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Then, like a melancholy malcontent, He vails his tail that, like a falling plume Cool shadow to his melting buttock lent: He stamps, and bites the poor flies in his fume. His love, perceiving how he is enrag'd, Grew kinder, and his fury was assuag'd. His testy master goeth about to take him; When lo!
As they were mad, unto the wood they hie them, Out-stripping crows that strive to over-fly them. I prophesy they death, my living sorrow, If thou encounter with the boar to-morrow. Three Songs Come unto these yellow sands, And then take hands: Court'sied when you have, and kiss'd,-- The wild waves whist-- Foot it featly here and there; And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear. Hark, hark! Bow, wow, The watch-dogs bark: Bow, wow. I hear The strain of strutting chanticleer Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow! Hamlet, Act I, Scene I [Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes] Marcellus to Horatio and Bernardo, after seeing the Ghost , Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, This bird of dawning singeth all night long; And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad, The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
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James Laughlin Award. He stands as a double warning: action, however heroic, once frozen in commemorative bronze is threatened by the present's new priorities; but whoso would so easily forget their history, whoso would sell their heroic birthright for a few parking spaces, becomes inhuman, reptilian or fishlike, savage and servile. Amidst all of the shaking going on, "For the Union Dead" does include a figure able to withstand the twentieth century's capacity for violence, a figure not fraught with the uncertainties that beset the Shaw memorial, a figure explicitly counterposed to the war memorials Saint Gaudens' relief exemplifies:.
There are no statues for the last war here; on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph shows Hiroshima boiling. How different, though, this "monument" is from the powerlessly stiff and threatened generals and soldiers. We might first notice that the elevated Christian rhetoric that characterized Lowell's late-forties voice is itself parodied here, reduced to a dumb steel box. More than this, not even an outmoded, impotent, and ultimately threatened individual heroism inheres in this "monument. Who can control this new power with which we can make the air boil?
The ditch grows nearer, indeed. And all that will remain after our wholesale destruction is an airless box of iron, locked up to keep thieves out. While it "survive[s] the blast" of modern society's most advanced means yet for self-destruction, the safe protects nobody and nothing of human or historical value.
A safe haven for money, the Mosler advertised on Boylston Street directly across the Common from the Shaw memorial epitomizes the commercial concerns who benefit from war and the signal lack of concern that allows consumers to buy into the slogan's celebration. I want to suggest an alternative shaped by the notion that the poem's most effective cultural work is done not only by its specific political or ethical "content" -- in this case a critique of contemporary American society as forgetful and acquisitive -- but through its structured provocation to feel a set of conflicts and questions, in the way it invites readers to deliberate amidst a set of fraught circumstances.
In other words, I want to propose a reading of what Lowell has built in this monumental poem in an effort not only to determine but provisionally to share the ends he might have desired. The way to that desire lies through the admittedly meager resources for hope the poem makes available.
But if monuments are endangered by bulldozers and blithe disregard, and if the safe is safe only for capital, where is the human hope that redeems this elegiac public poem? It hovers, I would argue, first in the speaker's implication of himself in the destructive culture he criticizes, and, ultimately, in his attempt to shift his identification from the monument to a multiple, living, and problematic other.
The speaker's identification with the aquarium and with Shaw make him as vulnerable as they are, and he finally sidelines himself, becoming a guilty spectator crouched servilely before his television. But we can go further still and find Lowell's self-implication woven more thoroughly through the poem's fabric of figure and image. Helen Vendler, like most critics, cites Lowell's clear disapproval of the parking garage, itself a suggestive synecdoche for changes wrought in the city's landscape, the changes I describe above. In this light, we might read Lowell himself into the "Puritan-pumpkin colored girders" that brace the Statehouse.
But while Vendler argues that Lowell's "indictment of those who have sanctioned the gouging out of the underground garage" works as a criticism of "Boston's Irish-American present in comparison with the New England past" 16 , the municipal government, after the election of John Collins in , was in the hands of an administration that defined itself precisely by its opposition to the Irish-American political machine of James Michael Curley and to the ruthlessness with which outgoing Mayor John B. Hynes's West End Development Plan had been implemented without the input and over the protests of Boston residents.
And the project was funded by the state government housed across the street from Shaw's monument, a government still in the hands of Cabots, Lodges, and the like. The underworld garage is gouged out not by a corrupt gang of "immigrant Irish" pols, but by the New Boston avatars and the Statehouse's direct descendants of Lowell's beloved "New England past.
Of course, the repetition of "tingling" from the second stanza suggests this too; Lowell's hand, tempted to "burst the bubbles," shares a sensation with the Statehouse. And, by extension, Lowell's hand carries the agency behind the "blessed break" that Shaw awaits, the bursting of the bubble that Shaw rides. Lowell himself, finally, lurks not only in the ditch, but in its diggers as well. And, speaking the speaker's words as their own, taking up his position, the poem's readers take up all these implications too.
On its own, this self-implication or incrimination offers nothing more positive than a perhaps salutary awareness of one's own inescapable complicity in the forgetful and destructive culture the poem represents. But "For the Union Dead" also preserves some cautiously encouraging signs of life. These are found not in some aspect of the speaker's self or in the heroic past, but in "negroes.
At the same time, I must acknowledge Lowell's clear ambivalence toward "negroes. Unnamed and publicly unremembered, they are more human than their leaders' graven images because, to borrow Martha Nussbaum's phrase, their goodness, their humanity, is fragile. More importantly, the school-children who demonstrate for integrated schools represent a living history, a breathing and vulnerable and powerful force that at once threatens the order represented by Brahmin Boston and by Shaw himself the order with which Lowell is himself identified in and outside this poem and offers a set of values worthy of idealization, a community with which to identify precisely because it poses a threat.
In the new condition imposed by the atomic bomb, Lowell realizes that humanity is reserved for those who suffer history, not those who make it.
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And in "For the Union Dead" it is with these that Lowell casts his lot, becoming one of "us" both in our "dark downward" reptilian aspects and our fragile and aspiring aspects -- locked in with the common and their humble fate, locked not so unhappily out of the Common as monument park, as cemetery. In this, a poem that breathes more freely than any in Lord Weary's Castle , Lowell embraces all that threatens monuments and takes a breath, indeed takes up breath as the better thing than sculpture for remembering history and making it live in our difficult present.
Or, better, he finds a way to make bronze breathe, to forge through the poem's tautly structured openness a powerful connection between monument and the masses. Those who serve the republic, as the poem's epigraph has it, give up everything. But those who see, remember, breathe and tell, those who bring history into the present not as static statuary but as living speech, relinquish only their old hope of named, individual, immortality. In this way it records and recommends a shift in Lowell's sense of poetry's mission in postwar America, a shift from static inscription to responsive speech.
No longer does Lowell attempt to concretize his personal reaction and set it up for others to admire or emulate. Rather, Lowell now offers a delicate web of referents and significances, at once personal and public, that moves with our breath. As Shaw seems so precariously poised as to fall if blown on, so Lowell's speaker in "For the Union Dead," a speaker so closely identified with Lowell as to be indistinguishable from him, provides a point for our idealization. Robert Lowell's poem, "For the Union Dead" follows the mind of a person as he interacts with the landscape of modern Boston.
What he sees dismays him, especially insofar as he compares it with an older Boston. For it is an historical poem, one which tries to show a relation between the past and the present. It tries to show this relation in many ways, but most obviously in its superimposition of scenes from an earlier Boston upon parallel scenes from what the Chamber of Commerce has been calling "the New Boston. The old South Boston Aquarium, once the centerpiece of a park overlooking the harbor, has been gutted by vandals.
The Boston Common, a Colonial grazing pasture, is being exhumed to provide parking places. Thomas Bulfinch's golden-domed State House must be propped by scaffolding so that "the garage's earthquake" will not topple it. It is an occasional poem, composed for and first read at the Boston Arts Festival in June, In many ways the poem repeats an earlier ceremony, the dedication of the Shaw Memorial in On that occasion the speakers were William James, whose topic was "that lonely kind of valor civic courage we call it in peace times ," which Shaw exemplified, and Booker T.
Washington, for whom the Monument stood for "effort, not complete victor. The poem is an historical poem in still a third sense. The poet himself has suggested that he thinks of it as "a Northern civil War poem," and his replacing the original title "Colonel Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th" with the present one, "For the Union Dead," suggests a comparison with Allen Tate's "Ode to the Confederate Dead.
In each poem a speaker looks back to a more heroic age, but in Tate's he is cut off from the past. In "For the Union Dead" the speaker creates the past. That statement requires explanation. It can be demonstrated, however, that despite the historical subject, occasion, and theme, the "facts" of history are of little importance in "For the Union Dead. First, the epigraph, the motto of the Society of the Cincinnati, of which Shaw had been a member, has been rewritten to translate "They leave all behind to serve the country," instead of the correct "He leaves all behind to serve the country.
The misquotation may, of course, be just a slip up by the poet, like the misspelling of Boylston later in the poem but this change does emphasize that the sacrifice at Fort Wagner was a common one. Second, contrary to the implication of the poem, excavations for the Boston Common garage were not the reason for the bracing of either the Shaw Memorial or the State House, each one a quarter of a mile away from the blasting. The State House was undergoing restoration; the Memorial was being propped up until the city had managed to allocate funds for its repair.
The neglect into which both had fallen speaks eloquently enough to the speaker's point, but not so eloquently as his vision of the active destruction of the past by bulldozers does. Third, William James's statement that he could "almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe," which in the poem seems to suggest the continuing urgency of the issues which Shaw's career raises, seen in the context of his address at the dedication ceremonies, merely praises the verisimilitude of the relief. There on foot go the dark outcasts, so true to nature that one can almost hear them breathing as they march.
Fourth, though it is true that Shaw's father wanted no cenotaph to his son's memory, it was not he who referred to his son's troops as "niggers. But the actual reaction of Shaw's father was quite the opposite. He wrote, "Since learning of the place of our dear son's burial, we would not remove his body if we could. We can imagine no better place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company.
My only desire in this respect now is that I may someday be able to erect a monument over him and them. Fifth, the linking of the "Rock of Ages" with the Mosler advertisement is the speaker in the poem's idea, not the adman's. Yet, although the scenes in the poem are historically inaccurate, they represent a kind of ethical truth which is more important to the speaker's purposes.
The contrast between old and new is for him a contrast between something intelligent, decent, and past, and something destructive, desolate, and present. The imagery is consistent with the narrator's view of history. Most of it is related either to ascent or to descent, which, as Northrop Frye suggests, are the spatial equivalents of the desirable and the undesirable. The desirable past is seen as an upward movement. Colonel Shaw resembles "a compass-needle"; he has "an angry wren-like vigilance, a greyhound's gentle tautness. Once the "bronze weathervane cod," symbolic of man's dominion over the lower orders of nature, stood atop it.
Man no longer has this dominion; in fact he has descended to the lower order himself, as the final lines of the poem make clear. The landscape of the poem then is not so much the city's as it is the poet's. It is not photographed, but felt. It is not history , but autobiography. But the poem is not the work of a modern laudator temporis acti. Though obviously sympathetic to the past, the speaker belongs to the present. His past is an imagined past, the Union soldier is "abstract. He creates the imagined virtues of the historical past, but shares the downward tendency of the present. His nose "crawls like a snail"; he must "often sigh.
In short, this poem is of a piece with that poetry in Life Studies, For the Union Dead and Near the Ocean which has a subjective narrator. Comparison with an earlier poem suggests the distance that "For the Union Dead" stands from the poet's former historicism. That poem had rhyme, meter, and stanza form; it rested on an equally ordered and orthodox system of belief and values. But unlike Colonel Shaw, the speaker cannot direct his life; he has no compass-needle.
More than judging the modern condition, he bears witness to it. Lowell's nearest approach, in For the Union Dead, to an image of moral political action is to be found in the title poem. Sri Chinmoy has indicated that reading his poetry, or indeed singing his song-mantras, can be utilised as a method of entering into this higher state of awareness for the seeker, singer or reader.
He uses plain language, yet it is an elevated message, illumining mystical truths about the purpose of life and the nature of man and God, worthy of interest and further comparative research. Sri Chinmoy intimates that when we try to speak of God we are limited by the mind. Also our unconscious, bound human ego takes control.
But when we have surrendered our ego, our will, to the highest in us, then the manifestation of the Supreme can be achieved. The result is that all action is imbued with divine purity, delight and power, something that Sri Chinmoy explained became a permanent reality in the physical world, both illumining the human being and fulfilling God. In two words we can sum up the message of all the Upanishads: aspiration and manifestation. Aspiration is the way, and manifestation is the Goal. Aspiration is the song of the infinite, eternal Consciousness abiding within us.
All of his endeavours, the extensive recording of talks, of questions and answers, poetry, thousands of musical compositions, and thousands of painting-mandalas ap , are designed to awaken the inner spiritual aspiration. They arguably map almost every conceivable step of the human journey and illustrate the unseen higher and inner worlds of consciousness. The above short piece we can see signified the basis of the entire path — that meditation is the perfect communion with God, and that God can and does speak to us, lead us, only when we are in that silent place.
Indeed, when we enter the words, we begin not only to understand the message, but to feel the calming silence itself as we are drawn back to the beginning in contemplation. It is astonishing to consider that this is not a simple literary contrivance, but an actual articulation, a record of an exchange.
We are brought up short with the explication of a divine Will that, it is claimed, is unfathomable, unknowable, yet with some surprise we have to admit, it cannot be easily refuted. We are left in a higher contemplation on the nature of the divine. Above all, Sri Chinmoy taught that the sacred can be more easily apprehended through the heart consciousness, as the psychic centre of being which is more spiritually evolved, being close to and receptive to the divine soul.
The difference between the mind consciousness and the heart consciousness is that the mind functions on an intellectual level after the age of twelve or thirteen, whereas the heart consciousness remains child-like, fresh, spontaneous and full of joy and able to identify with others. It is when we begin to meditate in the heart that we first feel the sincere inner cry, which is aspiration.
Indeed, he wrote a significant amount contrasting and comparing the heart-consciousness and the mind-consciousness, and their respective roles in the spiritual evolution of humanity. Sri Chinmoy has indicated over and again that the Supreme as the Inner Pilot resides in the heart of each one of us, and that this Inner Pilot can not be denied forever. Sri Chinmoy teaches that the deepest inner self cannot be accessed by the mind because the mind is always busy, like a monkey, who cannot stay in one place.
The mind is necessary for our functioning in the world, but it is often not a good leader. We can think and think, but we do not get illumination, or even satisfaction from the mind.
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One moment the mind extolls us to the skies, the next moment the mind tells us we are hopeless, helpless and stupid; one moment it is positive, optimistic, and the next moment it is negative. Therefore to meditate, the fastest way is to tap into the heart. He explains it is the heart where the soul resides, and it has the capacity to identify. The mind is limited, the heart is unlimited. The heart never complicates, it simply feels — love, peace, abundance, oneness and joy.
There are endless examples of this contrast throughout his writings. Many people and of course the disciples who had the privilege of meditating with Sri Chinmoy perceived the aura emanating from him, of profound peace and love. When questioned about this, he stated:. I bring down a sea of Peace, Light and Bliss, and this moves around like waves of the ocean … I bring down the sea and represent the sea.
Inside The Mind of A Man: A Poet's Quest to Relinquish Thoughts
In that wavy movement … I am actually entering into each disciple. This white Light is the light of purity, inner purity and also it is the consciousness of God in the feminine form; that is to say, it is the Light of the Supreme av. She explained that he never wrote in thematic sequence but like the flame of aspiration itself, flickered from one height to another, one theme to another aw. Nevertheless, I have imposed my own order to try and gain some perspective on the work of over , poems.
It is acknowledged the divisions are not always so distinct, there can be an overlap, or convergence across the steps of the Quest. The Quest arose to me as a logical choice of theme to contain the study to a small, unified sample and illustrate dimensions of the transcendental vision of the poet.
He often states that humanity is on the brink of a new Golden Age where the ultimate goal is for each individual to manifest his or her own inner divine light in the world. Contrary to much of the darkness of popular opinion, his is an optimistic future for humanity.
His work for both inner peace through meditation, and outer peace, supporting the United Nations, visiting international dignitaries, and multifarious other activities spanned four decades, yet he always claimed to be a student of peace. He maintained that each human being must be given complete freedom to find his or her own path to enlightenment, or realisation, as it is the Dream, the ever-transcending Will of the Supreme consciousness in his Own Cosmic Game.
The writings of Sri Chinmoy can be personal and universal, the tone intimate as well as rhetorical, the style traditional, or modern, and aphoristic. However they often command the seeker to step directly into the viewpoint of the poet, a perception from God-heights which turns many of our older assumptions up-side-down. Sri Chinmoy explains many mysteries, that of the different levels of consciousness abiding in a human being, and their implications. Also, how a spiritual master must identify with suffering humanity, as well as show the way to the higher point of view.
Many of his insights will have far-reaching ramifications for life, learning, art and spirituality into the future. This path of Sri Chinmoy stands like a lighthouse for humanity, blazing a way forward and encompassing all aspects of the physical world in order to transform it into the new golden age. It is, in fact, a significant new approach to spirituality, which can easily absorb the central truths of all religions while placing the responsibility clearly upon the individual.
He illustrates time and again basic truths that the spiritual masters have expressed down through the ages — that the universe is permeated by a higher consciousness and that we are all manifestations of that force. Part 2, Roberts, Eds. He never wasted a leaf or a tree Do you think he would squander souls? Each incarnation is leading us toward a higher life, a better life. We are in the process of evolution.
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Open Access. First Online: 04 July Background This is a discussion paper that sets out to explore an approach to the writings of the spiritual master Sri Chinmoy, through the motif of the Quest.
Background We all know That God is great. We all know That God is good. But do we know That God is our own Highest Self. Later he would explain: There are various minor samadhis, and among the minor samadhis, savikalpa samadhi happens to be the highest. My Supreme, my Supreme, my Supreme! Divinity is reality Yet unrecognised.
Reality is totality Yet unrecognised i.
Sages call it by various names j. My eyes are pining for it, My heart is pining for it, But it is all hidden. From time immemorial You have been playing hide and seek with me. Yet I remember my golden past within and without, Alas, far, very far, now You are. The bird of my heart is crying and trembling with darkest pangs q. The following is an abridged extract: In one lifetime on earth we cannot do everything. If you think of ignorance, Then you need liberation. If you think of oneness, Then you need God-realisation, Self-realisation s.
To see the light The buds offer their devoted eagerness. Alas, neither a blade of grass nor the buds Can awaken my aspiration-flame. I sleep and sleep, My ears tightly closed t. Your mind is a liar. Never believe what your mind says. Your mind is a beggar.
Never believe what your mind says, Your mind is secretly digging your grave. Your mind tells you that God is somewhere else, That God is someone else other than you v. The vital Loves the prickings of desire. The mind Loves the confines of the finite. The heart Loves to be in the galaxy of saints. The soul Loves the life of unhorizoned vision-skies w. Whose moonlit beauty Do I see in the lily? Who is the Eye of my eye; Who is the Heart of my heart?
I have nothing to show or tell. I have no spirituality, no worship, No meditation, no adoration; Nothing. Around me are only inner pangs and frustrations, Dust, clay and ash. I am satisfied with the world of matter and desire. I am compelled to be satisfied with little, very little. I have nothing z. I became the emperor of giant failures.
My soul came to the fore, Consoled my visionless ignorance.