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The Wanderings of Cain, Edited by N. Santilli

Notebook Fragment
[Notebook 22, British Library Add. ms 47,520]*

The Child is born, the Child must die / Among the desert Sands / And we too all must die of Thirst / for not a Drop remains. But wither do we retire / to Heaven or possibility of Heaven / But this to darkness, Cold, & tho' not positive Torment, yet positive Evil—Eternal Absence from Communion with the Creator. O how often have the Sands at night roar'd & whitened[1] like a burst of of [sic] waters / O that indeed they were! Then full of enthusiastic faith kneels & prays, & in holy frenzy covers the child with sand. In the name of the Father &c &c / —Twas done / the Infant died / the blessed Sand retired, each particle to itself, conglomerating, & shrinking from the profane sand / the Sands shrank away from it, & left a pit / still hardening & hardening, at length shot up a fountain large & mighty

[? How][2] wide around its Spray, the rain-bow plays upon the Stream & the Spray—but lo! another brighter, O far far more bright / it hangs over the head of a glorious Child like a floating veil (vide Raphael's God)[3]—the Soul arises they drink, & fill their Skins, & depart rejoicing—O Blessed the day when that good man & all his Company came to Heaven Gate & the Child—then an angel—rushed out to receive them—

Notes


[*] Notebook 22 (11 x 18 cm). Written across three pages near the back of the notebook, upside down and continuing towards the front. The first two sides (on facing pages) are written in portrait (with a soft page break at "covers / the child with sand") . The third side, beginning "How wide," is written in landscape in a deteriorating script. Left and right margins increase, as if the writer is avoiding an object resting on the page, possibly the source of the small stain in the bottom right quarter.

[1] This phrase appears as "Roaring and Whitening" in the cancelled passage to Book V of the Five Book Prelude (see William Wordsworth, The Five Book Prelude, ed. Duncan Wu [Oxford: Blackwell, 1997] Appendix 1, p. 203 line 120). Wordsworth's struggle with this portion near the end of his planned work seems to have been the catalyst for his sudden decision to recast it in thirteen books. Coleridge was given a revised version of Books I-IV and the portion in question (known as the 'analogy passage had been cancelled by the time the Thirteen Book version was complete in 1805. The appearance of the phrase "roar'd and whitened" in CN2780, then, offers compelling evidence to suggest that Coleridge read or heard the analogy passage on his return from Italy in 1806.

[2] The "H" character looks quite similar to Coleridge's "Th" construction; however, Coburn's reading of "How" fits the sentence.

[3] "Raphael's God": this is likely a reference to Raphael's fresco, La Disputa, in the Vatican.

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Published @ RC

May 2003