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Liberty (Poem)

If ye lay bound upon the wheel of change,
And no way were of breaking from the chain,
The Heart of boundless Being is a curse
The Soul of Things fell pain.

Ye are not bound! The Soul of things is sweet,
The Heart of Being is celestial rest;
Stronger than woe is will: that which was Good
Doth pass to Better—Best.

I, Buddh, who wept with all my brothers’ tears,
Whose heart was broken by a whole world’s woe,
Laugh and am glad, for there is Liberty
Ho! ye who suffer! know

Ye suffer from yourselves, None else compels,
None other holds you that ye live and die,
And whirl upon the wheel, and hug and kiss
It's spokes of agony.

Its tire of tears, its nave of nothingness,
Behold, I show you Truth! Lower than hell,
Higher than Heaven, outside the utmost stars,
Farther than Brahm doth dwell.

Before beginning, and without an end,
As space eternal and as surety sure,
Is fixed a power divine which moves to good,
Only its laws endure.

This is its touch upon the blossomed rose,
The fashion of its hand shaped lotus-leaves;
In dark soil and the silence of the seeds
The robe of Spring it weaves:

That is its painting on the glorious clouds,
And those its emeralds on the peacock’s train;
It hath its stations in the stars; its slaves
In lightning, wind, and rain.

Out of the dark it wrought the heart of man,
Out of dull shells the pheasant’s penciled neck;
Ever at toil, it brings to loveliness
All ancient wrath and wreck.

Unseen it helpeth ye with faithful hands,
Unheard it speaketh stronger than the storm,
Pity and Love are man’s because long stress
Molded blind mass to form.

It will not be condemned of any one;
Who thwarts it loses, and who serves it gains;
The hidden good it pays with peace and bliss,
The hidden ill with pains.

It seeth everywhere and marketh all:
Do right—it recompenseth! do one wrong—
The equal retribution must be made,
Though Dharma tarry long.

It knows not wrath nor pardon; utter true
Its measures mete, its faultless balance weighs;
Times are as naught, tomorrow it will judge,
Or after many days.

By this the slayer’s knife did stab himself;
The unjust judge has lost his own defender;
The false tongue dooms its lie; the creeping thief
And spoiler rob, to render.

Such is the Law which moves to righteousness,
Which none at last can turn aside or stay;
The heart of it is Love, the end of it
ls Peace and Consummation sweet. Obey!

—From The Light of Asia

More in this issue

« The Life Beautiful   |   The Quest of the Face »

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Sir Edwin Arnold

  • Lived from June 10th, 1832 to March 24th, 1904
  • The Light of Asia is his best known work.
  • Born in Gravesend, Kent, United Kingdom
  • Knighted in 1888

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