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Spirit And Matter, God And Chaos, Or Infinitude Finite

1037 words - 4 pages

The Kingdom of Union and Joy can only be attained through the elevation and expansion of spirit which is influenced by its intricate relationship with matter. They reflect, inverse and alter one another depending on the nature of their alliance; and challenge the pervading intuition that one entertains concerning hierarchy, the superior and the inferior, rising and falling. Throughout the poem, the prophetic persona enlightens the reader on the manner to ascend to the spiritual realm via tales on base spirits, on praising and praised bodies -- thus, purveying a dynamic dramatisation of the fall. Mammon and the Son are two spiritual figures that typify the convoluted relation between matter and spirit. In their description, the persona invites the reader to compare the attitudes of these characters towards the material world and the fashion in which they apply their spirits to it.
Mammon is the «least erected Spirit that fell / From Heav’n» (1.679-80). Possessed by a boundless desire for «The riches of Heav’ns pavement, trod’n Gold» (1.682) -- towards which his thoughts are bent -- he already manifests a vertical movement in his heavenly status as he sinks low within the highest realm of the universe. The narrator’s speech transcribes the discontinuity of Mammon’s spiritual rank through the juxtaposition of inversely connotative words such as the sequence least - erected - fell - Heav’n.
Being the classical symbol of greed, he aspires to elevation by means of material abundance. Even when fallen, he persuades himself and his fellow companions of a possible good life in hell provided they exploit its treasures. From thence, directed by Mammon, the crew proceeds to violently abuse the earth who’s centre they «Ransack» and «with impious hands / Rifl[e] [its] bowels», in the same way they open «a spacious wound / [To] dig out ribs of Gold» (1.686-90). The devils contradict the concept of spirit as the act of creation -- that is, the imposition of limits on Chaos -- by expressing a destructive force, a disrespect for both physical and moral boundaries. They intrude the body of the earth through means of destruction in order to excavate what is to be hidden. Furthermore, earth is personified as a mother with a «wound» and «Treasures to be hid» which equates the physical transgression with the moral trespass of incestuous rape. Clearly, Mammon’s impiety is not caused by his affection for material things, but rather by the nature of such an affection as it is marked by the want for abundance and disrespect for boundaries.
Such disregard for the confines of the material world stems from a misled understanding of the spiritual and its connection to matter. Mammon deems spirit to be completely distinct from matter, thus, entertaining the belief that they can embellish hell, ornate it with «hidden lustre, Gemms and Gold» (2.271). This aspiration is bound to founder as it follows the devil’s rejection of God’s goodness and creative process. Where God...

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