CREATIVE AGNOSTICISM Part 2

This is sort of the worm eating itself episode of Turfing… If you can figure it out, and what it is about, I will send a tee-shirt with the EarthRites Radio logo in your size to you. First one there, gets the prize.

Had a good day yesterday with Mary, and we had a time of it in the yard. She was pulling down dead plants and harvesting basil, and I was harvesting salvia. Best harvest, ever.

We ended up the day by going out for dinner at the local Indian Restaurant, and scooted home after…

On The Bench:

Nick Drake – Riverman

The Links

CREATIVE AGNOSTICISM Part 2 – Robert Anton Wilson

The Idiot Boy – William Wordsworth

I hope your day goes well.

G

_____________________

(Nick Drake – Riverman)

Betty came by on her way

Said she had a word to say

About things today

And fallen leaves.

Said she hadn’t heard the news

Hadn’t had the time to choose

A way to lose

But she believes.

Going to see the river man

Going to tell him all I can

About the plan

For lilac time.

If he tells me all he knows

About the way his river flows

And all night shows

In summertime.

Betty said she prayed today

For the sky to blow away

Or maybe stay

She wasn’t sure.

For when she thought of summer rain

Calling for her mind again

She lost the pain

And stayed for more.

Going to see the river man

Going to tell him all I can

About the ban

On feeling free.

If he tells me all he knows

About the way his river flows

I don’t suppose

It’s meant for me.

Oh, how they come and go

Oh, how they come and go

________

The Links:

Marijuana-Worshipping Church Is Fractured as Leaders Face Charges

A close personal relationship

Library volunteers just say no to drug testing

Teen ticketed for Hacky Sac

__________________

CREATIVE AGNOSTICISM Part 2 – Robert Anton Wilson

.Nor is it surprising that Dr. Leary, like Dr. Reich, was subsequently denounced, slandered colorfully and, finally, imprisoned. The ideas we have been discussing—the ideas that, in a sense, were being tested in the convict rehabilitation research—are profoundly threatening to all dogmatists, not just to materialistic dogmatists. Powerful churches, political parties and vested (financial) interests, for example, have a strong desire to program the rest of us into the particular “Real” Universes that they find profitable, and to keep us from becoming self-programmers. They want to “take responsibility’ for us, and they have no wish to see us “take responsibility’ for ourselves.

Materialism-in-the-philosophical-sense is very much supported by materialism-in-the-economic-sense.

To summarize:

Consciousness is not a given, or a fact. Our mode of consciousness seems historically to have been determined by neurological (unconscious) habits. When we become aware of this, and struggle against the inertia of habit, consciousness continually mutates, becomes less particle-like and “fixed,” spreads like a flowing wave. It can move between the poles of pure in-DIVIDE-ualism and pure in-UNITE-ualism, and between many other poles, and can become increasingly “creative” and “self-chosen.”

Since there is no explanation for these experiences of consciousness-altering-consciousness, or self-programming, in the materialist model, we can either reject them as “hallucinations” and “appearances” if we wish to retain the materialist model at any cost, or we may supplement the materialist model by recognizing that, like all models, it describes sombunall5 of Universe, whereupon we may choose a more inclusive model, which in this case seems to be supplied at present by existentialist-humanist psychology, quantum mechanics, and the thought of philosopher-psychologists like Nietzsche, James, Husserl and Bergson.

In the “Real” Universe, all things are determined, including us and our thoughts. In the experienced world, things come and go incessantly and some come and go so fast that we can never know why; causal models fit only sombunall of experience. There is a sense of flow, process, evolution, growth, and of what Bergson called “the perpetual upsurge of novelty.” In this experienced world, and not in abstract theory, we are faced by apparent decisions continually. We make them and we experience the sense of choice as we do so. We can never know how much such choice is “real” absolutely, but since we can never know anything else absolutely, we make do on probabilities.

In the “Real” Universe we are re-active mechanists; in the experienced world, we are creators, and The “Real” Universe is just another of our creations—a dangerous one, with a tendency to hypnotize us.

Concretely, on any ordinary day, we may observe ourselves contacting the experienced world continually, merging with it, actually breathing its molecules in and out, eating and excreting other parts of it. It “passes through” us as often as we “pass through” it. Since we edit and orchestrate the signals that make up our personal share of the experienced world, we are never separate from it or from responsibility for it.

Neurological research during the past two decades has rather clearly demonstrated that the passive consciousness in which there is a “Real” Universe “out there” is characteristic of left-brain domination. Correspondingly, any method of moving into the flowing-synergetic-holistic mode of consciousness—with meditation, or with certain drugs, or by the process of Zen-like attention described in the previous pages—leads to an increase in right-brain activity. Presumably, if we stayed in the flowing right-brain mode all the time we would become, in Mr. Okera’s term, Dionysian.

It is more amusing, and more instructive, I think, to orchestrate one’s consciousness, by “dialing” the TV set—choosing which mode one uses. This way one learns the best, and worst, of both hemispheres of the brain. One also can learn, with self-experiment, that there are other modalities besides right and left. There seems to be a top-bottom mode also, connected with the degree of possible delay we can tolerate: the bottom, or old brain, seems to be reptilian in its reflexes, the top, or new brain, more easily visualizes a multiple-choice reality-labyrinth in place of the either/or of pure reflex. And there even seems to be a front/back polarity: the frontal lobes seem to fine-tune the intuitions in the general direction of that damned and verboten “ESP.”

In short, it appears to those who try the experiments/experiences of yoga and humanistic psychology, that what is tuned in, is a function of how we use our brains habitually, and what is not-tuned-in may, in many cases, become tuned-in, with practice in neurological reprogramming (a variety of exercises to test these general conclusions for yourself can be found in my book, Prometheus Rising).

I go to a pub and talk to another man. He is experienced deeply part of the time, and shallowly another part of the time, depending on the quality of my consciousness. If I am very conscious, meeting him can be an experience comparable to great music or even an earthquake; if I am in the usual shallow state, he barely “makes an impression.” If I am practicing alertness and neurological self-criticism, I may observe that I am only experiencing him part of the time, and that part of the time I am not-tuning-in but drifting off to my favorite “Real” Universe and editing out at the ear-drum much of what he is saying. Often, the “Real” Universe hypnotizes me sufficiently that, while I “hear” what he says, I have no idea of the way he says it or what he means to convey.

I walk down the street and, observing my state of consciousness, I see that I am in contact with experienced reality part of the time only. Some trees are quite beautiful, but then I realize that I have passed other trees without noticing them. I have drifted off into The “Real” Universe again and edited out a large beautiful hunk of the experienced world. The trees did not cease to exist; they were simply not-tuned-in.

One who remains alive and alert to the experienced world knows where he is, what he is doing and what is going on around him. It is truly startling, at first, to practice neurological self-criticism and notice how often one has lost track of such simple matters as that. It is even more startling to notice that one is walking among hypnotized subjects who, most of the time, have completely lost track of such matters and are telling themselves stories about The “Real” Universe while editing out vast amounts of the experienced world.

When the mathematician Ouspensky was studying with Gurdjieff, he found it very hard, at first, to understand this unique human capacity to forget where one is, what one is doing, and what is going on around one. He was especially dubious about Gurdjieff’s insistence that this “forgetting” was a type of hypnosis. Then, one day, after World War I had begun, Ouspensky saw a truck loaded with artificial legs, headed toward the front. Educated as a mathematician and trained in statistics, Ouspensky remembered that—just as it is possible to calculate how many persons will die of heart attacks in a given year, by probability theory—it is possible to calculate how many legs will be blown off in a battle. But the very calculation is based on the historical fact that most people most of the time will do what they are told by Superiors. (Or, as some cynic once said, most people would rather die, even by slow torture, than to think for themselves.) In a flash, Ouspensky understood how ordinary men become killers, and victims of killers. He realized that “normal” consciousness is much like hypnosis indeed. People in a trance will do what they are told—even if they are told to march into battle against total strangers who have never harmed them, and attempt to murder those strangers while the strangers are attempting to murder them. Orders from above are tuned-in; the possibility of choice is—not-tuned-in.

War and crime—the major problems of our century and chronic problems of our species—seem, to the existentialist-humanist psychologist, the direct results on drifting off into self-hypnosis, losing track of experience and “living” in a “Real” Universe. In the “Real” Universe, the Right Man is always Right, and the blood and horror incidental to proving that is only an appearance, easily forgotten. Besides, the Right Man knows that he is only a re-acting mechanism and ultimately The “Real” Universe itself is to blame for “making” him explode into such furies.

In existential experienced life, we notice that we are making bets and choices all the time, and are responsible for being alert and aware enough to make them intelligently and to revise them when necessary. We cannot blame everything on The “Real” Universe, since it is only a model we have created to deal with experienced life. If the model is not good enough, we do not blame it but revise and improve it.

Ultimately, existentialist psychology agrees with neurology (and sounds remarkably like quantum mechanics) in stressing that there is no model that is not an expression of the values and needs of the model-maker, no description that is not also an interpretation, and hence no “objective observer behind a glass wall” who is merely watching what happens. In short, the whole traditional language of “the thing out there,” “the image in here,” and “the mind” separate from both, is totally inadequate to describe our experience, and we need a new holistic, or synergetic language. The search for this new language—for “a new paradigm”—is increasingly acknowledged in many other disciplines, these days, as it becomes obvious to more and more researchers that the old models have outlived their usefulness.

The “jargon” suggested in parts of this book—the strange new terms used in place of old terms—is a groping and fumbling, and it is meant to be suggestive and poetic rather than precise. The new paradigm has not quite emerged yet; we see only its broad general outlines.

The human brain, from the viewpoint of perception theory and existentialist psychology, appears much like a very unique self-programming computer. It chooses—usually unconsciously and mechanically—the quality of consciousness it will experience and the reality-tunnel it will employ to orchestrate the incoming signals from the experienced world. When it becomes more conscious of this programming, its creativeness becomes truly astounding and has been called meta-programming by Dr. John Lilly.

In meta-programming or neurological self-criticism, the brain becomes capable of deliberately increasing the number of signals consciously apprehended. One looks casually, in the normal way, and then looks again, and again. Dull objects and boring situations become transformed—partly because they “were” dull and boring only when the brain was working on old mechanical programs—and, without being too lyrical about it, the synergetic unity of observer-observation becomes a thrilling experience. Every experience becomes the kind of intense learning that usually only occurs in school when cramming for exams. This state of high and involved consciousness—called awakening by the mystics—seems perfectly normal and natural to the brain that has been programmed to watch its own programming. Since, in the existential world of experience, we have to make bets and choices, we are consciously “cramming” all the time, but there is no special sense of stress or anxiety involved. We are living time instead of passing time, as Nicoll said.

The brain, it seems, works best under pressure. The soldier being decorated for bravery often says “I don’t remember doing it—it all happened too fast.” Even in situations less terrifying and punishing than war, most of us have had flashes of this staggering efficiency and rapidity of brain processes in emergencies. It seems very likely that habitual feelings of “helplessness” and “inadequacy” derive chiefly from our habit of wandering off into The “Real” Universe and not being electrically involved in where we are, what we are doing, and what is going on around us. In crises, this wandering off or hypnosis is not permitted: we are urgently aware of every detail of the experienced field. Some people develop a suicidal habit of seeking danger—mountain climbers and other sportsmen, for instance—just to enjoy this state of rapid brain functioning and High Involvement again and again. Meta-programming or neurological self-criticism, developed as a habit to replace the old habit of wandering off to “Real” Universes, creates that kind of “ecstasy” more and more frequently, and it appears that one has never been using one’s brain before but only misusing it.

Concretely, two people can “be” in the same existential situation but experience two very, very different reality-tunnels. If they are both modeltheists or Fundamentalists, these different reality-tunnels will both be experienced as “objective” and each will react passively. If both are in heightened consciousness—seeking more and more signals every minute—both reality-tunnels will still be different, but each will be experienced as a creation and both persons will be involved. It is more likely in the second case they will be able to communicate clearly and understand one another; in the former case, they may fall into violent quarrel about who has the “real” reality-tunnel and the Right Man will have to punish the other for “error.”

It seems that when “God” or “nature” or “evolution” presented us with a human brain, we were not given instructions on the operation of this marvelous device. As a result, most of our history has been an attempt to learn how to use it. In learning that this involves taking responsibility and being involved we seem to be learning, also, lessons that are not merely technological but esthetic and “moral.” Once again, it seems the experienced world functions holistically and our separation of it into separate grids—“science,” “art,” “ethics”—is more confusing than helpful.

To use the brain efficiently—to be aware of where one is and what one is doing and what is going on around one, and to take responsibility for one’s bets or choices—seems to increase “intelligence” and “creativity.” That is hardly a surprise. Whatever our technical definitions of these mysterious functions, it is obvious that they are somehow connected with the number of signals consciously apprehended, and with the rapidity of the revision process. When one model is held statically between ourselves and experience, the number of signals drops, no revision occurs, and “intelligence” and “creativity” correspondingly decline. When many models are available, and when we are consciously involved in our choices, the number of signals consciously apprehended increases, and we behave more “intelligently” and “creatively.”

But the same process of involvement, responsibility, conscious choice, etc. also increases those faculties that are traditionally called esthetic and moral. There is no separation; experience is a continuum. What we see and experience tells us the most intimate truths about who and what we are as well as disclosing increasing richness of “meaning” in every existential transaction. To quote Blake again:

The Fool sees not the same tree the wise man sees.

Once again, it appears that the materialist model of mechanical consciousness covers some but not all experience, and it excludes precisely that part of experience which makes us human, esthetic, moral and responsible beings.

One may suspect that this is why the materialist age has become increasingly inhuman, ugly, amoral and blindly irresponsible.

One may suspect that this is also why the Citadel—the economically entrenched section of the New Fundamentalism, which serves and is fed by the Warfare State—increasingly draws most of the brain-power of most of the living scientists in the world to the single task, as Bucky Fuller said, of delivering more and more explosive power over greater and greater distances in shorter and shorter times to kill more and more people.

To the existentialist-humanist, the “Real” Universe is not forcing us to behave collectively that way. Ultimately, Irrational Rationalism—the reality-tunnel of Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Strangelove—is a social invention. Ultimately, ‘The Communists are plotting to enslave us” is a Game Rule of the cold war; it permits every Russian act—however conciliatory it may appear to neutral observers, however it may seem to aim at detente—to be defined as another trick. Ultimately, “The Americans are plotting to destroy us” is a similar Game Rule of the Politburo. The “Real” Universe where this madness appears as sanity is our collective creation. In existential experience, we are only making bets, but we have become hypnotized by our models and we walk toward Armaggedon thinking The “Real” Universe makes it impossible to stop and try a better game.

Like cattle going to slaughter—or like Ouspensky’s soldiers going to have their legs blown off—we do not stop to remember who we are, where we are, and what is going on around us.

The resistance to hearing the women at Greenham Common6 is not unrelated to the resistance to “bizarre” information we have been examining. There are economic as well as neurological reasons why Dr. Reich and Dr. Leary went to prison, while Dr. Teller, Father of the Hydrogen Bomb, is a recognized Authority on The “Real” Universe, rich, honored and praised throughout the Citadel.

Editorial Annotations

1. Elsewhere in The New Inquisition, Wilson describes “The Right Man” and one variant, “The Violent Male” as one who “seems to be a man who literally cannot, ever, admit that he might be wrong. He knows he is right; he is the total psychological opposite of the agnostic, in claiming absolute gnosis, total certitude about all things.”

2. A “modeltheist” is a person who is completely committed to a single model of the “Real” Universe, and for whom all other modes are, by definition, false. According to Wilson, “modeltheism underlies the intolerance which perpetuates most of the violence and wars on this backward planet and creates the violent Right Man personality.” A modeltheist has all but stopped thinking and perceiving, whereas a model-agnostic encourages continual thought and perception.

3. Wilson thinks of “matter” as a metaphor. He defines a “liberal materialist” as “one who holds that materialism is a ‘relative best bet’ among competing philosophies, or the most plausible model around, whereas the fundamentalist materialist—either out of ignorance or philosophy or out of sheer bravado or out of blind faith—proclaims that materialism is the One True Philosophy and that anyone with doubts or hesitations about it is insane, perverse, or a deliberate fraud. This One True Philosophy is the modern form of the One True Church of the dark ages. The Fundamentalist Materialist is the modern Idolator; he has made an image of the world, and now he kneels and worships it.”

4. “To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour”

— William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”

5. “Sombunall” is a word, created by Wilson, that conflates “some but not all.” Wilson explains: “We never know ‘all;’ we know, at best, sombunall.” Wilson uses the word (and encourages others to use it) to avoid making what he calls “all-ness statements.” Wilson writes, “Imagine Arthur Shopenhauer with a sombunall instead of all in his vocabulary. He could still have generalized about sombunall women, but not about all women; and a major source of literary misogyny would have vanished from our culture. Imagine the Feminists writing about sombunall men, but not about all men. Imagine a debate about UFOs in which both sides could generalize as much as they wished about somnbunall sightings but there was no linguistic form to generalize about all such sightings.”

6. Exemplifying non-violent, direct action, a group of women marched from Cardiff, Wales to Greenham Common, England, in 1981. They set up a Peace Camp, which they called Yellow Gate, at the Main Gate of the U.S. Air Force Base in protest of a NATO decision to locate Cruise Missiles at Greenham Common. Satellite camps sprouted around the perimeter of the base, each represented by a color of the rainbow. All nuclear weapons were shipped out of Greenham Common by 1991.

___________

The Idiot Boy – William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

‘Tis eight o’clock,–a clear March night,

The moon is up–the sky is blue,

The owlet in the moonlight air,

He shouts from nobody knows where;

He lengthens out his lonely shout,

Halloo! halloo! a long halloo!

–Why bustle thus about your door,

What means this bustle, Betty Foy?

Why are you in this mighty fret?

And why on horseback have you set

Him whom you love, your idiot boy?

Beneath the moon that shines so bright,

Till she is tired, let Betty Foy

With girt and stirrup fiddle-faddle;

But wherefore set upon a saddle

Him whom she loves, her idiot boy?

There’s scarce a soul that’s out of bed;

Good Betty! put him down again;

His lips with joy they burr at you,

But, Betty! what has he to do

With stirrup, saddle, or with rein?

The world will say ’tis very idle,

Bethink you of the time of night;

There’s not a mother, no not one,

But when she hears what you have done,

Oh! Betty she’ll be in a fright.

But Betty’s bent on her intent,

For her good neighbour, Susan Gale,

Old Susan, she who dwells alone,

Is sick, and makes a piteous moan,

As if her very life would fail.

There’s not a house within a mile,

No hand to help them in distress:

Old Susan lies a bed in pain,

And sorely puzzled are the twain,

For what she ails they cannot guess.

And Betty’s husband’s at the wood,

Where by the week he doth abide,

A woodman in the distant vale;

There’s none to help poor Susan Gale,

What must be done? what will betide?

And Betty from the lane has fetched

Her pony, that is mild and good,

Whether he be in joy or pain,

Feeding at will along the lane,

Or bringing faggots from the wood.

And he is all in travelling trim,

And by the moonlight, Betty Foy

Has up upon the saddle set,

The like was never heard of yet,

Him whom she loves, her idiot boy.

And he must post without delay

Across the bridge that’s in the dale,

And by the church, and o’er the down,

To bring a doctor from the town,

Or she will die, old Susan Gale.

There is no need of boot or spur,

There is no need of whip or wand,

For Johnny has his holly-bough,

And with a hurly-burly now

He shakes the green bough in his hand.

And Betty o’er and o’er has told

The boy who is her best delight,

Both what to follow, what to shun,

What do, and what to leave undone,

How turn to left, and how to right.

And Betty’s most especial charge,

Was, “Johnny! Johnny! mind that you

“Come home again, nor stop at all,

“Come home again, whate’er befal,

“My Johnny do, I pray you do.”

To this did Johnny answer make,

Both with his head, and with his hand,

And proudly shook the bridle too,

And then! his words were not a few,

Which Betty well could understand.

And now that Johnny is just going,

Though Betty’s in a mighty flurry,

She gently pats the pony’s side,

On which her idiot boy must ride,

And seems no longer in a hurry.

But when the pony moved his legs,

Oh! then for the poor idiot boy!

For joy he cannot hold the bridle,

For joy his head and heels are idle,

He’s idle all for very joy.

And while the pony moves his legs,

In Johnny’s left-hand you may see,

The green bough’s motionless and dead;

The moon that shines above his head

Is not more still and mute than he.

His heart it was so full of glee,

That till full fifty yards were gone,

He quite forgot his holly whip,

And all his skill in horsemanship,

Oh! happy, happy, happy John.

And Betty’s standing at the door,

And Betty’s face with joy o’erflows,

Proud of herself, and proud of him,

She sees him in his travelling trim;

How quietly her Johnny goes.

The silence of her idiot boy,

What hope it sends to Betty’s heart!

He’s at the guide-post–he turns right,

She watches till he’s out of sight,

And Betty will not then depart.

Burr, burr–now Johnny’s lips they burr,

As loud as any mill, or near it,

Meek as a lamb the pony moves,

And Johnny makes the noise he loves,

And Betty listens, glad to hear it.

Away she hies to Susan Gale:

And Johnny’s in a merry tune,

The owlets hoot, the owlets curr,

And Johnny’s lips they burr, burr, burr,

And on he goes beneath the moon.

His steed and he right well agree,

For of this pony there’s a rumour,

That should he lose his eyes and ears,

And should he live a thousand years,

He never will be out of humour.

But then he is a horse that thinks!

And when he thinks his pace is slack;

Now, though he knows poor Johnny well,

Yet for his life he cannot tell

What he has got upon his back.

So through the moonlight lanes they go,

And far into the moonlight dale,

And by the church, and o’er the down,

To bring a doctor from the town,

To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

And Betty, now at Susan’s side,

Is in the middle of her story,

What comfort Johnny soon will bring,

With many a most diverting thing,

Of Johnny’s wit and Johnny’s glory.

And Betty’s still at Susan’s side:

By this time she’s not quite so flurried;

Demure with porringer and plate

She sits, as if in Susan’s fate

Her life and soul were buried.

But Betty, poor good woman! she,

You plainly in her face may read it,

Could lend out of that moment’s store

Five years of happiness or more,

To any that might need it.

But yet I guess that now and then

With Betty all was not so well,

And to the road she turns her ears,

And thence full many a sound she hears,

Which she to Susan will not tell.

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans,

“As sure as there’s a moon in heaven,”

Cries Betty, “he’ll be back again;

“They’ll both be here, ’tis almost ten,

“They’ll both be here before eleven.”

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans,

The clock gives warning for eleven;

‘Tis on the stroke–”If Johnny’s near,”

Quoth Betty “he will soon be here,

“As sure as there’s a moon in heaven.”

The clock is on the stroke of twelve,

And Johnny is not yet in sight,

The moon’s in heaven, as Betty sees,

But Betty is not quite at ease;

And Susan has a dreadful night.

And Betty, half an hour ago,

On Johnny vile reflections cast;

“A little idle sauntering thing!”

With other names, an endless string,

But now that time is gone and past.

And Betty’s drooping at the heart,

That happy time all past and gone,

“How can it be he is so late?

“The doctor he has made him wait,

“Susan! they’ll both be here anon.”

And Susan’s growing worse and worse,

And Betty’s in sad quandary;

And then there’s nobody to say

If she must go or she must stay:

–She’s in a sad quandary.

The clock is on the stroke of one;

But neither Doctor nor his guide

Appear along the moonlight road

There’s neither horse nor man abroad,

And Betty’s still at Susan’s side.

And Susan she begins to fear

Of sad mischances not a few,

That Johnny may perhaps be drown’d,

Or lost perhaps, and never found;

Which they must both for ever rue.

She prefaced half a hint of this

With, “God forbid it should be true!”

At the first word that Susan said

Cried Betty, rising from the bed,

“Susan, I’d gladly stay with you.

“I must be gone, I must away,

“Consider, Johnny’s but half-wise;

“Susan, we must take care of him,

“If he is hurt in life or limb”–

“Oh God forbid!” poor Susan cries.

“What can I do?” says Betty, going,

“What can I do to ease your pain?

“Good Susan tell me, and I’ll stay;

“I fear you’re in a dreadful way,

“But I shall soon be back again.”

“Good Betty go, good Betty go,

“There’s nothing that can ease my pain.”

Then off she hies, but with a prayer

That God poor Susan’s life would spare,

Till she comes back again.

O, through the moonlight lane she goes,

And far into the moonlight dale;

And how she ran, and how she walked,

And all that to herself she talked,

Would surely be a tedious tale.

In high and low, above, below,

In great and small, in round and square,

In tree and tower was Johnny seen,

In bush and brake, in black and green,

Twas Johnny, Johnny, every where.

She’s past the bridge that’s in the dale,

And now the thought torments her sore,

Johnny perhaps his horse forsook,

To hunt the moon that’s in the brook,

And never will be heard of more.

And now she’s high upon the down,

Alone amid a prospect wide;

There’s neither Johnny nor his horse,

Among the fern or in the gorse;

There’s neither doctor nor his guide.

“Oh saints! what is become of him?

“Perhaps he’s climbed into an oak,

“Where he will stay till he is dead;

“Or sadly he has been misled,

“And joined the wandering gypsey-folk.

“Or him that wicked pony’s carried

“To the dark cave, the goblins’ hall,

“Or in the castle he’s pursuing,

“Among the ghosts, his own undoing;

“Or playing with the waterfall.”

At poor old Susan then she railed,

While to the town she posts away;

“If Susan had not been so ill,

“Alas! I should have had him still,

“My Johnny, till my dying day.”

Poor Betty! in this sad distemper,

The doctor’s self would hardly spare,

Unworthy things she talked and wild,

Even he, of cattle the most mild,

The pony had his share.

And now she’s got into the town,

And to the doctor’s door she hies;

Tis silence all on every side;

The town so long, the town so wide,

Is silent as the skies.

And now she’s at the doctor’s door,

She lifts the knocker, rap, rap, rap,

The doctor at the casement shews,

His glimmering eyes that peep and doze;

And one hand rubs his old night-cap.

“Oh Doctor! Doctor! where’s my Johnny?”

“I’m here, what is’t you want with me?”

“Oh Sir! you know I’m Betty Foy,

“And I have lost my poor dear boy,

“You know him–him you often see;

“He’s not as wise as some folks be,”

“The devil take his wisdom!” said

The Doctor, looking somewhat grim,

“What, woman! should I know of him?”

And, grumbling, he went back to bed.

“O woe is me! O woe is me!

“Here will I die; here will I die;

“I thought to find my Johnny here,

“But he is neither far nor near,

“Oh! what a wretched mother I!”

She stops, she stands, she looks about,

Which way to turn she cannot tell.

Poor Betty! it would ease her pain

If she had the heart to knock again;

–The clock strikes three–a dismal knell!

Then up along the town she hies,

No wonder if her senses fail,

This piteous news so much it shock’d her,

She quite forgot to send the Doctor,

To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

And now she’s high upon the down,

And she can see a mile of road,

“Oh cruel! I’m almost three-score;

“Such night as this was ne’er before,

“There’s not a single soul abroad.”

She listens, but she cannot hear

The foot of horse, the voice of man;

The streams with softest sound are flowing,

The grass you almost hear it growing,

You hear it now if e’er you can.

The owlets through the long blue night

Are shouting to each other still:

Fond lovers, yet not quite hob nob,

They lengthen out the tremulous sob,

That echoes far from hill to hill.

Poor Betty now has lost all hope,

Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin;

A green-grown pond she just has pass’d,

And from the brink she hurries fast,

Lest she should drown herself therein.

And now she sits her down and weeps;

Such tears she never shed before;

“Oh dear, dear pony! my sweet joy!

“Oh carry back my idiot boy!

“And we will ne’er o’erload thee more.”

A thought is come into her head;

“The pony he is mild and good,

“And we have always used him well;

“Perhaps he’s gone along the dell,

“And carried Johnny to the wood.”

Then up she springs as if on wings;

She thinks no more of deadly sin;

If Betty fifty ponds should see,

The last of all her thoughts would be,

To drown herself therein.

Oh reader! now that I might tell

What Johnny and his horse are doing!

What they’ve been doing all this time,

Oh could I put it into rhyme,

A most delightful tale pursuing!

Perhaps, and no unlikely thought!

He with his pony now doth roam

The cliffs and peaks so high that are,

To lay his hands upon a star,

And in his pocket bring it home.

Perhaps he’s turned himself about,

His face unto his horse’s tail,

And still and mute, in wonder lost,

All like a silent horseman-ghost,

He travels on along the vale.

And now, perhaps, he’s hunting sheep,

A fierce and dreadful hunter he!

Yon valley, that’s so trim and green,

In five months’ time, should he be seen,

A desart wilderness will be.

Perhaps, with head and heels on fire,

And like the very soul of evil,

He’s galloping away, away,

And so he’ll gallop on for aye,

The bane of all that dread the devil.

I to the muses have been bound,

These fourteen years, by strong indentures;

Oh gentle muses! let me tell

But half of what to him befel,

For sure he met with strange adventures.

Oh gentle muses! Is this kind?

Why will ye thus my suit repel?

Why of your further aid bereave me?

And can you thus unfriended leave me?

Ye muses! whom I love so well.

Who’s yon, that, near the waterfall,

Which thunders down with headlong force,

Beneath the moon, yet shining fair,

As careless as if nothing were,

Sits upright on a feeding horse?

Unto his horse, that’s feeding free,

He seems, I think, the reins to give;

Of moon or stars he takes no heed;

Of such we in romances read,

–’Tis Johnny! Johnny! as I live.

And that’s the very pony too.

Where is she, where is Betty Foy?

She hardly can sustain her fears;

The roaring water-fall she hears,

And cannot find her idiot boy.

Your pony’s worth his weight in gold,

Then calm your terrors, Betty Foy!

She’s coming from among the trees,

And now, all full in view, she sees

Him whom she loves, her idiot boy.

And Betty sees the pony too:

Why stand you thus Good Betty Foy?

It is no goblin, ’tis no ghost,

‘Tis he whom you so long have lost,

He whom you love, your idiot boy.

She looks again–her arms are up–

She screams–she cannot move for joy;

She darts as with a torrent’s force,

She almost has o’erturned the horse,

And fast she holds her idiot boy.

And Johnny burrs and laughs aloud,

Whether in cunning or in joy,

I cannot tell; but while he laughs,

Betty a drunken pleasure quaffs,

To hear again her idiot boy.

And now she’s at the pony’s tail,

And now she’s at the pony’s head,

On that side now, and now on this,

And almost stifled with her bliss,

A few sad tears does Betty shed.

She kisses o’er and o’er again,

Him whom she loves, her idiot boy,

She’s happy here, she’s happy there,

She is uneasy every where:

Her limbs are all alive with joy.

She pats the pony, where or when

She knows not, happy Betty Foy!

The little pony glad may be,

But he is milder far than she,

You hardly can perceive his joy.

“Oh! Johnny, never mind the Doctor;

“You’ve done your best, and that is all.”

She took the reins, when this was said,

And gently turned the pony’s head

From the loud water-fall.

By this the stars were almost gone,

The moon was setting on the hill,

So pale you scarcely looked at her:

The little birds began to stir,

Though yet their tongues were still.

The pony, Betty, and her boy,

Wind slowly through the windy dale:

And who is she, be-times abroad,

That hobbles up the steep rough road?

Who is it, but old Susan Gale?

Long Susan lay deep lost in thought,

And many dreadful fears beset her,

Both for her messenger and nurse;

And as her mind grew worse and worse,

Her body it grew better.

She turned, she toss’d herself in bed,

On all sides doubts and terrors met her;

Point after point did she discuss;

And while her mind was fighting thus,

Her body still grew better.

“Alas! what is become of them?

“These fears can never be endured,

“I’ll to the wood.”–The word scarce said,

Did Susan rise up from her bed,

As if by magic cured.

Away she posts up hill and down,

And to the wood at length is come,

She spies her friends, she shouts a greeting;

Oh me! it is a merry meeting,

As ever was in Christendom.

The owls have hardly sung their last,

While our four travellers homeward wend;

The owls have hooted all night long,

And with the owls began my song,

And with the owls must end.

For while they all were travelling home,

Cried Betty, “Tell us Johnny, do,

“Where all this long night you have been,

“What you have heard, what you have seen,

“And Johnny, mind you tell us true.”

Now Johnny all night long had heard

The owls in tuneful concert strive;

No doubt too he the moon had seen;

For in the moonlight he had been

From eight o’clock till five.

And thus to Betty’s question, he

Made answer, like a traveller bold,

(His very words I give to you,)

“The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,

“And the sun did shine so cold.”

–Thus answered Johnny in his glory,

And that was all his travel’s story