That the perfection of communal life is attained when the community, like the individual, discovers the sensation of self; and that the propagation and perfecting of this sensation can be realized through guarding the communal traditions
O thou of gaze intent, hast thou not seen
An infant, unacquainted with its self,
So unaware of what is far, what near
That it aspires to rein the very moon?
To all a stranger, mother‐worshipping,
Drunken with weeping and with milk and sleep,
His ear cannot distinguish la from mi,
His music’s the mere jangling of a chain.
Simple and virgin are his thoughts as yet,
Pure as a pearl his speech; to search and search
His meditation’s sum, as on his lips
Spring ever Why and When and How and Where;
Receptive to all images his mind,
His occupation other to pursue,
Other to see. Let any take his eyes
Creeping behind his back, and how distressed
His little soul becomes! So immature
His thoughts are yet that like the new‐sprung hawk
Flutters its wings, to try the world’s wide air;
He lets them slip, to hunt and seize their prey,
Then calls them home again unto himself.
Lit by the pyrotechnics of the mind
The rocket of his fancy fills the sky
With coruscating embers. At the last
His eye prehensile lights upon himself;
His little hand clutched to his breast, he cries
“I!” So his memory maketh him aware
Of his own self, and keeps secure the bond
Linking to‐morrow with his yesterday;
Upon this golden thread his days are strung
Like jewels on a necklace, one by one.
Though, every breath, ever diminishes,
Ever augments his flesh, “I am the same
As I have ever been,” his heart declares.
This newborn “I” the inception is of life,
This the true song of life’s awaking lute.
Like to a child is a community
Newborn, an infant in its mother’s arms;
All unaware of self; a jewel stained
By the road’s dust; unbound to its to‐day
Is its to‐morrow, fettered not its feet
By the successive links of night and day.
It is the pupil lodged in Being’s eye,
Other beholding, lost unto itself;
A hundred knots are in its cord to loose
Ere it can reach the end of selfhood’s thread
But when with energy it falls upon
The world’s great labours, stable then becomes
This new‐won consciousness; it raises up
A thousand images, and casts them down;
So it createth its own history.
Yet, when the individual has snapped
The bond that joins his days, as when a comb
Sheddeth its teeth, so his perception is.
The record of the past illuminates
The conscience of a people; memory
Of past achievements makes it self‐aware;
But if that memory fades, and is forgot,
The folk again is lost in nothingness.
Know, then, ’tis the connecting thread of days
That stitches up thy life’s loose manuscript;
This selfsame thread sews us a shirt to wear,
Its needle the remembrance of old yarns.
What thing is history, O self‐unware?
A fable? Or a legendary tale?
Nay, ’tis the thing that maketh thee aware
Of thy true self, alert unto the task,
A seasoned traveller; this is the source
Of the soul’s ardour, this the nerves that knit
The body of the whole community.
This whets thee like a dagger on its sheath,
To dash thee in the face of all the world.
Ah, how delightful is this instrument
And how inspiring, that within its strings
Imprisons those departed memories!
See the extinguished splendour blaze anew!
Behold all yesterdays in the embrace
Of its to‐day! Its candle is a star
To light the peoples’ fortunes, and illume
To‐night and yesternight in equal shine.
The skilful vision that beholds the past
Can recreate before thy wondering gaze
The past anew; wine of a hundred years
That bowl contains, an ancient drunkenness
Flames in its juice; a cunning fowler it
To snare the bird that from our garden flew.
Preserve this history, and so abide
Unshaken, vital with departed breaths.
Fix in firm bond to‐day with yesterday;
Make life a bird accustomed to the hand.
Draw to thy hand the thread of all the days,
Else thou art blind‐by‐day, nightworshipping.
Thy present thrusts its head up from the past,
And from thy present shall thy future stem.
If thou desirest everlasting life,
Break not the thread between the past and now
And the far future. What is life? A wave
Of consciousness of continuity,
A gurgling wine that flames the revellers.