Shankara Sings in Kedarnath
As the name to the thing,
as the ring to the gold,
as the shimmer to the mother-of-pearl,
so the soul to the supreme;
as the blue to the sky,
as the mirage to the sand,
as the face in the wood-grain,
so the universe to Brahman;
as the ghost in empty space,
as the city in the clouds,
as the doubled moon in the night,
so the world to Brahman;
and Brahman appears through the world
as water shows in waves,
as copper shines in pans,
as clay is named by 'pot',
and the universe is in Brahman,
this possible because that actual,
this effect because that cause,
this appearance because that substance,
this seen and therefore that known.
Brahman is not in the world,
but the world's beginning is in Brahman,
and the world's enduring is in Brahman,
and the world's dissolving is in Brahaman,
for the world is all modification
and Brahman is without modification,
and the world is all variation
and Brahman is changeless and unchanged,
and the world is all appearing,
but Brahman is being and is knowing.
Knowing Brahman, the world fades
like dreaming in the waker,
like bubbles in the water,
like shape on flawless fire-living gold,
for the flame of being lights the darkness,
for the flame of knowing burns off ignorance,
for the flame of bliss rises forever
from Brahman unto Brahman.
The People We Never Met
You walked in the rain, umbrella-bold,
the rivulets streaming, the clouds above thundering,
and I think you and I would have plenty to say--
but I never met you,
you never knew me.
They were laughing in sunlight,
the freshly cut grass an incensing perfume,
listening to children play in the park--
but we are not there,
we never knew them.
An endless mass of lives, roads that never meet,
untouched hands, unseen rainbows,
unfelt breezes, words that find no sentence,
sands on ocean-distant shores--
I never met them;
we never knew them.
Sing for those who never hear it,
laugh with those we never saw or heard,
and perhaps in some far un-Euclidean heaven
parallel lines will finally come to touch.
In ancient day of misty yore
I met the floating dream;
through book and scroll my eye would pore
until she came who none ignore
and gave my eye a gleam.
It seems at times the world is small,
a poor, unrising earth,
but in a marble-laden hall
where echoes born of footstep fall
I found the crown of worth.
It hurts, this old and aching wound,
it calls with sorrow's voice;
as sailor on far sand marooned,
my heart with loneliness is runed
against my will and choice.
The Conversion of St. Damaris
The city is full of unknown gods,
unknown thoughts strange and odd,
unknown paths to unknown ends,
philosophers groping like blinded men
after brilliant light too bright to see,
like caged birds dreaming of flying free.
In busy forums are the arguing men;
which of them is to truth a friend?
Hetairai chat of modish fads
and strange experiences they have had
as truths and beauties are sold at fairs--
the subtle merchants sell subtle wares!
This city is full of unknown gods;
its thought alludes to more than thought.
But now the unknowing season ends
and revelation, bright, begins,
and you, O holy woman wise,
did not the given word despise,
but, given faith, like heifer led,
believed that Christ rose from the dead,
with faith like Tamar's reached your hand
to grasp the truth most sought by man,
and, like a halo on your brow,
wear godly penance like a crown.