"Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe / A point of no dimension, of no weight?"

— Young, Edward (bap. 1683, d. 1765)

Place of Publication
Printed for G. Hawkins
"Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe / A point of no dimension, of no weight?"
Metaphor in Context
This, this is thinking free,--a thought that grasps
Beyond a grain, and looks beyond an hour.
Turn up thine eye, survey this midnight scene;
What are Earth's kingdoms to yon boundless orbs,
Of human souls one day the destined range?
And what yon boundless orbs to godlike man?
Those numerous worlds that throng the firmament,
And ask more space in heaven, can roll at large
In man's capacious thought, and still leave room
For ampler orbs, for new creations, there.
Can such a soul contract itself, to gripe
A point of no dimension, of no weight?

It can: it does: the world is such a point;
And of that point, how small a part enslaves!
How small a part--of nothing, shall I say?
Why not?--Friends, our chief treasure! How they drop!
Lucia, Narcissa fair, Philander gone!
The grave, like fabled Cerberus, has oped
A triple mouth; and, in an awful voice,
Loud calls my soul, and utters all I sing.
How the world falls to pieces round about us,
And leaves us in a ruin of our joy!
What says this transportation of my friends?
It bids me love the place where now they dwell,
And scorn this wretched spot they leave so poor.
Eternity's vast ocean lies before thee;
There, there, Lorenzo, thy Clarissa sails.
Give thy mind sea-room; keep it wide of earth,
That rock of souls immortal; cut thy cord;
Weigh anchor; spread thy sails; call every wind;
Eye thy great Pole-star; make the land of life.
(ll. 1242-1272, pp. 210-11 in CUP edition)
Uniform title published in 9 volumes, from 1742 to 1745. At least 133 reprintings after 1745 in ESTC (1747, 1748, 1749, 1750, 1751, 1752, 1755, 1756, 1757, 1758, 1760, 1761, 1762, 1764, 1765, 1766, 1767, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1782, 1783, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795, 1796, 1797, 1798, 1800).

Edward Young, Night the Seventh. Being the Second Part of the Infidel Reclaimed. Containing the Nature, Proof, and Importance, of Immortality. (London: Printed for G. Hawkins, 1744).

Text from The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose, of the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., 2 vols. (London: William Tegg, 1854). <Link to Google Books>

Reading Edward Young, Night Thoughts, ed. Stephen Cornford (New York: Cambridge UP, 1989).
Date of Entry

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