Monthly Archives: September 2008

Reading: Christopher Smart

Jubilate Agno (8 Sep 2008).

This is a long, sprawling poem, of which the most famous part is the much-anthologized bit in which Smart considers his cat Jeoffry. There are a lot of other good bits, too, including the following passage, which takes biblical literalism (with regard to the many passages where “horn” is used as a metaphor for power) to a whole new level:

For I prophecy that we shall have our horns again.
For in the day of David Men as yet had a glorious horn upon his forehead.
For this horn was a bright substance in colour and consistence as the nail of the hand.
For it was broad, thick and strong so as to serve for defence as well as ornament.
For it brightened to the Glory of God, which came upon the human face at morning prayer.
For it was largest and brightest in the best men.
For it was taken away all at once from all of them.
For this was done in the divine contempt of a general pusillanimity.
For this happened in a season after their return from the Babylonish captivity.
For their spirits were broke and their manhood impair’d by foreign vices for exaction.
For I prophecy that the English will recover their horns the first.
For I prophecy that all the nations in the world will do the like in turn.
For I prophecy that all Englishmen will wear their beards again.
For a beard is a good step to a horn.
For when men get their horns again, they will delight to go uncovered.
For it is not good to wear any thing upon the head.
For a man should put no obstacle between his head and the blessing of Almighty God.
For a hat was an abomination of the heathen. Lord have mercy upon the Quakers.
For the ceiling of the house is an obstacle and therefore we pray on the house-top.
For the head will be liable to less disorders on the recovery of its horn.
For the horn on the forehead is a tower upon an arch.
For it is a strong munition against the adversary, who is sickness and death.
For it is instrumental in subjecting the woman.
For the insolence of the woman has increased ever since Man has been crest-fallen.
For they have turned the horn into scoff and derision without ceasing.
For we are amerced of God, who has his horn.
For we are amerced of the blessed angels, who have their horns.
For when they get their horns again they will put them upon the altar.
For they give great occasion for mirth and musick.
For our Blessed Saviour had not his horn upon the face of the earth.
For this was in meekness and condescension to the infirmities of human nature at that time.
For at his second coming his horn will be exalted in glory.
For his horn is the horn of Salvation.
For Christ Jesus has exalted my voice to his own glory.
For he has answered me in the air as with a horn from Heaven to the ears of many people.
For the horn is of plenty.
For this has been the sense of all ages.
For Man and Earth suffer together.
For when Man was amerced of his horn, earth lost part of her fertility.
For the art of Agriculture is improving.
For this is evident in flowers.
For it is more especially manifest in double flowers.
For earth will get it up again by the blessing of God on the industry of man.
For the horn is of plenty because of milk and honey.
For I pray God be gracious to the Bees and the Beeves this day.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature