“You look at trees and label them just so,
(for trees are `trees’, and growing is `to grow’);
you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
one of the many minor globes of Space:
a star’s a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, Inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain.”
“Yet trees are not `trees’, until so named and seen -
and never were so named, till those had been
who speech’s involuted breath unfurled,
faint echo and dim picture of the world”
“There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jewelled tent
myth-woven and elf-patterned; and no earth,
unless the mother’s womb whence all have birth.”
“The heart of man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Disgraced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship one he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.”
“Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate,
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate;
that seek no parley, and in guarded room,
through small and bare, upon a clumsy loom
weave tissues gilded by the far-off day
hoped and believed in under Shadow’s sway.”
“Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within record time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organised delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice-seduced).”
“They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have turned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.”
“I would be with the mariners of the deep
that cut their slender planks on mountains steep
and voyage upon a vague and wandering quest,
for some have passed beyond the fabled West.”
“I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends -
if by God’s mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.”
“I will not tread your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein no part
the little maker has with maker’s art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden sceptre down.”
“In Paradise perchance the eye may stray
from gazing upon everlasting Day
to see the day-illumined, and renew
from mirrored truth the likeness of the True.”
“Then looking on the Blessed Land ’twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free”
“Evil it will not see, for evil lies
not in God’s picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.”
According to “Mythopoeia”, so far the transcendental second plane cannot be brought onto earth. And it stays this way. Lines 131 – 136 in the last stanza make it clear that the true essence of all things can only be experienced on the second plane – though even that not with certitude (“perchance the eye may stray”, line 131) – which in the poem is then equated with Paradise (131). In Paradise man´s eye now has the chance “to see the day-illumined, and renew” (133), thereby leaving the triteness of the earthly light behind him.
The formulation is also reminiscent of Plato; it takes up a picture from the allegory of the sun. There the sun, an object that provides the brightest light, is equated with the idea of good – a good that is necessary to view the truth that can only be seen in the brightest light (Republic 508a-d). Following the allegory of the lines (509d – 511a), the possible view of truth depends on the angle at which sunlight shines upon the objects of knowledge. Line 133 is reminiscent of the Platonic parables of sun and lines.
But more important is line 134: the day – illuminated and renew[Again, something is strange here.] – there (on the other plane!) shows “from mirrored truth the likeness of the True” – this means objective knowledge. This view makes it possible to look on the blessed land as it is, “made free”, a liberation which then extends to the spectator.
What is it that the poet and reader are “made free” from? The mistaken assumptions of an empiricism which does not allow other modes of acquiring knowledge. The important point is that it is possible in Paradise to renew the sight of truth, because “renew” again takes up the topic of remembered, ‘Socratic’, foreknowledge which was mentioned above.
Therefore the key terms of verse 12 are “renew”, which refers to knowledge gained from the second plane, and “mirrored truth”. Mirrored truth is again a Platonian picture. It refers to the allegory of the cave, the most influential idea of Plato´s philosophy (Republic 514a-515c).
The parable tells the story of people who are chained inside a cave. They are looking upon a wall before them, unable to turn around. They can only see shadows on the wall and hear sounds originating from outside the cave. The shadows are faint, the sound is dim, both are but a reflection of the real world outside the cave. These people will never come to know reality but only experience incomplete reflections if they are not freed (or free themselves), stand up and look at what is really outside their cave. The meaning of the parable is that the real world, the only world which the materialist believes in, only allows us to see reflections from the second plane, just like the reflections the prisoners in Plato´s cave can see and hear.
The possibility “[to] see that all is as it is“ (lines 135f.) exists only on the second plane, in the Platonic world of ideas, in the “Mythopoeian Paradise”. Even the liberation in Paradise – “all [...] as it is, and yet made free“ – connects “Mythopoeia” to Plato since the view of truth, which man experiences by leaving the cave, constitutes an act of liberation.
[ Interpretation above from http://www.polyoinos.de/tolk_stuff/mythopiea_engl.html , images from late summer 2015 in Polish mountains.]