Southey, Robert - From the Curse of Kehama
Type of Spiritual Experience
The poet Robert Southey visited Sir Humphrey Davy and they became friends. Southey and Davy experimented with laughing gas together numerous times, exploring 'great cosmic raptures'! Some of the imagery is in Southey's long poem ‘The Curse of Kehama’.
A description of the experience
From the Curse of Kehama
Then might they thus adore that heavenly Maid
For never Nymph of Mountain,
Or Grove, or Lake, or Fountain,
With a diviner presence fill'd the shade.
No idle ornaments deface
Her natural grace.
Musk-spot, nor sandal-streak, nor scarlet stab,
Ear-drop nor chain, nor arm nor ankle-ring.
Nor trinketry on arm, or neck, or breast.
Marring the perfect form: she seem'd a thing
Of Heaven's prime uncorrupted work, a child
Of early Nature undefil'd,
A daughter of the years of innocence
And faere fire all things lov'd her. When she stood
Beside the glassy pool, the fish, that flies
Quick as an arrow from all other eyes,
Hovered to gaze at her……
A mirage Image on the steps was seen
Of stature huge of countenance serene.
A crown and sceptre at his feet were laid ;
One hand a scroll displayed.
The other pointed there, that all might see ;
My name is Death, it said.
In mercy have the Gods appointed me.
Two brazen gates beneath him, night and day
Stood open; and within them you behold
Descending steps, which in the living stone
Were hewn, a spacious way
Down to the Chambers of the Kings of old.