perceives the elements of experiments (25-7). Each of the senses refers only to one kind of object; while Fancy, while freer and creative, 'To laws bodily is bound' (29). Intellect, on the other hand, works without a physical instrument, and is self-moved (32), while Will, differing from Appetite, hovers in 'a free suspense' above the turmoil of bodily desires. Both faculties, being independent of the body, do not necessarily 'To Lethe Lake descend' (38).

"Setting out in the second canto to show that 'The self-form'd soul may work without | Incorporation', More figures the spiritual world as a Cone, with Ahad as the 'wide-spread Base', and Hyle, 'infinite straitnesse', as the Cuspis. God's influence brings everywhere light and life, Hyle's brings dark and death. The soul sees not by the physical instruments, but by the light of innate ideas implanted by God, 'Wherefore when death this lower life shall spill, | Or fear or love the soul with actuall forms shall fill' (44). The soul, being divine, must continue the life of ideas.

"The third section examines the nature of the life after death. On earth God fills man not only with physical, but also with spiritual joys. All men admit the validity of prophetic and mystical ecstasy, examples of which he cites (5-7). How much greater must be the experience of the soul permanently freed from the body! (8-15). The souls of the Good are united to God (16-21). What then of the bad? Being souls, since body is but a mode of spirit, they must exist in some spiritual state. Accordingly they inhabit the lowest realm of being, 'Infernall Night', which invading earthly life as Sin, affects the afterlife as self-gnawing torment. 'Where's Nimrod now, and dreadfull Hannibal? | Where's that ambitious pert Pellean lad, | Whose pride sweld trigger then this earthly hall? | Where's cruell Nero, with the rest that had | Command, and vex'd the world with usage bad? | They're all sunk down into this nether hell' (40). After a vividly Dureresque account of hellish temptations on earth, he foils those who inquire where Hell is situated with the assertion that 'Hell and Heaven may both together lie, | Sith darknesse safely rates even in the sunny skie' (48)" Philosophical Poems (1931) 247-48.



CANTO I.
Adams long sleep, will, mind compar'd
With low vitality,
The fondnesse plainly have unbar'd
Of Psychopannychie.

The souls ever durancy I sung before,
Ystruck with mighty rage. A powerful fire
Held up my lively Muse and made her soar
So high that mortall wit, I fear, she'll tire
To trace her. Then a while I did respire.
But now my beating veins new force again
Invades, and holy fury doth inspire.
Thus stirred up, I'll adde a second strain,
Lest, what afore was said may seem all spoke in vain.

For sure in vain do humane souls exist
After this life, if lull'd in listlesse sleep
They senselesse lie, wrapt in eternal mist,
Bound up in foggy clouds, that ever weep
Benumming tears, and the souls centre steep
With deading liquor, that she never minds
Or feeleth ought. Thus drench'd in Lethe deep,
Nor misseth she her self, nor seeks nor finds
Her self. This mirksome state all the souls actions binds.

Desire, fear, love, joy, sorrow, pleasure, pain,
Sense, phancy, wit, forecasting providence,
Delight in God, and what with sleepy brain
Might sute, slight dreams, all banish'd farre from hence.
Nor pricking nor applauding conscience
Can wake the soul from this dull Lethargie;
That 'twixt this sleepy state small difference
You'll find and that men call Mortality:
Plain death's as good as such a Psychopannychie.

What profiteth this bare existency,
If I perceive not that I do exist?
Nought 'longs to such, nor mirth nor misery.
Such stupid beings write into one list
With stocks and stones. But they do not persist,
You'll say, in this dull dead condition;
But must revive, shake off this drowsie mist
At that last shrill loud-sounding clarion
Which cleaves the trembling earth, rives monuments of stone.

Has then old Adam snorted all this time
Under some senselesse sod with sleep ydead?
And have those flames, that steep Olympus climbe
Right nimbly wheeled or'e his heedlesse head
So oft, in heaps of years low buried:
And yet can ken himself when he shall rise
Wakend by piercing trump, that farre doth shed
Its searching sound? If we our memories
And wit do lose by sicknesse, fails, sloth, lethargies:

If all our childhood quite be waste away
With its impressions, so that we forget
What once we were, so soon as age doth sway
Our bowed backs, sure when base worms have eat
His mouldring brains, and spirits have retreat
From whence they came, spread in the common fire,
And many thousand sloping sunnes have set
Since his last fall into his ancient mire,
How he will ken himself reason may well admire:

For he must know himself by some impression
Left in his ancient body unwash'd out;
Which seemeth strange; for can so long succession
Of sliding years that great Colosses mought
Well moulder into dust, spare things ywrought
So slightly as light phantasms in our brain,
Which oft one yeare or moneth have wrenched out
And left no footsteps of that former stain,
No more then's of a cloud quite melted into rain?

And shall not such long series of time,
When Nature hath dispread our vitall spright
And turn'd our body to its ancient slime,
Quite wash away whatever was empight
In that our spirit? If flesh and soul unite
Lose such impressions, as were once deep scald
And fairly glistered like to comets bright
In our blew Chaos, if the soul congeald
With her own body lose these forms as I reveald,

Then so long time of their disjunction
(The body being into dust confect,
The spright diffused, spread by dispersion)
And such Lethean sleep that doth contract
The souls hid rayes that it did nothing act,
Must certainly wipe all these forms away
That sense or phansie ever had impact.
So that old Adam will in vain assay
To find who here he was; he'll have no memory.

Nor can he tell that ere he was before:
And if not tell, he's as if then first born.
If as first born, his former life's no store.
Yet when men wake they find themselves at morn,
But if their memory away were worn
With one nights sleep, as much as doth respect
Themselves, these men they never were before,
This day's their birth day: they can not conject
They ever liv'd till now, much lesse the same detect.

So when a man goes hence, thus may he say,
As much as me concerns I die now quite.
Adiew, good self! for now thou goest away,
Nor can I possibly thee ever meet
Again, nor ken thy face, nor kindly greet.
Sleep and dispersion spoyls our memory.
So my dear self henceforth I cannot weet.
Wherefore to me its perfectly to die,
Though subtiler Wits do call's but Psychopannychie.

Go now you Psychopannychites! perswade
To comely virtues and pure piety
From hope of joy, or fear of penance sad.
Men promptly may make answer, Who shall try
That pain or pleasure? When death my dim eye
Shall close, I sleep not sensible of ought:
And tract of time at least all memory
Will quite debarre, that reacquainten mought
My self with mine own self, if so my self I sought.

But I shall neither seek my selfe, nor find
My self unsought: Therefore not deprehend
My self in joy or wo. Men ought to mind
What 'longs unto them. But when once an end
Is put unto this life, and fate doth rend
Our retinence; what follows nought at all
Belongs to us: what need I to contend,
And my frail spright with present pain to gall
For what I nere shall judge my self did ere befall;

This is the uncouth state of sleeping soul,
Thus weak of her own self without the prop
Of the base body, that she no'te out-roll
Her vitall rates: those rates Death down doth lop,
And all her goodly beauty quite doth crop
With his black claws. Wisdome, love, piety,
Are straight dried up: Death doth their fountain stop,
This is those sleepers dull Philosophy,
Which fairly men invites to foul impiety.

But if we grant, which in my former song
I plainly prov'd, that the souls energie
'Pends not on this base corse, but that self-strong
She by her self can work, then when we fly
The bodies commerce, no man can deny
But that there is no interruption
Of life; where will puts on, there doth she hie
Or if she's carried by coaction,
That force yet she observes by presse adversion.

And with most lively touch doth feel and find
Her self. For either what she most doth love
She then obtains; or else with crosse, unkind
Contrary life since her decease sh' hath strove,
That keeps her wake, and with like might doth move
To think upon her self, and in what plight
She's fallen. And nothing able to remove
Deep searching vengeance, groans in this sad Night,
And rores, and raves, and storms, and with herself doth fight.

But hearty love of that great vitall spright,
The sacred fount of holy sympathy;
Prepares the soul with its deep quickning might
To leave the bodies vain morality.
Away she flies into Eternity,
Finds full accomplishment of her desire;
Each thing would reach its own centrality:
So Earth with Earth, and Moon with Moon conspire.
Our selves live most, when most we feed our Centrall fire.

Thus is the soul continually in life
Withouten interruption, if that she
Can operate after the fatall knife
Hath cut the cords of lower sympathy:
Which she can do, if that some energie
She exercise (immur'd in this base clay)
Which on frail flesh hath no dependency,
For then the like she'll do, that done away.
These independent acts, 'tis time now to display.

All comprehending Will, proportionate
To whatsoever shall fall by Gods decree
Or prudent sufferance, sweetly spread, dilate,
Stretch'd out t' embrace each act or entity
That creep from hidden cause that none can see
With outward eyes. Next Intellect, whose hight
Of working's then, whenas it stands most free
From sense and grosser phansie, deep empight
In this vild corse, which to purg'd minds yields small delight.

Both Will and Intellect then worketh best,
When Sense and Appetite be consopite,
And grosser phansie lull'd in silent rest:
Then Will grown full with a mild heavenly light
Shines forth with goodly mentall rayes bedight,
And finds and feels such things as never pen
Can setten down, so that unexpert wight
May reade and understand. Experienc'd men
Do onely know who like impressions sustain:

So far's the Soul from a dependency
(In these high actions) on the body base.
And further signe is want of memory
Of these impressions wrought in heavenly place,
I mean the holy Intellect: they passe
Leaving no footsteps of their former light,
Whenas the soul from thence descended has,
Which is a signe those forms be not empight
In our low proper Chaos or Corporeall spright.

For then when we our mind do downward bend
Like things we here should find: but all is gone
Soon as our flagging souls so low descend
As that straight spright. Like torch that droppeth down
From some high tower, held steady, clearly shone,
But in its fall leaves all its light behind,
Lies now in darknesse on the grail, or stone,
Or dirty earth: That erst so fully stain'd
Within a glowing coal hath now its light confin'd.

So doth the soul when from high Intellect
To groveling sense she takes her stooping flight,
Falling into her body, quite neglect,
Forget, forgo her former glorious sight.
Grosse glowing fire for that wide-shining light;
For purest love, foul fury and base passion;
For clearest knowledge, fell contentious fight
Sprong from some scorching false inust impression
Which she'll call truth, she gains. O witlesse Commutation!

But still more clear her independent might
In understanding and pure subtile will
To prove: I will assay t' explain aright
The difference ('ccording to my best skill)
'Twixt these and those base faculties that well
From union with the low consistency
Of this Out-world, that when my curious quill,
Hath well describ'd their great disparity,
To th' highest we may give an independency.

The faculties we deem corporeall,
And bound unto this earthy instrument
(So bound that they no'te operate at all
Without the body there immerse and meint)
Be hearing, feeling, tasting, sight, and sent.
Adde lower phansie, Mundane memory:
Those powers be all or more or lesse ypent
In this grosse life: We'll first their property
Set down, and then the others contrariety.

This might perceives not its own instrument.
The taste discovers not the spungy tongue;
Nor is the Mundane spright (through all extent)
From whence are sense and lower phansie sprong
Perceived by the best of all among
These learned Five, nor yet by phantasie:
Nor doth or this or those so nearly throng
Unto themselves as by propinquity
To apprehend themselves. They no'te themselves descry;

Nor e're learn what their own impressions be.
The mind held somewhere else in open sight,
Whatever lies, unknown unto the eye
It lies, though there its image be empight,
Till that our soul look on that image right.
Wherefore themselves the senses do not know,
Nor doth our phansie; for each furious wight
Hath phansie full enough, so full's doth show
As sense; nor he, nor's phansie doth that phansie know.

Age, potent objects, too long exercise
Do weaken, hurt, and much debilitate
Those lower faculties. The Sun our eyes
Confounds with dazeling beams of light, so that
For a good while we cannot contemplate
Ought visible: thus thunder deafs the eare,
And age hurts both, that doth quite ruinate
Our sense and phansie: so if long we heare
Or see, 't sounds not so sweet, nor can we see so clear.

Lastly, the Senses reach but to one kind
Of things. The eye sees colours, so the eare
Hears sounds, the nostrills snuff perfumed wind;
What grosse impressions the out-senses bear
The phansie represents; sometimes it dare
Make unseen shapes, with uncouth transformation,
Such things as never in true Nature are,
But all this while the phansies operation
To laws bodily is bound: such is her figuration.

This is the nature of those faculties
That of the lower Mundane spright depend.
But in our Intellect farre otherwise
We'st see it, if we pressely will attend
And trace the parallels unto the end.
There's no self-knowledge. Here the soul doth find
Her self. If so, then without instrument.
For what more fit to show our inward mind
Then our own mind? But if't be otherwise defin'd;

Then tell me, Knows she that fit instrument?
If she kens not that instrument, how can
She judge, whether truely it doth represent
Her self? there may be foul delusion,
But if she kens this Organ; straight upon
This grant, I'll ask how kens she this same tole?
What? by another? by what that? so go on
Till to infinity you forward roll,
An horrid monster count in Philosophick school.

The soul then works by't self, and is self-liv'd,
Sith that it acts without an instrument:
Free motions from her own self deriv'd
Flow round. But to go on. The eyes yblent
Do blink, even blind with objects vehement,
So that till they themselves do well recure
Lesse matters they no'te see. But rayes down sent
From higher sourse the mind doth maken pure,
Do clear, do subtilize, do fix, do settle sure.

That if so be she list to bend her will
To lesser matters, she would it perform
More excellently with more art and skill:
Nor by long exercise her strength is worn;
Witnesse wise Socrates, from morn to morn
That stood as stiff as any trunck of tree:
What eye could bear in contemplation
So long a fix'dnesse? none so long could see,
Its watery tears would wail its frail infirmity.

Nor feeble eld, sure harbinger of death,
Doth hinder the free work of th' Intellect.
When th' eye growes dim and dark that it unneath
Can see through age, the mind then close collect
Into her self, such mysteries doth detect
By her far-piercing beams, that youthfull heat
Doth count them folly and with scorn neglect;
His ignorance concludes them but deceit;
He hears not that still voyce, his pulse so loud doth beat.

Lastly sense, phansie, though they be confin'd
To certain objects, which to severall
Belong; yet sure the Intellect or mind
Apprehends all objects, both corporeall,
As colours, sounds; and incorporeall,
As virtue, wisdome, and the higher spright,
Gods love and beauty intellectuall;
So that its plain that she is higher pight
Then in all acts to 'pend on any earthly might:

If will and appetite we list compare,
Like difference we easly there discover,
This pent, contract, yfraught with furious jar
And fierce antipathy. It boyleth over
With fell revenge; or if new chance to cover
The former passion, suppose lust or fear:
Yet all are tumults, but the will doth hover,
No whit enslav'd to what she findeth here,
But in a free suspence her self doth nimbly bear.

Mild, gentle, calm, quick, large, subtill, serene,
These be her properties which do increase
The more that vigour in the bodies vein
Doth waste and waxen faint. Desires decrease
When age the Mundane spright doth more release
From this straight mansion. But the will doth flower
And fairly spread, near to our last decease
Embraceth God with much more life and power
Then ever she could do in her fresh vernall hower.

Wherefore I think we safely may conclude
That Will and Intellect do not rely
Upon the body, sith they are indew'd
With such apparent contrariety
Of qualities to sense and phantasie,
Which plainly on the body do depend:
So that departed souls may phantasms free
Full well exert, when they have made an end
Of this vain life, nor need to Lethe Lake descend.

[Grosart (1878) 103-07]

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