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?