Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Echoes of Poems in A Course in Miracles

Reading  Lesson 296, The Holy Spirit speaks  through  me  today, I heard the echoes of two poems, one by Robert Frost (1874-1963),  and the other by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892).

First, here is the passage from the Lesson, relating to Frost.

We teach today what we would learn, and that
alone. And so our learning goal becomes
an unconflicted one, and possible
of easy reach and quick accomplishment.

And here is the third stanza of Frost’s poem, Stopping  by Woods on a Snowy Evening:

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.

Frost’s narrator is in the woods in his sleight, still, and instead of taking the opportunity to be receptive to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, he listens to his ego voice telling him of his worldly promises, and he hurries off.

Here is the passage from the Lesson, relating to Tennyson:

How gladly does the Holy Spirit come
to rescue us from hell, when we allow
His teaching to persuade the world, through us,
to seek and find the easy path to God.

Here is the last phrase of Tennyson’s Ulysses:

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
In Ulysses, the Roman name for Odysseus, Ulysses is becoming restless sitting idly, after 20 years of adventures, traveling to and from Troy, battling with his might companions, and now he summons them one more time to journey forth, seeking more adventures.

Jesus, the master poet, writes the poetry of His Course, layered with meanings that are so evocative for the reader.  The root meaning of evocative is the Latin, evoare, meaning, 'to summon, to rouse,  to call."  We are being called to our transformation by sheer poetry, learning to turn within and letting go our worldly desires.

Here are the two poems in their entirety.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.  
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  
To stop without a farmhouse near  
Between the woods and frozen lake  
The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  
To ask if there is some mistake.  
The only other sound’s the sweep  
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep,  
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

         This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

         There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson