This Haschish dream, this cup-rose heavy-leaning
    With opiums weight, this drunkenness of soul,
    Bizarre, grotesque, satiric, with strange scroll
Of flaunting fancy's wildest foliage screening
No plashy depths of philosophic meaning,
    Scoffing, believing, laughing at life's dole,
    From heart that bleeds the while to death's dear goal,
    Take, friend—my own, from no mans field a gleaning.

For I have made myself a clean new mould
    To pour my fancies in, of mad burlesque,
    Yet full of death withal as charnel air.
I first of men have carved in fancy's gold
    So queer a pagod freaked in fancy's gold,
    Though treading Wagner's ground twixt Goethe and Baudelaire.

One can only guess at the meaning of the concluding line/'Wagner's ground" suggests the monumental quest myth with superhuman hero and the theme of eternal recurrence in The Queen of the Hid Isle. It lacks any hint of the Anarchism of Siegfried, which (along with Wagner's early political involvement with Bakunin) Barlas would have found attractive. The reference to Goethe is almost as enigmatic, though Barlas clearly had Faust in mind. Like The Queen of the Hid Isle, it takes the form of a closet drama, or a dramatic poem, and both assay the possibilities of transcendent experience in the modern world. [172]


Cohen, Philip. John Evelyn Barlas, A Critical Biography: Poetry, Anarchism, and Mental Illness in Late-Victorian Britain. Rivendale Press, 2012. [Review]

Last modified 1 November 2006