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MEDITATIONS OF A HINDU [OR, HINDOO] PRINCE [AND SKEPTIC], by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: All the world over, I wonder, in lands that I never had trod
Last Line: Who weep.
Variant Title(s): A Hindoo's Search For Truth
Subject(s): God; Religion; Theology

ALL the world over, I wonder, in lands that I never have trod,
Are the people eternally seeking for the signs and steps of a God?
Westward across the ocean, and Northward across the snow
Do they all stand gazing, as ever, and what do the wisest know?

Here, in this mystical India, the deities hover and swarm
Like the wild bees heard in the tree-tops, or the gusts of a
gathering storm;
In the air men hear their voices, their feet on the rocks are seen,
Yet we all say, "Whence is the message, and what may the wonders mean?

A million shrines stand open, and ever the censer swings,
As they bow to a mystic symbol, or the figures of ancient kings;
And the incense rises ever, and rises the endless cry
Of those who are heavy laden, and of cowards loth to die.

For the Destiny drives us together, like deer in a pass of the hills;
Above is the sky, and around us the sound of the shot that kills;
Pushed by a power we see not, and struck by a hand unknown
We pray to the trees for shelter, and press our lips to a stone.

The trees wave a shadowy answer, and the rock frowns hollow and grim,
And the form and the nod of the demon are caught in the twilight dim;
And we look to the sunlight falling afar on the mountain crest, --
Is there never a path runs upward to a refuge there and a rest?

The path, ah! who has shown it, and which is the faithful guide?
The haven, ah! who has known it? for steep is the mountain side,
Forever the shot strikes surely, and ever the wasted breath
Of the praying multitude rises, whose answer is only death.

Here are the tombs of my kinsfolk, the fruit of an ancient name
Chiefs who were slain on the war-field, and women who died in flame;
They are gods, these kings of the foretime, they are spirits who
guard our race:
Ever I watch and worship; they sit with a marble face.

And the myriad idols round me, and the legion of muttering priests,
The revels and rites unholy, the dark unspeakable feasts!
What have they rung from the Silence? Hath even a whisper come
Of the secret, Whence and Whither? alas! for the gods are dumb.

Shall I list to the word of the English, who come from the uttermost
"The Secret, hath it been told you, and what is your message to me?"
It is naught but the wide-world story how the earth and the heavens
How the gods are glad and angry, and a Deity once was man.

I had thought, "Perchance in the cities where the rulers of India
Whose orders flash from the far land, who girdle the earth with a
They have fathomed the depths we float on, or measured the unknown
main --"
Sadly they turn from the venture, and say that the quest is vain.

Is life, then, a dream and illusion, and where shall the dreamer
Is the world seen like shadows on water, and what if the mirror break?
Shall it pass as a camp that is struck, as a tent that is gathered and
From the sands that were lamp-lit at eve, and at morning are level and

Is there naught in the heaven above, whence the hail and the levin are
But the wind that is swept around us by the rush of the rolling world?
The wind that shall scatter my ashes, and bear me to silence and sleep
With the dirge and the sounds of lamenting, and voices of women
who weep.

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