The Psychopomp Garden

Month: September, 2013

The Brewing of Soma

The Brewing Of Soma

The fagots blazed, the caldron’s smoke
Up through the green wood curled;
‘Bring honey from the hollow oak,
Bring milky sap,’ the brewers spoke,
In the childhood of the world.

And brewed they well or brewed they ill,
The priests thrust in their rods,
First tasted, and then drank their fill,
And shouted, with one voice and will,
‘Behold the drink of gods!’

They drank, and to! in heart and brain
A new, glad life began;
The gray of hair grew young again,
The sick man laughed away his pain,
The cripple leaped and ran.

‘Drink, mortals, what the gods have sent,
Forget your long annoy.’
So sang the priests. From tent to tent
The Soma’s sacred madness went,
A storm of drunken joy.

Then knew each rapt inebriate
A winged and glorious birth,
Soared upward, with strange joy elate,
Beat, with dazed head, Varuna’s gate,
And, sobered, sank to earth.

The land with Soma’s praises rang;
On Gihon’s banks of shade
Its hymns the dusky maidens sang;
In joy of life or mortal pang
All men to Soma prayed.

The morning twilight of the race
Sends down these matin psalms;
And still with wondering eyes we trace
The simple prayers to Soma’s grace,
That Vedic verse embalms.

As in that child-world’s early year,
Each after age has striven
By music, incense, vigils drear,
And trance, to bring the skies more near,
Or lift men up to heaven!

Some fever of the blood and brain,
Some self-exalting spell,
The scourger’s keen delight of pain,
The Dervish dance, the Orphic strain,
The wild-haired Bacchant’s yell,–

The desert’s hair-grown hermit sunk
The saner brute below;
The naked Santon, hashish-drunk,
The cloister madness of the monk,
The fakir’s torture-show!

And yet the past comes round again,
And new doth old fulfil;
In sensual transports wild as vain
We brew in many a Christian fane
The heathen Soma still!

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm! 

—John Greenleaf Whittier

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my flower…

I hide myself within my flower…

I HIDE myself within my flower,
  That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too—
And angels know the rest.
  
I hide myself within my flower,         
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.

—Emily Dickinson

she shaman

shaman

A Dream

A Dream

I had a dream–a strange, wild dream–
Said a dear voice at early light;
And even yet its shadows seem
To linger in my waking sight.

Earth, green with spring, and fresh with dew,
And bright with morn, before me stood;
And airs just wakened softly blew
On the young blossoms of the wood.

Birds sang within the sprouting shade,
Bees hummed amid the whispering grass,
And children prattled as they played
Beside the rivulet’s dimpling glass

Fast climbed the sun: the flowers were flown,
There played no children in the glen;
For some were gone, and some were grown
To blooming dames and bearded men.

‘Twas noon, ’twas summer: I beheld
Woods darkening in the flush of day,
And that bright rivulet spread and swelled,
A mighty stream, with creek and bay.

And here was love, and there was strife,
And mirthful shouts, and wrathful cries,
And strong men, struggling as for life,
With knotted limbs and angry eyes.

Now stooped the sun–the shades grew thin;
The rustling paths were piled with leaves;
And sunburnt groups were gathering in,
From the shorn field, its fruits and sheaves.

The river heaved with sullen sounds;
The chilly wind was sad with moans;
Black hearses passed, and burial-grounds
Grew thick with monumental stones.

Still waned the day; the wind that chased
The jagged clouds blew chillier yet;
The woods were stripped, the fields were waste,
The wintry sun was near its set.

And of the young, and strong, and fair,
A lonely remnant, gray and weak,
Lingered, and shivered to the air
Of that bleak shore and water bleak.

Ah! age is drear, and death is cold!
I turned to thee, for thou wert near,
And saw thee withered, bowed, and old,
And woke all faint with sudden fear.

‘Twas thus I heard the dreamer say,
And bade her clear her clouded brow;
‘For thou and I, since childhood’s day,
Have walked in such a dream till now.

‘Watch we in calmness, as they rise,
The changes of that rapid dream,
And note its lessons, till our eyes
Shall open in the morning beam.’ 

—William Cullen Bryant