Folio Fragment (recto)

Folio Fragment (Recto)
[Manuscript. British Library. Egerton 2800, fol 1]*

Book 3rd

He falls down in a trance. When he awakes he sees a luminous body coming before him. It stands before him an orb of fire. It goes on he moves not. It returns to him again, again retires as if wishing him to follow it. It then goes on & he follows. They are led to a desert near the bottom of the rocks, woods, brooks, forests &c &c. The Fire gradually shapes itself, retaining its luminous appearance, on to the lineaments of a man: A dialogue between the fiery shape & Cain, in which the being presses upon Cain the enormity of his guilt, & that he must make some expiation to the true deity, who is a severe God, & persuades him to burn out his eyes. Cain opposes this idea & says that God himself who had inflicted this punishment upon him had done it because he neglected to make a proper use of his senses &c. The evil spirit answers him that God is indeed a God of mercy & that examples must be given to [?protect][1] & that [? examples][2] must be given to mankind. That this end will be answered by his terrible appearance at the same time that he will be gratified with the most delicious sights & feelings.

Cain overpersuaded, consents to do it but wishes to go to the top of the rocks to take a farewell of the earth. His farewell Speech concluding with an abrupt address to the promised redeemer & he abandons the idea on which the being had accompanied him, & turning round to declare this to the being he sees him dancing from rock to rock in his former shape down those interminable precipices.


Child [? saddened][3] by his father's ravings, goes out to pluck the fruits in the moonlight wildness—Cain's soliloquy—Child returns with a pitcher of water & a cake. Cain wonders what kind of beings dwell in that place—whether any created since man or whether this world had any beings rescued from the Chaos, wandering like shipwrecked beings rescued from the other world.


* Single folio leaf (24.2 x 40 cm). Heading "Book 3rd." After "those interminable precipices," a line is drawn across the page. Below the line, the word "<Cain>" is inserted between the subsequent text, beginning "Child [?saddened]," and the line. This may be a title, indicating a new start to the poem. J. C. C. Mays reads it as an insert to the line, reading "Child influenced by his father's ravings..."

[1] [? protect]

J. C. C. Mays: "mankind"

[2] [? examples]

J.C.C. Mays: "ills"

[3] [? saddened]

E. H. Coleridge: "af'feared" (Athenaeum); "affeared" (Poetical Works)
J. C. C. Mays: "influenced"

return to top