I don't doubt that this passage shows Lear recovering his love for
Cordelia and realizing what he had done.  That is not a mystical
experience in the sense of St. John of the Cross or Julian or others. 
There are very specific actions and experiences that are involved in the
"Dark Night."  Certainly Lear goes through a period of great terror
and--in his case--madness and recovers through love in some way.  But
the parallels are not the same as what a mystic reports.

I have not reread Lear recently, but it does not seem to be at all about
mystical experience to me.
I would also be surprised if Shakespear's use of gods and God were that
specific or limited to Lear.  Again, I would have to reread a great deal
to be sure about that.

>>> Barnwell  Black <[log in to unmask]> 08/01/07 7:17 PM >>>
I think there is an indication that King  Lear does indeed achieve some 
degree of spiritual rebirth after the death of the  Self, as per TSE in
post-conversion poetry.  In Shakespeare's play this  comes in Act V,
Scene 3, when 
Lear, and Cordelia enter as prisoners.  Lear,  in what seems to me to be
moment of lucidity occasioned by the  redeeming love of Cordelia, says
to Cordelia: 
No, no, no, no! Come, let's away to prison:
We two  alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing  I'll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and  sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor  rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,--
Who loses and  who wins; who's in, who's out;--
And take upon's the mystery of things,
As  if we were God's spies: and we'll wear out,
In a wall'd prison, packs and  sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by the moon.
To me this is the "still point" moment for Lear. Cordelia is the 
catalyst. I 
find it interesting that, in a play set in the time of pre-Christian 
polytheistic) England, the "gods" (pleural) are referred to  twenty-five

times by Lear and others with lower case "g".  In Lear's  passage above,
this is 
the only use in the entire play of the singular word  God,  "As if we
God's spies..."  -- with upper case "G"  too. I suspect Shakespeare did
this with 
subtle intent. Lear, in the  dark night of his soul opened his soul for
God to 
enter. In spite of the  final tragedy, this moment flashes with
In a message dated 7/31/2007 8:25:27 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
[log in to unmask] writes:

I agree  that it is a death of ego.  But I hasten to add that I do not
myself  have any desire for a dead ego in this sense, and I don't think
Eliot ever  experienced it or claimed to.

I would question Lear--more  like  the dark night of sense than of
spirit, since Lear is a very intensely  present self, not an opened soul
for god to  enter.

>>> Barnwell  Black <[log in to unmask]> 07/31/07  8:11 PM >>>

Re the comparison of the T.  S. Eliot of TWL with the 
post-conversion TSE 
of 4Q,  I think CR  and  Nancy are "right on," to  borrow a phrase from
youth.  The post-conversion concept of "the death of the  Self" seems to
me to  
represent the death of the "Ego," a necessary  happening  before
rebirth, as per TSE -- a movement away from  the  "We live as if by our
own wisdom" of 
Heraclitus toward the common  Logos.  Another example in literature of
"the death of the  Self, or Ego" is the  soliloquy of KING Lear to the

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You  cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have  drench'd our steeples,  drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and  thought-executing  fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving  thunderbolts,
Singe my white  head! And thou, all-shaking  thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity  o' the  world!
Crack nature's moulds, an germens spill at   once,
That make ingrateful man!

Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire!  spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:
I   tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;
I never gave you  kingdom,  call'd you children,
You owe me no subscription:  then let  fall
Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your  slave,
A poor,  infirm, weak, and despised old man:
But yet I call you servile  ministers,
That have with  two pernicious daughters join'd
Your  high engender'd battles  'gainst a head
So old and white as this. O!  O! 'tis  foul!

Now that's that I call "the Dark Night of the  Soul."



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