The Mental Traveller
I travell'd thro' a Land of Men,
A Land of Men and Women too;
And heard & saw such dreadful things
As cold Earth-wanderers never knew.
For there the Babe is born in joy
That was begotten in dire woe;
Just as we Reap in joy the fruit
Which we in bitter tears did sow.
And if the Babe is born a Boy
He's given to a Woman Old,
Who nails him down upon a rock,
Catches his shrieks in cups of gold.
She binds iron thorns around his head,
She pierces both his hands & feet,
She cuts his heart out at his side,
To make it feel both cold & heat.
Her fingers number every Nerve,
Just as a Miser counts his gold;
She lives upon his shrieks & cries,
And she grows young as he grows old.
Till he becomes a bleeding youth,
And she becomes a Virgin bright;
Then he rends up his Manacles,
And binds her down for his delight.
He plants himself in all her nerves,
Just as a Husbandman his mould;
And she becomes his dwelling-place
And Garden fruitful seventyfold.
An agèd Shadow, soon he fades,
Wandering round an Earthly Cot,
Full fillèd all with gems & gold
Which he by industry had got.
And these are the gems of the Human Soul,
The rubies & pearls of a lovesick eye,
The countless gold of the akeing heart,
The martyr's groan & the lover's sigh.
They are his meat, they are his drink
He feeds the Beggar & the Poor
And the wayfaring Traveller:
For ever open is his door.
His grief is their eternal joy;
They make the roofs & walls to ring;
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring.
And she is all of solid fire
And gems & gold, that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her Baby form,
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band.
But She comes to the Man she loves,
If young or old, or rich or poor;
They soon drive out the agèd Host,
A Beggar at another's door.
He wanders weeping far away,
Until some other take him in;
Oft blind & age-bent, sore distrest,
Untill he can a Maiden win.
And to allay his freezing Age,
The Poor Man takes her in his arms;
The Cottage fades before his sight,
The Garden & its lovely Charms.
The Guests are scatter'd thro' the land,
For the Eye altering alters all;
The Senses roll themselves in fear,
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball;
The stars, sun, Moon, all shrink away
A desart vast without a bound,
And nothing left to eat or drink,
And a dark desart all around.
The honey of her Infant lips,
The bread & wine of her sweet smile,
The wild game of her roving Eye,
Does him to Infancy beguile;
For as he eats & drinks he grows
Younger and younger every day;
And on the desart wild they both
Wander in terror & dismay.
Like the wild Stag she flees away,
Her fear plants many a thicket wild;
While he pursues her night & day,
By various arts of Love beguil'd;
By various arts of Love and Hate,
Till the wide desart planted o'er
With Labyrinths of wayward Love,
Where roam the Lion, Wolf, & Boar.
Till he becomes a wayward Babe,
And she a weeping Woman Old.
Then many a Lover wanders here;
The Sun & Stars are nearer roll'd.
The trees bring forth sweet Extacy
To all who in the desart roam;
Till many a City there is Built,
And many a pleasant Shepherd's home.
But when they find the frowning Babe,
Terror strikes thro' the region wide:
They cry `The Babe! the Babe is Born!'
And flee away on Every side.
For who dare touch the frowning form,
His arm is wither'd to its root;
Lions, Boars, Wolves, all howling flee,
And every Tree does shed its fruit.
And none can touch that frowning form,
Except it be a Woman Old;
She nails him down upon the Rock,
And all is done as I have told.