"The Heaven Of Each Is But What Each Desires"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: "The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan" is a tragic tale about a Persian girl who is tricked into marrying a false prophet, Mokanna, and who, by error, is killed by her true lover. The quoted line is part of a soliloquy in which Mokanna lays bare his evil designs. Being inordinately proud and ambitious, and having no respect for any gods, or for the credulous fools who worship them, he vows to employ any deceit, however monstrous, to gain his ends. Acting on the idea expressed in the quoted line, he plans to create a "splendid Paradise" for his victims, "the believers of incredible creeds." Paralleling Moore's line, but in quite different contexts, are the following: Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883): "Heav'n but the Vision of fulfilled Desire"–Rubáiyát of Omar Kayyám, Stanza 67; and James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916): "Heaven holds all for which you sigh"–"A Life Lesson," Stanza 3. "That prophet ill sustains his holy call," Mokanna muses,

"Who finds not heavens to suit the tastes of all;
Houris for boys, omniscience for sages,
And wings and glories for all ranks and ages.
Vain things!–as lust or vanity inspires,
The heaven of each is but what each desires."