English philosopher, poet and mystic Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) had an enlightening ‘cosmic consciousness’ experience in 1881, aged 37. “As a direct result of the oncoming of the Cosmic Sense he practically resigned his social rank and became a laborer; that is to say, he procured a few acres of land not many miles from Dronfield, in Derbyshire, built upon it a small house and lived there with the family of a working man as one of themselves. Dressing in the common corduroy of the country side, he took up his spade and worked steadily with the others. It seemed to him that the manners and habits of the rich were less noble than those of the poor; that the soul and life of the rich were less noble.” (These words written by someone who knew him – Richard Maurice Bucke in his 1905 study of spiritual awakening, Cosmic Consciousness).
Carpenter met the man who would become his partner for the rest of his life, George Merrill, in 1891. Carpenter’s deep belief and understanding of love is clear from his poetry which contains advice on love and relationship that would benefit the whole world, and which could influence the growth of the modern gay community in very positive ways were this incredible ancestor more widely known and honoured.
Here are four wisdom filled love poems from Carpenter’s mystical masterpiece ‘Towards Democracy’, written in 1881.
The Lake of Beauty
Let your mind be quiet, realising the beauty of the world, and
the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.
All that you have within you, all that your heart desires, all
that your Nature so specially fits you for – that or the counterpart
of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you. It will surely
come to you.
Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time
will it come. All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands
will make no difference.
Therefore do not begin that game at all.
Do not recklessly spin the waters of your mind in this direction
and in that, lest you become like a spring lost and dissipated
in the desert.
But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them
still, so still;
And let them become clear, so clear – so limpid, so mirror-like;
At last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in
And the antelope shall descend to drink, and to gaze at his
reflected image, and the lion to quench his thirst,
And Love himself shall come and bend over, and catch his own
likeness in you.
To Thine Own Self be True
Not by running out of yourself after it comes the love which
lasts a thousand years.
If to gain another’s love you are untrue to yourself then are
you also untrue to the person whose love you would gain.
Him or her whom you seek will you never find that way – and
what pleasure you have with them will haply only end in pain.
Remain steadfast, knowing that each prisoner has to endure in
patience till the season of his liberation; when the love comes
which is for you it will turn the lock easily and loose your chains –
Being no longer whirled about nor tormented by winds of
uncertainty, but part of the organic growth of God himself in
Another column in the temple of immensity,
Two voices added to the eternal choir.
All Night Long
All night long in love, in the darkness, passing through your lips,
my love –
Breathing the same breath, being folded in the same sleep,
losing sense of Me and Thee,
Into empyreal regions, beloved of the gods, united, we ascend
Then in the morning on the high hill-side in the sun, looking
down upon the spires of the larches and Scotch firs,
Mortal, we tread again the earthy floor.
0 Earth, the floor of heaven –
0 Sun, shining aloft in the sky so pure –
0 children of the sun, ye flowers and streams, and little mortals
walking the earth for a time –
And we too gazing for a time, for a time, for a time, into each
When a Thousand Years Have Passed
Think not that the love thou enterest into to-day is for a few
months or years:
The little seed set now must lie quiet before it will germinate
and many alternations of sunshine and shower descend upon it
before it become even a small plant.
When a thousand years have passed, come thou again. And
behold! a mighty tree that no storms can shake.
Love does not end with this life or any number of lives; the
form that thou seekest lies hidden under wrapping after wrapping;
Nevertheless it shall at length appear – more wondrous far than
aught thou hast imagined.
Therefore leave time: do not like a child pull thy flower up by
the roots to see if it is growing;
Even though thou be old and near the grave there is plenty of