Thursday, August 18, 2011

Prayer of an Alien Soul

O Center of the Scheme
Star-Flinger, Beauty-Bring, Shaping Dream!
Now as the least in all thy space I stand
An alien in a strange and lonesome land.
I lift a little voice of pigmy pain;
I hurl it out - up - down - and shall I cry in vain?
Hear thou the prayer that struggles in this song-
Let me not linger long!

I crave the boon of dying into life!
Extend a pitying knife
And let these flesh-gyves part, let me be free!
Are we not kin? Am I not part of Thee?
Am I not a ripple in a cranny of Thy Sea?
What part have I in sequent wretched eyes,
Bleer dawns, dull noons and the budding and the falling
      of leaves?
Why must I drag this chain of years,
Long rusted-red with tears?
Why must I crawl when I have wings to fly?
Behold thy child - The Winged One - it is I!
Was I not made to sing?
Yet here I lisp and twang on one unbroken string!

At times here in the dust
I lift my head, I strive to sing - I must!
The miracle of growing wraps me round
Light! Sound!
Form! Motion! Upward yearning! Outward reaching!
A universal praying, dumb beseeching!
I feel that I am more than flesh and futile,
A being ultra-carnal, super-brutal!
I understand these growing green beseechers,
These hopeful climbers and these ernest reachers!
I understand their yearnings every one,
How each tense fiber hungers for the sun!
I lay my hand upon the sturdy weed
Whose darkling purposes burst the prison-seed,
Who cleft the mud and took its light and dew,
Looked up, reached out, believe in life - and grew!
I know that we are kin;
That hope is virtue and doubt is sin;
And o'er me comes a hungering for a song:
I lift my voice - I falter.  Ah the long
Dumb years, the aching nights and days!
And yet I raise
My unavailing cacophonic cry.
Thine erstwhile singing child - behold! - Tis I!

In this strange, wretched prison of the soul
Shall I not lose my swiftness for the Goal?
It seems I must
At length become too much the kin of Dust.
Ah me, the fever born of Hate and Lust!
Ah me, the senseless unmelodic din!
Ah me, the soul-hope sick with fleshly sin!

And in my prison ancient dreams grow up
To fill with dust my cracked and thirst-betraying cup.
Dreams mantled in the purple of dead glory
That filled the aeons of human story:
Not always have I worn these dusty rags!

The Purpose of my being falters, lags,
And I am sick, sick, sick to live again.
Yet not because of this poor dust-born pain
Do I cry and grope about for Thee.
I hear the far cry of my Destiny.
Whose meaning sings beyond the farthest sun.
I faint in these red chains - O let me 'rise and run!

How long shall leaves grow green and fade and fall,
How long shall Night chase Day and Day flee Night,
How long shall my far Purpose vainly call
Ere I remingle with my native light?
O Center of the Scheme,
Star-Flinger, Beauty-Bringer, Shaping Dream!
Hear thou the prayer that struggles in this song-
Let me not linger long.

- John G Neihardt

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