1. 'Some men a forward motion love. And I by backward steps would move'
Why does the poet long to travel back? Where does he want to go?
Ans. The poet is engrossed in material pursuits and he feels that he is in worldly fetters being oblivious of the pristine divine glory of childhood. So unlike other people he wants to move backwards instead of going forward. His heart longs for the innocence of childhood that was invested with the angelic goodness and celestial thought when he seems to be bowed down under the heavy pressure of sinfulness. So he wants to go back to his ‘first love’ i.e. God from whom he has been divorced long ago. He wants to break away from material ties to be united with the Almighty.
2. 'From whence the' enlightened spirit sees That shady city of palm trees'
Where does this line occur? Comment on the allusion.
Ans. By the 'shady city of palm tress’ the poet means Heaven. In Heaven there are no troubles and tribulations but everything is peaceful and quiet there. The Jews conceive Heaven as ‘shady city of Palm trees’ in the burning sands of Arabia and Palestine.
This also refers to the Biblical account of the death of Moses who was granted the sight of the plain of the valley of Jerricho, the city of palm trees.
3. 'But (oh!) my soul with too much stay. Is drunk and staggers in the way'
Where does this line occur? Comment on the conceit.
Ans. The poet feels morbidly that his worldly life is an Iliad of woes. His long stay on earth has robbed him of the sanctity of Heaven. He wants to consecrate his life to the services of God. His material existence is an act of desecration as it were. Like a drunken man he staggers and totters in the way. He has drunk the tot of life to the dregs only to enhance his insanity. He wants to win back the angelic purity of infancy.
4. 'My conscience with a sinful sound. Or had the black art to dispense'
Where does this line occur? What does the poet mean by 'The black art'?
Ans. Compared to God, the clouds and flowers appear to be ‘weaker glories’. But the poet’s soul could discover through inner reflection the presence of some divine spirit in them. His inmost vision could have a glimpse of celestial illumination into those natural objects. To the mystic vision of the poet every natural element bore the traces of eternity.
5. 'My conscience with a sinful sound. Or had the black art to dispense'
Where do these lines occur? What does the poet mean by 'The black art'?
Ans. ‘The black art’ suggests sinful act. His close association with the worldly life has inflicted upon him the irretrievable wounds of untold miseries. His conscience has been suffocated by profane speculations that never allow anything godly to him. They have injured his pure feelings. Both in speech and sensual indulgence and voluptuons passions he has committed a thousand sins. He longs to travel back and tread the path of divine glory which he has left behind long ago.
6. When I
Shin'd in my Angel infancy'
why does the poet call infancy angelic?
Ans. ‘Infancy’ or childhood is angelic. Wordsworth says ‘Heaven lies about us in our infancy’. When a child is born, it is appareled in a robe of innocence and purity. It is yet to know the gross practices of the material life. The prison-house of the mother earth can never cast her ill-starred shadow upon it. The fresh warmth of paradise surrounds the boy with faint flickers of divinity.