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Pedantic Babylon

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The Crimson and the White

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The Wistman


The master poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, crafted this astonishing love poem with its hypnotic imagery in 1847, and it's been set to music multiple times since then by the likes of Benjamin Britten, Ned Rorem, and other luminaries.  But is it just a love poem?  Or is it also an esoteric pointing, as was suggested to me long ago.  Note the alchemical character of the specific images, the colors, the flowers, the white bird, the astronomy references, the stages of development.  It is curious.  It is beautiful.  It lingers in the mind.  What does it say to you, ultimately?

Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal

Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font;
The firefly wakens, waken thou with me.

Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.

Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars,
And all thy heart lies open unto me.

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts, in me.

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,
And slips into the bosom of the lake.
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

                                Alfred Lord Tennyson
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