Monday, December 13, 2010

Swami Vivekananda : poems | mega collection i am legend

A Benediction 
Reprinted from Vivekananda’s Complete Works (6: 178), this poem was written to Sister Nivedita on September 22, 1900, at Perros-Guirec in Brittany. Swamiji wanted this fiery Irish disciple of his to work out her own way without depending on him. He blessed her through this poem, condensing in it all the hopes, aspirations, and good wishes of the teacher for his disciple.
The mother's heart, the hero's will,
The sweetness of the southern breeze,
The sacred charm and strength that dwell
On Aryan altars, flaming, free;
All these be yours, and many more
No ancient soul could dream before--
Be thou to India's future son
The mistress, servant, friend in one.

A Hymn to Shiva 
This is a translation of Swami Vivekananda’s Sanskrit hymn to Shiva, reproduced from his Complete Works 4: 501-04.
Salutation to Shiva! whose glory
Is immeasurable, who resembles sky
In clearness, to whom are attributed
The phenomena of all creation,
The preservation and dissolution
Of the universe! May the devotion,
The burning devotion of this my life
Attach itself to Him, to Shiva, who,
While being Lord of all, transcends Himself.
In whom Lordship is ever established,
Who causes annihilation of delusion,
Whose most surpassing love, made manifest,
Has crowned Him with a name above all names,
The name of "Mahadeva", the Great God!
Whose warm embrace, of Love personified,
Displays, within the heart, that all power
Is but a semblance and a passing show.
In which the tempest of the whole past blows,
Past Samskaras, stirring the energies
With violence, like water lashed to waves;
In which the dual consciousness of "I" and "Thou"
Plays on: I salute that mind unstable,
Centered in Shiva, the abode of calm!
Where the ideas of parent and produced,
Purified thoughts and endless varied forms,
Merge in the Real one; where the existence ends
Of such conceptions as "within", "without"--
The wind of modification being stilled--
That Hara I worship, the suppression
Of movements of the mind. Shiva I hail!
From whom all gloom and darkness have dispersed;
That radiant Light, white, beautiful
As bloom of lotus white is beautiful;
Whose laughter loud sheds knowledge luminous;
Who, by undivided meditation,
Is realized in the self-controlled heart:
May that Lordly Swan of the limpid lake
Of my mind, guard me, prostrate before Him!
Him, the Master-remover of evil,
Who wipes the dark stain of this Iron Age;
Whom Daksha's Daughter gave Her coveted hand;
Who, like the charming water-lily white,
Is beautiful; who is ready ever
To part with life for others' good, whose gaze
Is on the humble fixed; whose neck is blue
With the poison swallowed:
Him, we salute!

A Hymn to Sri Ramakrishna 
This is a translation of Swami Vivekananda’s Bengali hymn to Sri Ramakrishna, reproduced from his Complete Works 4: 504-06. This hymn is sung in all the centers of the Ramakrishna Order every evening to the accompaniment of arati in the shrine.
We salute Thee, Lord! Adored of the world,
Samsara's bondage breaker, taintless Thou,
Embodiment of blessed qualities,
Thou transcendest all Gunas; human form
Thus bearest. Thee we salute and adore!
Refuge of mind and speech, Thou art beyond
The reach of either. Radiance art Thou
In all radiance that is. The heart's cave
Is by Thy visitance resplendent made.
Verily Thou art that which dispelleth
The densest darkness of Tamas in all.
Lo! In variety of melody
Forth-breaking in fine harmony most sweet,
Hymns of Thy devotees, accompanied
By mridanga playing with music's grace,
Fill the air, in evening worship to Thee.
One glancing vision at Thine eyes divine
Cleared by the collyrium of jnana
Defies deIusion. O thou blotter-out
Of all the taints of sin, Intelligence
Pure, unmingled is Thy form. Of the world
Thou art embellisher. Self-luminous
Art Thou. O Ocean of feeling sublime,
And of Love Divine, O God-maddened One,
Devotees win Thy blessed feet and cross
Safely the swelling sea of samsara.
O Lord of the world, through Thy yoga power
Thou shinest as the Incarnation clear
Of this our time. O thou of strict restraint,
Only through Thine unstinted grace we see
The mind in samadhi completely merged;
Mercy Incarnate! austere are Thy deeds.
Thou dealest to the evil of misery
Destruction. Kali's binding cords
Are cut by Thee asunder. Thine own life
Thou gavest freely, O sweet Sacrifice,
O best of men! O Savior of the world!
Devoid wert Thou of the idea of sex,
Thought of possession charmed Thee not. To Thee
Obnoxious was all pleasure. Give to us,
O greatest among tyagis, love intense
Unto Thy sacred feet; give, we implore!
Fearless art Thou, and past all gloom of doubt;
Thy mind is wrapt in its own firm resolve;
Thy lovers, whose devotion mounts above
The realm of reason, who renounce the pride
Of caste and parentage, of name and fame--
Their safe refuge art Thou alone, O Lord!
My one true treasure is Thy blessed feet,
Reaching which the whole universe itself
Seems like a puddle in the hollow made
By hoof of a passing cow.
O offering to Love! O Seer of equality
In all! O verily, in Thee the pain
And evil of this mortal world escapes,
And vanishes, O cherished One in Thee! 

A Song of Suradasa 
According to the chronicles of Sister Nivedita, Swami Vivekananda translated this song on his way to Kashmir on June 12, 1898. This song of Suaradasa played an important part in Swamiji's life. During his wandering days, Swamiji was in Jaipur and was invited by the Raja of Khetri to attend a nautch-girl's singing performance. As a monk, Swamiji at first refused to attend it. The girl began singing the following song and, when Swamji heard it, he went to the hall where she was singing. He later remarked: "That incident removed the scales from my eyes. Seeing that all are indeed the manifestations of the One, I could no longer condemn anybody."
O Lord, look not upon my evil qualities!
Thy name, O Lord, is Samesightedness.
Make of us both the same Brahman!
One drop of water is in the sacred Yamuna,
And another is foul in the ditch by the roadside,
But, when the fall into the Ganga, both alike become holy.
So Lord, look not upon my evil qualities,
Thy name, O Lord, is Samesightedness.
Make of us both the same Brahman!
One piece of iron is the image in the temple,
And another is the knife in the hand of the butcher,
But when they touch the philosopher’s stone, both alike turn to gold.
So Lord, look not upon my evil qualities,
Thy name, O Lord, is Samesightedness.
Make of us both the same Brahman!

A Song on Samadhi 
This is a translation of a Bengali song written by Swami Vivekananda. Reprinted here from his Complete Works 4: 431, the song gives an idea of the various stages of the mind leading to Samadhi.
Lo! The sun is not, nor the comely moon,
All light extinct; in the great void of space
Floats shadow-like the image-universe.
In the void of mind involute, there floats
The fleeting universe, rises and floats,
Sinks again, ceaseless, in the current "I".
Slowly, slowly, the shadow-multitude
Entered the primal womb, and flowed ceaseless,
The only current, the "I am", "I am".
Lo! 'Tis stopped, ev'n that current flows no more,
Void merged into void--beyond speech and mind
Whose heart understands, he verily does.

Angels Unawares 
Composed at Ganderbal in Kashmir, India, on September 1, 1898, and is reproduced here from Swami Vivekananda’s Complete Works 4: 385-87. The poem consists of three parts. Josephine MacLeod gave the originals of the first two parts to the Vedanta Society of Southern California in 1948.
One bending low with load of life --
That meant no joy, but suffering harsh and hard --
And wending on his way through dark and dismal paths
Without a flash of light from brain or heart
To give a moment's cheer, till the line
That marks out pain from pleasure, death from life,
And good from what is evil was well-nigh wiped from sight,
Saw, one blessed night, a faint but beautiful ray of light
Descend to him. He knew not what or wherefrom,
But called it God and worshipped.
Hope, an utter stranger, came to him and spread
Through all his parts, and life to him meant more
Than he could ever dream and covered all he knew,
Nay, peeped beyond his world. The Sages
Winked, and smiled, and called it "superstition".
But he did feel its power and peace
And gently answered back--
"O Blessed Superstition!"
One drunk with wine of wealth and power
And health to enjoy them both, whirled on
His maddening course, till the earth, he thought,
Was made for him, his pleasure-garden, and man,
The crawling worm, was made to find him sport,
Till the thousand lights of joy, with pleasure fed,
That flickered day and night before his eyes,
With constant change of colors, began to blur
His sight, and cloy his senses; till selfishness,
Like a horny growth, had spread all o'er his heart;
And pleasure meant to him no more than pain,
Bereft of feeling; and life in the sense,
So joyful, precious once, a rotting corpse between his arms,
Which he forsooth would shun, but more he tried, the more
It clung to him; and wished, with frenzied brain,
A thousand forms of death, but quailed before the charm,
Then sorrow came--and Wealth and Power went--
And made him kinship find with all the human race
In groans and tears, and though his friends would laugh,
His lips would speak in grateful accents--
"O Blessed Misery!"
One born with healthy frame--but not of will
That can resist emotions deep and strong,
Nor impulse throw, surcharged with potent strength--
And just the sort that pass as good and kind,
Beheld that he was safe, whilst others long
And vain did struggle 'gainst the surging waves.
Till, morbid grown, his mind could see, like flies
That seek the putrid part, but what was bad.
Then Fortune smiled on him, and his foot slipped.
That ope'd his eyes for e'er, and made him find
That stones and trees ne'er break the law,
But stones and trees remain; that man alone
Is blest with power to fight and conquer Fate,
Transcending bounds and laws.
From him his passive nature fell, and life appeared
As broad and new, and broader, newer grew,
Till light ahead began to break, and glimpse of That
Where Peace Eternal dwells--yet one can only reach
By wading through the sea of struggles--courage-giving, came.
Then looking back on all that made him kin
To stocks and stones, and on to what the world
Had shunned him for, his fall, he blessed the fall,
And with a joyful heart, declared it--
"Blessed Sin!"

Hold on Yet a While, Brave Heart 
Swami Vivekananda wrote this poem to the Maharaja of Khetri, which is in Rajasthan (India). Reprinted here from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 4:389-90.
If the sun by the cloud is hidden a bit,
If the welkin shows but gloom,
Still hold on yet a while, brave heart,
   The victory is sure to come.
No winter was but summer came behind,
Each hollow crests the wave,
They push each other in light and shade;
   Be steady then and brave.
The duties of life are sore indeed,
And its pleasures fleeting, vain,
The goal so shadowy seems and dim,
Yet plod on through the dark, brave heart,
   With all thy might and main.
Not a work will be lost, no struggle vain,
Though hopes be blighted, powers gone;
Of thy loins shall come the heirs to all,
Then hold on yet a while, brave soul,
   No good is e'er undone.
Though the good and the wise in life are few,
Yet theirs are the reins to lead,
The masses know but late the worth;
   Heed none and gently guide.
With thee are those who see afar,
With thee is the Lord of might,
All blessings pour on thee, great soul,
   To thee may all come right!

In Search of God 
This poem of Swami Vivekananda (reprinted from his Complete Works 7: 450-2) forms a part of a letter he wrote From Salem, Massachusetts in USA, to Prof. John Henry Wright on September 4, 1893. In the letter, Vivekananda conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to the professor for giving him a letter of introduction to the president of the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, and prefaced the poem with the remark: "Here are a few lines written as an attempt at poetry. Hoping your love will pardon this infliction."
O'er hill and dale and mountain range,
In temple, church, and mosque,
In Vedas, Bible, Al Koran
I had searched for Thee in vain.
Like a child in the wildest forest lost
I have cried and cried alone,
"Where art Thou gone, my God, my love?"
The echo answered, "gone."
And days and nights and years then passed--
A fire was in the brain;
I knew not when day changed in night,
The heart seemed rent in twain.
I laid me down on Ganga's shore,
Exposed to sun and rain;
With burning tears I laid the dust
And wailed with waters' roar.
I called on all the holy names
Of every clime and creed,
"Show me the way, in mercy, ye
Great ones who have reached the goal".
Years then passed in bitter cry,
Each moment seemed an age,
Till one day midst my cries and groans
Some one seemed calling me.
A gentle soft and soothing voice
That said "my son", "my son",
That seemed to thrill in unison
With all the chords of my soul.
I stood on my feet and tried to find
The place the voice came from;
I searched and searched and turned to see
Round me, before, behind.
Again, again it seemed to speak--
The voice divine to me.
In rapture all my soul was hushed,
Entranced, enthralled in bliss.
A flash illumined all my soul;
The heart of my heart opened wide.
O joy, O bliss, what do I find!
My love, my love, you are here,
And you are here, my love, my all!
And I was searching thee!
From all eternity you were there
Enthroned in majesty!
From that day forth, where'er I roam,
I feel Him standing by
O'er hill and dale, high mount and vale,
Far far away and high.
The moon's soft light, the stars so bright,
The glorious orb of day,
He shines in them; His beauty--might--
Reflected lights are they.
The majestic morn, the melting eve,
The boundless billowy sea,
In nature's beauty, songs of birds,
I see through them--it is He.
When dire calamity seizes me,
The heart seems weak and faint,
All nature seems to crush me down,
With laws that never bend.
Meseems I hear Thee whispering sweet
My love, "I am near", "I am near".
My heart gets strong. With Thee, my love,
A thousand deaths no fear.
Thou speakest in the mother's lay
That shuts the baby's eye;
When innocent children laugh and play
I see Thee standing by.
When holy friendship shakes the hand,
He stands between them too;
He pours the nectar in mother's kiss
And the baby's sweet "mama".
Thou wert my God with prophets old;
All creeds do come from Thee;
The Vedas, Bible, and Koran bold
Sing Thee in harmony.
"Thou art", "Thou art" the Soul of souls
In the rushing stream of life.
"Om tat sat Om." Thou art my God.
My love, I am thine, I am thine.

Kali the Mother 
Reprinted from Vivekananda’s Complete Works (4: 384), this poem was composed by him in the year 1898. Vivekananda was on a pilgrimage to the temple of the Divine Mother “Ksheer Bhavani” in Kashmir. He was in such an exalted spiritual state that it seemed as if his physical frame could not bear it for long. Sister Nivedita, who was among those who accompanied him on that pilgrimage wrote: “His brain was teeming with thoughts, he said one day, and his fingers would not rest till those thoughts were written down. It was that same evening that he came back to our house-boat from some expedition, and found waiting for us, where he had called and left them, his manuscript lines on Kali the Mother. Writing in a fever of inspiration, he had fallen on the floor, when he had finished—as we learnt afterwards—exhausted with his own intensity.”
The stars are blotted out,
  The clouds are covering clouds,
It is darkness vibrant, sonant.
  In the roaring, whirling wind
Are the souls of a million lunatics
  Just loose from the prison-house,
Wrenching trees by the roots,
  Sweeping all from the path.
The sea has joined the fray,
  And swirls up mountain-waves,
To reach the pitchy sky.
  The flash of lurid light
Reveals on every side
  A thousand, thousand shades
Of Death begrimed and black--
  Scattering plagues and sorrows,
Dancing mad with joy,
  Come, Mother, come!
For Terror is Thy name,
  Death is in Thy breath,
And every shaking step
  Destroys a world for e'er.
Thou "Time", the All-Destroyer!
  Come, O Mother, come!
Who dares misery love,
  And hug the form of Death,
Dance in Destruction's dance,
  To him the Mother comes.

This poem forms a part of a letter that Swami Vivekananda wrote to Josephine MacLeod from Belur Math on December 26, 1900.
I look behind and after
   And find that all is right,
In my deepest sorrows
   There is a soul of light.

Many Happy Returns 
Written on September 22, 1900, to Alberta Sturges for her twenty-third birthday. It was sent to her to Paris from Perros-Guirec in Brittany. The Poem “A Benediction” was also presented to Sister Nivedita on the same date. It is also significant that the first few lines of both the poems are identical. After presenting the poem to Alberta, Swamiji wrote below: “This little poem is for your birthday. It is not good, but it has all my love. I am sure, therefore, you will like it.” The poem is reproduced from CW 7:526.
The mother's heart, the hero's will,
The softest flower's sweetest feel;
The charm and force that ever sway
The altar fire's flaming play;
The strength that leads, in love obeys;
Far-reaching dreams, and patient ways,
Eternal faith in Self, in all
The sight Divine in great in small;
All these, and more than I could see
Today may "Mother" grant to thee.

Swami Vivekananda wrote this on February 15, 1895, from New York, to Mary Hale of Chicago. This poem is the second part of “An Interesting Correspondence” (Complete Works, 8: 162-67). Not only Mary Hale but also many others misunderstood Vedanta as it was new to them. In this poem, Swamiji corrects Mary by pointing out that Vedanta is not a pantheistic creed.
In days of yore,
On Ganga's shore preaching,
A hoary priest was teaching--
How Gods they come
As Sita Ram,
And gentle Sita pining, weeping.
The sermons end,
They homeward wend their way--
The hearers musing, thinking.
When from the crowd
A voice aloud
This question asked beseeching, seeking--
"Sir, tell me, pray,
Who were but they
These Sita Ram you were teaching, speaking!"
So Mary Hale,
Allow me tell,
You mar my doctrines wronging, baulking.
I never taught
Such queer thought
That all was God--unmeaning talking!
But this I say,
Remember pray,
That God is true, all else is nothing.
This world's a dream
Though true it seem,
And only truth is He the living!
The real me is none but He,
And never, never matter changing!

My Play Is Done 
Swami Vivekananda composed this poem (reprinted from his Complete Works 6: 175-77) in New York on March 16, 1895.
Ever rising, ever falling with the waves of time,
   still rolling on I go
From fleeting scene to scene ephemeral,
   with life's currents' ebb and flow.
Oh! I am sick of this unending force;
   these shows they please no more.
This ever running, never reaching,
   nor e'en a distant glimpse of shore!
From life to life I'm waiting at the gates,
   alas, they open not.
Dim are my eyes with vain attempt
   to catch one ray long sought.
On little life's high, narrow bridge
   I stand nd see below
The struggling, crying, laughing throng.
   For what? No one can know.
In front yon gates stand frowning dark,
   and say: "No farther way,
This is the limit; tempt not Fate,
   bear it as best you may;
Go, mix with them and rink this cup
   and be as mad as they.
Who dares to know but comes to grief;
   stop then, and with them stay."
Alas for me, I cannot rest.
   This floating bubble, earth--
Its hollow form, its hollow name,
   its hollow death and birth--
For me is nothing. How I long
   to get beyond the crust
Of name and form! Ah! ope the gates;
   to me they open must.
Open he ates of light, O Mother, to me Thy tired son.
I long, oh, long to return home!
   Mother, my play is done.
You sent me out in the dark to play,
   and wore a frightful mask;
Then hope departed, terror came,
   and play became a task.
Tossed to and fro, from wave to wave
   in this seething, surging sea
Of passions strong and sorrows deep,
   grief is, and joy to be,
Where life is living death, alas! and death--
   who knows but 'tis
Another start, another round of this old heel
   of grief and bliss?
Where children dream bright, golden dreams,
   too soon to find them dust,
And aye look back to hope long lost
   and life a mass of rust!
Too late, the knowledge age doth gain;
   scarce from the wheel we're gone
When fresh, young lives put their strength
   to the wheel, which thus goes on
From day to day and year to year.
   'Tis but delusion's toy,
False hope its motor; desire, nave;
   its spokes are grief and joy.
I go adrift and know not whither.
   Save me from this fire!
Rescue me, merciful Mother, from floating with desire!
Turn not to me Thy awful face,
   'tis more than I can bear.
Be merciful and kind to me,
   to chide my faults forbear.
Take me, O Mother, to those shores
   where strifes for ever cease;
Beyond all sorrows, beyond tears,
   beyond e'en earthly bliss;
Whose glory neither sun, nor moon,
   nor stars that twinkle bright,
Nor flash of lightning can express.
   They but reflect its light.
Let never more delusive dreams
   veil off Thy face from me.
My play is done, O Mother,
   break my chains and make me free!

No One to Blame 
This poem of Swami Vivekananda, extracted here from his Complete Works 8: 175-76, was presented to Swami Vijayananda of the Ramakrishna Order’s branch in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by a devotee whose desire to remain anonymous has resulted in the antecedents of the poem remaining unknown. The place and the date (New York, May 16, 1895) give us the only clue to fit in the bit of thought to that period of Swamiji’s life, when his individual worries and miseries were over, and persecutions from others were yielding place to high appreciation of his message and personality. But the memories of the joy of the free life of a wandering monk were haunting him still in his leisure hours. The last line is colophonic: it is possible that the poem was sent to a friend as a greeting on the birth anniversary of Buddha.
The sun goes down, its crimson rays
   Light up the dying day;
A startled glance I throw behind
   And count my triumph shame;
     No one but me to blame.
Each day my life I make or mar,
   Each deed begets its kind,
Good good, bad bad, the tide once set
   No one can stop or stem;
     No one but me to blame.
I am my own embodied past;
   Therein the plan was made;
The will, the thought, to that conform,
   To that the outer frame;
     No one but me to blame.
Love comes reflected back as love,
  Hate breeds more fierce hate,
They mete their measures, lay on me
   Through life and death their claim;
     No one but me to blame.
I cast off fear and vain remorse,
   I feel my Karma's sway
I face the ghosts my deeds have raised--
   Joy, sorrow, censure, fame;
     No one but me to blame.
Good, bad, love, hate, and pleasure, pain
 Forever linked go,
I dream of pleasure without pain,
 It never, never came;
     No one but me to blame.
I give up hate, I give up love,
   My thirst for life is gone;
Eternal death is what I want,
   Nirvanam goes life's flame;
     No one is left to blame.
One only man, one only God, one ever perfect soul,
One only sage who ever scorned the dark and dubious ways,
One only man who dared think and dared show the goal--
That death is curse, and so is life, and best when stops to be.
Om Nama Bhagavate Sambuddhaya
Om, I salute the Lord, the awakened. 

One More Circle 
Swami Vivekananda wrote the first draft of this poem on Ridgely Manor stationery in the year 1899, apparently for his hosts, who were enjoying happiness and renewed youth in their life together. According to Marie Louise Burke, Swamiji was in an ecstatic mood during that period, alternating between planes of Jnana and Bhakti. The present version is slightly different from Swamiji's first draft, which he felt was somewhat unsatisfactory.
One circle more the spiral path of life ascends,
  And Time’s restless shuttle—running back and fro
Through maze of warp and woof of shining
  Threads of life—spins out a stronger piece.
Hand in hand they stand—and try
  To fathom depths whence springs eternal love,
Each in other’s eyes.
And find no power holds o’er that age
  But brings the youth anew to them,
And time—the good, the pure, the true.

Composed at Ridgely Manor on September 21, 1899, Swami Vivekananda wrote this poem on the day Sister Nivedita decided to wear the nun’s garb and handed it to her on her return from a drive in the evening. The poem is reproduced from CW 4:395-96.
Behold, it comes in might,
The power that is not power,
The light that is in darkness,
The shade in dazzling light.
It is joy that never spoke,
And grief unfelt, profound,
Immortal life unlived,
Eternal death unmourned.
It is not joy nor sorrow,
But that which is between,
It is not night nor morrow,
But that which joins them in.
It is sweet rest in music;
And pause in sacred art;
The silence between speaking;
Between two fits of passion--
lt is the calm of heart.
It is beauty never seen,
And love that stands alone,
It is song that lives un-sung,
And knowledge never known.
It is death between two lives,
And lull between two storms,
The void whence rose creation,
And that where it returns.
To it the tear-drop goes,
To spread the smiling form
It is the Goal of Life,
And Peace--its only home!

Requiescat in Pace 
Composed in memoriam to J. J. Goodwin in August 1898. A devoted disciple of Swami Vivekananda and an expert stenographer, Goodwin had taken notes of most of the lectures that were included in the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. This poem is reproduced from CW 4:389.
Speed forth, O Soul! upon thy star-strewn path;
Speed, blissful one! where thought is ever free,
Where time and space no longer mist the view,
Eternal peace and blessings be with thee!
Thy service true, complete thy sacrifice,
Thy home the heart of love transcendent find;
Remembrance sweet, that kills all space and time,
Like altar roses fill thy place behind!
Thy bonds are broke, thy quest in bliss is found,
And one with That which comes as Death and Life;
Thou helpful one! unselfish e'er on earth,
Ahead! still help with love this world of strife!

Shiva in Ecstasy 
This is a translation of a Bengali song on Shiva composed by Swami Vivekananda at the Baranagore Math in 1887 on the occasion of the Shivaratri. Another translation of the same song appears in Swami Vivekananda’s Complete Works, 8: 171
There Shiva dances, striking both His cheeks;
  And they resound, ba-ba-bom!
Dimi-dimi-dimi! sounds His tabor;
  A garland of skulls from his neck is hanging.
In His matted locks the Ganga roars;
  Fire shoots from His mighty trident.
Round His waist a serpent glitters;
  And on his brow the moon is shining!

The Cup 
The place and date of composition of this poem by Swami Vivekananda (CW 6: 177) are as yet unknown. Some have found in this poem an echo of the scene of the Last Supper (Matthew 26: 27-28)
This is your cup--the cup assigned
to you from the beginning.
Nay, My child, I know how much
of that dark drink is your own brew
Of fault and passion, ages long ago,
In the deep years of yesterday, I know.
This is your road--a painful road and drear.
I made the stones that never give you rest.
I set your friend in pleasant ways and clear,
And he shall come like you, unto My breast.
But you, My child, must travel here.
This is your task. It has no joy nor grace,
But it is not meant for any other hand,
And in My universe hath measured place,
Take it. I do not bid you understand.
I bid you close your eyes to see My face.

The Dance of Shiva 
This is a translation of a Bengali song on Shiva composed by Swami Vivekananda and can be found in his Complete Works, 8: 171.
Lo, the Great God is dancing
--Shiva the all-destroyer and the Lord of creation,
The Master of Yoga and the wielder of Pinaka.
His flaming locks have filled the sky,
Seven worlds play the rhythm
As the trembling earth sways almost to dissolution.
Lo, the Great God Shiva is dancing.

The Hymn of Creation 
This is a translation of Swami Vivekananda (reprinted from his Complete Works 4: 497) from the Nasadiya Sukta of the Rig-Veda (10.129). In his lectures he often referred to the poetic beauty of this Vedic hymn
One Mass, devoid of form, name, and color,
Timeless, devoid of time past and future,
Spaceless, voiceless, boundless, devoid of all--
Where rests hushed even speech of negation.
From thence, down floweth the river causal,
Wearing the form of desire radiant,
Its heaving waters angrily roaring
The constant roar, "I am", "I am."
In that ocean of desire limitless,
Appear shining waves, countless, infinite.
Oh, of what power manifold they are,
Of what forms myriad, of what repose,
Of what movements varied, who can reckon?
Millions of moons, millions of suns,
Taking their birth in that very ocean,
Rushing headlong with din tumultuous,
Overspread the whole firmament, drowning
The points of heaven in light effulgent.
In it arise and reside what beings,
Quick with life, dull, and lifeless--unnumbered,
And pleasure and pain, disease, birth, and death!
Verily, the Sun is He, His the ray,
Nay, the Sun is He, and He is the ray. 

The Hymn of Creation 
This is a translation of a Bengali poem composed by Swami Vivekananda. The poem reflects the ideas concerning creation contained in the Upanishads, and is reproduced here from the Complete Works, 4: 497.
One Mass, devoid of form, name, and color,
Timeless, devoid of time past and future,
Spaceless, voiceless, boundless, devoid of all--
Where rests hushed even speech of negation.
From thence, down floweth the river causal,
Wearing the form of desire radiant,
Its heaving waters angrily roaring
The constant roar, "I am," "I am."
In that ocean of desire limitless,
Appear shining waves, countless, infinite,
Oh, of what power manifold they are,
Of what forms myriad, of what repose,
Of what movements varied, who can reckon?
Millions of moons, millions of suns,
Taking their birth in that very ocean,
Rushing headlong with din tumultuous,
Overspread the whole firmament, drowning
The points of heaven in light effulgent.
In it arise and reside what beings,
Quick with life, dull, and lifeless--unnumbered,
And pleasure and pain, disease, birth, and death!
Verily, the Sun is He, His the ray,
Nay, the Sun is He, and He is the ray.

The Hymn of Sweetness 
According to the chronicles of Sister Nivedita, Swami Vivekananda translated this hymn while on his way to Kashmir on June 12, 1898. The hymn occurs in the Rig-Veda 1.90.6–9 and also in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 6.3.6. About this hymn, Nivedita writes: "It was indeed an afternoon of translations, and he gave us fragments of the great benediction after mourning, which is one of the most beautiful of the Hindu sacraments."
The blissful winds are sweet to us.
The seas are showering bliss on us.
May the corn in our fields bring bliss to us.
May the plants and herbs bring bliss to us.
May the cattle give us bliss.
O Father in Heaven, be Thou blissful unto us!
The very dust of the earth is full of bliss.
It is all bliss—all bliss—all bliss.

The Living God 
This is from a letter written on July 9, 1897, from Almore in India by Swami Vivekananda to an American friend. It probably was not in the form of a poem but the poetic sentiments and tenor of the passage inspired its inclusion in the compilation of Swamiji’s poems (“In Search of God and Other Poems”). The passage is adapted from the Complete Works, 5:137. The sentiments expressed here reflect Swamiji’s trend of thought during this period, which is expressed in a letter written to Mary Hale on the same date: “May I be born again and again, and suffer thousands of miseries so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum total of all souls—and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species, is the special object of my worship.”
He who is in you and outside you,
Who works through all hands,
Who walks on all feet,
Whose body are all ye,
Him worship, and break all other idols!
He who is at once the high and low,
The sinner and the saint,
Both God and worm,
Him worship—visible, knowable, real, omnipresent,
Break all other idols!
In whom is neither past life,
Nor future birth nor death,
In whom we always have been
And always shall be one,
Him worship. Break all other idols!
Ye fools! who neglect the living God,
And His infinite reflections with which the world is full.
While ye run after imaginary shadows,
That lead alone to fights and quarrels,
Him worship, the only visible!
Break all other idols!

The Rudra Prayer 
The Rudra prayer is taken from the Yajur-Veda. Swami Vivekananda translated this hymn while on his way to Kashmir on June 12, 1898. About the translation of the Rudra-prayer, Sister Nivedita writes in her Notes of Some Wanderings with Swami Vivekananda: On Sunday afternoon, we rested near the plains, in what we took to be an out-of-the-way hotel, above a lake and fall, and there he translated for us the Rudra-prayer. He hesitated a long time over the fourth line, thinking of rendering it, "Embrace us in the heart of our heart." But at last he put his perplexity to us saying shyly, "The real meaning is: Reach us through and through our Self."
From the unreal, lead us to the Real.
From darkness lead us unto Light.
From death lead us to Immortality.
Reach us through and through our Self.
And evermore protect us from ignorance--
O Rudra--by Thy sweet compassionate Face.

The Song of the Free 
Swami Vivekananda wrote this on February 15, 1895, from New York, to Mary Hale of Chicago. This poem is the first part of “An Interesting Correspondence” (Complete Works, 8: 162-67). The circumstances that led to this correspondence are interesting. Mary had advised him not to state his philosophical position too strongly and thus offend people who held different views. But Swami Vivekananda was uncompromising. He stuck to his position and his response in his letter of February 1, 1895, was full of the fearless Sannyasin. This hurt Mary and, to assuage her feelings, Swamiji wrote to her in verse, still asserting his position.
The wounded snake its hood unfurls,
The flame stirred up doth blaze,
The desert air resounds the calls
Of heart-struck lion's rage.
The cloud puts forth its deluge strength
When lightning cleaves its breast,
When the soul is stirred to its inmost depth
Great ones unfold their best.
Let eyes grow dim and heart grow faint,
And friendship fail and love betray,
Let Fate its hundred horrors send,
And clotted darkness block the way.
All nature wear one angry frown,
To crush you out--still know, my soul,
You are Divine. March on and on,
Nor right nor left but to the goal.
Nor angel I, nor man, nor brute,
Nor body, mind, nor he or she,
The books do stop in wonder mute
To tell my nature--I am He.
Before the sun, the moon, the earth,
Before the stars or comets free,
Before e'en time has had its birth,
I was, I am, and I will be.
The beauteous earth, the glorious sun,
The calm sweet moon, the spangled sky,
Causation's laws do make them run;
They live in bonds, in bonds they die.
And mind its mantle dreamy net
Cast o'er them all and holds them fast.
In warp and woof of thought are set,
Earth, hells, and heavens, or worst or best.
Know these are but the outer crust--
All space and time, all effect, cause.
I am beyond all sense, all thoughts,
The witness of the universe.
Not two or many, 'tis but one,
And thus in me all me's I have;
I cannot hate, I cannot shun
Myself from me, I can but love.
From dreams awake, from bonds be free,
Be not afraid. This mystery,
My shadow, cannot frighten me.
Know once for all that I am He.

Thou Blessed Dream 
Swami Vivekananda wrote this poem in Paris on August 17, 1900, and sent it to Sister Christine (Ms. Greenstidel of Detroit, USA)
If things go ill or well—
If joy rebounding spreads the face,
Or sea of sorrow swells—
It is a dream, a play.
A play—we each have part
Each one to weep or laugh as may;
Each one his dress to don—
Alternate shine or rain.
Thou dream, O blessed dream!
Spread far and near thy veil of haze,
Tone down the lines so sharp,
Make smooth what roughness seems.
No magic but in thee!
Thy touch makes desert bloom to life,
Harsh thunder, sweetest song,
Fell death, the sweet release.

Thy Love I Fear 
This is Swami Vivekananda’s translation of a Bengali song and it forms a part of a piece he wrote, titled "The Story of the Boy Gopala." Sri Ramakrishna used to like this song very much.
Thy knowledge, man! I value not,
   It is thy love I fear;
It is thy love that shakes My throne,
   Brings God to human tear.
For love, behold the Lord of all,
   The formless, ever free,
Is made to take the human form
   To play and live with thee.
What learning, they of Vrinda’s groves,
   The herdsmen, ever got?
What science, girls that milked the kine?
   They loved, and Me they bought.

To a Friend 
Translated from a Bengali poem written by Swami Vivekananda probably at Deoghar either in December 1898 or January 1899. It was first published in the Udbodhan. Swamiji’s life experience has been depicted in this poem.
Where darkness is interpreted as light,
Where misery passes for happiness,
Where disease is pretended to be health,
Where the new-born’s cry but shows 'tis alive;
Dost thou, O wise, expect happiness here?
Where war and competition ceaseless run,
Even the father turns against the son,
Where “self”, “self”--this always the only note,
Dost thou, O wise, seek for peace supreme here?
A glaring mixture of heaven and hell,
Who can fly from this Samsara of Maya?
Fastened in the neck with Karma's fetters,
Say, where can the slave escape for safety?
The paths of Yoga and of sense-enjoyment,
The life of the householder and Sannyas,
Devotion, worship, and earning riches,
Vows, Tyaga, and austerities severe,
I have seen through them all. What have I known?
--Have known there's not a jot of happiness,
Life is only a cup of Tantalus;
The nobler is your heart, know for certain,
The more must be your share of misery.
Thou large-hearted Lover unselfish, know,
There's no room in this sordid world for thee;
Can a marble figure e'er brook the blow
That an iron mass can afford to bear?
Couldst thou be as one inert and abject,
Honey-mouthed, but with poison in thy heart,
Destitute of truth and worshipping self,
Then thou wouldst have a place in this Samsar.
Pledging even life for gaining knowledge,
I have devoted half my days on earth;
For the sake of love, even as one insane,
I have often clutched at shadows lifeless;
For religion, many creeds have I sought,
Lived in mountain-caves, on cremation-grounds,
By the Ganga and other sacred streams,
And how many days have I passed on alms!
Friendless, clad in rags, with no possession,
Feeding from door to door on what chance would bring.
The frame broken under Tapasya's weight;
What riches, ask thou, have I earned in life?
Listen, friend, I will speak my heart to thee;
I have found in my life this truth supreme--
Buffeted by waves, in this whirl of life,
There's one ferry that takes across the sea.
Formulas of worship, control of breath,
Science, philosophy, systems varied,
Relinquishment, possession, and the life,
All these are but delusions of the mind--
Love, Love--that's the one thing, the sole treasure.
In Jiva and Brahman, in man and God,
In ghosts, and wraiths, and spirits, and so forth,
In Devas, beasts, birds, insects, and in worms,
This Prema dwells in the heart of them all.
Say, who else is the highest God of gods?
Say, who else moves all the universe?
The mother dies for her young, robber robs--
Both are but the impulse of the same Love!
Beyond the ken of human speech and mind,
It dwells in weal and woe; 'tis that which comes
As the all-powerful, all-destroyer
Kali, and as the kindliest mother.
Disease, bereavement, pinch of poverty,
Dharma, and its opposite Adharma,
Are but ITS worship in manifold modes;
Say, what does by himself a Jiva do?
Deluded is he who happiness seeks,
Lunatic he who misery wishes,
Insane he too who fondly longs for death,
Immortality--vain aspiration!
For, far, however far you may travel,
Mounted on the brilliant mental car,
'Tis the same ocean of the Samsar,
Happiness and misery whirling on.
Listen O Vihangam, bereft of wings,
'Tis not the way to make good your escape;
Time and again you get blows, and collapse,
Why then attempt what is impossible?
Let go your vain reliance on knowledge,
Let go your prayers, offerings, and strength,
For Love selfless is the only resource;--
Lo, the insects teach, embracing the flame!
The base insect's blind, by beauty charmed,
Thy soul is drunken with the wine of Love;
O thou Lover true, cast into the fire
All thy dross of self, thy mean selfishness.
Say--comes happiness e'er to a beggar?
What good being object of charity?
Give away, ne'er turn to ask in return,
Should there be the wealth treasured in thy heart.
Ay, born heir to the Infinite thou art,
Within the heart is the ocean of Love,
"Give", "Give away"--whoever asks return,
His ocean dwindles down to a mere drop.
From highest Brahman to the yonder worm,
And to the very minutest atom,
Everywhere is the same God, the All-Love;
Friend, offer mind, soul, body, at their feet.
These are His manifold forms before thee,
Rejecting them, where seekest thou for God?
Who loves all beings without distinction,
He indeed is worshipping best his God.

To an Early Violet 
Reprinted from Vivekananda’s Complete Works (8: 169-70), this poem was written by Swami Vivekananda to his disciple Sister Christine on January 6, 1896. Violets grow in the spring, but when the flower blooms in late winter, before the advent of spring, it has to fight the hostile cold weather for its survival. The poem was meant to give encouragement to the disciple to stand up to adverse circumstances.
What though thy bed be frozen earth,
Thy cloak the chilling blast;
What though no mate to cheer thy path,
Thy sky with gloom o'ercast;

What though if love itself doth fail,
Thy fragrance strewed in vain;
What though if bad o'er good prevail,
And vice o'er virtue reign:

Change not thy nature, gentle bloom,
Thou violet, sweet and pure,
But ever pour thy sweet perfume
Unasked, unstinted, sure!

To My Own Soul 
Composed at Ridgely Manor in upstate New York in November 1899 and it is reproduced from CW 8:170.
Hold yet a while, Strong Heart,
Not part a lifelong yoke
Though blighted looks the present, future gloom.
And age it seems since you and I began our
March up hill or down. Sailing smooth o'er
Seas that are so rare--
Thou nearer unto me, than oft-times I myself--
Proclaiming mental moves before they were!
Reflector true--Thy pulse so timed to mine,
Thou perfect note of thoughts, however fine--
Shall we now part, Recorder, say?
In thee is friendship, faith,
For thou didst warn when evil thoughts were brewing--
And though, alas, thy warning thrown away,
Went on the same as ever--good and true.

To Sri Krishna To Sri Krishna 
Swami Vivekananda composed this song in Hindi. The song depicts the sweet entreaties of a cowherd-girl of Vrindaban who is unable to go to the river, because she is transfixed by the melodies emerging from Krishna’s flute, as he stands near the river, reclining against a tree.
O Krishna, my friend, let me go to the water,
O let me go today.
Why play tricks with one who is already thy slave?
O friend, let me go today, let me go.
I have to fill my pitcher in the waters of the Yamuna.
I pray with folded hands, friend, let me go.

To the Awakened India 
Composed at Srinagar in Kashmir in June 1898, Swami Vivekananda wrote this poem for the Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India when the journal was transferred from Chennai to Almora in the Himalayas. Sister Nivedita writes: “The Swami had always had a special love for this paper, as the beautiful name he had given it indicated. … Day after day he would talk of the forthcoming first number, under the new editorship of Swami Swarupananda. And one afternoon he brought to us, as we sat together, a paper, on which he said he had ‘tried to write a letter, but it would come this way.’” Here is what he wrote and it is reproduced from CW 4:387-89.
Once more awake!
   For sleep it was, not death, to bring thee life
   Anew, and rest to lotus-eyes for visions
   Daring yet. The world in need awaits, O Truth!
   No death for thee!
Resume thy march,
   With gentle feet that would not break the
   Peaceful rest even of the roadside dust
   That lies so low. Yet strong and steady,
   Blissful, bold, and free. Awakener, ever
   Forward! Speak thy stirring words.
Thy home is gone,
   Where loving hearts had brought thee up and
   Watched with joy thy growth. But Fate is strong--
   This is the law--all things come back to the source
   They sprung, their strength to renew.
Then start afresh
  From the land of thy birth, where vast cloud-belted
  Snows do bless and put their strength in thee,
  For working wonders new. The heavenly
  River tune thy voice to her own immortal song;
  Deodar shades give thee eternal peace.
And all above,
  Himala's daughter Uma, gentle, pure,
  The Mother that resides in all as Power
  And Life, who works all works and
  Makes of One the world, whose mercy
  Opensthe gate to Truth and shows
  The One in All, give thee untiring
  Strength, which is Infinite Love.
They bless thee all,
  The seers great, whom age nor dime
  Can claim their own, the fathers of the
  Race, who felt the heart of Truth the same,
  And bravely taught to man ill-voiced or
  Well. Their servant, thou hast got
  The secret--'tis but One.
Then speak, O Love!
  Before thy gentle voice serene, behold how
  Visions melt and fold on fold of dreams
  Departs to void, till Truth and Truth alone
  In all its glory shines--
And tell the world--
  Awake, arise, and dream no more!
  This is the land of dreams, where Karma
  Weaves unthreaded garlands with our thoughts
  Of flowers sweet or noxious, and none
  Has root or stem, being born in naught, which
  The softest breath of Truth drives back to
   Primal nothingness. Be bold, and face
  The Truth! Be one with it! Let visions cease,
  Or, if you cannot, dream but truer dreams,
  Which are Eternal Love and Service Free.

To the Fourth of July 
Reprinted from Vivekananda's Complete Works (5: 439-40), this poem has an interesting story connected with it. On July 4, 1898, Swami Vivekananda was traveling in Kashmir with some of his Western disciples. He composed this poem as part of a "domestic conspiracy" for a surprise celebration of the American Declaration of Independence. The poem was read aloud at the time of breakfast and preserved by Sara Bull, who was among the disciples present on that occasion. It is significant to note that Swami Vivekananda gave up his body consciously on the same date exactly four years later.
Behold, the dark clouds melt away,
That gathered thick at night, and hung
So like a gloomy pall above the earth!
Before thy magic touch, the world
Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.
The flowers raise their star-like crowns--
Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.
The lakes are opening wide in love
Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes
To welcome thee, with all their depth.
All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!
A welcome new to thee, today,
O Sun! Today thou sheddest Liberty !
Bethink thee how the world did wait,
And search for thee, through time and clime.
Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee, self-banished,
Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,
Each step a struggle for their life or death;
Then came the day when work bore fruit,
And worship, love, and sacrifice,
Fulfilled, accepted, and complete.
Then thou, propitious, rose to shed
The light of Freedom on mankind.
Move on, O Lord, in thy resistless path!
Till thy high noon o'erspreads the world.
Till every land reflects thy light,
Till men and women, with uplifted head,
Behold their shackles broken, and
Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!

Who Knows How Mother Plays! 
Reprinted from Vivekananda’s Complete Works (5: 439), this poem was written by Swami Vivekananda in Southern California and sent to Sister Nivedita, who wrote him on January 13, 1900: “Your birthday poem reached me here last night.”
Perchance a prophet thou—
Who knows? Who dares touch
The depths where Mother hides
Her silent failless bolts!

Perchance the child had glimpse
Of shades, behind the scenes,
With eager eyes and strained,
Quivering forms--ready
To jump in front and be
Events, resistless, strong.
Who knows but Mother, how,
And where, and when, they come?

Perchance the shining sage
Saw more than he could tell;
Who knows, what soul, and when,
The Mother makes Her throne?

What law would freedom bind?
What merit guide Her will,
Whose freak is greatest order,
Whose will resistless law?

To child may glories ope
Which father never dreamt;
May thousandfold in daughter
Her powers Mother store.

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