Literature and the Relaxation Response

Poetic Traditions

Some poets who seem to be influenced by mystical world views are Emily Bronte, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. These are described in the passages below.
Bronte’s poem “The Prisoner” describes the passive attitude well.
    He comes with western winds, with evening’s wandering airs.
    With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars.
    Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,
    And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.
    But, first, a hush of peace—a soundless calm descends;
    The struggle of distress, and fierce impatience ends;
    Mute music soothes my breast—unuttered harmony,
    That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.
    Then dawns the Invisible; the Unseen its truth reveals;
    My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels;
    Its wings are almost free—its home, its harbour found,
    Measuring the gulf, it stoops and dares the final bound.
    Oh! dreadful is the check — intense the agony — When the ear begins to hear, and the eye begins to see;
    When the pulse begins to throb, the brain to think again;
    The soul to feel the flesh, and the flesh to feel the chain.
Wordsworth also described the passive attitude well in his poem “Tintern Abbey”.
…that serene and blessed mood,
    In which…the breath of this corporeal frame,
    And even the motion of our human blood,
    Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
    In body, and become a living soul:
    While with an eye made quiet by the power
    Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
    We see into the life of things.
Finally, the words of Tennyson tell of his beliefs of the “unity of all things, the reality of the unseen, and the persistence of life”. Interestingly, Tennyson used the silent repetition of his own name to experience these visions of ecstasy.
…till all at once, as it were, out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to resolve and fade away into boundless being, and this not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility, the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction, but the only true life.