Lamb, Charles - Mille Viae Mortis
Type of Spiritual Experience
Written when he was 'in the madhouse' as he puts it. A truly frightening vision - all his fears appearing as demons in an archetypal 'cave'. In other words he 'did the dive'
A description of the experience
MILLE VIAE MORTIS (1789)
What time in bands of slumber all were laid,
To Death's dark court, methought I was convey'd;
In realms it lay far hid from mortal sight,
And gloomy tapers scarce kept out the night.
On ebon throne the King of Terrors sate;
Around him stood the ministers of Fate;
On fell destruction bent, the murth'rous band
Waited attentively his high command.
Here pallid Fear & dark Despair were seen.
And Fever here with looks forever lean,
Swoln Dropsy, halting Gout, profuse of woes,
And Madness fierce & hopeless of repose,
Wide-wasting Plague; but chief in honour stood
More-wasting War, insatiable of blood;
With starting eye-balls, eager for the word;
Already brandish'd was the glitt'ring sword.
Wonder and fear alike had fill'd my breast,
And thus the grisly Monarch I addrest--
"Of earth-born Heroes why should Poets sing,
And thee neglect, neglect the greatest King?
To thee ev'n Caesar's self was forc'd to yield
The glories of Pharsalia's well-fought field."
When, with a frown, "Vile caitiff, come not here,"
Abrupt cried Death; "shall flatt'ry soothe my ear?"
"Hence, or thou feel'st my dart!" the Monarch said.
Wild terror seiz'd me, & the vision fled.