Theosophy – January 1897

A MYSTICAL POEM — Vera Johnston

The following is a free translation of a poem by Derjavin, one of the standard Russian poets. It will be clear to any one who reads it in the right spirit, that the poem was written from a philosophic standpoint very much akin to the cosmogenesis of the "Secret Doctrine." One or two educated Hindoos to whom I happened to mention some passages in it were greatly excited about the poem being pure Vedantism, according to them. Pure Vedanta or not, it will by no means be lost time to compare the thoughts in it with the thoughts in Shankaracharya's Atma Bodha, or the Awakening to the Self. The poem bears the title of "God" and was written at the end of the last century, when everybody who was anybody at all in Russia was sure to belong to some Lodge of Free Masons. So it is just possible that the point of view in it is the one of all enlightened Free Masons. And in this case, it shares its origin with the "Secret Doctrine" at least to some extent. But I, for one, would be better pleased to think that the resemblance was simply due to the purity of the author's own spiritual clear-sightedness and independent inspiration. It may interest Theosophists to know that this poem was a great favorite of H. P. B.'s.

Endless in space, living in the eternal motion of Substance, Thou, who wast before the flight of ages, who art impersonal in the three persons of Deity. Spirit present everywhere and indivisible, with no assigned abode and with no cause, whom none could understand as yet, who fills, embraces, creates and preserves everything by the very essence of itself, the One whom we call God.

Though a high intelligence might measure the deep ocean, and count the sands and the rays of planets, for Thee there is no number and no measure; even Spirits of Light, born of Thy Radiance, could not conceive of Thy ways; as soon as the thought dares to lift itself to Thee it is doomed to disappear in thy Greatness, like a moment, passing into eternity.

Thou hast called forth from the abysses of eternity the primordial existence of Chaos; and founded in Thyself this eternity born before the ages. Self-born and radiant, Thou art the light whence all light proceeds. Creating everything in one word, expanding in continually renewed creation, Thou hast been, Thou art, Thou shalt be forever.

Thou containest the chain of beings in Thyself, Thou sustainest it and givest it light. Thou makest the beginning harmonious with the end, and givest life through death. Like streaming and whirling sparks, so are the Suns born from Thee. Like crystals of frost sparkling, moving and shining on a clear frosty morning, so are the stars in the abysses below Thee.

The burning millions of stars stream in the immeasurable space, fulfilling Thy laws, and shedding lifegiving rays. But all these burning torches, and the ardent rocks of crystals, and the boiling hosts of golden waves, and the fiery ether and the totality of all possible shining when compared to Thee will be like night before day.

Before Thee our whole system is like a drop before the ocean. Then what is the world to which I belong, and what am I myself? When I have added to all the worlds of the heavenly ocean hundreds of millions of other worlds, the total will be like a speck if I dare to compare it to Thee: and so before Thee I am certainly nothing.

I am nothing! Yet Thou shinest in me with the Greatness of Thine own powers, Thou art mirrored in me, like the great Sun in a tiny drop of water. I am nothing! Yet I feel my own being, I yearn everlastingly to hover in great heights; my soul longs to become Thyself; it penetrates into things, it thinks, it reasons: I am, therefore, Thou art as well.

Thou art! the whole plan of Nature tells me of this, my own heart repeats it to me, and my reason assures me of it: Thou art and I am, no more, a nothing! I am a part of the complete universe, and I dream of having been placed in the exact middle of being, where Thou hast ended creatures of flesh and begun the heavenly spirits, having tied with me the complete chain of beings.

I am the link of the scattered world, I am the culminating point of matter, I am the centre of everything created, I am the initial letter of Deity; with my body I decay in the dust, with my mind I order the thunders, I am a king, I am a slave, I am a worm, I am a God! But wondrous as I am, whence do I come? — I do not know; but through myself I could not be.

I am thy creature, O Creator! I am the work of thy wisdom, O source of life, giver of blessings, soul of my soul and King! The ends of Thy truth necessitated that my immortal being should pass through the abyss of death, that my spirit should clothe itself with mortality, and that through death I should return, O Father, into thy deathlessness.

O, Ineffable and Inconceivable one! I know that the imagination of my soul is powerless to trace thy mere shadow. It is a duty to praise Thee, but what other worship can weak mortals give Thee, but the yearning to raise themselves up to Thee and, with tears of gratitude to lose themselves in the untold difference between them and Thee.