By: Edward Carpenter (1844-1929)
“Civilization sinks and swims, but the old facts remain—the sun smiles, knowing well its strength.” Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) wrote his prose poem, Towards Democracy, styled after Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, in a summer burst of creativity. “Early in 1881, no doubt as the culmination and result of struggles and experiences that had been going on, I became conscious that a mass of material was forming within me, imperatively demanding expression . . .” An English intellectual, Carpenter was in rebellion against Victorian prudery. Railing against Industrialization’s dehumanization, he preached a return to a simple life in harmony with Nature. Towards Democracy reads like Beat poetry—wild flowing word associations, moments of insight so clear they hurt, interspersed with pure rant! Included is an essay Carpenter wrote in 1894 explaining his intent and feelings in writing Towards Democracy.