Guest poem sent in by Mallika
(Poem #262) No Coward Soul is Mine
No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere: I see Heavens glories shine, And faith shines equal, arming me from fear. O God within my breast. Almighty, ever-present Deity! Life -- that in me has rest, As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee! Vain are the thousand creeds That move mens hearts: unutterably vain; Worthless as withered weeds, Or idlest froth amid the boundless main, To waken doubt in one Holding so fast by Thine infinity; So surely anchored on The steadfast Rock of immortality. With wide-embracing love Thy Spirit animates eternal years, Pervades and broods above, Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears. Though earth and man were gone, And suns and universes ceased to be, And Thou wert left alone, Every existence would exist in Thee. There is not room for Death, Nor atom that his might could render void: Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath, And what Thou art may never be destroyed.
Why do I like it? 1. this poem underlines the fact that faith is a very personal experience, unlike organised religion - "the thousand creeds". 2. The metaphysical cannot be dismissed - "Tho' Earth and Man were gone, .. " reminds me forcefully of Agatha Christie's Hound of Death. We have no hope of knowing the context in which this Terra exists. However, it is probably safe to say that "all things are possible in this best of all possible worlds" (who said that?) [Voltaire: "All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" - m.] and that there are in fact as many other worlds as are possible. 3. This always brings me to my most fantastic theory (not mine, actually, but most fantastic to me, because of the possibilities it holds out) that every time we reach a crossroads in our lives, no matter how minor, there are as many "instances" created as there are possible decisions, and these play themselves out, sometimes meeting and merging, sometimes diverging forever. Singlemindedness is to be recommended in this scenario, as the strength of each "instance" is directly proportional to the "what-iffing" it evokes. This is what causes some individuals to succeed while others spread themselves too thin. 4. What does that have to say about the copies of others that exist and act in our personal "instances"? Finally, that each of us has our very own reality, and no matter what the others actually do, we interpret those actions to suit our own needs. i.e. we are mostly living in a world peopled with figments of our own imagination. Here is a better critique: The God Within By Madeline Clark Every generation of humanity has its mystics. They are not to be described as a type, for each one is an original, individual, if not actually unique. But one factor they have in common, broadly speaking: they have glimpses behind the veil into the world of causes. They dwell nearer the heart of things where Truth abides. Jakob Boehme and William Blake come to mind, universally loved and revered. One of the most interesting and appealing of these rare souls was a young woman whose early death leaves her among the ever-young. A girl who grew up in her father's parsonage on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors: Emily Bronte, who wrote the still popular Wuthering Heights. The wide, wild, windswept moors, brooding in mystery, no better place to nurture such a soul. Emily has left us a precious volume of verse, stamped with her own peculiar quality, and the most famous of the poems is the one beginning No coward soul is mine, No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere This poem has been pronounced one of "the greatest in the language," and it is apparent that something came straight through to her in a moment of inspired insight. It was the last she ever wrote, and it could well be that already she was beginning to experience that clear vision into Realities that is said by old philosophers to come to those just passing through into "the world of light." Those familiar with certain ancient but always recognizable teachings that have come to us over the many ages will be electrified to find Emily's glorious lines echoing thoughts they have loved for so long. They are the perfect tribute to the Divine, which she invokes with O God within my breast, Almighty, ever-present Deity! Life -- that in me has rest, As I -- undying Life -- have power in Thee! The sacred presence of the Divine is within every sentient being, is coexistent with life itself, and is the wing-lifting energy through which we share in the universal pageant of experience. It is to her infinity, immortality, for later lines are With wide-embracing love Thy Spirit animates eternal years, Pervades and broods above, Changes, sustains, dissolves, Creates, and rears. Here she has touched upon the compassion that is the life-giving force guiding all evolution. It is interwoven with our destiny. Many will recognize this as a most important truth, for a coldly mechanistic universe would have no incentive to evolve, and would be, I feel, unthinkable. But compassion animates indeed, and raises the great concourse of beings ever closer to the Divine. That last line sets forth in few words the way that Nature works to bring about the universal transformation: "Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears," a perfect description of cyclic evolution, with the coming into being of worlds, their continuance for a period, then their dissolution, only to be re-created and built up once more. But through all change there is yet the Changeless: Though earth and man were gone, And suns and universes ceased to be, And Thou were left alone, Every existence would exist in Thee. We are left with the deep consciousness of everlastingness, the reassurance that the Divine is always with us -- is in fact our inmost. In this connection, to go back to 1846, the year in which the poem was written: who talked then of suns and universes in this sense? The universe, perhaps, but universes! Immediately the concept becomes stupendous; and here was a frail young woman with little knowledge of the world daring to conceive of Space itself and of the august hierarchies that people it. As she says, There is not room for Death, Nor atom that his might could render void: A highly scientific, and at the same time metaphysical pronouncement. Then to close: Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath, And what Thou art may never be destroyed. She has brought us to the very heart of all Being and left us with mighty confidence and a mighty trust. So this is one of the great poems because genius has caught a great truth and set it down in words of fire. It has the sure touch, no hint of the common search for the right word. There are books of philosophy in which all this is set forth, but a flash of the poetic insight can be the lightning that brings not only illumination but realization. (From Sunrise magazine, February 1976. Copyright © 1976 by Theosophical University Press) mallika