Civilisation is hooped together, brought
Under a rule, under the semblance of peace
By manifold illusion; but man’s life is thought,
And he, despite his terror, cannot cease
Ravening through century after century,
Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come
Into the desolation of reality:
Egypt and Greece, good-bye, and good-bye, Rome!
Hermits upon Mount Meru or Everest,
Caverned in night under the drifted snow,
Or where that snow and winter’s dreadful blast
Beat down upon their naked bodies, know
That day bring round the night, that before dawn
His glory and his monuments are gone.
Oh, how to think of modern English poetry without William Butler Yeats, his myth and myth-making, his Irish mindset and Upanishadic leaning, thought and philosophy? How to deconstruct him without knowing his Indian thought and element? How the mythic framework and structure, the Oriental and the Occult mysteries culminating in him for a symbolical outburst, a mythical text, a poetic expression so individualistic in tradition? But it is the myth and mysticism of the Orient which draws him closer to Vedism, Upanishadim and Puranic elements and he searching for meaning under the wrap of his spiritual quest, thirst for knowledge. So from Byzantium to where, to Mount Meru, Kailash and Mansarovar just as a hermit, a gypsy reminding us of Tintern Abbey of Wordsworth to some extent? To read the poem is to be reminded of the whole Himalayan wisdom and knowledge. Where do the swans fly to? Where is Meru? What it is on Meru? What it in the peaked mountain? How the ascent of thought? How the steps leading to? Shall we be able to meet God?
Whatever be that, something has definitely impelled it to write Meru as the name of the Himalayan ranges, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Nanda Devi, Kailash, Makalu have always eluded the people from time to time and this the lore of our wisdom which the sages have inhabited with their meditation and sadhna.
The civilizations which we talk of are but an illusion, as these come and go away when the span is over. There were the heydays of the civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. They came one by one and went away. But what is it existent now? What is it that we have got it from? They were all under one umbrella with a view to expanding and systematizing their lengths with their settlements. So were the spells, spans and developments connected with. But man’s life is a thought. Besides material prosperity, gain, what have we for spiritual progress? What about our mystical experiences, spiritual quest?
I do not know what had it been going on in the mind of Yeats when he had been Meru? How the manuscript of it? Certainly he would have been engrossed in the wisdom of the ancient Hindu sages, the Himalayan spaces would have engaged him. Hindu philosophy looms large over him and he cannot help without. But had he tantra, how much would he have scaled about? We think it within.
Meru, is it not the story of his spiritual ascent and progression? Maybe it the climbing history too would have attracted him then. Civilization is but an illusion. Many a civilization flourished and had its heyday, but where have they led to finally? Hunger cannot always feed upon. The quenching of bodily hunger is it not all. But it is transcendent meditation which ultimately leads to.
But Meru will last long, as the abode of physical, spiritual, metaphysical and religious centers, as is in fabled too in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist texts. We live a life of our own, but the hermits in the Himalayan ranges lying bare-bodied, shivering with cold or beating down the colder climes are lost in the thoughts of their own to add to the human saga of spiritual quest and meditative fulfillment rejecting publicity and propaganda, never after name and fame.
What are they for? What is it burning their inward? Where the fire leading unto? A communion with the Mystical Spirit and the Mythical Embodiment? A spiritual thirst, quest for knowledge taking them to there, where no human can dwell.
Meru is the myth of mystical vision and spiritual quest which the poet describing it here in this poem; Meru is the story of his spiritual progression, a journey of the self. How to summit the peak of transcendental height?
The hermits know it the story of creation, how the night of darkness, how the dawn breaking at daybreak? The home of Brahma, Indra and other Hindu deities, Meru is just like Emersonian Brahma. Meru is a poem of some mythical space and the ice needs to be cut.
Yeats wrote Meru, why did he not choose Kailash? Meru lies in yatra-tantra, showing as the vault of the universe, Brahma giving lesson to, Indra and so many deities. This syndrome is just a meditational posture dwelling far with the eyes closed and the mind travelling as a lonely traveller, as the self-journeys. It has been rightly said where the sun cannot go there goes the poet and his poetic imagination. The story of the Naga sadhus is beyond description, the tales of their hard penance and rigorous sadhna subjecting the body to what it cannot endure, unimaginable indeed.
What does it remain it here at the end of? How the realization of life? What are the hermits for, bearing untold sufferings and seasoning the body? What are they lost in? Where are they lost and unnoticed on Meru lost in meditation? They know it well that it remains it not here. Everything is but temporary and short-lived. Every dawn is set to flash new when the night is over. All that has been done or speaks of his glory will be gone forever.
Where to locate them, those hermits of Everest and Meru, lying hidden from the public eyes without any name or fame leading an ascetic life, but of course the great saints and sages of ancient wisdom? Even under the snow they can do their tapasya, sadhna without taking food or anything, lying hungry for, thirsty for. What is in them, say you? What is that they are up for? What hunger burns in them? What thirst is in? Why are they thereon? What for? The wide world knows it not nor do the materialistic people.
Something of the coat, the overcoat lies it in Meru which is but mythically embroidered, the coat, the overcoat of Yeats, but when it gets old, it will need to be changed.
In the poem, Meru of Yeats, I also see the images of the climbers, mountain trekkers and adventurers risking their life to summit the challenging peaks. How to tell the tale of Meru? How to hear the tale of Meru? What it in reality, what it in myth? The myth of life, the myth of the world?
In Meru, see I the ancient wisdom of the sages and saints of India lost in their sadhna unawares, ascending the peaks, caverned under snow during the night, bearing it all for.