His highest rectitude is but crookedness
His greatest wisdom is but foolishness
His sweetest eloquence is but stammering.
* * * * *
I am that which began;
Out of me the years roll;
Out of me God and man;
I am equal and whole;
God changes and man, and the form of I them bodily;
I am the soul.
Before ever land was,
Before ever the sea,
Or soft hair of the grass,
Or fair limbs of the tree,
Or the flesh-coloured fruit of my branches,
I was, and thy soul was in me.
First life on my sources
Just drifted and swam;
Out of me are the forces
That save it or damn;
Out of me man and woman, and wild beast and bird: before God was, I am.
Beside or above me
Naught is there to go;
Love or unlove me,
Unknow me or know,
I am that which unloves me and loves;
I am stricken and I am the blow,
I the mark that is missed
And the arrows that miss,
I the mouth that is kissed
And the breath in the kiss,
The search and the sought, and the seeker,
the soul and the body that is.
I am that thing which blesses,
My spirit elate;
That which caresses
With hands uncreate
My limbs unbegotten that measure
the length of the measure of fate.
But what thing dost thou now,
Looking God ward, to cry
“I am I, thou art thou,
I am low, thou art high”?
I am thou, whom thou seekest to find him,
find thou but thyself, thou art I.
I the grain and the furrow,
The plough-cloven clod
And the ploughshare drawn thorough;
The germ and the sod,
The deed and the doer, the seed and the sower,
the dust which is God.
Hast thou known how I fashioned thee;
Fire that impassioned thee,
Iron that bound,
Dim changes of water, what thing of
all these hast thou known of or found?
Can’st thou say in thine heart
Thou hast seen with thine eyes
With what cunning of art
Thou wast wrought in what wise,
By what force, of what stuff thou
Wast shapen, and shown on my breast to the skies?
Who hath given, who hath sold it thee
Knowledge of Me?
Has the wilderness told it thee?
Hast thou learnt of the sea?
Hast thou communed in spirit with night?
Have the winds taken counsel with thee?
Have I set such a star
To show light on thy brow
That thou sawest from afar
What I show to thee now?
Have ye spoken as brethren together,
the Sun and the mountains and thou?
What is here, dost thou know it?
What was, hast thou known?
Prophet nor poet Nor tripod nor throne
Nor spirit nor flesh can make answer,
but only thy mother alone.
Mother, not maker,
Born, and not made;
Though her children forsake her,
Allured or afraid,
Praying prayers to the God of their
fashion, she stirs not for all that have prayed.
A creed is a rod,
And a crown is of night;
But this thing is God,
To be man with thy might,
To grow straight in the strength
of thy spirit, and live out
thy life as the light.
I am in thee to save thee,
As my soul in thee saith;
Give thou as I gave thee,
Thy life-blood and breath,
Green leaves of thy labour, white flowers
of thy thot, and red fruit of thy death,
Be the ways of thy giving
As mine were to thee;
The free life of thy living
Be the gift of it free;
Not as servant to Lord, nor as
Master to slave, shall thou give thee to me,
O children of banishment,
Were the lights ye see vanish meant
Always to last,
Ye would know not the Sun overshining
the shadows and stars overpast.
I that saw where ye trod
The dim paths of the night
Set the shadow called God
In your skies to give light;
But the morning of manhood is risen,
and the shadowless soul is in sight.
The tree many rooted
That swells to the sky
With frondage red-fruited,
The life-tree am I;
In the buds of your lives is the sap
of my leaves: ye shall live and not die.
But the Gods of your fashion
That take and that give,
In their pity and passion
That scourge and forgive
They are worms that are bred in the
bark that falls off; they shall die and not live.
My own blood is what stanches
The wounds in my bark;
Stars caught in my branches
Make day of the dark,
And are worshipped as Suns
till the sunrise shall tread out
their fires as a spark.
Where dead ages hide under
The live roots of the tree,
In my darkness the thunder
Makes utterance of me;
In the clash of my boughs with each
other, ye hear the waves sound of the sea,
That noise is of Time,
As his feathers are spread
And his feet set to climb
Through the boughs overhead,
And my foliage rings round him and
rustles, and branches are bent with his tread.
The storm-winds of ages
Blow through me and cease,
The war-wind that rages
The spring-wind of peace,
Ere the breath of them roughen my tresses,
Or one of my blossoms increase.
All sounds of all changes,
All shadows and lights
On the world’s mountain ranges
And stream-riven heights,
Whose tongue is the wind’s tongue and
language of storm-clouds on
All forms of all faces,
All works of a I hands
In unsearchable places
Of time-stricken lands,
All death and all life, and all
reigns and all ruins, drop through
me as sands.
Though sore be my burden
And more than ye know,
And my growth have no guerdon
But only to grow,
Yet I fail not of growing for
lightnings above me or
Those too have their part in me,
As I too in these;
Such fire is at heart in me,
Such sap is this tree’s,
Which bath in it all sounds
and all secrets of infinite lands and of seas.
In the spring coloured hours
When my mind was as May’s
There broke forth of me flowers
By centuries of days,
Strong blossoms with perfumes of manhood
Shot out from my spirit as rays.
And the sound of them springing
And smell of their shoots
Were as warmth and sweet singing
And strength to my roots;
And the lives of my children made perfect
With freedom of soul were my fruits.
I bid you but be:
I have need not of prayer;
I have need of you free
As your mouths of mine air;
That my heart may be greater within me
beholding the fruit of me fair.
More fair than strange fruit is
Of faiths ye espouse;
In me only the loot is
That blooms in your boughs;
Behold now your God that ye made
You, to feed him with faith of your vows.
In the darkening and whitening
With day-spring and lightning
For lamp and for sword,
God thunders in heaven and his
angels are red with the wrath of the Lord.
O my sons, O too dutiful
Toward Gods not of me,
Was not I enough beautiful?
Was it hard to be free?
For behold I am with you, am in you
and of you; look forth now and see.
Lo, winged with world’s wonders,
With miracles shod,
With the fires of his thunders
For raiment and rod,
God trembles in heaven, and his
angels are white with the terror of God.
For his twilight is come on him,
His anguish is here;
And his spirits gaze dumb on him,
Grown gray from his fear;
And his hour taketh hold on him
Stricken, the last of his infinite year.
Thought made him and breaks him
Truth slays and forgives;
But to you, as time takes him,
This new thing it gives,
Even love, the beloved Republic,
that feeds upon Freedom and lives
For truth only is living,
Truth only is whole,
And the love of his giving
Man’s pole-star and poles
Man, pulse of my centre, and
fruit of my body, and seed of my soul.
One birth of my bosom;
One beam of mine eyes;
One topmost blossom
That scales the sky;
Man, equal and tine with me,
Man that is made of me, Man that is I
* * * * *
I am superior to none and inferior to none.
“A sacred kinship I won Id not forego
Binds me to all that breathes; through endless strife
The calm and deathless dignity of life
Unites each bleeding victim to its Joe.”
* * * * *
I am the child of earth and air and sea.
My lullaby by hoarse Silurian storms
Was chanted, and through, endless changing forms
Of tree and bird and beast unceasingly
The toiling ages wrought to fashion me.
That glorious Flower did twine and wind
Around me, showering fragrance kind,
That night of warm embrace is gone.
Long years of gods have since rolled on
But soft sweet scent of His presence dear,
Dear Love! is with me still, is here.
* * * * *
“Him the gods envy from their lower seats
Him the three worlds in ruins should not shake,
All life is lived for him, all deaths are dead,
Karma will no more make new houses.
Seeking nothing, he gains all.
Foregoing self, the universe grows I.
If any teach Nirvan is to cease
Say unto such they lie.”