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Richard Henry Stoddard
1825 - 1903


Once, when the days were ages,

And the old Earth was young,

The high Gods and the sages

From Nature's golden pages

Her open secrets wrung.

Each question'd each to know

Whence came the Heavens above, and whence the Earth below.

Indra, the endless giver

Of every gracious thing

The Gods to him deliver,

Whose bounty is the river

Of which they are the spring, ---

Indra, with anxious heart,

Ventures with Vivochunu where Brahma is apart.

"Brahma !     Supremest Being !

By whom the worlds are made, ----

Where we are blind, all-seeing, ---

Stable, where we are fleeing,

Of Life and Death afraid, ---

Instruct us, for mankind,

What is the body, Brahma?    O Brahma !    what the mind? "

Hearing us though he heard not,

So perfect was his rest,

So vast the Soul that err'd not,

So wise the lips that stirr'd not, ---

His hand upon his breast

He laid, whereat his face

Was mirror'd in the river that girt that holy place.

They question'd each the other

What Brahma's answer meant.

Said Vivochunu ---  " Brother !

Through Brahma the Great Mother

Hath spoken her intent:

Man ends as he began, ---

The shadow on the water is all there is of Man."

"The Earth with woe is cumber'd,

And no man understands:

They see their days are number'd

By One that never slumber'd

Nor stay'd his dreadful hands.

I see with Brahma's eyes;

The body is the shadow that on the water lies."

Thus Indra, looking deeper,

With Brahma's self possessed.

So dry thine eyes, thou weeper !

And rise again, thou sleeper !

The hand on Brahma's breast

Is his divine assent

Covering the soul that dies not.   This is what Brahma meant.


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