Critical appreciation of the poem
THE SONG OF THE FREE
The wounded snake its hood unfurls,
The flame stirred up doth blaze,
The desert air resounds the calls
Of heart-struck lion's rage.
The cloud puts forth it deluge strength
When lightning cleaves its breast,
When the soul is stirred to its in most depth
Great ones unfold their best.
Let eyes grow dim and heart grow faint
, And friendship fail and love betray,
Let Fate its hundred horrors send,
And clotted darkness block the way.
All nature wear one angry frown,
To crush you out - still know, my soul
, You are Divine. March on and on,
Nor right nor left but to the goal.
Nor angel I, nor man, nor brute,
Nor body, mind, nor he nor she,
The books do stop in wonder mute
To tell my nature; I am He.
Before the sun, the moon, the earth,
Before the stars or comets free,
Before e'en time has had its birth,
I was, I am, and I will be.
The beauteous earth, the glorious sun,
The calm sweet moon, the spangled sky,
Causation's law do make them run;
They live in bonds, in bonds they die.
And mind its mantle dreamy net
Cast o'er them all and holds them fast.
In warp and woof of thought are set,
Earth, hells, and heavens, or worst or best.
Know these are but the outer crust -
All space and time, all effect, cause.
I am beyond all sense, all thoughts,
The witness of the universe.
Not two nor many, 'tis but one,
And thus in me all me's I have;
I cannot hate, I cannot shun
Myself from me, I can but love.
From dreams awake, from bonds be free,
Be not afraid. This mystery,
My shadow, cannot frighten me,
Know once for all that I am He.
- Swami Vivekananda
Summary , central idea and critical appreciation of the poem.
The poet Swami Vivekananda has used metaphors of a wounded snake unfurling its hood, rising flame, echoing sound of the thrilling roar of lion in the desert air and lightning in the heart of clouds to depict the awakening of dormant spiritual power of human being. Human being can give the best performance by awakening and arousing the hidden power of the soul. In the third and fourth stanzas the poet highlights the challenges, problems and difficulties of life. The world and nature may go against us creating hardships and challenges. Our fate may be extremely unfavourable and we may face darkness of despair everywhere. We may experience failure in friendship and betrayal in love. The nature may try to crush us and destroy us but we must not give up, become weak and defeated. Basically we have Divine nature so nothing can defeat us. We need to march ahead without getting distracted to reach our ultimate goal. In the fifth and sixth stanzas the poet tells about our true nature. We are not angels, men and animals. We are not body and mind. We are beyond the concept of gender as male and female. Bookish knowledge fails to explain the true nature. We are one with the ultimate reality which is pure spirit and pure energy. Seventh and eighth stanzas speak about the eternal existence of the soul. Before the birth of the earth, moon and the glorious sun, before time came into existence, I as the pure spirit existed, still existing and will exist. Material things like the sun, moon and earth are governed by the law of causation. They are limited and restricted by the principles of cause and effects but spirit is beyond everything. Mind with its power of imagination thoughts and ideas create a net to cover everything. Mind creates distortion and falsely produces ideas like heaven and hell, best and worst. Ninth, tenth and eleven stanzas depict the following concepts. Space and time, law of cause and effect all these are external appearance or outer crust. The reality and truth is the spirit which is beyond all senses and thoughts. The spirit cannot be seen or observed. It is the observer or witness of the universe. This spirit is not two or many. It is essentially one because truth is one. Everything exists in one and the same spirit because spirit is everywhere. In one soul all souls are integrated. It is basically one and cannot be divided and separated. Therefore the poet says, everything is in me and I am in everything. There is no scope for separate existence, no scope for hatred and rejection. There is only one positive force of love and only love. Therefore, let us wake up from the dream of false appearance and bondage. Let us break the chain of bondage and become free in the true sense. This material world is only the mysterious shadow of reality and the reality is pure spirit and pure energy. Don’t be afraid of anything. Be bold and fearless, just once for all know your true self. You are one with the ultimate truth. CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM – THE SONG OF THE FREE Swami Vivekananda wrote this powerful poem to depict the true nature of human being. Man is beyond body, mind and intellect. The essence of human being is one indomitable spirit which has infinite dimension and eternal existence. The spirit is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. Swami urges not to be afraid of the problems, difficulties and challenges of life. These are the tests of life which make us strong and confident. We should march ahead without getting distracted and disturbed fearlessly to achieve our goal. The poet presents a very clear picture of this pure spirit. Spirit is immortal and eternal. It is not limited by the law of causality. It cannot be observed and explained by human mind and intellect. Bookish knowledge fails to explain this ultimate reality. The earth, moon, sun, stars and comets are created. They are governed by the principles of cause and effect, space and time but spirit is beyond everything. It is the eternal observer of the creation. It cannot be created nor can be destroyed. It is beyond birth and death, time and space. Spirit has infinite dimension and this ultimate truth is only one. There cannot be two or many truths. Truth is one and it is universal. Therefore, there is no scope for duality and multiplicity; there is no scope for hatred and jealousy. There is only one powerful force and it is universal love and harmony. We need to know our true nature. Once we know who we really are, all problems, difficulties, hatred, jealousy, weakness and cowardice disappear. Our hearts get filled with courage, love, bliss and peace. This poem is very significant in today’s world where we find terrorism, hatred and jealousy, greed, selfishness and hypocrisy playing vital roles to divide and destroy human civilization. For the preservation of the human race and the beautiful creation of mother nature the message of spirituality with the fragrance of love and courage can not only act as a powerful instrument but also create the most suitable and desirable atmosphere for nurturing universal brotherhood, love and peace.
Mrs. Malabika Sen. H.O.D (Department of Professional Communication). Graphic Era Hill University. Dehradun. India.