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Alchemy texts archives - Thomas South's Hermetick Poem

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From: Adam McLean
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998

Stanislas Klossowski de Rola wrote:

>[Thomas South] was engaged in the composition of a long
>Hermetick poem whilst Mary composed the prose of
>"A Suggestive Enquiry"...
>....all the unsold copies were returned to Bury House at
>Gosport in Hampshire where they were burnt along with
>Thomas South's own manuscript.

I believe this was the poem that was published in 'The Quest' the magazine edited by G.R.S. Mead, Issue 10/2 of 1919, pages 213-225. I remember seeing this many years ago but have not had access to it for some time.

Does anyone have a copy of this poem (perhaps a photocopy) that they could send me?

Adam McLean

From: Stanislas Klossowski de Rola
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998

Dear Adam, The incomplete manuscript of the poem was indeed burnt the only surviving fragment consists of twelve lines to be found Chapter 1 of the "Preliminary Account" which begins "A Suggestive Inquiry..." :

Whate'er the Eastern Magi soght,
Or Orpheus sung, or Hermes taught,
Whate'er Confucius would inspire,
Or Zoroaster's mystic fire;
The symbols that Pythagoras drew,
The wisdom godlike Plato knew.
What Socrates debating proved,
Or Epictetus lived and loved;
The sacred fire of saint and sage,
Thro' every clime in every age,
In Bohme's wondrous page we view,
Discover'd and revealed anew, &tc.
It seems unlikely, if not impossible, that Mead could have published more as Thomas South was the instigator of this tragic autodafe.

Stanislas Klossowski de Rola

Date: Sun, 02 Aug 98
From: Jon Marshall

The remains of Thomas South's Hermetick Poem is currently published by JD Holmes.

presumably a reprint from The Quest 10 (2) Jan 1919 pp.213-225 (ref Pritchard #250).

It is about 11 pages long, and of extraordinary banality.

The only people who might appreciate it are alchemical fans of William McGonagall, only its not quite as musical
I quote, more or less, at random

The panorama of the mind, the Pan,
The all in all, the great in little man;
These are a little spice of what you may
Expect, if you'll look in, Sir, any day,
And which yet few, comparatively, few
Still have believed, but not known what to do
Or say, upon a subject yet too new
To be received as orthodox and true.

The cynic in me suggests that he had his daughter's production burnt because it was so much better.