The "passive mind" may be (merely) impressed by substances and modes

— Cowper, William (1731-1800)

Place of Publication
Joseph Johnson
The "passive mind" may be (merely) impressed by substances and modes
Metaphor in Context
Nor he alone address'd the wayward fair;
Full many a knight had been entangled there.
But still, whoever woo'd her or embraced,
On every mind some mighty spell she cast.
Some she would teach (for she was wondrous wise,
And made her dupes see all things with her eyes,)
That forms material, whatsoe'er we dream,
Are not at all, or are not what they seem;
That substances and modes of every kind
Are mere impressions on the passive mind;
And he that splits his cranium, breaks at most
A fancied head against a fancied post:
Others, that earth, ere sin had drown'd it all,
Was smooth and even as an ivory ball;
That all the various beauties we survey,
Hills, valleys, rivers, and the boundless sea,
Are but departures from the first design,
Effects of punishment and wrath divine.
She tutor'd some in Dædalus's art,
And promised they should act his wildgoose part,
On waxen pinions soar without a fall,
Swift as the proudest gander of them all.
(ll. 34-55, p. 233-4)
Cowper, William. The Poems of William Cowper. 3 vols. Ed. John D. Baird and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford: Oxford UP: 1980.
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.