Edward Carpenter (1844–1929)
Above: detail from painting, January 12, 2016
The Wandering Lunatic Mind
Do not pay too much attention to the wandering lunatic Mind.
When you have trained it, informed it, made it clear, decisive,
and your flexible instrument and tool,
Why, do not then reverse the order and become the mere
fatuous attendant and exhibitor of its acrobatic feats (like a keeper
who shows off a monkey).
Remember that if you walk away from it, leaving it as dead,
Paying it no attention whatever — it will have to follow you —
it will grow by following, by reaching up to you, from the known
to the unknown, continually;
It will become at last the rainbow-tinted garment and shining
interpreter of Yourself, and incredibly beautiful.
But if you turn and wait always upon it, and its idiotic cares
and anxieties, and endless dream-chains of argument and imagination —
Feeding them and the microbe-swarms of thought continually,
wasting upon them your life-force;
Why, then, instead of your Mind becoming your true
companion and interpreter, it will develop antics and a St. Vitus’
dance of its own, and the form of a wandering lunatic,
Incredibly tangle-haired and diseased and unclean,
In whose features you, in sadness and in vain, will search for
your own image — terrified lest you find it not, and terrified too
lest you find it.
Therefore quite decisively, day by day and at every juncture,
leave your Mind for a time in silence and abeyance;
With its tyrannous thoughts and demands, and funny little
fears and fancies — the long legacy of ages of animal evolution;
Slipping out and going your own way into the Unseen —
feeling with your feet if necessary through the darkness — till
some day it may follow you;
Absolutely determined not to be bound by any of its conclusions;
or fossilized in any pattern that it may invent;
For this were to give up your kingdom, and bow down your
neck to Death.
one of my favorite Carpenter poems; not yet recorded . . .