"Priests in black gowns are going their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys and desires."
And the worst of it all is that the highest function of man has been degraded by foul words so that it is almost impossible to write the body's hymn of joy as it should be written. The poets have been almost as guilty in this respect as the priests: Aristophanes and Rabelais are ribald, dirty: Boccaccio cynical while Ovid leers cold-bloodedly and Zola like Chaucer finds it difficult to suit language to his desires. Walt Whitman is better though often merely commonplace. The Bible is the best of all; but not frank enough even in the noble Song of Solomon which now and then by sheer imagination manages to convey the ineffable!
We are beginning to reject Puritanism and its unspeakable, brainless pruderies; but Catholicism is just as bad. Go to the Vatican Gallery and the great Church of St. Peter in Rome and you will find the fairest figures of ancient art clothed in painted tin, as if the most essential organs of the body were disgusting and had to be concealed.
I say the body is beautiful and must be lifted and dignified by our reverence: I love the body more than any Pagan of them all and I love the soul and her aspirations as well; for me the body and the soul are alike beautiful, all dedicate to Love and her worship.
I have no divided allegiance and what I preach today amid the scorn and hatred of men will be universally accepted to-morrow; for in my vision, too, a thousand years are as one day.
We must unite the soul of Paganism, the love of beauty and art and literature with the soul of Christianity and its human loving-kindness in a new synthesis which shall include all the sweet and gentle and noble impulses in us.