Tuesday, 19 January 2010

"Madness and Civilization" by Michel Foucault

There are several quotes from Michel Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization” that I would like to share, which are about madness and delirium. I have been particularly interested in this subject because I’m interested in the notion experiencing direct communion with God. It is sort of like being “mad” in this state of oneness because your lens of yourself and life becomes more acute.

“Abandonment is his salvation; his exclusion offers him another form of communion.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 7
“If the leper was removed from the world, and from the community of the Church visible, his existence was yet a constant manifestation of God, since it was a sign both of His anger and of His grace.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 7
“If the leper was removed from the world, and from the community of the Church visible, his existence was yet a constant manifestation of God, since it was a sign both of His anger and of His grace.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 6
“The dawn of madness on the horizon of the Renaissance is first perceptible in the decay of Gothic symbolism whose network of spiritual meanings was so close-knit, had begun to unravel, showing faces whose meaning was no longer clear except in the forms of madness.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 18
“The Gothic forms persist for a time, but little by little they grow silent, cease to speak, to remind, to teach anything, but their own fantastic presence, transcending all of language. Freed from wisdom and from teaching that organized it, the image begins to gravitate about its own madness.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 18
“Paradoxically this liberation derives from a proliferation of meaning, from self-multiplication of significance, wearing relationships so numerous, so intertwined, so rich, that they can no longer be deciphered except in the esoterism of knowledge. Things themselves become so burdened with attributes, signs, allusions that they finally lose their own form.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 18
“Meaning is no longer read in an immediate perception, the figure no longer speaks for itself; between the knowledge, which animates it and the form into which it is transposed, a gap widens.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 18
“So many diverse meanings are established beneath the surface of the image that it presents only an enigmatic face. And its power is no longer to teach but to fascinate.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 20
“Animality has escaped domestication by human symbols and values and it is animality that reveals the dark rage, the sterile madness that lie in men’s hearts.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 20
“On all sides, madness fascinates man. By a strange paradox, what is born from the strangest delirium was already hidden, like a secret, like an inaccessible truth, in the bowels of the earth.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 20
“Madness is not linked to the world and its subterranean forms, but rather to man, to his weaknesses, dreams, and illusions. Madness insinuates itself within man or rather it is a subtle rapport that man maintains with himself.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 26
“Nothing ever restores it either to truth or to reason. It leads only to laceration and thence to death.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 31
“The symbolic man becomes a fantastic bird whose disproportionate neck folds a thousand times upon itself an insane being, halfway between animal and thing, closer to the charms of an image than to the rigor of a meaning.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 19
“Christian unreason was relegated by Christians themselves into the margins of a reason that had become identical with the wisdom of God incarnate.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 80
“Christ did not merely choose to be surrounded by lunatics; he himself chose to pass in their eyes for a madman, thus experiencing, in his incarnation, all the sufferings of human misfortune.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 80
“To respect madness is not to interpret it as the involuntary and inevitable accident of disease, but to recognize this lower limit of human truth, a limit not accidental but essential.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 81
“All the lessons of madness and the power of its instruction must be sought in this obscure region, at the lower confines of humanity, where man is hinged to nature, where he is both ultimate downfall and absolute innocence.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 82
“Madness, which finds its first possibility in the phenomenon of passion, and in the deployment of that double causality which, starting from passion itself radiates both toward the body and toward the soul, is at the same time suspension of passion, breach of causality, dissolution of the elements of this unity.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 82
“Madness participates both in the necessity of passion and in the anarchy of what, released by this very passion, transcends it and ultimately contests all it implies.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 82
“Madness ends by being a movement of the nerves and muscles so violent that nothing in the course of images, ideas or wills seem to correspond to it.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 91
“External objects do not produce the same impression on the sufferer’s mind as that of a healthy man, his impressions are weak and he rarely pays attention to them; his mind is almost totally absorbed by the vivacity of certain ideas.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 91
“Fragments which isolate man from himself, but above all from reality; fragments which by detaching themselves have formed the unreality unity of a hallucination, and by very virtue of this autonomy impose it upon truth.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 93
“Madness is still only an intense movement in the rational unity of soul and body; this is the level of unreason; but this intense movement quickly escapes the reason of the mechanism and becomes, in its violences, its stupors, its senseless propagations, an irrational movement; and it is then that escaping truth and its constraints, the Unreal appears.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 93
“The act of the reasonable man who, rightly or wrongly, judges an image to be true or false, is beyond this image, transcends and measures it by what is not itself; the act of a madman never oversteps the image presented, but surrenders to its immediacy, and affirms it only in so far is it is enveloped by it.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 94
“Madness is thus beyond imagination, and yet it is profoundly rooted in it; for it consists merely in allowing the image a spontaneous value, total and absolute truth.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 94
“The marvelous logic of the mad which seems to mode that of the logicians because it resembles it so exactly, or rather because it is exactly the same, and because at the secret heart of madness, at the core of so many errors, so many absurdities, so many words and gestures without consequence, we discover, finally, the hidden perfection of language.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 95
“Madness begins where the relation of man to truth is disturbed and darkened.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 104
“By the madness which interrupts it, a work of art opens a void, a moment of silence, a question without answer, provokes a breach without reconciliation where the world is forced to question itself.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 288
“There is no madness except as the final instant of the work of art- the work endlessly drives madness to its limits; where there is a work of art, there is no madness; and yet madness is contemporary with the work of art, since it inaugurates the time of its truth.” Foucault, Michel. “Madness and Civilization.” pg 288

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Sensorial Machine

Madness or insanity has been viewed in countless ways throughout the course of history. In ancient Mesopotamia (2000 BC), the physician studied the mad and through their studies, the will of the gods was revealed. In ancient Egypt, the physician priests prescribed the patients sleep therapy, journeys along the Nile, as well as opium as medicine. The ancient Greeks saw madness as the way in which the gods first punished those whom they wished first to destroy. This kind of view of the mentally ill led to the justification of social Darwinism or the eugenics movement, in which it was deemed socially appropriate and right to abandon the mentally and physically ill. The Greeks believed that an illness such as hysteria was because their wombs drove the women in their childbearing age crazy and continual pregnancy was viewed as the only cure. Turning onto the ancient Hebrews, they also believed that madness was from God for those who did not obey them. King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon from 605 to 562 BC had a mental illness lasting for seven years. The Romans treated the mad with warm baths, purges, massages, music, shock treatments, and primitive neurosurgeries (which was to release any bad spirits in the patient’s skull). Cornelius Celsus (25-50AD) recommended that patients be left in complete darkness and brutal tortures and be relaxed with medication. In Saxon times, beating and exorcism was the usual treatment for they believed that the devil came into the patients’ mind and caused their mental illnesses. In the Medieval period, religious orders opened hospitals as provision for all types of people including the sane and insane, the lepers, blind, etc. who competed for shelter (beds of straw) and food (bread, cheese, ale).

The Medieval Christian church viewed madness as an evil, caused by evil spirits and it was deemed righteous for a Christian to ignore and not help the madman. Perhaps the madman was seen as a temptation for the “pure.” The belief was that Jesus would have grace and mercy for the weak and help them in heaven once they passed from their present life. I am reminded by the story in the Bible of the weak man lying in a road pleading for help. The religious man walks past him and only the Samaritan helps for he sees the importance in the desperate needs of God’s people at that moment. Perhaps this view of leaving the weak behind to hurt in this world was re-though in the opening of mental hospitals. Bethlehem Hospital, also known as “Bedlam” was opened as an extension of a religious order in Bishopsgate in 1247. The hospital offered protection for the ill and equipped them with skills needed to deal with conditions of the outside world. It was founded by Simon Fitz Mary, who believed that on one day, the Star of Bethlehem had saved his life. The star led him safely back from enemy territory to his own camp.

The idea of insanity became popular in the mid sixteenth century with characters such as Shakespeare’s King Henry VI, Hamlet, Ophelia and King Lear. To be considered “mad” was actually a compliment for the work was deemed more colorful.

The conditions and views toward the mad worsened in the nineteenth century with the belief that the mad were sub-human and animal-like and were affected by the phases of the moon. They were deemed so mad that they were immune to physical pain, which made any kind of abuse acceptable. Supposedly through isolation, they would come to their senses.

In dealing with history of madness, Michel Foucault compares the Middle Age view (hierarchy of vices) versus the Renaissance view of madness in which it is essentially glorified and seen as the spark of creativity. The view of madness and mentally ill was kept even with the removal of the leper from civilization in the Middle Ages. A stereotype that the leper was sub-human continued as a social view even into contemporary society. We, to this day, believe that they must be confined into mental institutions and that there must be a clear classification between those that are insane and sane. Foucault argues that how society currently views the mad is a social construct and that there are subtle differences between an insane and sane person.

To be honest, I am not quite sure what separates me from an “insane” or mad person. According to Foucault, the mad person reasons just like the sane person, but focuses acutely or obsesses over details. For example, the mad person comes to believe that he has become a glass object and therefore is capable of being broken and shattered. I have become interested in how the madman thinks and behaves and how he can instead of being “cured”, comes to a direct and meaningful relationship with God through a sensorial worship machine. The madman comes into worship where he can manipulate inputs. The inputs then relate to each other in a certain way that becomes both predictable and unpredictable. The sensorial machine leads the observer to an understanding of his place in the world and yet is elevated to a union with God (I am not forcing one to believe it is God- any kind of hidden power really). I am taking Foucault’s ideas that madness is the “intense movement in the rational unity of the soul and body” where “the Unreal appears” (Madness and Civilization, p 93). This madness is that “which finds its first possibility in the phenomenon of passion and in the development of that double causality which starting from passion itself radiates both toward the body and toward the soul….” (Madness and Civilization, p 82). Within this state of madness, truth somehow comes forth in the roots of imagination.

It seems like being mad is a passion which all of humanity has deep inside of us. Somehow, some of us reach this abyss in which passion comes forth. I believe this sort of passion can lead us towards catalyzing a truth. This sort of thought is nothing new. I am not proposing that this mechanism, which is the catharsis between man and God will bring one closer to the Christian God. It can in fact be the Hindu God or any kid of God anyone can describe. This architecture is not prescribing a belief; it is rather a creation of a framework in allowing an individual in his delirium to become passionate in his understanding of himself with all powers of the universe. It is the creation of a spectacle, a glorification that is reliant upon the releases of mechanisms, which impact our senses. This machine is meant for the individual and relies on his inputs rather than being self-sufficient. Foucault writes: “in the first moments of falling asleep, the vapors which rise in body are turbulent and dense.” No image comes forth in the brain and only the muscles in the body move. From these flinching of the muscles, “fantastic dreams are born.” This machine I am proposing lies on this threshold between the senses and discovering truth. I am rebelling against the notion of the madman being and feeling judged and watched. In a way, I am asking the madman to take part in a piece of sculptural art where his mind cannot relate to the images around him. I am thinking of the possibility where the madman engages so much with the things that he comes to know its truth and the “work of art opens a void, a moment of silence.”

I would like to think of the instant of time in which the insane understands madness no more, but his madness joins the work of art in “inaugurating the time of its truth” (Madness and Civilization, p 288).

Image 1,2,3- “The Sensorial Worship Machine in Individual Inmate Cells”

Absorptive hairs which rest on a suspended grid, moved by tangled, lubricated wheels, which absorb oils and water dripping down from the grid from the heat from the earth and soils. The canvas is moved by the movements of the metal clamps, controlled by levers (adjustable by humans). Tubes filled with water and oil are controlled by metal claws and steppable filled balloons. Note that the fluids melt the canvas, which adjust the spatial environment.

Image 4- “The Sensorial Worship Machine in Individual Inmate Cells2”

Similar concept as previous, however the individual steps on balloon pads, affecting the spillage of fluids underneath. There are arteries starting from the center, providing life to the periphery. Oil and water stem from below and are pumped due to underground pressure. The canvas is suspended by hairs, which again drip and create a spectacle.

Image 5- “The Sensorial Worship Machine in Individual Inmate Cells3”

A balloon platform suspended between the ground and tent above situated in the inmate’s cell creates sensorial worship, in which inputs may be controlled.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


I have produced three sketches which speak of how an insane person experiences reality in an insane asylum. The line of reality and virtual reality becomes blurred. It is the in between state of knowing your place in the world and being stuck in your own delirium. In each of the following attachments, I created a sensorial machine that is imbedded in space and in the DNA of each element of space itself. It is the act of worship in being immersed in an environment in which you can taste, smell, touch, feel, and see all that is around you. I have chosen not to create an independent apparatus, removed from the environment, but rather a mechanism encoded in the fabric of the asylum itself. I have chosen three vignettes within the asylum in bedlam- a corridor, cell room with a bed, and empty room with only one window and one door. In all of these, the question becomes what is really real? Am I insane? Is my own perception causing my environment to become skewed or did some external force cause it to be that way?

I am interested in using real materials such as inflatable fabrics with mirrors embedded, which have properties of transmitting sound from the outside to the interior of the asylum. Reflections bounce off windows and become trapped inside the mirrors of a door which bounces back into space to rooms below, above and adjacent to. I am creating an environment where sounds become acute, vision becomes obscured and all of the senses become distorted. Again, it draws the line between who is really mad- madness becomes a relative term.

I am to create an environment based on the composition of the asylum as a cathedral. The cathedral, meaning the subliminal qualities that pierce our souls in encountering another world, a higher reality. The asylum is the idea of how we bring forth the evolution of previous times in one time and in one place. It is about what Alfred Jarrey's concept of the pataphysics, the obscure creative reality behind the seemingly true reality. It is the ecstasy battle between religion and science that incorporates the essence of bringing the Trinity (God, Son and Holy Spirit) forth. It is designing a lens which distorts geometry and space (I am not sure yet if my design solution is the lens or the affect of the lens. Perhaps it is both).

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Presentation Outline

This is what I am planning on saying at my first Master's critique tomorrow:

In one sentence I would tell my audience that the heart of my research and explorations thus far is about how God in all of his ways reveals himself to us in a tangible way. The world around us loses this quality and what we know of Christianity are the shells of ancient churches. People come there not discover God, but rather as a tourist destination. Church no longer speaks to us and they have been converted to secular uses. My question is- has God become dead? It has become a personal pursuit of mine to capture what it means to have a deep relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through defining architectural relationships.

I first started this probing of qualities of the Trinity through the manipulating of three canvases. Each canvas represents to me each individual of the Trinity. I made rips and drippings, created tension, and explored voids, which was an emotional and intuitive process. I thought about the cuts and piercings of Jesus on the cross, as well as the voids in which God or the Holy Spirit comes into being. I realized that there were major cross over and that I could not represent Jesus in a certain way without acknowledging the characteristics of God and the Trinity.

After this exploration, I explored the Trinity in relating to the self. What does it mean for the self to be in a void? Can God intercede and bring us to a place where we have a complete understanding of who he is? The moment of inner transformation is evident through the shedding of the skin, the rebirth of ourselves. Our old selves are removed and God moves around and through us and reframes our perceptions of his character. It is the losing and regaining of ourselves because we let the God apparatus in.

I started to become fascinated with the concept of whether this rebirth comes about because of our own devices or if God really frames the way we understand the world through our senses. I became interested in cybernetics- the idea of God being part of our bodies and reshaping them in a magical way. Can he shape our eyes to see further or to the sides? Can he alter the way our heart beats?

This idea of God in control of our senses led me to think of a set of relationships between individuals, inanimate, other animate objects and in certain environments. There would be certain relationships between organisms that tangibly share knowledge of God’s character, being and his Truth. I began to see how the intersections and penetrations of God through humanity brought all of civilization into a complete union in acknowledging God’s sovereignty. In these set of relationships, I saw characteristics of the ephemeral, changes of state of materials, allegory, the power of heaven and hell, and the reality of good and evil in the world. I became interested in how in the everyday life, we can become spiritually aware of how God alters our reality such that we’re hyper aware of the spiritual warfare.

I then became interested in how relationships between things can evolve and change shape to bring about this spiritual realness to us. I thought of the everyday movements and how God alters that and how God and the Holy Spirit move through us. I froze moments in time and thought about how the hand could be changed and how God makes use of our futile efforts. I became fascinated with how God could transform us in a way to set up a story similar to stories and truths described in the Bible. I played with how God could recreate our reality in a way that is more understandable through the juxtaposition of our reality of everydayness and questioning what is truly real. This hyper/pseudo/virtual reality is an aid in bringing forth this rebirth of self and acknowledges the temporality of life, the curse of man and the truth of the Trinity. All the hopes of life through these utopias are not real, but they hint at reality. The Garden of Eden, the fall and this search toward Truth is real and we are in it and of it. The repositioning of the cosmos paints the story of the origin and fall of man, his destiny and the realness of spiritual warfare.

It is about the juxtaposition of our everyday reality with the spiritual reality. It is a feedback system in that the apples are transferred from one place to the next. You are in a reality where heaven and hell co-exist as real places and you are in a magical land that can change states easily. You can be transplanted through networks of connections, which are control points in which God is the master controller.

It is about the made known reality of the Trinity in the everydayness of our experience.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


I am exploring how the Father God, Son and Holy Spirit reveal themselves to us and make the spiritual warfare between heaven and hell real to us presently in our existence. The trinity manifests itself through humans and through our relationships with living beings and the maker himself. This is a matrix of choices that each human makes which have consequences that either lead man in a closer relationship to God (and therefore to his ultimate destination of heaven) or an infinite removal of knowledge of him in hell. I have explored this concept of God made tangibly real by constructing an augmented reality that reveals God’s character as well as our relationship to him. In doing so I have explored concepts such as voids, surfaces, penetrations, ephemeral qualities, human gestures, and relationship frameworks to capture varying aspects of the true essence of God’s being to us. In my explorations thus far, I have come to realize that mankind has dulled its senses in the status quo world. I am to reinvent how fiction, reality, and God come together in reframing how society understands the very core of Christianity- Christ’s redemption of mankind’s treason.

Thursday, 10 December 2009


In reconstructing the way we view ourselves in relation to everyday elements, I started to question if I was doing it in such a way that was glorifying God and secondly truthful. I want to make sure that I do not mistakenly represent the way we interact with the world and the Triune God in an idolatrous way. Also, in recreating our relationship to fictional characters and places, am I removing or bringing us closer to the reality of God’s truth? In a sense, I am asking if I am creating a utopia. When one thinks of utopia, I think one would imagine heaven, a place that is perfect in all accounts. I believe that heaven is perfect where humans cannot commit sin any longer. For the purposes in conveying the truth, I showed heaven, earth and hell all bleeding in showing the realness of Christ’s suffering. In reality, humans on earth and in hell suffer, but become sinless and perfect in heaven. I am thus creating an altered, virtual reality, a mirror utopia in fact that highlights the important message of Christ’s death and resurrection to the living.

Michel Foucault wrote about a utopia in his essay “Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias.” He described it as a medieval space where there was a hierarchy of “supercelestial,” “celestial,” and terrestrial spaces. In all of these realms nothing is stationary as a result of Galileo’s proclamation of an infinite open space. He states that space is heterogeneous which has inherent unique set of qualities. Utopias have “no real space” and either have a direct or inverse relationship with society. I believe that my project achieves just this- it is a utopia which paints a picture of the truth but in a playful tone. Perhaps it fits better with his description of the mirror utopia which is the “place without a place.” It is seeing one’s shadow which makes oneself visible and one sees oneself where one is not. This mirror utopia, which functions as a heterotopia, makes the place that one occupies both real in that the mirror ties one with real space and unreal. In the “Everyday-ness of Heaven and Hell”, I have constructed an unreal, fictional world that brings the viewer in his mind to the place of reality. In all of these exercises and drawings up until now, I have constructed with varying methods how the viewer can best understand the Trinity. Perhaps it is in the construction of the utopia and entering an unreal world so we can understand the real and the truth of our being.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Everydayness of Heaven and Hell

In these two drawings, I took inspiration primarily from my drawing of the hand going through and the apple penetrating the hand gesture. Instead of just focusing on singular gestures, I created a framework of gestures in terms of how God, humans and all of creation relate to one another in the cosmos. Leading up to this almost Medieval understanding of the universe, I explored the meaning of the Trinity in terms of ephemeral qualities, including light, shade, shadow, subtle and overwhelming fast movements, as well as the Trinity’s ways of piercing us physically and spiritually in the moment of ecstasy (the moment of understanding the beauty of Christ’s death in redeeming the individual to bring him in perfect union with God the Father).

Leading up to this drawing, I also explored the idea of how God can control our senses in revealing something of His character in particular contexts. In my newest drawing, I saw the Garden of Eden as the origin of mankind, our utopia before we became cursed by the fatal decision to disobey God and eat of the forbidden apple. After an angel led Adam and Eve out of God’s paradise, they entered a fork in the road, split by four rivers (symbolic of the Garden of Eden), which is actually a tree flipped over, resting on a well (symbolic of Snow White’s well where she meets her prince and the well where Jesus spoke to a Samaritan women about everlasting water). This tree over the well leading to either a balloon containing Peter Pan’s Neverland and the Tower of Babel or a flooded city surrounded by fire represents the world we live in. I’m purposefully questioning fiction versus reality and especially if the spiritual world is fiction. I’m arguing that if we can believe in Disney stories like Peter Pan, Snow White, Wizard of Oz and Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, than surely the concept of a Trinitarian God can be understood. Maybe the only way of understanding God, besides the written Word and through God’s messengers is reconstructed our visual reality.
In everything that I convey in this drawing of the “Everyday-ness of Heaven and Hell,” I am revealing the heart of Christianity, which is the crucifixion of Christ that allowed for the redemption of mankind. This is evident in the cuts and bleeding of every element in this composition. I also want to note the juxtaposition I created of the containment of the fairytales in balloons with the cuts and fire which destroys our conception of the balloon. In surrounding the fairytale elements in the latex balloon, I am warning humanity against believing in something that seems so appealing, but is fatally dangerous. They are distractions and prevent us from going forth into Emerald City, which is a parallel of us joining God the Father and Christ in heaven. Throughout the entire drawing, I show the consummation, production, and transformation of apples. The apple is produced by God and consumed (sinfully) by mankind in the Garden of Eden, produced again in heaven and transformed into apple pies which are sent to those dwelling with a perfect God. The apples change state not only in heaven, but also in hell where they become stones when engulfed in flame and are shot into the abyss, the place most far removed from God. The lake of fire, which I have represented, separates the stones from the earth and heaven.

Here’s a poem I’d like to share that speaks of the everydayness of heaven and hell here on earth. We can think of our experiences here on earth as those which lead us to growing closer with God or further from Him. The question that I’m exploring is not new, but the way in which I’m viewing it is radically different. I think society has forgotten what it’s like to be in love with God, how to use all of our senses to absorb His beauty.

WILLIAM MORRIS (1834–96)Extract from The Earthly Paradise (1868–70)
"Forget six counties overhung with smoke,Forget the snorting steam and piston stroke,Forget the spreading of the hideous town;Think rather of the pack-horse on the down,And dream of London, small and white and clean,The clear Thames bordered by its gardens green;Think, that below bridge the green lapping wavesSmite some few keels that bear Levantine staves,Cut from the yew wood on the burnt-up hill,And pointed jars that Greek hands toiled to fill,And treasured scanty spice from some far sea,Florence gold cloth, and Ypres napery,And cloth of Bruges, and hogsheads of Guienne;While nigh the thronged wharf Geoffrey Chaucer’s penMoves over bills of lading—mid such timesShall dwell the hollow puppets of my rhymes.A nameless city in a distant sea,White as the changing walls of faĆ«rie,Thronged with much people clad in ancient guise,I now am fain to set before your eyes;There, leave the clear green water and the quays,
And pass betwixt its marble palaces,Until ye come unto the chiefest square;A bubbling conduit is set midmost there,And round about it now the maidens throngWith jest and laughter, and sweet broken song,Making but light of labour new begunWhile in their vessels gleams the morning sun.On one side of the square a temple stands,Wherein the gods worshipped in ancient landsStill have their altars; a great market-placeUpon two other sides fills all the space,And thence the busy hum of men comes forth;But on the cold side looking toward the northA pillared council-house may you behold,Within whose porch are images of gold,Gods of the nations who dwelt ancientlyAbout the borders of the Grecian sea […]"