Swami Vivekananda is generally know as a saint patriot and lover of humanity, very few outside the circle of his devotees and admirers know him as a poet.
Swami Vivekananda wrote some poems songs and hymns which though only a few in number may be classed with the creations of poetic art. Some of them were written in moment of great ecstasy. As such it is difficulty to say which is more prominent in them the poetic appeal or the spiritual urge. These two aspects are inseparably combined in them.
This collection of poems by Swami Vivekananda remained out of print for quite a long time, but there was a persistent demand for a reprint. Now we have pleasure in placing this second enlarged edition in the hands of the public.
Poems that came to light since the last publication have been included in this edition. A few poems and hymns, hitherto not translated, have also been added here. As against the two sections in the earlier edition, three sections have been provided here. Under the third section, versified translations of hymns and songs by Swamiji himself have been brought together. The notes at the end explain the circumstances that led to the writing of these poems and supply as far as possible their dates and places of composition.
Swami Vivekananda is generally known as a saint, a patriot, and a lover of humanity. Very few outside the circle of his devotees and admirers know him as a poet. A saint is sometimes an artist as much. Belonging as his thoughts do to a higher plane, the aesthetic sense of a saint and seer is spontaneously developed, and that sense may be expressed through various channels. So we find that some of the saints were great musicians, some were great poets, and so on. Mirabai, Kabir, Dadu, Tulsidasa, and Nanak are no less known for the expression of their devout thoughts in exquisite- poetry than for their sainthood. Shankaracharya wrote some hymns which belong to the treasure-house of Sanskrit literature.
Swami Vivekananda also wrote some poems, songs, and hymns—which though only a few in number, may be classed with the creations of poetic art. Some of them were written in moments of great ecstasy. As such it is difficult to say which is more prominent in them—the poetic appeal or the spiritual urge. These two aspects are inseparably combined in them. It would be good to know when and under what impulse each poem was written (or should we say revealed ?). Unfortunately, however, sufficient data are not now available, and only vaguely do we know how some poems were inspired. The inner workings of the mind of a prophet are undoubtedly beyond the reach of ordinary knowledge. Sometimes these are deliberately kept hidden from the profane eyes. The inner life of the saint and. the seer is too sacred and too deep to be known by, or communicated to others.
Outward events or external circumstances but remotely suggest what may be within that mind before thought finds expression in words which afterwards form part of spiritual legacy of the world.
Some of the poems of Swami Vivekananda clearly indicate the high ecstatic state in which they were shaped and expressed. The poem ‘Samadhi’ indicates beyond doubt that it is the expression of direct personal experience. No wonder that it tends to raise the mind of the reader to a very high plane and to infuse him with lofty aspirations. The same thing may be said of his poem ‘Creation’. These were written originally in Bengali. But even translation has not obscured the innate effulgence of the poems. . . . ‘The Song of the Free’ gives a glimpse of the inner joy of one who has cut asunder the bondage of Maya and has attained to ‘liberation-in-life’ as they say in Vedanta. Was the Swami speaking of his own inner spiritual experience of the highest monistic truth when he said:
‘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.’?
Some of the poems were originally written in Bengali, some as Sanskrit hymns. Three of the hymns are sung during evening services at the Belur Math and other monasteries of the Ramakrishna Order. Some poems were written as songs; of them one was written in Hindi. Though they hardly admit of translation, they are given in English version for the sake of the English-reading public. The translations, though sadly lacking in the vigour, depth, and sublimity of the originals, will at least indicate the thoughts that poured forth from that mighty soul in moments of inspiration.
These poems, songs, and hymns are scattered over the pages of the seven* volumes of the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda and other books. We have collected them together, and issue them now in book form so that readers may more clearly see Swami Vivekananda in this aspect, and derive additional inspiration there from.
For the sake of convenience we have divided the book into two sections. The first section comprises the poems originally written in English by Swami Vivekananda, while in the second section we have given English versions of the poems composed by him in Bengali, Sanskrit, and Hindi.
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