Emily Jane Pfeiffer’s sonnet ‘To the Blind Architect of the City of Life, whose Humble Homes are the Creatures of Earth, Water, and Air, and whose “Meeting-House” is Man’ was first published in Littel’s Living Age (1874) and reprinted in Sonnets and Songs (1880).

How true thy work, blind Builder of the homes
    Which throng the paths of Life—beasts, fishes, birds,
    All things which be, they are as bodied words.
Or moving thoughts of some high whole which looms
Above us in the star-dust and the mist.
    Around us in the voices of the night.
    Within us in quick glimpses of love-light,
That leave us doubting if we dreamed or wist.
But true thy art, its unmeant meanings telling,
    Blind Builder of the city, on whose crown
Man stands—a temple for a God’s indwelling,
    Thy finest—no! thy sole false work—Cast down
The lying altar, raze it to the sod,—
What means a temple where there is no God?

What is this poem about? Who is the addressee? In what way are they “blind”? What does it mean for animals to be “bodied words”? How is Man a “Meeting-House” and a “false work”? What is the “lying altar” and why must it be destroyed?

  • Since Pfeiffer was into evolution, educated guess’d be that Blind Architect is The Blind Watchmaker. “Meeting-House” is a reminiscence of “you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you”, but if there’s no God then the altar is lying… Unlike animals humans aspire to spiritual dimension, so without God for some people life has no meaning, it’s better not to be. Just my understanding. – b4rtr Oct 15 '20 at 21:20

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