Mercury day poetry: Emerson’s ‘Brahma’

I’m reading — among other books — “American Veda” by Philip Goldberg. I’d forgotten, or maybe not totally realized, how influenced Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman were by Vedanta.

It’s so clear when you think about it; or don’t think about.

Here’s a poem that surely has been read at the conclusion of some yoga class, somewhere in America. It’s by Emerson.


If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

1856 [1857]


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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