Wednesday, January 04, 2023

A Finite Worship Cannot Be to Thee

by Margaret Cavendish 

Eternal God, Infinite Deity,
Thy Servant, NATURE, humbly prays to Thee,
That thou wilt please to favour Her,
and give Her parts, which are Her Creatures, leave to live,
That in their shapes and forms, what e're they be,
And all their actions they may worship thee:
For 'tis not onely Man that doth implore,
But all Her parts, Great God, do thee adore;
A finite Worship cannot be to thee,
Thou art above all finites in degree:
Then let thy Servant Nature mediate
Between thy Justice, Mercy, and our state,
That thou may'st bless all Parts, and ever be
Our Gracious God to all Eternity.

This is from her Philosophical Letters. A number of features of this poem reflect Cavendish's philosophical interests and are discussed elsewhere in her philosophical works: the repeated emphasis on parts (Cavendish's natural philosophy is heavily focused on mereology); the mediatorial role of Nature; the notion that all of Nature worships God; the emphasis on infinities.