An Original Poem

Having thought about it, I have decided occasionally to post my own original poems here.  Comments are welcome–just be honest, and if you re-post or quote, give due credit.  This was written about twenty-five years ago or so during a more or less Buddhist/Hindu phase of my life.

Metempsychosis

They say that ever when a life is spent

The spirit lingers for a moment while

Reviewing all the deeds of life just past:

The good, the bad, the undone and the done,

The joys, the woes.  This reverie complete

The soul ascends, more swift than beams of light

Surpassing all the planets and the stars

Until it comes into the Atman’s realm

Awaiting incarnation once again.

But ere the soul return to take anew

Its cloak of flesh, again to trod the earth,

It tastes the realization of True Self

Dissolving into Brahman infinite.

Now from this vantage point omniscient

The soul, once human, now divine surveys

The trackless starry sweep of cosmos and

The formless, nameless That from whence it sprang;

The myriad myriad creatures manifest

Who sing their lives with vast cacophony

Of voice and note, who come and live and die;

And also the supernal quietude

From which is born this cosmic symphony.

The self in Self now casts its gaze divine

Across the countless eons from the first

Irruption of the Four-Fold Binding Force

And condensation into “is” of “not”

To that last passage of the speeding stars

Ere crushed to dust by Shiva’s dancing foot

The oscillation to begin anew.

It sees all pathways of the past that led

Inevitably to its current state

Of cursedness or of beatitude;

And then with perfect piercing clarity

It sees all future possibilities:

All lives that might be lived and from each choice

The ramifying branches good and ill

Impatient errors waiting to be made

And mighty deeds of truth that but await

The single will of choice to make them be.

But then the soul in mounting fear recoils

Filled over-full with vision past its ken

And shackled yet too close to finite life

And still unready to make last return

To Being’s source and to repose of bliss.

Thus stunned, it wanders towards the lower sphere

Telestial, remembrance having lost

Of all it comprehended in a flash

And thus bereft of judgement makes rash choice

And springs once more into a mortal womb

In zygote newly formed to take its seat,

Of life to come unknowing, heedless of

The long grim road before it as it strives

To learn again the hard-earned wisdom once

Its due but now forgotten.  Errors once

Made and then avoided now will be

Made once again a hundred thousand times,

And sorrows more than all the grains of sand

That fringe the ocean; rarer than the rarest pearls

The scanty joys, well-hidden, dearly bought.

So all experience fails us, and once again

We plunge headlong into the world of pain.

Part of the series Reincarnation

Posted on 18/08/2012, in poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Harry, this is Joseph.
    I especially like the first 4 lines and best of all the closing two lines.
    It is an enjoyable and thoughtful poem.
    My subjective but constructive thoughts ? In no particular order :

    It could be more concise. Sometimes less is more.
    The concept of metempsychosis allows for many possibilities and perspectives, of which I would say this poem explores one.

    The title therefore is rather general. Not that it is wrong in any way, but I think the poem might be served with a more indicative of or pertinent to the particular perspective of experience described in the poem.

    Off the topic of this poem, now, have you considered other perspectives of metempsychosis ? Interestingly, reading the perspective described in this poem prompts me to consider other possibilities too.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Joseph! I wrote this about twenty-five or so years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, and it shows. This was originally supposed to be one part of a long cycle of poems, each of which would deal with a different worldview, philosophy or religion (twenty-something grandiosity!), but that never happened. Thus, it definitely does suffer from being a bit longer than it needs to be. I’d also been reading Milton about that time, which shows, and that didn’t help in that area. When I posted this here a year or so ago I thought about editing it, but decided just to post it as is, as a sort of snapshot of where I was then, for good and ill.

      As to different views of metempsychosis/reincarnation, I ended up doing a series about topic here, and oddly it’s turned out to be probably my most-viewed series. I’m somewhat agnostic about the concept for various reasons, but I explain in more detail in the posts on the topic.

  1. Pingback: Reincarnation: Index « The Chequer-board of Nights and Days

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