At times I almost dream I too have spent a life the sages’ way, And tread once more familiar paths. Perchance I perished in an arrogant self-reliance Ages ago; and in that act, a prayer For one more chance went up so earnest, so Instinct with better light let in by death, That life was blotted out—not so completely But scattered wrecks enough of it remain, Dim memories, as now, when once more seems The goal in sight again.
4x05; The Fields Where I Died
Credit where credit is due: these words are from Paracelsus, a verse monodrama in five acts by the English poet Robert Browning, first published in 1835. Jeff was surprised when we watched this episode that the writers chose this poem (and another by fellow Brit Percy Bysshe Shelley) rather than something connected to the Civil War, given the focus of the episode. The subject of the poem, though, is one that I find very fitting for The X-Files, if not for this episode in particular.
The historical Paracelsus was a sixteenth century Swiss physician, scientist, astrologer, occultist, and mystic, and the inventor of toxicology. He was far ahead of his time in his insistence on using observations of nature as a basis for medical practices, and in recognizing that some illnesses had psychological roots; he also believed that dreams had meaning and considered their interpretation a great art. He is thus a clear intellectual and philosophical ancestor of both Mulder and Scully.