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The Garden of Proserpine

From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of water shaken,
Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

4 Replies on “The Garden of Proserpine

  1. No one knows what awaits us when we leave the world of the living. This question, old as life itself, will never be solved. It could be “eternal oblivion”, just like this poem seems to suggest. Pure nothingness.The other option would be that death is simply not the end.

    I find it hard to believe, that nothingness awaits us. Nothingness is an abstraction and does not exist. It can’t even be imagined.

    1 nothingness exists when nothing is in existence
    2 there are countless things in existence
    3 notingness does not exist

    I am convinced that “conciousness” can not magically be destroyed through the dissolution of physical existence. Thermodynamics tell us, that energy and matter can neither be created nor destroyed. And I believe that the same is true for conciousness/soul/essence (call it however you may). What that means for what happens after death? I have no clue. But I believe with all my heart, that death is not the end.

    1. And what about the consciousness of another mammal, or a reptile, or even an insect. Do you believe with all your heart that the ‘soul’ of an insect is eternal? Don’t you realize that all of this is a monument of self-serving self delusion? The insect issue cannot be avoided, and one could even go further speculating about the ‘soul’ of an amoeba or a bacteria.

      One of the morals of my long autobiography is that self-esteem and self-deception are one and the same. But those who don’t follow the Oracle of Delphi’s maxim cannot even grasp what I’m trying to convey.

  2. I believe that “soul” is omnipresent. That means in living beings, in inanimate matter and in empty space. After all, matter consists mostly of empty space. To answer your question:

    Yes! Even something so “insignificant” as an insect or a bacteria has its place. I have no idea if there are such things as individual souls. But one thing I know. The physical body dissolutes, the matter, which it was made up of, goes back into the great cycle to take new forms. And in a similar fashion the “soul” will manifest itself again.

    If you are a materialist however, all of this will sound like utter garbage.

    If you are like me, the antics of materialists, trying to explain how conciousness magically is created from the activity of the human brain (and maybe the brains of other highly evolved animals), sound utterly ridiculous.

    To be fair. It is my BELIEF. I can’t prove it. In our day and age spiritual/ religous belief is looked down upon and often mocked. But it is the hard questions in life, that science will never be able to answer. Where do we come from? Where do we go? Why?

    1. You have to read A History of the Mind: Evolution and the Birth of Consciousness by Nicholas Humphrey. In the past I also believed in post-mortem survival.