Nirvana - Poem by Sidney Lanier
Through seas of dreams and seas of phantasies,
Through seas of solitudes and vacancies,
And through my Self, the deepest of the seas,
I strive to thee, Nirvana.
Oh long ago the billow-flow of sense,
Aroused by passion's windy vehemence,
Upbore me out of depths to heights intense,
But not to thee, Nirvana.
By waves swept on, I learned to ride the waves.
I served my masters till I made them slaves.
I baffled Death by hiding in his graves,
His watery graves, Nirvana.
And once I clomb a mountain's stony crown
And stood, and smiled no smile and frowned no frown,
Nor ate, nor drank, nor slept, nor faltered down,
Five days and nights, Nirvana.
Sunrise and noon and sunset and strange night
And shadow of large clouds and faint starlight
And lonesome Terror stalking round the height,
I minded not, Nirvana.
The silence ground my soul keen like a spear.
My bare thought, whetted as a sword, cut sheer
Through time and life and flesh and death, to clear
My way unto Nirvana.
I slew gross bodies of old ethnic hates
That stirred long race-wars betwixt States and States.
I stood and scorned these foolish dead debates,
Calmly, calmly, Nirvana.
I smote away the filmy base of Caste.
I thrust through antique blood and riches vast,
And all big claims of the pretentious Past
That hindered my Nirvana.
Then all fair types, of form and sound and hue,
Up-floated round my sense and charmed anew.
-- I waved them back into the void blue:
I love them not, Nirvana.
And all outrageous ugliness of time,
Excess and Blasphemy and squinting Crime
Beset me, but I kept my calm sublime:
I hate them not, Nirvana.
High on the topmost thrilling of the surge
I saw, afar, two hosts to battle urge.
The widows of the victors sang a dirge,
But I wept not, Nirvana.
I saw two lovers sitting on a star.
He kissed her lip, she kissed his battle-scar.
They quarrelled soon, and went two ways, afar.
O Life! I laughed, Nirvana.
And never a king but had some king above,
And never a law to right the wrongs of Love,
And ever a fanged snake beneath a dove,
Saw I on earth, Nirvana.
But I, with kingship over kings, am free.
I love not, hate not: right and wrong agree:
And fangs of snakes and lures of doves to me
Are vain, are vain, Nirvana.
So by mine inner contemplation long,
By thoughts that need no speech nor oath nor song,
My spirit soars above the motley throng
Of days and nights, Nirvana.
O Suns, O Rains, O Day and Night, O Chance,
O Time besprent with seven-hued circumstance,
I float above ye all into the trance
That draws me nigh Nirvana.
Gods of small worlds, ye little Deities
Of humble Heavens under my large skies,
And Governor-Spirits, all, I rise, I rise,
I rise into Nirvana.
The storms of Self below me rage and die.
On the still bosom of mine ecstasy,
A lotus on a lake of balm, I lie
Forever in Nirvana.
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