And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed, and
yet the same,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin,
and make pure and beautify it;
(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering,
Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.)
I think this is a rather wonderful representation of Whitman’s, or indeed the ideal, humanism. To the chaos of conflict and the discord of psychology there is a kind of fellowship, the spirit of which does not need to be driven by divine forces; people can create and sustain one another like the earth upon which we live. I’d be tempted to say that the poem is powerful in a very literal sense too; the largest populations gather where the land can grow food, and so regions with decent rainfall, more than areas dry and arid. But as soon as the archetype of the African drinking toxic water out of thirst steps into view, that all falls apart.
Nevertheless, there’s a small amount of internationalism here: wrought from nature we’ve a duty to share in it equally. Relevant, I think, to my last post.
So I ran into this photo earlier:
The simplicity is telling, don’t you think? The focus on a single line, the blurring of everything else. A lot of left-minded Christians today like to think that their religion is nothing but love, when clearly anyone who has ready virtually any of the Bible knows that this an incredibly ludicrous distortion.
If you’re one of them, I’d be interested to know – is God love? Or is love God? What comes to your mind first – love or God? It’s a battle of emphases with crucial implications. If you lean towards love being God rather than God being love then you’re embracing humanism. And it’s a mindset which takes the principle of compassion and decency and then elevates it to universal, international prominence: suddenly religious vindication becomes the promotion of human decency, and does so irrespective of divinity. It recognises that humans do not need to worship books to do good works.
Part and parcel of Christianity’s decline? Corrupted by love! Now, there’s a pleasant irony.