English philosopher, poet and mystic Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) had an enlightening ‘cosmic consciousness’ experience in 1881, aged 37. He wrote a book of poetry to capture the experience and it was published two years later as Towards Democracy, offering his vision of a socialist democratic society enlightened by cosmic consciousness.
I conceive a millennium on earth – a millennium not of riches,
nor of mechanical facilities, nor of intellectual facilities, nor
absolutely of immunity from disease, nor absolutely of immunity
from pain; but a time when men and women all over the earth
shall ascend and enter into relation with their bodies – shall attain
freedom and joy;
And the men and women of that time looking back with something
like envy to the life of to-day, that they too might have
borne a part in its travail and throes of birth.
I saw a Vision
I saw a vision of Earth’s multitudes going up and down over the
Earth – and I saw the great earth itself wheeling and careering
onward through space.
And behold! here and there to one among the multitude a
And to whomsoever it came continued onward apparently as
before, yet as from the larva springs the perfect image,
So (as it appeared to me) from that mortal form a new being,
long long long in preparation, glided silently up unobserved into
the breathless pure height of the sky.
So Thin a Veil
So thin a veil divides
Us from such joy, past words.
Walking in daily life the business of the hour, each detail seen to;
Yet carried, rapt away, on what sweet floods of other Being:
Swift streams of music flowing, light far back through all
Loved faces looking-
Ah! from the true, the mortal self
So thin a veil divides!
If I am not level with the lowest I am nothing; and if I did not
know for a certainty that the craziest sot in the village is my equal,
and were not proud to have him walk with me as my friend, I
would not write another word – for in this is my strength.
The sun shines, as of old; the stars look down from heaven; the
moon, crescent, sails in the twilight; on bushy tops in the warm
nights, naked, with mad dance and song, the earth-children address
themselves to love;
Civilisation sinks and swims, but the old facts remain – the sun
smiles, knowing well its strength.
The little red stars appear once more on the hazel boughs,
shining among the catkins; over waste lands the pewit tumbles
and cries as at the first day; men with horses go out on the land
– they shout and chide and strive – and return again glad at
evening; the old earth breathes deep and rhythmically, night and
day, summer and winter, giving and concealing herself.
I arise out of the dewy night and shake my wings.
Tears and lamentations are no more. Life and death lie stretched
below me. I breathe the sweet aether blowing of the breath of God.
Deep as the universe is my life – and I know it; nothing can
dislodge the knowledge of it; nothing can destroy, nothing can
Joy, joy arises – I arise. The sun darts overpowering piercing
rays of joy through me, the night radiates it from me.
I take wings through the night and pass through all the wildernesses
of the worlds, and the old dark holds of tears and death –
and return with laughter, laughter, laughter:
Sailing through the starlit spaces on outspread wings, we two –
0 laughter! laughter! Laughter!
Freedom! the deep breath! the word heard centuries and
centuries beforehand; the soul singing low and passionate to itself:
Not as in a dream. The earth remains and daily life remains, and
the scrubbing of doorsteps, and the house and the care of the
house remains; but Joy fills it, fills the house full and swells to
the sky and reaches the stars: all Joy!
0 freed soul! soul that has completed its relation to the body!
0 soaring, happy beyond words, into other realms passing,
salutations to you, freed, redeemed soul!