The Indian Upon God by William Butler Yeats by Bijay Kant Dubey SignUp
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Literary Shelf Share This Page
The Indian Upon God by William Butler Yeats
by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

I passed along the water’s edge below the humid trees,
My spirit rocked in evening light, the rushes round my knees,
My spirit rocked in sleep and sighs; and saw the moorfowl pace
All dripping on a grassy slope, and saw them cease to chase

Each other round in circles, and heard the eldest speak:
Who holds the world between His bill and made us strong or weak
Is an undying moorfowl, and He lives beyond the sky.
The rains are from His dripping wing, the moonbeams from His eye.

I passed a little further on and heard a lotus talk:
Who made the world and ruleth it, He hangeth on a stalk,
For I am in His image made, and all this tinkling tide
Is but a sliding drop of rain between His petals wide.

A little way within the gloom a roebuck raised his eyes
Brimful of starlight, and he said: The Stamper of the Skies,
He is a gentle roebuck; for how else, I pray, could He
Conceive a thing so sad and soft, a gentle thing like me?

I passed a little further on and heard a peacock say:
Who made the grass and made the worms and made my feathers gay,
He is a monstrous peacock, and He waveth all the night
His languid tail above us, lit with myriad spots of light.

Who is the Indian described here? What is he discussing? Is it about Indian faith and belief system? Or Indian culture, philosophy and religion?  What the matter is? Or Yeats himself under the influence of Swami Purohit or Mohini Chatterjee is reflecting upon? When was the poem composed? But apart from all that it is quite clear that he has been under occultism, Eastern philosophy, theosophical society, myth and mythology since the start. Whatever be that The Indian Upon God as a poem shows the poet’s grappling with mythologies and poetry as he interweaves them into his poetry as art motifs. His sense of Indology, India and Indian culture, Vedic and Upanishadic vision, spiritual studies, transcendental approach and pantheistic realm is so strong and rarer that we feel awestruck with that in coming to terms with such a lore draped in verse. Taking the cue from the Genesis of the Bible, he goes on elucidating in his style. But to understand Yeats is no easy task.

The Indian Upon God as a poem is all about how the Indians perceive God and hold it to be and their concept of the Over Soul and realization of the self. To perceive God is to see it in all. Where is God not, in what is it not? God is everywhere, in each and every object that see we, find we. Taking a pantheistic stand, the poet tries to discern it by alluding to in his personal way of reflection. Nature so freckled and wild is the image of His. Just we should have the vision to see and feel it the whole pantheistic panorama. He is Matter and Mass, Mind and Spirit, Over Soul and the Over Spirit.

The poet passes along the water’s edge below the humid trees with his spirit rocked in evening light, rushes round his knees and he drifting far. In that mood of reflection and visionary glide, loiter and steps taken, sleep and sighs take over the spirit. While moving ahead, he sees a moorfowl pacing and dripping on a grassy slope. The flocks getting round or strayed far in circles cease to chase and the eldest of them is heard speaking:

Who holds the world between His bill and made us strong or weak
Is an undying moorfowl, and He lives beyond the sky.
The rains are from His dripping wing, the moonbeams from His eye.

Herein lies in the understanding and metaphysics of W.B. Yeats and his grappling with Indian thought and wisdom. The poet comes to feel where peace is, what does the soul want, where to go ultimately and what it is that lasts for. A communion with the soul in the midst of Nature is the essence. Some sort of peace is needed to carry on the discourse.  The Maker of the moorfowl is but an undying being and without thinking of the fowl and its image how could he have the wild bird? He lives beyond the sky. The rains drip from His dripping wing and the moonbeams from the eyes. How amazing is it that taking the bird he composes the metaphysical lines! The poet wants to say that the One who has made us has also made the moorfowl. 

The poet moves a little ahead and hears the lotus talk about how it has been in the image of His and how Divinity is almost like that:

Who made the world and ruleth it, He hangeth on a stalk,
For I am in His image made, and all this tinkling tide
Is but a sliding drop of rain between His petals wide.

How mystical are the lines said through the depiction of the lotus and the stalk! How the lotus in scenic and panoramic in penetration! Who has made it the world and who rules it? He hangs onto a stalk. He is but a lotus, the Greater Lotus which but you know it not! He is the Lotus Divine! The Lotus of Wisdom and Knowledge! The Pearly Drops scattered over the petals! The lotus petals splashed with water drops, dew drops, growing in the midst of water are but the imagery and painting of His!

Again, he makes a room for himself and moves forward, but gets intercepted by a roebuck lying in the gloom with a unique starlit glitter in the eyes of it ready for its turn to say, break upon:

Brimful of starlight, and he said: The Stamper of the Skies,
He is a gentle roebuck; for how else, I pray, could He
Conceive a thing so sad and soft, a gentle thing like me?

The poet means too say that it is the same Creator who has made us has made the roebuck. The idea carries the kernels of thoughts as discussed by Blake and Hopkins. In the eyes of the roebuck, God is but a creature like them as because He could not have had He not thought in that context. The colour design, the marks, are but the things and ideas of His and without whose mercy it could not have been conceived. God as the Stamper of the Skies is an impressionist line expressing about the impressions made by Him. It is He who has fashioned the world as per His image and the world bears the stamps of His.

The poet passes a little further and marks a peacock saying:

Who made the grass and made the worms and made my feathers gay,
He is a monstrous peacock, and He waveth all the night
His languid tail above us, lit with myriad spots of light.

If we take the peacock’s version, who is that who has made the green grass, worms and its feathers? He is a great peacock which dances all through the night. His languid tail is above us, lit with the myriad spots of light. God is the Peacock of peacocks. It is really splendid to see God through the peacock imagery. Side by side it is amazing to see the peacock so wonderfully painted and designed. Colours take us to a dreamy plane of thinking. How would it have been the brush and colours of God that He applied in making the peacock and its feathers! Really, the riot of colours is appalling, bluish, blackish, greenish and freckled and at the same time so fanciful, frenzied, imaginative and dreamy! The words ‘a monstrous peacock’ and ‘languid tail’ relate to something as awe or bizarre inculcated in.

We do not know if an Indian poet can write as such. William Butler Yeats is really a great poet so mythological and profound in his expression unparalleled in history, a paragon of poetic artistry and consummate craftsmanship. Had he visited India, it would have been great, but he could not! And we too failed to invite him!

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01-May-2021
More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey
 
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