J.G. Whittier

This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.

"These libations mixed with milk have been prepared for Indra: offer Soma to the drinker of Some." Vashista, translated by Max Muller. The fagots blazed, the caldron's smoke Up through the green wood curled; "Bring honey from the hollow oak, Brink milky sap," the brewers spoke, In the childhood of the world. And brewed they well or brewed they ill, The priests thrust in their rods, First tasted, and then drank their fill, And shouted, with one voice and will, "Behold, the drink of the gods!" They drank, and lo! in heart and brain A new, glad life began; They grew of hair grew young again, The sick man laughed away his pain, The cripple leaped and ran. "Drink, mortals, what the gods have sent, Forget you long annoy." So sang the priests, From tent to tent The Soma's sacred madness went, A storm of drunken joy. Then knew each rapt inebriate A winged and glorious birth, Soared upward, with strange joy elate, Beat, with dazed head, Varuna's gate, And sobered, sank to earth. The land with Soma's praises rang; On Gihon's banks of shade Its hymns the dusky maidens sang; In joy of life or mortal pang All men to Soma prayed. The morning twilight of the race Sends down these matin psalms; And still with wondering eyes we trace The simple prayers to Soma's grace, That verdic verse embalms. As in the child-world's early year, Each after age has striven By music, incense, vigils drear, And trance, to bring the skies more near, Or life men up to heaven! Some fever of the blood and brain, Some self-exalting spell, The scourger's keen delight of pain, the Dervish dance, the Orphic strain, The wild-haired Bacchant's yell, - The desert's hair-grown hermit sunk The saner brute below; The naked Santon, haschish-drunk, The cloister madness of the monk, The fakir's torture show! And yet the past comes round again, And new doth old fulfill; In sensual transports wild as vain We brew in many a Christian fane The heathen Soma still! Dear Lord and Father of mankind, Forgive our foolish ways! Reclothe us in our rightful mind, In purer lives Thy service find, In deeper reverence, praise. In simple trust like theirs who heard Beside the Syrian sea The gracious calling of the Lord, Let us, like them, without a word Rise up and follow Thee. O Sabbath rest by Galilee! O calm of hills above, Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee The silence of eternity Interpreted by love! With that deep hush subduing all Our words and works that drown The tender whisper of Thy call, And noiseless let Thy blessing fall As fell Thy manna down. Drop thy still dews of quietness, Till all our strivings cease; Take from our souls the strain and stress, And let our ordered lives confess Thy beauty of Thy peace. Breathe through the hearts of our desire Thy coolness and Thy balm; Let sense be numb, let flesh retire; Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm!