Of Making Many Books by Michael Edwards (auth.)

By Michael Edwards (auth.)

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Eden is all about him, the woman is before him. ' 4 Did Keats make this comparison because he sensed that Milton himself, while describing dream, was thinking of poetry? In both cases, once Adam has been seized by a 'soft oppression' or 'overpowered' by a heavenly nature as if by inspiration, it is his 'fancy' that enables him to continue. In the first dream, his mind fills with natural sights but, rising above them by the force of vision, he seeks a nature beyond nature, and finds it in Eden. What he finds makes all that he has known before seem 'scarce pleasant'; yet Eden is still the earth.

Shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh'. A word is surfacing here. The extreme form of 'like' is 'love'. As a piece of wordplay it seems too good to be true. If we now return to Sonnet 18, we can say that Shakespeare calls 36 Of Making Many Books 'thee' into the word. We do not know, I repeat, who this he or she is: not only does Shakespeare not merely hand out a title, he withholds one. The world is called into the word as a 'thou', and there is a perfect disposition of likeness, of distance, of space.

What exactly is it asking? While it says, I shall compare, and compare, and this will create a world for living, is it not also asking what, really, can a poem achieve, when Death will brag, and when, to remember another earlier sonnet, the twelfth, 'thou among the wastes of time must go'? The meaning of the question is, at its deepest, that it is a question. The poem does not save the world as 'thou' by calling into the word. It draws the reader too into its awareness, into the endlessly 40 Of Making Many Books repeatable present moment of its being read, here and now, by men and women living their mortality in their senses.

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