Monday, August 10, 2009

Refreshing and Purifying

From Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno (Fragment B3):

For the Planet Mercury is the WORD DISCERNMENT.
For the Scotchman seeks for truth at the bottom of a well, the Englishman in the Heavn of Heavens.
For the Planet Venus is the WORD PRUDENCE or providence.
For GOD nevertheless is an extravagant BEING and generous unto loss.
For there is no profit in the generation of man and the loss of millions is not worth God's tear.
For this is the twelfth day of the MILLENNIUM foretold by the prophets -- give the glory to God ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY --
For the Planet Mars is the word FORTITUDE.
For to worship naked in the Rain is the bravest thing for the refreshing and purifying the body.
For the Planet Jupiter is the WORD DISPENSATION.
For Tully says to be generous you must be first just, but the voice of Christ is distribute at all events.
For Kittim is the father of the Pygmies, God be gracious to Pigg his family.
For the Soul is divisible and a portion of the Spirit may be cut off from one and applied to another.
For NEW BREAD is the most wholesome especially if it be leaven'd with honey.
For a NEW SONG also is best, if it be to the glory of God; and taken with the food like the psalms.
For the Planet Saturn is the word TEMPERANCE or PATIENCE.
For Jacob's Ladder are the steps of the Earth graduated hence to Paradice and thence to the throne of God.

The line about worshipping naked in the rain seems to be autobiographical; in Fragment C we find the line, "For it is good to let the rain come upon the naked body unto purity and refreshment." Praying out loud at the top of his lungs is one of the things that led Smart to be locked up in the asylum for 'religious mania', and it was while in the asylum that Smart wrote Jubilate Agno.

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